Times Quick Cryptic No 2526 by Joker


Hello everyone, Doofenschmirtz here filling in for Merlin who is away this week.

This was a fun one from Joker, with a twist that I – for once – spotted while solving, and then totally failed to use to my advantage. I finished in 12:44, so inside my target time.

In case you didn’t spot the twist:

Every letter in the alphabet occurs in the grid: this is called a pangram. Having spotted that a pangram was likely *AND* that the Z hadn’t turned up yet, I still did a painstaking alphabet trawl to obtain ZONKED, my LOI. D’oh!

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

7 Concerned with seeing us reflected in glass bottle (6)
VISUALUS reversed [reflected] inside VIAL (glass bottle).
8 I cry a river, which indicates constant pressure (6)
ISOBARI SOB (cry) A R (standard abbreviation for river).

An isobar is a line on a weather map that joins points of equal atmospheric pressure, just as a contour line joins points of equal elevation on a land map.

9 Confine naughty child reportedly out of bed (8)
IMPRISONIMP (naughty child) + a homophone [reportedly] of “risen” (out of bed).
10 Retained most of key part (4)
KEPTKEy [most of “key”] + PT for part, as in “Henry IV Pt 1”.

I had to study Henry IV Pt 1 for O Level English. I’ve never managed to love Shakespeare’s history plays after that experience.

11 Beginning of summer affected island’s seafood (6)
SCAMPISummer [beginning of..] + CAMP (affected) + I for island.
13 Pay for what bow and arrow do (5)
ENDOW – The words “bow” and “arrow” both “end OW”.


14 Specify five — just half ten (3)
FIXFIve [five – just half] + X (Roman ten).
15 Jack in the morning: my, that’s lucky! (5)
JAMMYJ for Jack (as in playing cards) + AM (in the morning) + MY.

This may be a stretch for non-UK based solvers: I’m pretty confident I’ve never heard “jammy” used to mean “lucky” here in the US.

17 Joker, perhaps, holds old whiskey and chicken (6)
COWARDCARD (Joker, perhaps), including O for old and W for whiskey (NATO phonetic alphabet).
19 Staff’s first sign of split with tons leaving (4)
CLEF – CLEFt (split) with T for tons removed [leaving].

At the risk of appalling the musicians in the readership, the “staff” is the set of horizontal lines that music is written on, and the first symbol written is normally (always?) the clef, most commonly the treble clef 𝄞 or the bass clef 𝄢.

20 Woodwind instrument recital arranged around noon (8)
CLARINET – anagram [arranged] of RECITAL + N for noon.
22 Strong resentment about lake fisherman (6)
ANGLERANGER (strong resentment) around [about] L for lake.
23 Lubricant’s good — runs with lack of effort (6)
GREASEG for good, + R for runs (cricket) + EASE (lack of effort).
1 Tree on top of mountain is unshakeable (4)
FIRMFIR (tree) on Mountain (top of mountain).
2 Follower often of status with odd requirement for meeting (6)
QUORUMQUO (follower often of “status”) + RUM (odd).
3 Catalogue biological grouping if unknown (8)
CLASSIFYCLASS (biological grouping) + IF + Y (unknown, as in algebra).
4 Family installing large oven (4)
KILNKIN (family) including L (large)
5 Exhausted area with duke interring king (6)
ZONKEDZONE (area) + D for duke including K for king.

This was my LOI. I spent fully 3 minutes looking at _O_K_D, even though I was certain the puzzle needed a Z. I’m blaming the time change.

6 Personnel weapon exploded in mortar’s casing (8)
MANPOWER – Anagram [exploded] of WEAPON in MortaR [mortar’s casing].
I liked this clue a lot, probably my favorite of the day. Trickier than we often see in the quickie, but fairly clued.
12 I con gal excitedly to embrace Joker, using flattery to get results (8)
CAJOLING – Angram [excitedly] of I CON GAL with a J for Joker included.

Joker’s second self-reference of the puzzle?

