Times Quick Cryptic No 2549 by Juno

A lovely quick cryptic from Juno to finish the week today. One or two tricky clues that led to a couple of PDMs, including my LOI, 12A. My time stretched out to 6:37 – a bit over 1 1/2 minutes over my target, but it was fun. I particularly liked 10A,  21A, 5D and 16D. Furthermore, this being a Juno crossword, as with previous crosswords from this setter, there is something to find in the grid. It’s not hard to spot, I think…

The grid contains all six chess pieces – KING, QUEEN, KNIGHT, BISHOP, ROOK and PAWN. Oh.. and as a coupler of commenters have pointed out… we also have CHECK, a move attacking a King. Nice one!


Thank-you Juno. By the way, it hasn’t been confirmed, but I suspect from the style that Juno is one of our crossword editor Richard Rogan’s pseudonyms.

Fortnightly Weekend Quick Cryptic. This time it is Phil’s turn to provide the extra weekend entertainment. You can find the crossword here. If you are interested in trying our previous offerings you can find an index to all 92 here.

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

1 Track athlete’s bizarre quarrel with timer (7-5)
QUARTER-MILER – (quarrel timer)* [bizarre].
8 Foe somewhat serene, mysteriously (5)
ENEMY – Hidden in, [somewhat], serENE MYsteriously
9 Result of unacceptable approach (7)
OUTCOMEOUT (unacceptable) COME (approach).
10 An oribi let loose in African city (7)
NAIROBI – (An oribi)* [set loose]. Nice surface as an oribi is an African antelope and its range extends into part of Kenya
11 Small tablet found in shed (5)
SPILLS (small) PILL (tablet). No not the lean-to type building but shed as in “shed a load”.
12 Produces saw, primarily to handle poles (6)
SPAWNSS{aw} [primarily] PAW (handle) NS (north, south; poles).
14 Initially keen novice is giving heed to champion (6)
KNIGHT – First letters, [initially], of Keen Novice Is Giving Heed To.
17 English bachelor with somewhere to lie went out on the beach (5)
EBBEDE (English) B (bachelor) BED (somewhere to lie). Sneaky definition of what the tide did on the beach.
19 I had one set of books: one chapter is silly (7)
IDIOTICI’D (I had) I (one) OT (Old Testament; set of books) I (one again) C (chapter).
21 Garage facility, RAC recalled, used to be hotel (7)
CARWASH – RAC [recalled] -> CAR, WAS (used to be) H (hotel in the NATO phonetic alphabet).
22 From eastern Ireland to the west, uncannily scary? (5)
EERIEE (eastern), EIRE (Ireland) reversed, [to the west] -> ERIE.
23 Christian missionary isn’t into health resort swindle (5,7)
SAINT PATRICKAIN’T (isn’t) in SPA (health resort), TRICK (swindle).
1 New York borough’s to go with Chief’s address to parliament (6,6)
QUEENS SPEECHQUEENS (New York borough) ‘S PEE (to go) CH (chief).
2 Eurasian’s extreme letters: anger mounting (5)
AZERIAZ (extreme, i.e. first and last, letters of the alphabet), IRE (anger) [rising] -> ERI.
3 Two-ton lorry ultimately somehow resembling miniature? (7)
TOYTOWN – (Two-ton {lorr}y)* [somehow]. Ultimately indicating to use only the last letter of lorry.
4 New recruit, Aussie native, beginner from Kalgoorlie that is (6)
ROOKIEROO (Aussie native animal), [beginner from] K{algoorlie} I.E. (id est; that is).
5 One ordinary seaman penning thank you letters (5)
IOTAS – I (one) OS (ordinary seaman), outside [penning] TA (thank-you). You have to split “thank you letters” into part of the wordplay and definition – something termed “lift and separate“. Another nice surface.
6 Ok given, unexpectedly, for being suggestive? (7)
EVOKING – (Ok given)* [unexpectedly].
7 Catlike cry he’s given out: a wake-up call? (7,5)
REALITY CHECK – (Catlike cry he’s)* [given out]. This held me up a bit as I was looking for a phrase that meant “reveille”. I should have spotted the “?” at the end indicating something a little cryptic was going on with the definition.
13 Theatre blamed for showing up Canadian province (7)
ALBERTA – Reverse hidden, [showing up], in theATRE BLAmed.
15 Chap raised undergarment greener than the others? (7)
NAIVEST – IAN (chap) [raised] -> NAI, VEST (undergarment).
16 One’s bound to support British minister (6)
BISHOPI’S (one’s) HOP (bound) underneath, [to support], B (British). Another “lift and separate” to get the definition.
18 Remove water from bottom of disconnected shower (5)
DRAIN – Last letter, [bottom] of disconnecteD, RAIN (shower).
20 Felt hat might be seen in The Arcadia regularly (5)
TERAI – Alternate letters, [seen in… regularly], of ThE aRcAdIa. “A wide-brimmed felt hat, typically with a double crown, worn chiefly by travellers in subtropical regions“. I knew it, but it would appear some solvers didn’t. Read more about it here.

