Times Quick Cryptic No 2488 by Myles

I was a fair bit slower than yesterday’s, so I’d put this on the tricky side. Looking forward to see how it fares on the shiny new SNITCH: see here.

Myles’s fifth outing: two right back in the early days of the QC and then this is his third this year (info courtesy of Jackkt’s last blog). And yes, quite tough, I found, with a very sparse-looking grid after a first pass of the acrosses, and a number of mysterious-looking clues. The best kind.

The downs were more forgiving, and I finished in 9.28, three minutes slower than yesterday’s done just before. I was glad to remember the plant at 24ac, otherwise I think I’d have been quite a while staring at that and the tricky 17d.

A fine puzzle, I thought, with good clues and PDMs aplenty. Despite there being six pure double definitions and two or three closely related ones, it didn’t feel like it while solving. Many thanks to Myles!

Anagram indicators in italics

1 Escargots? Certainly not! (4,4)
FAST FOOD – cryptic definition, snails not being noted for their speed.
5 What sounds like distress call from rider to stop (4)
WHOA – sounds like WOE (distress)
8 Handle badly — this round’s on me? (3-5)
ILL-TREAT – and I’LL TREAT = this round’s on me.
9 Finishes off the music with no repetition of sound (4)
ECHO – take the “finishes” off thE musiC witH nO
11 Grown improperly, right? On the contrary (5)
WRONG – GROWN improperly. A nicely misleading way to define WRONG, quite simply as the opposite of right.
12 Monitor where bishop has authority (7)
OVERSEE – and OVER a SEE is where a bishop has authority, a SEE being a diocese. Similar type of clue to 8ac
13 Like canary or chicken (6)
YELLOW – probably best broken up as a double definition (although chickens are of course yellow as well): the first describes the colour of the canary, the second describes the colour of a coward.
15 Audibly, what could be you or I making assertion (6)
AVOWAL – YOU or I could “audibly” be called A VOWEL
18 Something racehorse needs, a kind of shoe (7)
TRAINER – straight double definition
19 Power and will possibly (5)
MIGHT – another straight double definition. Nice.
21 Footballer on one side or another (4)
WING – cryptic definition, with a pun on SIDE = TEAM
22 Tours all over the place, surrounded by seven experts (8)
VIRTUOSI – TOURS all over the place, surrounded by VII (seven)
23 Revolutionary act or performance on stage (4)
TURN – double definition
24 In revised order, cancel my plant (8)
CYCLAMENIn revised order CANCEL MY
1 Part of course that’s just fashion (7)
FAIRWAY – FAIR (just) WAY (fashion)
2 Drunk also swallowing very many shots (5)
SALVODrunk ALSO swallowing V(ery)
3 Spotlight pro, say, on game of golf (10)
FOREGROUND – FOR (pro) E.G. (say/for example) on ROUND (game of golf)
4 Person making deliveries from part of laboratory (6)
ORATOR – comes from “part” of labORATORy
6 Journalist understood tool for cutting (7)
HACKSAW – HACK (journalist) SAW (understood)
7 A flower got from bed (5)
AROSE – A, ROSE (flower)
10 Lead, for exampleone kind of band (5,5)
HEAVY METAL – double definition, the second as in music
14 Apprentice, one who’s being paid under pound (7)
LEARNER – EARNER (one who’s being paid) under L (Libra = pound)
16 Awfully valiant citizen of Northern Europe (7)
17 Bright article found in sea (6)
BRAINY – the BRINY = the SEA, insert the article A
18 Namely, what to do with broken-down car (2,3)
TO WIT – and to a broken-down car one could TOW IT
20 Carefully prepare   man starting union (5)
GROOM – double definition


81 comments on “Times Quick Cryptic No 2488 by Myles”

  1. 13:13 Many enjoyable clues- I especially liked TO WIT, AVOWAL, and FAST FOOD. I had never come across BRINY as a synonym of sea and at first couldn’t see FOREGROUND for spotlight but now think they overlap enough to work

  2. I found this Myles enjoyable but difficult, taking 11.46 with the last several minutes spent on the NW quadrant. Took too long on some that were easier than I was trying to make them, like FAST FOOD, ECHO and WRONG. Thought fashion = way was quite an obscure connection for a QC, I suppose it’s ‘doing it in this fashion/way’ but it took me a long time to cotton on. Similarly I have doubts about spotlight = FOREGROUND. I assume we’re talking about a verb form but it would take every little for the verb ‘to foreground’ to become an abomination, eg ‘I foregrounded it,’ so I hope it does not catch on. FOI OVERSEE, LOI ILL TREAT, thanks both.