13 Swap  farthings and threepenny bits? (8)
EXCHANGE – Double definition. Since farthings and threepenny bits are no longer legal tender, they are now ex-change.
16 Quieten beast of burden, very loud inside (6)
MUFFLEMULE (beast of burden) including FF (very loud, from music).
18 Grow pale when accepting it (6)
WHITEN – well, what to say? It’s literally WHEN accepting IT.
20 Fish, grouse or beef (4)
CARP – I think this is a double definition. I tried to convince myself that ‘grouse’ and ‘beef’ make this a triple, but they are basically the same meaning of ‘carp’, to complain.
21 A little variable as to direction (4)
EAST – Hidden in [a little] “variablE AS To


92 comments on “Times Quick Cryptic No 2526 by Joker”

  1. DNF, did not see the Pangram hence missed out on ZONKED. I went with WORKED, which isn’t bad for “exhausted” but WORE for “area” doesn’t compute.

    Thanks Doofers for covering my slot. I have never spotted a pangram(or any other species of Nina) in my short blogging career, so you saved my face today.

    Very slow to get going for me, but some very good clues, especially QUORUM, ISOBAR &IMPRISON, not easy but fair.

    Ten hour flight coming up, but I’ve downloaded the 15×15 and Saturdays Jumbo to keep me busy.

  2. 13:43. ENDOW and EXCHANGE are a fun type of clue for me. Probably MUFFLE was my COD. I only knew JAMMY from “jammy sod”. ZONKED reminded me of the sixties. Noel Coward was certainly funny but I think he was more of an urbane wit than a JOKER.

    1. I agree, Noel was never a JOKER nor do I think he was a coward. But had he been a coward you could say he was CHICKEN.

  3. I didn’t notice the pangram, but then I never do. Biffed QUORUM, never parsed it. DNK JAMMY. I liked ENDOW. 6:14.
    I loved 4H1 when I first read it, and still do; Falstaff is one of the great Shakespearean characters.

  4. I think this is the first time I’ve ever spotted a pangram. Now, I had seen the intro, which was a tip-off, though I was disappointed that the “twist” was not something more interesting (I didn’t look for a pangram—faute de mieux—until I’d finished). It’s surely true, though, that the difficulty of making a pangram rises in inverse relation to the size of the grid.

  5. 8:52. Spotted the pangram which did help. NHO JAMMY for ‘lucky’ but wordplay and crossers left little room for anything else. I could well be be wrong but I parsed CARP as a triple def, with the three different types of meat in the clue.

    1. But two of those types of meat are idioms that express the same definition (or the same two: to complain/a complaint), while the other definition of CARP is just a fish.

  6. DNF.

    I never spot pangrams either but it may have helped me in the end because I nho QUORUM before, which my last clue I didn’t get and couldn’t bother trying to nut out.

    JAMMY seems like a word straight from a story about boarding school be it Enid Blyton or Harry Potter

    I really liked EXCHANGE and MANPOWER and hated ENDOW. It doesn’t make sense to me when you read the clue.

  7. VISUAL, IMPRISON and QUORUM made the NW something of a hold-out, but otherwise no great probs. All done in 8.39, with JAMMY a guess and ZONKED coming not from the pangram but figuring that area might be zone. When we say pangram we just mean the puzzle contains all the valuable letters in scrabble, I bet no-one checks whether every single one of the more boring letters is represented. Thanks to Joker and the Doof.

    1. I actually did check for every letter before declaring the puzzle a pangram! Even the dull ones. 😀

      1. Indeed. We’ve had several examples over the years of puzzles with one common letter missing. The most notable was QC 357 on 22 July 2015 set by Noel, which would have been a double pangram but for there being No L (geddit?).

      2. Are there any “dull” letters? The first such letter must surely be interesting for its dullness. The next so-called dull letter, must then be interesting … and so on. A paradox?

      1. Ha ha ok indeed I do, good to know that the guardians of pangram rectitude are on the job! It means the rest of us can sleep soundly at night, get one with our lives (one of which we each have) etc…No L indeed, I wonder (someone will know) whether the words Christmas and Coward have ever been used in the same clue?

  8. 9 minutes, delayed momentarily at the end by ZONKED. Spotting the possibility of a pangram might have helped with that but I only considered the idea following the arrival of the Z.

