Times Quick Cryptic No 2532 by Breadman


I found this to be a tricky one, I’ll be interested to see what the SNITCH rating turns out to be. I was way over my 15 minute target time on this one: 24:16, which put me in last place on the leaderboard when I submitted. It is a good job I’m not trying to win any prizes. I thoroughly enjoyed the struggle: Breadman is one of my favourite setters.

A good couple of those minutes were spent near the end trying to figure out whether I had my second pangram in a row to blog, to see if that helped me solve my last two, (1ac and 5dn) but I couldn’t envisage fitting all of B, F, V and Y into the remaining spaces, so I abandoned that idea. But I did spot something that confirmed the feeling I’d had from near the start that there was something strange about this puzzle. And that did indeed help me to finish the puzzle.

For the second time in a row, then, I’m going to use the hidden text widget to avoid giving away the trick to people who don’t want to learn this from the blog:

The diagonal lines of three letters at the corners of the puzzle are four sets of the least common letters in English, Q, X, Z and J. At least, they are the only letters to be worth 8 or 10 points in an English-language Scrabble set, so I think it’s a safe assumption that they are the least common letters.


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

1 After death, leave that French article in the possession of Elizabeth (8)
BEQUEATHQUE (that, in French) + A (article, from grammar) inside [in the possession of] BETH (Elizabeth).

My LOI and the clue where I was helped by having spotted the gimmick.

I spent ages thinking this was going to be some technical term for “after death”. That darn comma fooled me totally.

6 Some fox enraged bovine animals (4)
OXEN – Hidden in [some] “fOX ENraged”
8 Depart from capital of Ecuador, stopping early (4)
QUITQUITo (capital city of Ecuador) without its last letter [stopping early].

Turns out that the capital of Equador isn’t La Paz.

9 Remarkably nice place, former picture house (8)
CINEPLEX – Anagram [remarkably] of NICE + PL (place) + EX (former).
10 Unusual ladders around square stand with legs far apart (8)
STRADDLE – Anagram [unusual] of LADDERS around T (square, as in carpentry).
12 Papa consumed finely minced spread (4)
PATEP (Papa in the NATO alphabet) + ATE (consumed).
13 Merchant recalled scarlet painting? (6)
TRADER – RED ART (scarlet painting) backwards [recalled].

I’m not proud of how long a time there was between my thinking “no, DERART isn’t a word” and getting the answer.

15 Martial art Ken attempted initially with speed (6)
KARATE – The first letters of Ken Attempted [initially] + RATE (speed).

“Initially” usually only applies to a single word, except when it doesn’t. And when it doesn’t, there isn’t always an indicator that you need to take more than one first letter, as here.

17 Tour ocean, regularly seeing killer whale (4)
ORCA – Alternate letters [regularly] of “tOuR oCeAn”.
19 Furious with a girl playing song unaccompanied (8)
MADRIGALMAD (furious) + an anagram [playing] of A GIRL.

I didn’t know a madrigal was usually unaccompanied. So now I have learned something today.

21 Jack splashing dosh obtains half-cropped purple equestrian attire (8)
JODHPURSPURple [half-cropped] inside J for Jack (cards) + an anagram [splashing] of DOSH.
23 Susan goes to unknown location in Egypt (4)
SUEZSUE (Susan) + Z (unknown).
24 Indian prince open when reflecting (4)
RAJA – AJAR (open) reversed [when reflecting].
25 Question European in Ritz waving gun (8)
HOWITZERHOW (a question word) + for European in an anagram [waving] of RITZ.
2 Continuous line on map‘s almost identical on rocky peak (7)
EQUATOREQUAl [almost identical] + TOR (rocky peak).
3 Extremist leaderless sect attracting artist (5)
ULTRAcULT [leaderless sect] + RA (artist).

We had this sense of ULTRA in yesterday’s puzzle too. Odd.

4 Central characters in farce bow (3)
ARCfARCe [central characters].

That’s “bow” as in rainbow.