    1. I assumed they were nouns- if something or someone is in the FOREGROUND they grab the most attention, similarly to being lit up by a spotlight.

      1. But something can be spotlit even if it’s in the background. Either way this doesn’t really work for me…

    2. I think it works as either noun or verb. As curryowen says, in the foreground = in the spotlight; and Chambers has the explicit definition: to foreground = to spotlight. But yes, fully agree, ‘I foregrounded it’ is an abomination indeed!

  3. 9 minutes. My times for Myles’s puzzles since his return this year seems to be remarkably consistent as they have all been 8 or 9 minutes. His two earlier puzzles back in 2014 took me 28 and 18 minutes.

    I did look twice at spotlight/FOREGROUND but felt it worked well enough if not taken too literally.

  4. Almost went with FISH FOOD rather than FAST FOOD. Took me a bit to change my WOAH to WHOA. Mentally cycling through synonyms for ‘sea’ at first turned up only ‘ocean’ and, in fact, ‘brine’, as well as a forlorn realization that perhaps it could be ‘red’, ‘black’ or the like.

    Staring at the ‘revolutionary’ for 5 minutes gave me only TYRO, which was of course wrong, and I knew it. All else went in quite nicely today. Oh well.

  5. 21:35. Lots to like here. I really enjoyed AVOWAL (love a good pun) and ILL-TREAT.

    Since I switched my routine to solve at the end of my day instead of the start, I haven’t had a single time under 20 minutes, while normally I achieve my 15 minute target more often than not. The new QSnitch doesn’t show that these puzzles have been harder, so I assume that my brain is just dumber after work than before.

    Thanks to Myles and rolytoly.

    1. I remember Steven Pinker explaining somewhere that even though you feel bleary-eyed and slow in the morning, that is an illusion and your mental faculties actually tend to be sharper. The ‘golden hour’, or something.

      1. On the occasions I come to the puzzle late in the day I nearly always feel I have been slower than I would have expected. Doesn’t mean I’m lightening fast in the morning though!

    2. Doofers

      The lead article in today’s Times 2 states that ‘research into the best time of day for logical thinking showed that our powers of rational thought peak between 8am and 2pm so aim to get the heaviest cognitive workload done as early as possible’.

      It also says ‘we should schedule our most mentally challenging tasks for early in the morning’.

      Can’t argue with science! 😀

  6. A tricky one for me this morning with some odd answers, I felt. I was defeated by ORATOR at the end but would’ve come in at just over 30 minutes had all been correct. I found the NW corner especially challenging.

  7. Tough going in places but entertaining throughout.
    Had particular struggles with ILL TREAT, VIRTUOSI (despite seeing how it worked) and LOI BRAINY where I was looking for ‘colourful’ synonyms. Somehow managed to dredge CYCLAMEN from the depths despite the feeling of dread that typically comes when looking for names of flowers.
    Finished in 12.03 with COD to FAST FOOD for the PDM.

    Currently having a debate with myself as to whether it’s better to check the SNITCH before or after attempting the puzzle. Today so I looked at it before so knew it was going to be tricky which was nice in a way as it took the pressure of getting a quick time off. But I’m wondering if it unconsciously preconditions my brain to see the clues as being more difficult than they actually are. More likely it makes no difference and I’m overthinking it 🙄.

    Thanks to Roly

    1. I think preconditioning is rife in the land of the X-word. Some QC solvers are convinced that they will not do well with particular setters, and lo and behold their fears are inevitably borne out. Over on the biggie (where setters are not named) Mondays are said to be easy and Fridays really tough, and again this is reflected in the times and comments. One week the editors might consider sneakily transposing them, just for fun, to see what happens. Anyway I would never look at the snitch first!

      1. “One week the editors might consider sneakily transposing them, just for fun, to see what happens”. They do, they most certainly do! Watch for the term “Mondayish” for a puzzle late in the week, and “tough for a Monday”.