104 comments on “Times Quick Cryptic No 2549 by Juno”

  1. I found that a little difficult, I managed to biff a few things except AZERI where I was looking at A_ERI wondering what country in Eurasia had those people and it still didn’t hit me

    I had to read the blog for a number of parsings – I missed a hidden and didn’t think of pee/to go

    Whole thing was doable though, I believe, reality check was a tricky anagram to get!

    See you all on Monday!

  2. Enjoyable puzzle with a few tricky bits, not sure of my time because of interruptions but I’d guess around 10. AZERI and TERAI were toughies for a QC but the wordplay was generous. I liked the long anagrams and the clever surfaces. My last two were SPILL and the crafty SPAWNS, nice clue. Many thanks to John and Juno.

    PS: Well done John on spotting that thing that you spotted, I would never in a million years have noticed that! Ah, nearly time for the cricket, Oz restarting v Pakistan at 5 for 346 with Marsh and Head at the crease…

  3. I wouldn’t normally be happy with 16mins but after a week of DNFs I’m delighted to get the iPad edition’s “Congratulations” for completing what I thought was a real toughie with some very satisfying solves including my favourite of the day EBBED.

    Thanks Juno and John.

  4. 11:58. A lot of enjoyable clues with some clever definitions. I liked handle for PAW, bound for HOP, isn’t for AINT, go for PEE, and unacceptable for OUT. I didn’t know TERAI or TOYTOWN but they were clearly indicated. AZERI was my COD. I especially liked the Eurasian definition as indeed Azerbaijan is hard to pin down whether it is in Europe or Asia.

  5. 11:24. The hard ones here didn’t detract from my enjoyment of this QC. I’d forgotten TERAI and didn’t immediately think of AZERI, but as Lindsay says, the wordplay helped for both. I liked SAINT PATRICK and the clever NAIROBI.

    Good to have the theme and CHECK as well, but without any MATE there was no coup de grâce; we live to play another day.

    Thanks to Juno and John

    1. Thanks. I didn’t look past the 6 pieces. I don’t think the O-O in ROOKIE counts as another move, though

    1. I had heard of it, so didn’t comment in the blog. I’ve added its definition for others who may not have come across it.

  6. 14 minutes as there were some tough, even unknown answers that needed unravelling.

    I await the regular comments about themed puzzles and Ninas forcing the setter to resort to vocabulary unsuitable for a QC, which may not be too wide of the mark today with words such as TERAI and AZERI in the mix. On the other hand both these examples were clued fairly and were gettable from wordplay and checkers, so provided necessary opportunities for development of deduction skills for those using the QC as a stepping-stone to the main puzzle, which was after all one of its original stated aims.

    1. Yes, it was a bit of a surprise to see a word NHO in a QC, but then I thought, Why not?

      1. Yes I agree entirely. The entire point of a cryptic is to deduce the answer from the wordplay, whether the word in question is HO or not. I thought both AZERI and TERAI, being generously clued, were perfect examples for less-experienced solvers of what mastering a cryptic crossword is all about.

        1. I don’t disagree, but the wordplay should point to determinable components, IMHO. AZERI and TERAI are determinable from the wordplay, so I got both though I’d NHO TERAI.