  9. Nothing until FIX so the desperation was rising but then things moved fast until I ground to a halt with CLEF and ZONKED. Complete and utter misdirection with ‘staff’ for the first and ‘zone’ for area was just slow to come – both excellent clues! Enjoyed ISOBAR and ENDOW and CARP. All green in 14.

  10. Like Merlin, I mistakenly bunged in ‘worked’ for ZONKED realising it didn’t quite parse. Some nice clues today though so can’t complain. I especially liked CLEF, I thought FIX was clever in its misleadingness and EXCHANGE made me smile.
    0/2 for me this week so far then, and I again squeezed into the SCC having spent so long trying to work out ZONKED. So I remain at the back of the class and really Must Try Harder if I’m to avoid a detention this week.
    Thanks as ever to Joker and Doof.

    1. Hello IttT. I had cOoKED for a while, but saw ZONKED when I realised that a pangram was on the cards.

      1. Well done Mr Random. I must admit that I wouldn’t see a pangram if it hit me in the face!

  11. Average difficulty for me, starting with ISOBAR and finishing with ZONKED. For once I did spot the pangram but only when proofreading pre-submission so it didn’t help with any of the clues. I was particularly pleased to get CLEF fairly quickly as I’ve previously gotten very stuck on that meaning of staff.
    An entertaining solve which I finished in 7.23.
    Thanks to Doofers and Joker

  12. DNF today as I missed Zonked (nho), Carp (didn’t know the other meaning) and Clef (didn’t know staff was the name of the pentagram!). Liked Quorum and found satisfying getting Endow right.
    Overall a frustrating and slow puzzle for me.
    Two questions for the expert solvers: a pangram i guess is a puzzle where all the letters are represented: do they have to appear in a particular order tho?
    Also, I’m ashamed to ask: what’s a LOI?

    1. Last One In 😄

      If you look for the “useful links” box, you’ll see a link to a Glossary – it explains LOI, pangram and much else besides 👍🏻

  13. Not only did I spot that it was a pangram, but I used that realisation (a) to correct “conked” (I thought “cone” might = “area” in some bit of geometry) to ZONKED and (b) to get my last two, QUORUM and VISUAL (having gone through the alphabet and found that Q, U and V were missing). So proud of myself.

    Less proud of 08:39 and 1.4K but it was Joker on a portcullis so I’m going to cut myself some slack and say Goodish Day.

    Many thanks Joker and Doofers.


  14. 7:44 (Hildeprand “the useless” deposed as King of the Lombards)

    LOI ZONKED – I had failed to spot the pangram.

    Thanks Doofers and Joker

  15. I had GREASY instead of GREASE. Part of this is probably just going too quickly but actually I think GREASY is a perfectly acceptable answer given that “lubricant” can be a noun or adjective. It’s arguably a better answer as the “with” becomes an integral part of the wordplay rather than just a connector.

    1. I tried to justify easy as well, because as you say it is a better fit with “lack of effort” but I decided it was a noun, not sure why except that it is much more commonly met.

    2. But “lack of effort” is “ease,” not “easy,” which would be something like “requiring little effort.” I think “easy” is a noun only in the locution “the Big Easy” (NOLA).

        1. No, that’s “easily.” Something that can be done with lack of effort is “easy,” but “with lack of effort” all alone is “easily”: “I solved this puzzle easily.” “The puzzle was easy.”

          1. I think “easy” can be used as an adverb too. As in Tina Turner saying they’re gonna play Proud Mary “nice and easy”. Or the colloquial “take it easy” or “easy tiger”

            1. OK. But I still don’t think GREASY is better, or equivalent, because (especially in a QC) seeing “lubricant” as an adjective is a bit of a squint.

              1. It depends what you mean by “equivalent or better”.

                I’d agree that if I had thought about it carefully in the context of a QC I would have plumped for GREASE.

                But I think one should judge a clue independently on its merits and I stand by “equivalent or better” – lubricant is an adjective even if it is less commonly used in that sense.

  16. I wish I’d spotted the pangram as I went for CONKED as in CONKED out and I thought it sort of worked with CONE as in coning off an area… oh well…

    Lots to make me smile in this especially when I thought of The Quo! Those were the days.