        1. I thought that was just solvers responding to fluctuations in the degree of difficulty! But in general I suspect people open the puzzle on Monday feeling confident they can do it, whereas on Friday they have a predisposition to be defeated even if the puzzle is not as hard as they expected. Today being Friday I will shortly put this to the test!

    2. I went through exactly that thought process this morning as I looked at the QSnitch before the puzzle! Sometimes I wonder if we are the same person, like in Fight Club. You’re Brad Pitt.

  8. Chewy and definitely a thinker, not a stinker. LOI AVOWAL which took many minutes and alpha trawls before the U and I clicked and the penny dropped with a smile. COD. My heart races whenever I see ‘plant’ or ‘bloom’ but fortunately today’s offering was well within reach.
    Escargot summed up my pace today and I am back in my usual chair in the club enjoying a café au lait and a croissant. Thanks Myles and Roly

  9. I found this quite testing, and was surprised to creep inside my target. Having achieved that, I was less surprised to find myself 9th on the leaderboard. MER at FOREGROUND, but I’ve seen worse.

    TIME 4:51

  10. An enjoyablemixture of the easy and tricky, finished fully parsed in below average time.. MER at FOREGROUND, but decided it worked. FOI FAST FOOD but waired for checkers before inking in, LOI BRAINY, COD TOW IT. Thanks Myles and Roly.

  11. Just over 22 minutes. No “golden hour” for me; I was definitely at the “bleary-eyed and slow” end of the spectrum today. Lots that I found hard, especially FOREGROUND and even TURN took a while at the end.

    I wondered if 19a was a triple def but MIGHT for ‘will’ by itself doesn’t really work. Favourite was the Big Mac version of ‘Escargots?’.

    Thanks to rolytoly and Myles

    1. I very nearly did the same with AVOWAL but fortunately picked it up in my pre-submit read through.

  12. 25:18, since I actually clocked my time today. 1A and 1D went in quite smoothly but then the brain cells had to step up a gear through a fair but fairly challenging puzzle. Lots to like: ECHO was neatly hidden, I felt, and AVOWAL raised a smile.
    FOREGROUND wasn’t my favourite but wasn’t hard to see what it was meant to be. Plenty of others to enjoy as a whole pocketful of pennies gradually dropped.

    1. Thank you – I was going to ask Roly “how does (even) ‘one team or another’ lead to WING, please?” but more likely you are right. (And now thank you to Roly, below, too.)

      1. Yes sorry, I should have made that clearer: the surface reading is making you think of a footballer on one team or another; the cryptic reading is referring to one side of the pitch or another, as Jackkt says. So the clue is essentially a play on SIDE meaning both WING and TEAM.

  13. Definitely chewy, as many have said, but all fair and all done in 14 minutes, with several smiles on the way. Some unusual clues, especially Avowal, where the “sounds like” element applied both to the answer (Avowal = A vowel) and to the clue (You or I = U & I). Very clever and I have not seen that before, so it gets my COD.

    L2I were Ill treat and Foreground, the latter getting the raspberry of the day from me as Spotlight is a pretty loose synonym as others have commented. But at least Ill treat stopped it being Fairground, the only other word that even vaguely fitted when I came to the final duo and had F – – – G – O – N – .

    Many thanks to Roly for the blog

  14. Rolytoly says that he is looking forward to seeing how todays crossword fairs on SNITCH. I can only find details for the 15×15 on there. What am I not doing?

  15. 13 minutes of enjoyable tussling with Myles, and I even remembered the plant (botanical names are my kryptonite). Like others, I wondered at FOREGROUND, but put it in with a shrug. I also wanted to spell it AVOWeL, but something held me back. Spelling is my other weakness as a cruciverbalist, as Joe Orion’s lover said in ‘Prick up your ears’, I CAN spell, but not accurately!

    Thanks both.

  16. Could not do any in the NW quarter (except WRONG), nor WING – total eight to the bad. COD to TO WIT, though.
    Interested to read about SNITCH. I clicked on it as directed but can only see “relative difficulty” of the 15×15; where is the new QSnitch, please?

  17. I’ve lately taken to doing the Quickie as a warm up, trying to see if I can get straight through the clues as presented (doesn’t happen often!). This one I thought was a considerable cut above the normal fare, not difficult, really, but with some excellent cluing. I particularly liked I’LL TREAT, TOW IT and HEAVY METAL.

