Times Quick Cryptic No 2513 by Teazel – Off to Vacationland

Another portcullis grid today, and a traditionally tougher Setter in Teazel, so maybe some will struggle with that combination, but I completed comfortably in 12 minutes.  However, my ‘standard-candle’ yardstick cannot be relied upon, as I bucked the trend yesterday.  I did have an MER at 17d, but the answer was still obvious.  My thanks to Teazel for a witty puzzle.  I look forward to hearing about your experiences.


8  Chap has difficulty – getting down this?  (7)

MANHOLEMAN (chap) and HOLE (difficulty, as in ‘I’m in a bit of a hole’).  This could be Semi &Lit but I’m not sure.

9  Employ software and play regularly (5)

APPLY APP (software) and alternate letters (regularly) of pLaY.  Employ as in ‘I employ / apply my intellect’.

10  First of convicts to join prison (5)

CLINKC{onvicts} (first of) and LINK (to join).  Apparently, the first CLINK was the prison in Southwark which dated back to 1144 and bore that name.

11  Homework zone, not quite ready (7)

PREPARE PREP (homework) and AREa (zone) ‘not quite’ meaning to drop the last letter.  The definition is the verb (to make READY) rather than the adjective (to be READY).

12  Translate name into prettier version (9)

INTERPRET – Anagram (version) of [PRETTIER] including N{ame}

14  Drop back for vapid chatter (3)

GASSAG (drop) reversed (back).

16  Mouth is to turn black (3)

GOBGO (turn) and B{lack} (chess notation).  GOB is slang for mouth, and familiar from my youth.  I think ‘to’ is redundant and there only to improve the surface.

18  Plot singular right-wing policy (9)

STORYLINE S{ingular] TORY (right-wing) and LINE (policy).

21  Finding opera composer extremely competent (7)

VERDICTVERDI (opera composer) and C{ompeten}T (extremely).

22  In loo, Irish terrier (5)

CAIRNCAN (loo) containing IR{ish}.  According to my Chambers, a CAIRN is ‘a small variety of Scottish terrier… originally bred for driving foxes from their earths among cairns.’

23  Taxes coral islands , but not at first (5)

TOLLS – aTOLLS (coral islands) but drop the first letter.  At first could be taken either as an instruction to drop the first letter of ATOLLS, or it could be ATTOLS but not At (first letter).  Take your pick for the parsing.

24  Singers messed up entry (7)

INGRESS – Anagram (messed up) of [SINGERS].


1  Put Mike into coarse cloth as punishment (8)

SMACKINGSACKING (coarse cloth) containing M{ike} (nato alphabet).

Join up, unusually silent  (6)

ENLIST – Anagram (unusually) of [SILENT].

3  Knead right inside the pan (4)

WORKR{ight} inside WOK (pan).

Number one zoo employee? (6)

KEEPER – Double definition, the first a goalkeeper (who usually wears shirt No 1 in a football team).

5  Records attempt to create wall hanging (8)

TAPESTRY TAPES (records) and TRY (attempt).

6  Confessed about pair helped to escape from prison (6)

SPRANGSANG (confessed) containing PR (pair).

Storage unit that sounds a mouthful (4)

BYTE – Homophone clue (that sounds) sounds like BITE (mouthful).

13  Most dangerous holiday in which I take to the slopes (8)

RISKIESTREST (holiday) containing (in which) I SKI (I take to the slopes).

15  Small quantity of beer goes to the head in seaside resort (8)

SKEGNESS S[mall} KEG (quantity of beer) before (goes to) NESS (head).  SKEGNESS is a popular seaside town in Lincolnshire on the east coast of England.

17  Block off cathedral?  Not quite (6)

BARELYBAR (block off) and ELY (an example of a cathedral).  I had an MER at barely = not quite.  If one says that ‘I barely made it on time’ one means that one did make it on time, but only just.  If one says ‘I did not quite make it on time’ one is saying that they were late, but only just.  Can anyone think of a statement where they are equivalent?

19  Get the better of Oxford University fool (6)

OUTWITOU (Oxford University) and TWIT (fool).  It could equally be the Open University (my alma mater) but I think the TWITs all went to Oxford – only joking!.