          NAIVEST, on the other hand is not fully determinable – you need to guess. Although the VEST part can be determined from a known set of possible undergarments, the IAN part comes from a potentially infinite pool of random names, full, or shortened. I accept that I should probably have spotted IAN in this case, but my point is broader. Where do names stop? Only traditional British names? Or are names/nicknames from other cultures acceptable too? What about Fritz, Bola, Tunde, Bas, Wout? I’m only new, so not really in a position to complain, and many will rightly tell me to just deal with it. But using names just feels lazy and unnecessary. And it spoiled an otherwise enjoyable puzzle for me.

          Sorry for grumbling but after a long run of DNFs I’m a bit dispirited.

          Love to all for the weekend. ❤️ 🤗

    2. I’ve never known that the QC had this as a stated aim. I do it because I enjoy it, and it offers the right degree of challenge. What other aims were stated?

      1. That was pretty much it, but here’s the relevant paragraph from Richard Rogan’s introduction:

        Appearing Monday to Friday on the puzzles pages of Times2, it (the Quick Cryptic) will be reduced in size and hopefully in difficulty too, the intention being to introduce new people to cryptic crosswords, and to encourage those solvers who’d like to have a go at the main puzzle but feel daunted by it, or who can perhaps only solve a handful of clues.

        It has certainly achieved both these aims in spades because we’ve had a huge influx of new commenters at TfTT since the first QC in 2014. Many have been content to stick with the smaller puzzle, but many of our regular 15×15 solvers and even some of our contributing bloggers who were new to cryptics have joined us via the QC route.

        There may be a case to be made that sometimes there is a run of more challenging puzzles and it’s possible that the editors may take this on board if we address the matter constructively, but in order to fulfil its brief the QC needs to offer a range of difficulty and can’t be easy every day.

        1. Despite my grumbles elsewhere, I’m generally in favour of that which Jack has written here. I’m not adverse to the occasional stinker; and we do get runs of easy then hard. No-one ever complains during the easy runs! Having the occasional NHO word in a grid isn’t a dealbreaker and definitely not an issue if easily clued.

          2014 is almost a decade ago. I think The Times needs to revisit what the purpose of the QC now is and then get the setters onboard accordingly. Is it still intended to be a puzzle to introduce newbies or something quicker for those who are already capable of tackling the 15×15?

          I’d be interested to know what the retention rate of people taking it up is – I doubt this is measurable. But I recall reading on a blog from 2020 where a newbie wrote* she had begun in a Whatsapp group of eight during lockdown and she was now the only one left as the QC had simply proven too demanding. Obviously there will always be an attrition rate for any new start up but it does seem to be either people who are naturally good at these things or the lesser-able like myself who have persevered. I’d assume the perspective of many reading this blog is skewed by a sort of confirmation-survivor bias.

          Simply removing “Quick” from its title could get rid of all the arguments. As others have said previously, probably hopkinb, no-one said it was going to be easy.

          * I’m going on memory so I may not be exactly correct but this was the gist.

          1. I’m sure as far as The Times is concerned the QC has been a great success so the old adage probably applies, ‘if it ain’t broke don’t fix it’, although as I mentioned in one of my earlier postings I guess they might be prepared to listen to suggestions as long as they’re constructive .

            I suppose it would be possible if anyone could be bothered (not me!) to produce retention figures for TfTT QC contributors but I imagine we represent only a very small proportion of Times readers, many of whom attempt the puzzle casually as they commute, or over their breakfast, and possibly don’t even give it another thought whether they have completed it or not as it has fulfilled its purpose to entertain in the moment.

            1. Well the number of visitors to the TfTT blog pages vastly exceed those who comment. Have a look at today’s statistics as of 3:30pm….
              You will see this blog post has had nearly 1000 views, and that in a full day we often get nearly 10,000 views on the site. And that. of course, excludes all those who solve without bothering with TfTT.

              1. As one of the thousands of viewers who have not previously contributed this seems like the perfect spur to throw my hat into the ring. I, ably assisted by Mrs T, have been doing the QC for over a year now and, courtesy of much valuable learning from the blog, we graduated to the 15 x 15 many months ago. All provide daily pleasure. Median time on the QC probably around 13 – 14 minutes and a guide for us on the 15 x 15 is around half as many minutes as the Snitch though we’ll often resort to aids for that, if only to use the ‘check’ function in our digital version. Took us 17 minutes today. The only NHO for me was TERAI but it was very generously clued and we thought today’s puzzle as a whole was very fair if at the harder end. We enjoy having a range of difficulties because it helps us learn. Our biggest aid though is this fantastic blog, for which we thank not just the time afforded by the bloggers but all contributors for a good natured, erudite and often very good humoured discussion.