  18. Nice puzzle, if on the tricky side. I was heading for a near average time but for the third time this week I had to correct an error to finish – this time a silly FAIRGROUND… I really should pay more attention to the clues instead of just filling in the gaps with whatever I think of first! When I’d fixed that I finished with ILL-TREAT, having stared at ILL-_I_A_ for ages before the penny dropped. That blew me out to 7:15. I liked FAST FOOD, WRONG and TO WIT (although I’ve seen that one before). Thanks Myles and Roly.
    P.S. I can recommend the Special Extra Puzzle to QC regulars. It really is quite easy.

  19. Like others found this to be pretty tough. My time of 13.05 was just over three minutes outside target, but it was a well constructed puzzle with some excellent clueing. It took me nearly two minutes at the end to get my last two, ILL TREAT and finally BRAINY. It was only after stopping the clock that I managed to parse AVOWAL, but I was confident enough it was correct. Well done Myles!

  20. DNF.
    Gave up after staring at 1 across for 20 minutes.
    Is that supposed to be a fair clue ?
    What a load of rubbish.

    If this offering is a fair “Quick Cryptic” then I will stop doing these puzzles.

    1. Did it occur to you to stop staring at 1ac and move on? And yes, it is a fair clue. This offering is a fair Quick Cryptic, so maybe you should.

      1. Maybe it is a fair puzzle you experts. But these QCs should be for everyone.
        But then maybe if you are so clever you should stick to the 15×15.

        1. For everyone excluding experts then.

          Puzzles that don’t need any acquired skill or knowledge in the solving would not be worth doing. The idea is that people can learn and develop their ability. TfTT aims to provide a friendly environment to enable that.

        2. Hi Dunlop,

          I know what it’s like to get completely frustrated with one clue and I also thought 1ac was tough. I got as far as snails and moved on. Even when I had some of the letters to help me, I almost put Fish Food.

          I hope you’ll continue to attempt the QC. It can be infuriating on occasions (see many of my daily posts!), but it’s a good mental workout and sometimes there is the satisfaction of a decent time.

          Gary (fully paid up SCC member)

    2. Doh! It’s shorter and quicker than the main 15×15. It’s still a Times cryptic. I’m not a solver of the main puzzle but I have a go at this one fairly regularly. It takes me much, much longer than most who post here, but then they tend to be the real keen enthusiasts, it’s their site.
      1A took me about 45 seconds – escargots used as a term in England only when they are on a menu, therefore food, snails are slow but the answer is certainly not, so…; surely, that’s plenty to work with. It’s far from the hardest clue..
      If that’s not the sort of brain exercise that amuses you, definitely do a non cryptic, or sudoku, or an easier cryptic elsewhere. But this is definitely neither rubbish or disgusting. You have a strange attitude to something that you personally don’t seem to like ( although you have gone to the effort to join the site…?). It’s great fun for us what likes it. It’s not compulsory.

    3. That’s a shame.
      I too struggled with 1ac and passed over it many times – along with a lot of Myles’ other clues.
      It took me a long time to get into Myles’ head, but I persevered, and when they finally came to me, I really enjoyed them. 1ac FAST FOOD actually made me laugh.
      Stick with it Dunlop, its worth it.

    4. It’s taken me years of daily practice to be able to regularly complete just the Times QC. The ‘experts’ you describe have, I imagine, honed their skill over a lifetime. If you enjoy a challenge then maybe this is worth pursuing, if not, I wouldn’t – it’s meant to be enjoyable after all.

  21. I thought Myles was a new setter and was not therefore surprised at my slow start. Several clues looked at until ECHO emerged.
    Then it was the most delightful testing challenge. I thought this was a really high quality QC with lots of COD candidates.
    My last in were SALVO and ILL TREAT where Mistreat had been lurking as FAIRWAY not fully parsed.
    15 minutes in the end.
    COD to AVOWAL and thanks to Myles who I now know is not a new setter.

  22. Slow, and I admit I looked up shoes for TRAINER (so obvious!) as I was stuck in SW.
    Then, of course, I got TO WIT and WING. Finished RH side first, then slowly solved FAST FOOD, ILL TREAT and FOREGROUND.
    A witty puzzle, but tricky. Thanks vm, Roly.