20  Flowers: one comes up (6)

IRISESI (one) and RISES (comes up).

21  Refuse to allow surgeon the lead in operation (4)

VETO VET (veterinary surgeon) and O{peration} (lead in).

22  Secretive about good play’s ending (4)

CAGYCA (circa, about) with G{ood} and {pla}Y (ending).

67 comments on “Times Quick Cryptic No 2513 by Teazel – Off to Vacationland”

  1. I DNF today again because I had never heard of Skegness and who knows what sorts of crazy things people call amounts of beer in the UK so I was loathe to guess. I also couldn’t get SPRANG – I guess I didn’t know ‘pr’ could be pair.

    The rest of it took me a very long time though, 40-50 minutes including time I spent googling different types of terrier dogs.
    I nho Cairn Terrier.


    I had Apply and Tolls for about 15 min before I got Work in third, after which things finally began to fall into place.

    I agree that Barely does not equal Not Quite to me; ‘barely’ scrapes through, just enough, ‘not quite’ misses the mark.

    Thanks for the blog!

  2. 12:45 Agree with Rotter and Tina that BARELY and not quite don’t really equate-although I didn’t see that while solving. Also needed blog to understand parsing of GOB. STORYLINE, OUTWIT and VERDICT were favourites. We had several CAIRN terriers over the years because my wife said Dorothy’s dog in The Wizard of Oz was one. I wanted Spithead or Southend for SKEGNESS before I thought of KEG.

  3. In Chambers (my go-to dictionary, only because it has the best iPad app), definition #3 of “barely” is “not quite”!!

  4. 10.05. I was going like a rocket until I hit a wall in the SE, and was delayed considerably by CAIRN, SKEGNESS and LOI IRISES. In retrospect I was probably guilty of overthinking it all, except when it came to BARELY. Liked SKEGNESS and OUTWIT, thought CAGY lacked an E like I do when people write aging. In MANHOLE I wasn’t sure about the direct equivalence of difficulty and hole, seeing the latter only works with an A in front of it. But I didn’t care about the extra to in GOB so maybe it’s better just to go with the flow. Thanks Rotter and Teazel.

      1. 🤣🤣🤣 So was I! I thought MANHOLE immediately and discounted it as it didn’t seem to parse. I still don’t like it.

        I did the same thing with another two clues today.

  5. Just over 20 but my typing was better today. Major hold up at the end with CAGY and CAIRN – perhaps one day can for loo will properly stick. Toyed with ‘ongy’ and ‘regy ‘ before CAGY went in with a groan. The extra ‘to’ grated but I’m on holiday and so solving without paper and pen which seems to have made a massive difference to both my times and crossword grumpiness.

  6. 9 minutes with one of those wasted by first thinking of SPRUNG at 6dn and then having to think again when a checker arrived to rule it out.

    I agree with Lindsay about GOB. Without ‘to’ the grammar of the clue makes no sense (Mouth is turn black) and if setters were not allowed commonplace link words their art would be even more difficult and their clues less involving for solvers.

    It hadn’t occurred to me that there was a problem with ‘not quite / BARELY’ but in the absence of anyone coming up with an example that works I agree with Rotter’s POV despite what the dictionaries (Chambers and Collins) may say, although they of course justify the clue as presented.

    1. Jack, I’ve mulled this over for a while and the best I can come up with is:

      Given the number of guests invited, there was barely enough food, on the buffet.

      Given the number of guests invited, there was not quite enough food, on the buffet.

  7. Putting in SPRUNG for 6d buggered things up for a bit, as either that or ‘sprang’ would’ve worked, and also slowed me down for the PREPARE crossing, doubly so since we never did prep at my secondary modern school. (In fact, most of us never did homework full stop.) The CAIRN/CAGY crossover slowed me down too as I’ve never heard of ‘ca’ being used for ‘circa’. It had to be though, so in it went with crossed fingers.
    A nice puzzle though, all completed in around 20 minutes.
    Thanks to Teazel and Rotter.