5 Nagged male newsman to capture liaison’s latest kiss (9)
HENPECKEDHE (male) and ED (editor – newsman) containing [to capture] liaisoN [liaison’s latest] and PECK (kiss).
6 Guardian maybe supporting cricket side in theory (2,5)
ON PAPERPAPER (Guardian maybe) below [supporting] ON (cricket side).

The ON side is also known as the LEG side. I don’t believe that the other side has two names: I think it is always OFF.

7 Make a physical effort to pick up Hazel, say, around ten (5)
EXERT – TREE (hazel, say), reversed [pick up] containing [around] X (ten, in Roman numerals).

Never trust the capitalization of a name.

11 Fly with speaker somewhere in Devon (9)
DARTMOUTHDART (fly) + MOUTH (speaker).

I can see that since you speak with your mouth it could be said to be your “speaker”, but I can’t think of any sentence in which you would use “speaker” if you meant “mouth”.

14 Foreign money church needed during tragedy perhaps (7)
DRACHMACH (church) inside [during] DRAMA (tragedy perhaps).
16 Repeat manoeuvres involving variable circus equipment (7)
TRAPEZE – Anagram [manoeuvres] of REPEAT plus Z (variable).
18 Wine and port getting approval from German (5)
RIOJARIO (Crosswordland’s favorite port) + JA (approval from German).
20 Home television advertisement placed within magazine? (5)
INSETIN (home) + SET (television).

To be honest, I always thought those things inside magazines were “inserts”, but Collins has “something inserted” as the first definition of inset as a noun, so I guess this is fair.

22 Recognised  cutting tool (3)
SAW – Our only double definition of the day.

78 comments on “Times Quick Cryptic No 2532 by Breadman”

  1. It took me a while to recall the capital of Ecuador, making QUIT my LOI. Fortunately the checkers assured that I got the H in the right place in JODHPURS. 6:21.

    1. Hahah you’re so right there are like three different spots I would have put the H if it were left up to me

      I’ve had spellcheck as default since I was 12, is my excuse

  2. And we’re back! 20 minutes thereabouts

    Look, I didn’t parse BEQUEATH, MADRIGAL or HENPECKED but we’re back

    Madrigals were what we called our competitive singing groups at school and they were often accompanied by piano

  3. I was about to say something about Breadman’s trick but I suppose I can’t because it might give the game away to someone who is desperate to figure it out unaided. Nice puzzle, and for the first time this week I came in under 10 at 8.49. BEQUEATH and HENPECKED were clever clues requiring considerable concentration. Like the Doof I didn’t know that sense of MADRIGAL and it turns out that Caracas isn’t the capital we needed either.

  4. A satisfying 19:30, which I’m quite happy with.
    I enjoyed this crossword quite a lot, plenty of satisfying wordplay to work though, without needing too much GK or biffing.

  5. Re 20dn, I’ve worked with printers in the past so I knew those things are indeed INSETS, but it still seems surprising!

  6. 12:22. Good to see the little present in the grid which helped to solve the tough BEQUEATH. ULTRA looked very familiar for good reason. Same comment as Kevin and Tina re that H in JODHPURS.

    Favourite bit was the juxtaposition in the grid of the crossing QUIT[O] STRADDLE[S] the EQUATOR, which it very nearly does.

    Thanks to Doofers and Breadman

  7. 13 minutes. About half way through solving this I became suspicious of some sort of device being in play and found it a bit of a distraction which slowed me down for a while. But on the other hand, having established what was going on gave me an advantage in the final quarter of the puzzle – the NW – where I was suddenly able to insert 3 answers that had eluded me at the outset.

    Strictly speaking a MADRIGAL is an elaborate contrapuntal part song performed unaccompanied, but I have heard the word applied more generally to similar music that’s accompanied.

    1. I wouldn’t know a contrapuntal part song if it fell on my head, but thanks for the information. If this community could jointly enter a trivia contest, we’d be unstoppable!