  23. Unlike plett11 I’ve made a decision to not look at the Qsnitch until after I’ve finished.

    Seems to have paid off today, as although my time was around my average, it was a decent time compared to the puzzle difficulty (WITCH).

    What a good puzzle though. BRAINY (LOI), ILL TREAT, TO WIT, FAST FOOD, AVOWAL all stood out.


  24. Could only do 4 clues at first look, but (very) gradually the pennies began to drop and I got there in the end with TO WIT/WING last in. Some really neat clues, in retrospect! An entertaining struggle.

  25. 7:46

    Didn’t find this too bad though slow start picking off the lower-hanging fruit to acquire some checkers. Liked BRAINY and VIRTUOSI. My mum grew CYCLAMENs so that came to mind from just a couple of checkers. LOI ILL-TREAT after a short pause for thought. Didn’t fully parse GROOM while in flight.

    Thanks Myles and Roly

  26. Cracking good puzzle, clever clues all over the shop. Chapeau!

    Looking at the QSnitch (then in the 120s) unnerved me somewhat but I finished in my regulation zone so maybe the extra adrenaline helped. Loved AVOWAL and FAST FOOD, both out of the top drawer! Finished off with BRINY in 07:50 for a Very Good Day.

    Many thanks Myles and roly.


  27. Same as lichdb above – struggled to get going then very slowly began filling up the grid. Not sure why I found this trickier than usual as everything was very fairly clued. Anyway, a rewarding finish with COD to AVOWAL, although also enjoyed FAST FOOD. FOI WHOA, LOI ILL TREAT. Great puzzle thanks Myles. Thanks too to roly.

  28. 24:24
    It took me a long time to ‘get into Myles head’ with, as Roly says, a very sparse looking grid after the first few passes.
    When I got there, I found more contenders for COD than I think I’ve ever seen: FAST FOOD (made me laugh), ILL TREAT, HEAVY METAL and BRAINY.
    I stalled in the SW corner taking overly long to see 18dn TO WIT.
    FOI: 9ac ECHO. LOI: 23ac TURN. COD: 18dn TO WIT.
    Thanks Roly and Myles.

  29. That was tough! My FOI was CYCLAMEN, the bottom-right clue, so I was starting to panic by that stage. Fortunately, the down clues proved rather more accessible and I started to get into it.

    By the end, I was still left with some mixed feelings about some of the clues. FAIRWAY, WHOA, WING, FOREGROUND and ILL-TREAT all still sat uneasily with me – a sure sign that I hadn’t parsed them fully, so Roly’s blog was very helpful today.

    Total time = 38 minutes. Not quick, but definitely more satisfying than yesterday’s 60.

    Many thanks to Myles and Rolytoly.

  30. Enjoyable but tricky. Some perhaps bordering on a little too tricky for a QC.

    I’m one of those that didn’t like FOREGROUND. I can see how it works, just, but I feel the setter could have done better there.

    I did like 18d.

    Completed slowly with the cat helping me on 8a.

    1. I seem to remember from my school reports well over half a century ago that ‘could have done better’ was one of the most damning remarks in the teacher’s lexicon!

        1. I was thinking of end of term reports to parents rather than comments on work handed in for marking.

  31. 10.48 but typo with oversse.
    I’m going to stop racing and do a spell check from now on!
    didn’t like cyclamen, obscure word clued as anagram, or foreground.
    COD to wit.

    1. CYCLAMEN was about my FOI. So what’s obscure to one is easy to another 🙂.
      I only remember TO WIT in Dickens, though.

  32. Fired a SALVO at the starting gate and then went a FAIRWAY to solving 1a. I went the WRONG way about solving 3d but it came to the FORE eventually. Some great clues in this one. Needed full concentration. Eventually signed off with AVOWAL. 8:14. Thanks Myles and Roly.

  33. Great stuff. Tussles with FAST FOOD (needed lots of checkers before a groan), ILL TREAT (knew what was going on but had to alphabet trawl to get to the answer), TURN (dunno what the issue was in retrospect) and FOREGROUND (just took a long time to see how the three elements combined). Pleasure only spoiled by AVOWeL, parsed, typed and later regretted. Not all green in 16.