  8. Steady going today with no serious hold ups.
    BARELY went in without the slightest urge to twitch an eyebrow and I feel it’s close enough to work.
    Started with APPLY and finished with SPRANG in 7.05 and COD to VERDICT.
    Thanks to Rotter

  9. Jeebus. Another technical DNF – this time for CAGG, even though I definitely put in CAGY. My paws have been inexpertly mashing away at a laptop keyboard all week, which might explain it, but I also go for speed in the concise (PB today, and third on the leaderboard at this early stage – hurrah!), and no such problems there.

    Anyway, a medium strength puzzle for me today, slightly slow to see IRISES and my LOI STORYLINE, which was also COD.


  10. Working fingers today, which is something…. Brain not working quite so well though, so not so speedy at 4:22.
    Put in SPRUNG at first for 6d, luckily PREPARE was a write in, with the double effect of not holding me up with a dodgy crosser and fixing said crosser. Had that been unchecked it is absolutely inevitable that I would have submitted with it still being, well, unchecked.

    Only a few acrosses at the first pass, but the downs flowed quite well so other than the above a reasonably straightforward solve – probably helped by SKEGNESS being a go-to place for the family to visit (at least a couple of times a year).

  11. I’m not inclined to give as free a pass as Lindsay and Jack to Teazel for the surplus “to” in 16a, since its inclusion made the clue ambiguous. I read “to turn” as indicating a reversal, and wasted quite a bit of time wondering whether “bog” really meant “black” even though GOB seemed the obvious answer.

    Otherwise a steady solve, delayed only by BARELY and LOI BYTE, where I was looking for a cupboard! As a Cantab I have to give COD to the OU-TWIT, which made me smile. All done in reggo 07:52 for a Good Day.

    Many thanks Teazel and Rotter.


    1. Being ambiguous is one of the purposes of cryptic crossword clues. The solver’s job is to find the logic that works and gives the correct answer.

      1. Obviously. But sometimes the ambiguity is not a display of the setter’s skill; it is just that the clue has been poorly constructed (for example, when it is impossible to tell which part is the definition and which is the homophone – a regular source of complaint on here).

  12. 11:02 (birth of Matilda, daughter of Henry I)

    Fast, except for the final two, CAIRN and CAGY. NHO the terrier, and have only encountered can=loo in crosswords. I took a while to remember that circa can be abbreviated to ca as well as to c.

    Thanks Rotter and Teazel

  13. A fairly steady solve today, though had to jump about a bit. Was then held up at the end as I too had put Sprung instead of SPRANG, but the penny dropped finally, so LOI PREPARE.
    Was not sure why Bog was black but GOB had to be. (explained in blog, I see.)
    Didn’t know KEEPER was no 1, but it also had to be.
    Thanks vm, Rotter. Relieved to finish in reasonable time after yesterday’s debacle.

  14. To my mind, today was a classic example of a Times Quick Crossword. All the flavour and style of the main Times Crossword but without a lot of the obscurity, misdirection, multiple levels of wordplay I associate with the big one.

    Knocked off in just under 15 minutes over breakfast and just right to confirm the old brain is still working to head off to work.

    Thanks Teazel. Perfect!

    1. Very pleased to read this, James. There’s far too much negativity around here about the Quick Cryptics.

  15. Just outside target today at 10.06. I would have been much speedier if I hadn’t written in DIP for 14ac. This meant that both 6dn and 15dn ended or began with the wrong letter. It was only when I solved SPRANG that I realised my stupid mistake. My LOI SKEGNESS then came easily.

  16. Liked this one. LOI by a long way was BYTE. Wanted it to be some kind of cupboard for far too long. Biffed IRISES then saw clever wordplay. Enjoyed GOB/BARELY although penny very slow to drop on both. Like Countrywoman didn’t know a keeper is no. 1 but had to be. No problems with SPRANG. NHO CAIRN as terrier but went in on trust. COD to VERDICT. I thought this was less teazel-y (tricky) than usual. Thanks for the blog Rotter.

  17. From CLINK to BARELY in 7:18. WORK and CAGY needed the crossers. Thanks Teazel and Rotter.

  18. 15 minutes today but I had to work hard. A slow start and solving depended on very careful reading of the clues.
    LOI was MANHOLE after WORK. The HOLE bit is tricky.
    I share concerns about Not Quite and the TO in 16a.
    But it was a good QC overall.