  7. A real curate’s egg of a QC today and, following a speedy start, I was defeated after about 30 minutes by EBBED, which I really should’ve seen – however despite a couple of NHOs it was fair. This concludes a dismal week of 1/5 successful finishes, including two complete jettisons, which has never happened before. So yet another weekend of extra homework for me.
    I hope my fellow mediocre solvers fared better.
    See you on Monday.

    1. Certainly agree about a dismal (and dispiriting) week, especially Monday and Tuesday. As a regular member of the SCC I succeeded on both AZERI and TERAI as both had good “crypic” parts of the clue. TERAI in particular seemed a good way to introduce a new word. However, other clues 12a, 22a and 15d were just too clever for me hence a DNF in about 45 minutes.

    2. As I am firmly a member of the mediocre solvers I would agree it has been a very tough week with 2 DNFs. Today was a 25 minute solve but echoing other threads I enjoy the challenge and variety and if it was always easier I would never improve (if indeed I am). I shall lick my wounds over the weekend and come back ready for the next week. Happy weekend all and thanks to Juno and John.

  8. Solve of two halves for me with most of the NW going straight in after the 1s provided so many helpful starting letters but the SE proved much more tricky.
    AZERI took a mighty long alphabet trawl before the I reached the correct answer followed by a groan as the wordplay suddenly made sense. LOI, REALITY CHECK was another lovely PDM which needed all the checkers.
    Finished in 11.47 with COD to CARWASH
    Thanks to John for the blog and pointing out the theme.

  9. 13:27 (abdication of Edward II, followed by his death in suspicious circumstances)

    Tougher than some. NHO TERAI, but generously clued. QUARTER MILER took a long time to spot – does anyone still run quarter miles as opposed to the ever so slightly shorter 400m?
    LOI was SPAWNS. I spent a long time trawling the alphabet for words meaning handle before finally getting to PAW.

    Thanks John and Juno

  10. 16:07
    1607: English arrive in Jamestown

    Pleased to get through this, missed the Nina to keep up my 100% miss rate. Thought it was something contrived, with words like NAIVEST and AZERI.
    I’m a self confessed Hat Guy, wearing one of my 60 or so every day, and I’ve never heard of a TERAI. While talking about Ghurkas, Look out for Kukri, that knife they use.


  11. In under 10 minutes, by 1 second (it counts!). TERAI has been in both Bigger Brother and in Mephisto, its more natural habitat, but that didn’t mean much and it went om Trust The Wordplay.
    Prompted by John, I spent a good while staring at the grid, Listener style trying to spot the ever fragrant Nina, and of course missed it completely. A REALITY CHECK: I’ll never be that good!

  12. A fantastic recipe for how not to write a quick cryptic.

    1) Throw in some words NHO AZERI, TERAI.
    2) Selected some outdated terms like QUARTER-MILER, QUEENS-SPEECH.
    3) Pick a generic historical figure that only certain groups of people will know …SAINT-PATRICK
    4) Use hard-to-spot definitions e.g. KNIGHT=champion, IOTAS=letters, EVOKING=being suggestive
    5) Make sure a couple of clues are unparseable – BISHOP and …-SPEECH
    6) Use a random person’s name – IAN
    7) Convince yourself it’s going to be quick by using an old chestnut like EERIE.
    8) Include a NINA that forces you to overcomplicate it all.

    If it’s the editor that tells you all need to know about whether these will ever get back to being approachable, enjoyable or quick.

    40:58 for me.

    Have a good weekend everybody 👍

    1. I agree completely. This is why I have given up and now thoroughly enjoy reading this blog, rather than wasting my time attempting the QC, which I think is designed to put people off rather than encourage them. Turkeys voting for Christmas!