  34. After passing on the first five across clues I checked to see if I’d opened the 15×15 by accident. But I soon gained a toehold and finished in 8:48. Liked AVOWAL. Thanks setter and RolyToly

  35. Dnf…

    After 30 mins, still didn’t have a few clues in the SE corner.

    I put Avowed for 15ac and Means for 19ac, which put me out for everything else. If I’d got the 16dn “Latvian” anagram earlier (and I should have) it may have been a different story.

    Some good clues though. I didn’t mind 3dn “Foreground” – but am probably the only who doesn’t think a footballer is a “wing” – a winger perhaps or a wingback, but “a wing” is definitely on the edge.

    FOI – 4dn “Orator”
    LOI – dnf
    COD – 8ac “Ill Treat”

    Thanks as usual!

  36. I don’t remember coming across Myles as a setter before and it took me some time to familiarise myself with his whimsical style of clueing. In fact I only got 1 definite answer in my first pass of the acrosses, although I had thought of both FFAST FOOD and WHOA but wanted checkers before committing myself. Luckily the downs proved more accomodating but the complete solve still took me 22 minutes – outside my target zone of 15-20 minutes.

    FOI – 12ac OVERSEE
    LOI – 17dn BRAINY
    COD – almost too many to mention! Liked FAST FOOD, ILL TREAT, AVOWAL, HEAVY METAL and TO WIT.

    Thanks to Myles for a most enjoyable puzzle abd to Rolytoly for the blog.

  37. I do the crossword in the newspaper and don’t time as I alway take so long! Am finishing them quite often now though and I loved this one. I thought as others have said that it was going to be really difficult but once I got started and was on the wavelength I quite raced through. I thought the clues were clever and funny. Particularly AVOWAL TO WIT and FAST FOOD
    Some made me giggle out loud. Breath of fresh air. Thank you Myles I hope we see you again soon. Thanks for blog rolytoly. I find the blogs so useful.

  38. 13.00 I’ve already blown through my weekly target but this went much better than yesterday’s. I was also held up by WOAH. I think I would have struggled with BRAINY if briny hadn’t appeared quite recently, possibly in much the same clue. VIRTUOSI was nice. Thanks to rolytoly and Myles.

  39. This seemed quite hard but the clues fell one by one. All done in 50 minutes.
    I struggled with GROOM (only now understanding it) and for BRAINY I wanted the sea to be Irish as that fitted but IRAISH made no sense.
    Thanks Myles and Roly.

  40. 12.15

    Really struggled on this but at least all correct.

    Stared at the checkers for BRAINY at the end for much longer than was comfortable. The snails also took some time but nothing unfair.

    Thanks Myles and Roly

  41. Brilliant QC. A few clues which looked odd but worked perfectly. Many clues edging towards 15 x 15. One of the very best. Loved VIRTUOSI, MIGHT, AVOWAL among others!

  42. I solved only two on the first pass through the acrosses, but like rolytoly, I did better with the downs. I found this the most difficult of the week so far, but I have finished them all. I like To wit best. I also give a “grudgingly admire” award to Fast Food – I felt it was too difficult for a QC, but also I thought it was a brilliant clue. I’m loving the Snitch. I have found that the scores this week are broadly in line with my own experience, although I never time myself because I want to enjoy the crossword throughout the day and not feel pressured.

  43. I finished in 25 mins but it felt much longer. I’m really not with it at the moment. I normally get to the QC after a 14-hour day, so I will take some consolation from the earlier posts concerning the time of day when one’s brain is at its best.

    I struggled badly to get going and made things hard by inserting starter at 18ac. I had a couple of checkers and had a dim memory of wearing shoes with this name.

    A lot of very clever clues and a tough day for the SCC regulars. Definitely one for the more accomplished solver.

    Thanks for the blog.

  44. 22:18

    Struggled with the top left, FAIRWAY and ILL TREAT which I dint think great clues but got there in the end.

  45. Got this in around 45 mins with a few solving aids at the end. Fairly tricky I thought. Like @curryowen I couldn’t figure out BRINY = sea, one looked like an adjective the other a noun but Collins confirmed that it can indeed be a noun.

    I thought 15 across was very clever indeed and my favourite clue. I didn’t get it and had to come here for an explanation, thank you @rolytoly.


    Catch me on twitch at 9pm where I will solve the QC live, https://www.twitch.tv/woodspiral

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