      1. Sorry for the technical jargon. Part songs are written for several voice ranges (typically 4 or 5). Contrapuntal (aka polyphonic) means that each voice or part forms an individual melody, whilst they all harmonize together.

        Here’s a jolly example

        1. I echo Doofers comment about entering a trivia quiz. This community would storm it! This is a large part of what keeps me coming back to this blog. Thanks jackkt!

        2. Well that set me off on a long diversion. Before I clicked the link, picking up on the “jolly” in your description I thought “I bet it’s Now is the Month of Maying“. Madrigals can be quite fun to perform, but there some that are really quite difficult. A master of the art was Carlo Gesualdo who wrote 6 books of them between 1594 and 1611. Perhaps coloured by the torment over his guilt after killing his first wife and her lover, his music is rather unlike Jackkt’s jolly example. with extravagant text setting of words representing extremes of emotion: “love”, “pain”, “death”, “ecstasy”, “agony” and other similar words. His music is among the most experimental and expressive of the Renaissance, and without question is the most wildly chromatic. Progressions such as those written by Gesualdo did not appear again in Western music until the 19th century, and then in a context of tonality. A wonderful example is , Io pur respiro in così gran dolore from the 6th book which you can hear here.

          1. Wonderful stuff! Incidentally, John, I received three notifications of your reply on this one, presumably as you edited, 10:00, 10:03, 10:06. I mention this because it’s an exception; I normally only get the first version.

  8. Wonky spelling of JODHPURS frustrated DRACHMA for too long at the end and before that it had taken a while to get away from isobars, contours and so on until EQUATOR appeared. This one felt hard throughout but even so I got nine on the first pass of acrosses on the way to an all green 15.

  9. A good finish brings me up to 2/3 completions this week and I have to say I didn’t find this one very hard. (I think I just crept into the SCC, although in mitigation if I hadn’t struggled so with the spelling of JODHPURS I’d have avoided it.) Unusually, I saw that something weird was going on and it finally clicked with my LOI, CINEPLEX, which was a NHO.
    I liked MADRIGAL (I started a MadSoc when I was a student and have very fond memories of unaccompanied 4 part singing – ah Fair Phyllis!) and was surprised how long it took me to see DARTMOUTH. HOWITZER was my favourite.
    A fine puzzle, for me at least, so thanks to Breadman and Doofers for their efforts.

  10. 6:53

    Some great words in today’s grid – BEQUEATH, MADRIGAL, HOWITZER, the first two of which were among my last three in, along with HENPECKED. I spotted the ‘trick’ only after seeing it mentioned by Doofers at the top of this page and then going looking for it – pretty easy to spot then!

    Nice blog Doofers and thanks for the interesting grid Breadman!

  11. Some tricky clues today and I never did parse EXERT as my head got stuck on nuts and completely overlooked trees 🤦‍♂️.
    I generally find wordy clues difficult and 1a had me scratching my head for a while but for once I saw what was going on with the ‘letter thing’ and the answer became clear.
    I’m another who was relieved that the ‘h’ in JODHPURS was a checked letter or I’d have been in all sorts of trouble.
    Finished in 9.22.
    Thanks to Doofers

  12. 7.10

    HENPECKED and BEQUEATH last two in – and for a change was also conscious of a lot of high scoring letters.

    Nice puzzle

    Thanks Doofers and Breadman

  13. 21:30
    Welcome SCC, I usually throw in the towel before applying for membership, but with this enjoyable puzzle I pushed on for a bit longer.

    LOI HENPECKED which was preceded by BEQUEATH where the Nina helped, first time I have ever spotted one. And my Pointless knowledge of capitals paid off with QUITo.

  14. My only unaccompanied singing as a student was with the rugger club. Eskimo Nell, anyone?

    Thought the device was going to be a double pangram and thus found it a hindrance not a help!

    In my regular slot at 08:32 but can’t help feeling that I missed out on a quicker time, because this didn’t feel that difficult. I’m blaming a ticket check for breaking my flow. Still, 1.3K and a Good Enough Day.