    Great surfaces especially Fish, grouse or beef.

    Thanks Doofers and Joker

  17. 9 minutes, held up for at least 2 of those minutes by LOI Quorum. The idea of Quo as “follower often of status” is clever, and obviously too good for me! If I had spotted it was a pangram I might have done better, but I didn’t and I didn’t.

    Very nice puzzle, with only the slightest of queries over Specify = Fix. Not an obvious synonym to me.

    Many thanks Doofers for the blog

      1. Thanks. That works (so Joker is absolved) … but I’d also say it was hardly the strongest synonym (so I comfort myself that I wasn’t missing anything too obvious). The problem I suppose is that fix is becoming one of those all-things-to-all-men words which can mean any number of things, from making a hot drink (“Can I fix you a coffee”) to making a real mess of things (“He’s got himself in a real fix”).

  18. But of a red letter day, in that I did spot it was a pangram (after the unusal Zonked went in) and just in time to help with my last two, Quorum and Visual. That gave me a 16min finish, which I’m happy with given my recent struggles with Joker. Quite a few CoD candidates in a very enjoyable puzzle, but I think the construction of 6d, Manpower, just nudges it ahead of 13ac, Endow. Invariant

  19. 10 minutes of which several spent getting LOI ZONKED. POI was CLEF.
    Did not spot the pangram.
    A good puzzle with a hard grid.
    COD to QUORUM.

  20. Managed to complete with some help from the cat. There were some difficult clues in this QC.

    It took me a long time to complete; you’ll get no excuses from me. Nobody knocked on my door, I’m not feeling ill and I slept well. So I’ll admit that I struggled with this one. 🤣

  21. As one who has at least twice declared pangram when it wasn’t, can I say that I too now rigorously check (as I did today) before believing. When I’m blogging, I go so far as to “find in page” each letter of the alphabet. Good to have one in the Quickie, and it helped with the otherwise tricky ZONKED.

  22. 30 mins, and I would not have got ZONKED, my LOI, if I hadn’t by then realised it was likely to contain a Z. The NE generally was my biggest problem otherwise, not having realised the pangram until much later. Joker is a setter whose style often causes me difficulty although I much enjoy working them out. Liked CARP, QUORUM and ENDOW amongst several more.
    Now need a stiff drink in the SCC to recover from my exertions.

  23. 10:51
    Pangram didn’t register. Bit of a struggle with last few isobar, zonked, whiten, and LOI clef.
    3 candidates for COD: quorum, isobar, and endow.

    I thought “jammy” would be used lots of times in Life of Brian, but it seems just once, most were you lucky …b&£$^%d

  24. Finished two consecutive crosswords – that’s a first. Tomorrow’s will probably be a real stinker. Didn’t spot the twist, only read about a pangram once in a blog. Zonked was the last one in and fix was guessed as I don’t see it and specify meaning the same thing. Favourite was endow.

  25. DNF. Could not see ZONKED, baffled by the “duke interring king” bit. Guessed CLEF – not many words fit in with -L-F!!

  26. Had to look up Area to get Zone and hence ZONKED, and hence pangram penny dropping at last.
    Thought this was difficult and see that I put Greasy instead of GREASE so DNF.
    FOI EXCHANGE then CLARINET helped with SE corner and CAJOLING with SW.
    All in all a struggle. Blog much needed, esp for COD ENDOW, so thanks, Doofers.

  27. Over target at 15:41, but very enjoyable. I spotted the possibility of a pangram fairly early, but didn’t need to use it as ZONKED came to me. I could have used it for my LOI, VISUAL, but didn’t. Loved some of these clues, and sympathise with those who thought of GREASY first, although I would argue that ease = lack of effort and lubricant = grease are better synonyms than their alternatives. Thanks both.

  28. A bit slow. Never saw the pangram (of course; I never do.)
    ZONKED took some finding. QUORUM was clever.
    Took a while to parse CLEF(t), was going to complain until I saw the light.

  29. 11′. As others didn’t think of the pangram until I saw from the blog that there was a twist. Hence ZONKED held me up till zone popped out. I thought EXCHANGE was very nice! Thanks all.