  19. Looks like I’m heading for a clean sweep of SCC mornings this week, unless the editor surprises us with a gimme tomorrow. Nothing unfair but my brain wasn’t very focused, so everything took a bit longer than it should.
    SW was slow as I couldn’t remember what the lumpy coral things were called, and forgot the a surgeon is always a vet, not a variant of doctor. And had skipped over VERDICT so didn’t have those checkers yet. But I got there, so that’s fine. Large Americano, please, and a small beer chaser.

  20. A Breezeblock solve. I got to 17d (my LOI) which used the word block. Like Rotter I had a MER but unlike Rotter I didn’t find it obvious. Despite Chambers definition 3 I can’t see that BARELY equates to not quite. Not quite means nearly and nearly is not barely. 9:35 but I could have been so much quicker.

  21. I am another who knows nothing of football – I close my ears whenever the subject comes up. I often turn off the radio/TV for just long enough to miss that bit of the news. So thanks to Rotter for that and to Teazel for the xword.
    I also turn off Radio 4 on Sunday at 08:10 until at least 08:50 when the god-bothering is on. I quite enjoy Thought For the Day which is religious, but it doesn’t seem so adamant about belief.

  22. 10 minutes, with LOI Cairn put in from checkers and the wordplay, the little dog being not one I know. But apart from that, I thought this quite addressable, and certainly more friendly than the first three this week which were tough.

    Many thanks to Rotter for the blog: the controversy over the shades of meaning of barely/not quite passed me by when doing the puzzle but on reading the comments here I do think you have a valid point, whatever the dictionary says.

  23. Harder than it looked at first and tussled with Sprang/Sprung to take me well into the club, arriving just before chuck out time to find coffee cold and croissants all gone. Need to clear my head of other issues if I am to focus on faster solves.
    Thanks all.

  24. 8:53

    It was the SW corner plus 1d that did for me – I’d got it into my head that Mike would make 1d _MIC_I__. Of course, once the correct word went in the remaining five clues flowed in double-quick. I liked STORYLINE.

    It is interesting what time-pressure can do – whether it is sixty minutes to complete three puzzles and qualify for the semis, or knowing that one normally completes QCs of a particular setter in x minutes, it is usually better to forget about the time and clear one’s mind for a smoother solve.

    Thanks Teazel and TheRotter

  25. Annoying DNF today, putting COGY instead of CAGY. I’d love to be able to claim this was a typo, but as I solve on paper, it was just me being too anxious to stop my watch and not thinking deeply enough about the clue, even though I had never heard of a play’s ending being referred to as the COGY. I suppose I had CODA in mind somewhere and with the setter being Teazel, just about (BARELY?) anything was possible. Anyway, ignoring that, I found this easier than the rest of the week’s offerings and didn’t finish in 15:57. COD to VERDICT. Thanks Rotter and Teazel.

  26. My first missed target of the week, caused by a very slow start, a sloppy SPRUNG which had to be amended, and a final battle in the NW corner. Eventually I popped in the C at the start of 10A which made SMACKING clear and enabled me to mop up.

    I could BARELY credit 17D. Think horse racing (I’ve just had a 7-1 winner at Lingfield 😊). If my horse had squeezed home on the finish line, he’d BARELY have won, but if he’d missed out he’d not quite have won. Or is it me misusing BARELY?

    TIME 5:09

    1. I like your horse race illustration. My take was an exam where 60% was the passing grade. A mark of 60% meant you BARELY scraped through, while a 59% meant you didN’T QUITE make it. The former equals success, the latter failure.

  27. I was so pleased with myself for remembering that flowers are always rivers that it was quite a disappointment to find out these ones were IRISES.
    For me this was on the trickier side and didn’t feel as if I was on the same wavelength as Teazel today. Made a poor start over breakfast but more progress over coffee and finally fished in the SE after looking up terrier names. Well over an hour.
    Thanks for the blog Rotter.

    1. You and me both pleased with ourselves about flowers and disappointed by the outcome 🤔

  28. 30 mins….

    Literally just on my cut off – but what a slog. A classic bog puzzle (one in which I’m crawling through mud to get to the end). But, at least I finished it and broke my potential for a week of dnf’s.