    Great fun, many thanks Breaders and Doofers.


  15. 13:20 (Robert the Bruce issues Declaration of Arbroath)

    Definitely the hardest of the week so far. In common with several others, my L2I were HENPECKED and BEQUEATH. I did not spot the trick with the corners.

    Thanks Doofers and Breadman

  16. A speedy 15:30 mins for me today. I spotted the letter trick very early and used it to fill in some letters before I solved the clues, which gave me more checkers. Is that cheating?
    Perhaps because of my fast (for me) time I really enjoyed this QC. Lots of lovely words and clever clues.

    Like Bletchleyreject above, I was wondering if there was more to the puzzle than the letter trick going on in the corners: Quito straddle(s) equator, oxen pate, Raja(‘s) jodhpurs, Suez saw howitzer(s) … but I am not quite there. Thoughts?

  17. None the wiser regarding the device, but a neat one!

    Back in regulation zone, which is comforting after a couple of bad days. Breezeblocked by LOI BEQUEATH; like Plett, I’m not great with wordy clues, but “see a Q, try a U” put me right.


  18. If I could have solved 1ac at the beginning, I might have turned in a half decent time. As it was, I had absolutely no idea what was going on with the clue and it became my loi by a very long way. Far too many biff then parse answers to ever feel comfortable with this teaser from Breadman, but some nice challenges along the way, of which Henpecked was my favourite. All done and dusted in 25mins or so, with a headslap when Bequeath finally yielded. Invariant

  19. I enjoyed this but this was nothing like a quickie in my opinion. Apart from an abbreviation for In service training I would have said an inset was more commonly a picture within a picture whilst an ad is as you say an insert. Thanks all!

  20. This was a good challenge, quite tough in places, and took me 13 minutes. Very definitely a biff-then-parse day, with PDMs when I realised that How was the answer to “Question …” and Que was the answer to “that French” (my rusty French insisted for ages in trying to get ça into the answer somehow) – and I never did get that T could be a square.

    Spotted the trick early on (I am always on the lookout for a play with letters when it is a puzzle by Breadman) and while I am not always a fan – it does lead to some convoluted surfaces, for example the one for Jodhpurs – on this occasion it definitely helped solve the NW, with Bequeath my LOI as for some others.

    Many thanks Doofers for the blog. Definitely with you on the trivia value of this community – one learns so much!

    1. I thought 21ac was a wonderful clue. The idea of Jack running around in his half-cropped expensive purple Jodhpurs brought a smile to my face, my COD.

  21. Dnf…oh dear, three on the trot.

    After 20 mins, just couldn’t see 1ac “Bequeath” and then had a complete mind blank on the capital of Ecuador. Even with an alphabet trawl, 8ac “Quit” wouldn’t come.

    FOI – 6ac “Oxen”
    LOI – Dnf
    COD – 25ac “Howitzer”

    Thanks as usual!

  22. 4:11. The pattern allowed me to see my last two JODHPURS and BEQUEATH quickly. Quite apart from the pretty pattern, it was a nice puzzle. Thank-you Breadman and Doofers.

  23. Defeated by BEQUEATH for which I needed an aid. I hadn’t spotted the trick although I had managed to spot the preponderance of unusual letters. I hadn’t the least idea what was going on with either 1ac or 5dn but once I’d used the aid to crack 1ac, 5dn became obvious. Took about 26 minutes in all – my third visit to the club this week.

    FOI – 6ac OXEN
    LOI – DNF
    COD – 11dn DARTMOUTH

    Thanks to Breadman and to Doofers for the much needed blog

  24. A fairly tough one again in my opinion in keeping with yesterdays offering. I failed once more to finish within my target, but not too far adrift at 10.48. I wonder how many of us would have spelt JODHPURS correctly in a spelling test; very few I would imagine. I would almost certainly have transposed the H and the P. My LOI was BEQUEATH which I solved only after HENPECKED came to me.