  30. 34.06 … loved every minute of that until I came to the 12min alphabet trawl for ZONKED then, when I got it, went back to absolutely loving it. Was getting miffed that I was going to have to bung in worked, bonked, conked or forked from a poorly defined clue, but no it was definitive. If only I’d broadened my field of vision and spotted the pangram 🤦‍♂️

    Tougher than usual for Joker but then a portcullis grid doesn’t help and this cements his position as my favourite setter. ENDOW possibly my clue of the year – may have seen it before but it still raised a hearty laugh.

    Currently in first place for the SCOT award – Slowest Completion Of Today 🏆

    Edit: just realised that my parsing of ENDOW was different to Doofers. I’d taken it to be the expression of pain for the person receiving the arrow!!

  31. After firing through yesterday’s in a time which would probably have got me in a rare trip out of the SCC (I don’t time myself accurately, I do it in the hope of finishing), this one got off to a slow start with nothing until the SW corner. However things picked up and spotting the likelihood of a pangram when some two thirds of the way through (an unusual occurrence for me) certainly helped to clear up QUORUM and VISUAL in the NW corner. Getting ZONKED helped to confirm that there was a theme.
    I don’t usually enjoy puzzles with a theme, as the clues often seem “forced”, but this one flowed nicely once I’d got going.
    CLEF was my LOI, enjoyed both ENDOW and EXCHANGE.
    Thanks to Joker for the puzzle and Doofers for the blog.

  32. Had entered WORKED for 5d but it just wouldn’t parse so started again and after spotting that area might be part of the clue and doing a 26 letter alphabet crawl ZONKED jumped out as clearly the right answer. Phew!
    Very good puzzle with lots of clever clues, favourites being ENDOW, VISUAL and MANPOWER.
    Thanks Joker and Doofers for explaining QUO, the only one I didn’t parse fully.

    1. Thanks #5 – well done on persevering through with it. Seems like you will be taking the SCOT 🏆 from me.

      For what it’s worth, I realised the 3rd letter had fewer possibilities to trawl as not many things precede a K and with the area= -O-E you can also discount many e.g. vowels. So I was left with only trawling through -OCE, -OLE, -ONE, -ORE, -OSE as realistic options.

      As for QUORUM, saved myself the alphabet trawl by remembering to try Q-before-U.

  33. 15 mins…

    Having feeling slightly zonked after going to gym, I was pleased to get through this in a steady pace. Have to admit, never properly parsed 13ac “Endow” and thought “Campi” for 11ac was an island in its own right. For once, I did spot it was a pangram.

    FOI – 4dn “Kiln”
    LOI – 19ac “Clef”
    COD – 17ac “Coward”

    Thanks as usual!

  34. After 13 minutes I had all but three: 8ac, 2dn and 5dn. So I went off and did something else for half an hour which often leads to instant PDMs when I restart but unfortunately it didn’t today. It took me a further 7 minutes to crack those last three leading to an acceptable but not great time of 20 minutes. Of course I hadn’t spotted the pangram which I’m sure would have knocked a few minutes off.

    FOI – 7ac VISUAL
    LOI – 5dn ZONKED
    COD – 13ac ENDOW

    Thanks to Joker and Doofers

  35. This more than made up for a Wordle disappointment earlier this morning (see below).

    After a very slow start – CLEF (my 10th clue) was my FOI – I picked up speed and fairly scorched my way around the grid until, with just four to get, my concentration was broken by a phone call from my father’s emergency careline service. Fortunately, that turned out to be a non-urgent issue, so I made myself a coffee and re-focussed on the QC. My last four (all in the NW corner) were QUORUM, IMPRISON, CLASSIFY and VISUAL. Luckily, I had previously spotted the possibility of a pangram and I knew I hadn’t yet used a Q or a V. So, QUORUM came quickly and the others followed within 2-3 minutes. Total time = 19 minutes and only my third escape from the SCC in the past 10 weeks.

    Mrs Random will probably snatch the family point from me later, as she is visiting her parents today.

    Many thanks to Joker and Doofers.