    Difficult to pick out anything specific, although even I was struggling with 15dn “Skegness” (couldn’t get Southport out of my head for some reason) – so I felt for anyone who doesn’t know these shores too well.

    FOI – 4dn “Keeper”
    LOI – 7dn “Byte”
    COD – 4dn “Keeper”

    Thanks as usual!

  29. We used to have a Cairn. I wouldn’t recommend them as pets unless you are a rat catcher or similar. In our experience they are headstrong and independent and not particularly loving or companionable to humans. Ours used to take off across the Downs chasing hot air balloons. Never caught one.

    1. I wonder what role is “similar” to a rat catcher that would suit a cairn terrier.
      We have a Bedlington terrier, a breed famed for proverbial rat catching speed and determination. Ours however, other than her uncatchable speed and agility has never shown any such heritage although its lamb like looks and lack of any shedding, coupled to a docile affectionate temperament are much admired.

      1. Bedlingtons are sweet and very lamb like.
        Our Cairn once spent a whole weekend with its nose pressed under my in laws’ shed convinced there was something there. He was a liability.
        They would be useful for any rodent catching purpose. Or maybe rabbits?
        Ours was very smelly as well. He lost his undercoat and just had the top coat – I was later told this was a result of having him neutered but they didn’t tell me that at the time. He wasn’t the most successful of our succession of pets. Our present Bichon/Poodle/Jack Russell cross is wonderful.

  30. 13:03. NHO a CAIRN terrier, my LOI, but once I spotted CAGY (which I also think is missing an E), it had to be.

    Same thoughts as many others about BARELY meaning “only just succeeded” not “only just failed”.

    Thanks to Teazel and TheRotter.

  31. Yet another very difficult offering, not helped by the grid. Needed a bit of help, but, with a few guesses when some of the letters were in (CAGY, BARELY, VETO SKEGNESS, SPRANG, managed it in the end. I wonder how many of our overseas solvers knew SKEGNESS?

  32. 21D messed my head up as I scribbled in STOP with the first letters of Surgeon and The on Op (operation) all neatly laddering up to Refuse to allow!!! Doh!!

  33. It looks like our reprieve has definitely come to a shuddering halt. 47 minutes on Tuesday, 169 minutes (yes, really!) yesterday and now 58 minutes today.

    I found almost every clue hard – right from the off. FOI was CLINK and LOI was the NHO CAIRN – and that was only after I had finally thought of SKEGNESS.

    5 hrs 11 mins and counting, this week. However, all 98 clues solved. It can’t be all bad … can it?

    Many thanks to Teazel and Rotter.

  34. After taking a break on Wednesday to mentally refresh following the DNF disasters of Monday (29mins), Tuesday (57mins); I returned to the battle with yesterday’s Wurm. Having seen it relatively high on the Quitch, I wasn’t looking forward to it so was very pleased to get it sorted in 20mins – just into the SCC. Having read the blog and others’ experiences I feel that was a good performance.

    Then I was due to do today’s and saw Teazel’s name. So I made lunch instead.

    Post lunch, I was somewhat pleased to get it done in just over 21mins albeit a typo (climk) but hey it’s not the world championship. Didn’t know a CAIRN was a terrier.

    Wasn’t bothered by barely vs not quite – after all they’re both small amounts either side of a specific value.

    Final thought – glad I didn’t come onto the site homepage earlier. Would have been somewhat miffed to be tipped off by the blog title. I’d respectfully request bloggers don’t put anything in the title or abstract that can be seen on the homepage.

    Thanks to The Rotter for an, as always, comprehensive bit of blogging.

  35. DNF. I had GAB for vapid chatter, which gave BAG for drop, which I justified as in “I bagged/dropped six grouse before breakfast”.

      1. Thanks Mr R. I’ve taken your advice and imposed a 60-minute cut off from now on.

        I’ve also taken Invariant’s advice and cut out the self-critical comments (very hard for me to do).

        Good luck tomorrow.

  36. DNF

    Couldn’t see PREPARE, put PRELATE but not in hope. Would have been 26 minutes anyway so a tough one.

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