  25. Agree with lots of comments above; it was a biff then parse day for me too. And I did not parse EXERT which was LOI after CINEPLEX. I too misspelt JODHPURS early which slowed me down a bit.
    It took me 12 minutes but it was tough and required some crossword experience.
    A very clever device from Breadman which I failed to see.

  26. 10 mins.
    Lucky Jim gets on the wrong side of a madrigal at Welch’s arty weekend. The arrival of Bertrand saves his bacon, but it’s a close thing 🙂
    Thanks, D.

    1. I just finished re-reading it after several decades; wasn’t it “Now is the Month of Maying”?

  27. DNF with 19a. Never heard of MADRIGAL, therefore it’s a word the setter made up 🤣. Not even the cat could answer that one.

    Also needed my cat’s help with 1a.

    Other than that an enjoyable QC.

  28. Very tricky, and pleased to have solved it. Like others, correct spelling of JODHPURS was a great help! LOI EXERT after trying to fit NUT (HAZEL) into it and then going with the PHYSICAL EFFORT bit. Not really familiar with CINEPLEX, but guessed via MULTIPLEX.

  29. DNF as had to reveal BEQUEATH and HENPECKED.
    Then PDM with parsing of QUIT. Rather slow on EQUATOR.
    Not quick on STRADDLE either but did manage MADRIGAL and HOWITZER.
    Yes, had to think about sp of JODHPURS.
    Thanks all, esp Doofers.

  30. 5:13

    I nearly half-biffed / mombled ACAPELLA at 19 with ELLA as the girl but the rest didn’t work so thankfully I moved on.


  31. A few seconds over target again for me, but quite pleased with that result for this chewy puzzle. Hats off to Breadman for a good challenge and neat device. QUIT was LOI for me. Thanks too to Doofers for a good blog.

  32. DNF.
    Gave up after 10 minutes trying to get 1 ACROSS. I am sure that he ‘experts’ just loved this one. Far too hard for me.
    I think I will just go back to going straight to the answers and forget trying to solve these QCs for the
    time being.

    1. Bequeath was one of my last in, skip past ones you can’t do, and solve the easier ones, then the checkers help with the harder ones.

    2. I found that when I was starting out (many moons ago) the most useful trick I learnt was to mentally and/or physically (/) break the clue into its two constituent parts, the definition and the wordplay. 1ac would then give you: After death, leave/ that French etc…

      Try it with vinyl’s examples above. I.e. Papa consumed/ finely etc….

      Hope it helps.

      1. Well, I can see that’s useful but the problem I often have is knowing what the definition is and what the wordplay is- let alone finding the exact dividing line between the two!

  33. 8:57
    All going well until bequeath, henpecked, and LOI exert.
    For henpecked I was focused on anchorman, and x for kiss. Also Bess for Queen.
    COD Howitzer.

  34. First finish of the week and a jolly good puzzle. Lots to think about but the answers were there.
    Couldn’t parse Madrigal as I assumed Girl was Gal which left an awkward ‘ri’ in the middle but it was the only answer. Thanks Doofers for the explanation and pointing out the clever trick. And thanks Breadman for the puzzle.
    COD HOWITZER for the surface

  35. 14.57
    Fun puzzle. Thanks for the trick. I didn’t see it in time to help with BEQUEATH. My LOI.
    Thanks Doof and setter

  36. A couple of minutes to get started, but then got going quite well. However, I did not find it easy and was half expecting to grind to a halt at any moment. My last ones in were EXERT, HENPECKED, ULTRA (I had ecTRA written in faintly for a long time) and BEQUEATHED. 1a was a very difficult clue for me- my French is almost non-existent these days and I found the surface very cumbersome. Still, I arrived at the finish line with a sense of relief in 34 minutes. Not bad in the end.
    Many thanks to Breadman and Doofers.

  37. As usual didn’t spot the trick. I put ACAPELLA in at 19a until TRAPEZE put me right. Then INSET led the way to MADRIGAL. ARC was FOI and BEQUEATH brought up the rear. Another tricky puzzle! 10:19. Thanks Breadman and Doofers.