    P.S. My Wordle disappointment was a failure to find the correct word, despite getting two green letters on my first turn and despite incurring no inefficiencies or errors thereafter. I always play on the hard setting, so I have to use the hints already discovered, but my five remaining turns used 15 different letters – all incorrect. I don’t mind losing occasionally, of course, but I was just a couple of days away from my first ever 100-day streak of successful solves. It made me splutter my early morning cup of tea.

    1. When I played Wordle in Hard mode, I changed my strategy to using starter words like “Flick” then “Budge” to get lesser used letters and fewer vowels out on the board early. Usually that allowed me to eliminate more wrong letters before being forced to reuse them.

  36. 6:55

    No issues here though failed to spot the pangram (rarely do) – I liked ZONKED but MANPOWER was my COD.

    Thanks Joker and Doofs

  37. As usual I didn’t spot the pangram. FIRM was FOI. Took ages to see ENDOW, with the sound of the penny dropping leaving a ringing in my ears! Smiled at QUORUM. ZONKED was LOI. 10:30. Thanks Joker and Doofers.

  38. Enjoyed this one. LOI VISUAL, not sure quite why it took so long now. Liked JAMMY (common usage in our household) and ENDOW. Appreciated surface for QUORUM. Needed blog to parse FIX (doh). No problems otherwise. Got ZONKED fairly early on but still didn’t think of a pangram – in fairness never do. Many thanks for the blog. Thanks to joker – very enjoyable.

  39. I found this one chewy but finished it off in 25:51, which is pretty typical for me. My childhood piano lessons came in handy as I doubt I’d have thought of CLEF or fortissimo otherwise. ENDOW and QUORUM both had me muttering darkly under by breath, but to each their own.

    Thank you to Joker for the crossword and Doofenschmirtz for the blog!

  40. 10.54 I found this to be much easier than yesterday’s though the Quitch disagrees. I missed the pangram so ZONKED took a while at the end. ENDOW and QUORUM were nice. Thanks Doofers and Joker.

  41. Just under my target today at 19:58. Spotted the pangram but still had to alphabet trawl for ZONKED as my LOI.

    Thanks to Joker and Doofers.

  42. 28:23
    Struggled with this one, pretty much from the start. As with others here, it was with VISUAL, QUORUM and ZONKED that I really burned the time.
    Totally missed the ‘concerned with seeing’ for VISUAL, but biffed it with ‘glass bottle’ and ‘us’ reflected.
    After that, biffed QUORUM from my attendance at ‘quorate’ meetings with an audible groan seeing ‘Status Quo’ in the clue.
    Finally, just stared at ZONKED doing a mental word trawl until ‘zone’ for ‘area’ popped into my head – seemingly from nowhere.
    FOI: 15ac JAMMY
    LOI: 5dn ZONKED
    COD: 13ac ENDOW
    Thanks to Doofers and to Joker (I think 😊).

  43. 25 minutes here. I didn’t parse quorum but after I’d ruled out trying to use odd letters, it was the only thing meeting related to end in rum. That made me think about a pangram but got tied up in trying to get an R and the U from duke in for far too long before trying the Z.

    A few groans here with the wordplay in endow and imprison but v pleased to get it out.

  44. ZONKED LOI, but there was an errant MIFFLE – eye roll…

    Typo rather than mistake, so I’ll note the time in my spreadsheet.


  45. I never spot pangrams, but today was the exception, and it did help me with my LOI ZONKED. However the time spent checking that this was indeed the case took me just outside target at 10.05. Before that all I could think of was COOKED, but of course it didn’t parse. A good test from the Joker.

  46. Pleased that I managed to work out ZONKED once I had *O*K*D. The duke and the king were accounted for, only E would go between K and D, so I needed a word *O*E that meant ‘area’.

    A week or so ago someone (sorry, I can’t remember who) suggested that you shouldn’t think too hard, but should relax and let your mind wander. I’ve found it easier to spot answers since reading this sage advice, and sure enough ZONE popped into my head. At which point I realised there must be a pangram going on…

  47. Late post again due to puppy supervision. She is 10 weeks old and still in house training mode.
    As to the QC, I didn’t see the pangram but
    Held up with ENDOW, FIX and ZONKED

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