  38. I’m probably alone in finding this rather tiresome.

    TIME 4:54

  39. Didn’t see the trick until I went back to the puzzle (I never spot ninas until I intentionally look for them). Nice puzzle, 11′ which I’ll take. Like others acapella screamed at me on first pass but was quickly disproved and similarly EXERT eluded me for a while as I tried inserting nut. thanks to all.

  40. 9.19 I found this one much gentler than the last two, though the Quitch has it between them. BEQUEATH needed the checkers (I didn’t spot the trick) and I had only a vague idea of what a MADRIGAL was. Thanks Doofers and Breadman.

  41. I finished in 14 minutes. That only happens when the QC is a biff fest.

    Although I am certainly not complaining, I felt I might have been a little quicker and there was a sub-10 here had I been on a very good day. Inability to spell jodhpurs and issues with 1ac scuppered that.

    When I began solving, Breadman was the easiest setter. Recently he has joined the ranks of the tougher setters, so this was a nice reminder of times past.

    1 hr 46 mins for the week. Only need to solve the next two in 13 mins to make my target.

    Thanks for the blog (wouldn’t have seen the device without it).

  42. Finally! I recognised a pattern that worked to my advantage. I skipped over the NW corner and started with OXEN, EXERT and CINEPLEX. I continued clockwise and by the time I reached the TRAPEZE and SUEZ cross I could see what was going on. This really helped me solve the vaguely heard of HOWITZER. I finished in the NW starting with QUIT which then made my LOI BEQUEATH very easy. I remember, not so long ago, being in QUITO and straddling the EQUATOR. 7:22 for an excellent day.

  43. I enjoyed this tough but (for me) doable QC . . . except of course living in the snug of the SCC they are never quick! 🤣🤣

  44. I found this tricky but got there in the end. I think I fell into all the traps above but I found it enjoyable. I too saw something going on but thought it was the double pangram.

    I particularly enjoyed the vision of the Indian prince opening up when reflecting and the wine and port getting approval from the German.

    I agree wholeheartedly with Vinyl1 above that once you have been doing these for a while you recognise how many clues are constructed and certain words crop up a lot e.g. Red.

    Also for newer solvers, please don’t worry about times. That’s for those who are really experienced or who like that sort of thing. I don’t, so I often do my crosswords in stages. If I am getting nowhere I’ll do something else and have a fresh look later, or do a Sudoku depending on all my other commitments.

  45. 22:41

    What an extraordinary puzzle! Not easy but the pattern was a huge help. BEQUEATH, RAJA and HOWITZER all solved thanks to the Q, J and Z being given. Took a while over LOI TRADER where I was looking for a painting.

  46. NHO MADRIGAL, the word-play leading me to this most unlikely sounding of words (15×15…?). In my school we had competitive fighting at break time, but no competitive singing clubs (how does that even work, Tina – judged by a decibel meter, perhaps?). Mind you, without this and the cheeky BEQUEATH, it would have been a bit too straightforward for midweek.

    JODHPUR(s), of course, are named after the Indian city; it is worth remembering that there are a lot of very soft Hs *after* hard consonants in subcontinental words and names, eg. Delhi, Dhaka, Khan, Gandhi etc., which don’t get pronounced at all by native English speakers, so if you asked me where the H comes in ‘Katmandu’, I’d probably get it wrong!

    Thanks Doofers & Breadman

  47. DNF again.Couldn’t see bequeath, henpecked or equator despite having tor and a q, thick or what. Also madrigal, marzipan fitted the gaps and I couldn’t see past it. I know how Gary A feels sometimes + no offence Gary.

  48. I enjoyed this a lot, possibly my favourite QC of those I’ve attempted. The SW tipped me off, which allowed me to fire in the rest of the trick in the SE and guess at the trick letter in the NW. However, coming in at ~45mins I’m still a firm subscriber to the SCC.



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