      1. I’m afraid I don’t agree. The objective of the Quick Crossword is to provide an introductory level for solvers that will help them graduate to the 15×15. This does not mean the crosswords always have to be easy. To my mind, anything that is easier than an average 15×15 (which this one is) is a valid QC and there will be a spectrum of difficulty up to that level. Yes this is at the harder end, but that does not invalidate it as a Quick Crossword. An interesting analysis of the factors that can make a crossword harder, #50, although I don’t think the Nina in this crossword complicated it at all, that SAINT PATRICK is in any way obscure, that QUEEN’S SPEECH is (much) outdated, and any of the clues are unparseable! As for EERIE making the whole crossword easier…a former crossword editor used to encourage the inclusion of an easy clue or two to “let the dog see the rabbit”, which I think is rather a nice analogy.

    2. To be fair, QUEEN’S-SPEECH is only out of date by a couple of years, when it was a fixed part of Christmas Day, SAINT PATRICK still paints Chicago rivers green every year, and the QUARTER MILE is the standard for drag racing . I certainly wouldn’t hint to petrolheads that they were out of date and needed to race over 400 metres: you’d probably find out why the Americans cling to the 2nd Amendment.
      IOTA(S) has been in many times: admittedly usually with a useful “Greek” or “old”.
      One’s to give IS is worth remembering: like “a” to give PER, or “with” to give AND, it’s these little connecting words that are easily overlooked.
      I agree with you on TERAI and AZERI (though I knew the latter – who lives in Azerbaijan, do you suppose?), but both were very generously clued. And you’ll see that the Nina was no help at all to me: I’m short-sighted on such things and rarely see them.
      (Signed) My Name is Random

      1. I hadn’t realised I was looking for a Christmas Day speech rather than the one given on State of Opening of Parliament from 1952-2022ish; that Christian Missionaries were need for the inhabitants of Illinois, or that drag tracing has been moved to an athletics track.

        Yes, AZERI and TERAI were easily clued; and it’s not that difficult to remember the Queen’s Speech from only a year ago.

        My point is that when you tick the box on all those things in aggregate rather than just the odd one here or there; it becomes much more of a grind.

    3. Hmm. I echo Zabadak’s view. I am generally found in the SCC and have struggled several times this week, but I was fractionally under 20 mins today, and found this easier than most in the last fortnight. The two complete unknowns went in easily from the generous clueing, anyone doing a British crossword could be expected to know one of the patron saints, 1A signalled as an anagram with a Q in it relating to sport wasn’t a struggle for me. Etc.
      Maybe the infamous “not on their wavelength” thing for you today? Or I was more than for other recent puzzles. Anyway, don’t feel it was unfair.

      1. George, David, Andrew, Patrick – I know them … I don’t know Jack about Christian Missionaries.

        Having been born at the start of the 1970s, I never heard David Coleman or otherwise refer to Iwan Thomas, Roger Black, Michael Johnson as quarter-milers. But I know what they are as I’m currently trying to run 400m/800m.

        Queens-speech and quarter-miler both went in fairly quickly; as did azeri, terai.

        I didn’t complain any of this was unfair. I pointed out all the components that go towards making this slow going for those of us who struggle along.

        I haven’t been on the wavelength since early November. Maybe if I did the 15×15 I’d get on it.

        1. I did think of you when I solved QUARTER-MILER, and I see that indeed you are tackling that distance(at least its metrical equivalent)!

          1. Thanks CO – hope you are well – you at least seem to be solving well.

            Monday / Weds / Friday have each seen a return to the local hill and 8 efforts. Fastest on Monday was 40sec flat; today it was 38.39s – at least it’s completed quicker!

            I say eight efforts Wednesday would have been … if I hadn’t miscounted 🤦‍♂️

            1. L-P, I’m curious if you’ve ever tried to co-relate your running and solving times or successes. That is, do have better solving times on days you run or vice versa? And if you have a frustrating QC day do you then compensate and do a really fast run next opportunity? On the other hand if you do really well on crossword do you ease off and run a more relaxed effort? Could be totally unconnected of course!

              1. CO – I run every day! I rarely just go out for a hard all-out run. It’s mostly workout or recovery runs unless there’s a race coming up. My training is planned, not a response to how my day is going.

                That said, certainly after a hard session, it can overstimulate/exhaust the Central Nervous System leaving one mentally tired even into the next day (or two). Certainly I’ve seen occasions where my crosswording / general concentration / irritability are impacted. Don’t think it was the case here.

                On the flip side, if all I do is an easy 30-min run and no resistance training, I can sleep badly. Waking up early off only 6hours sleep. When I train hard, I usually need 8-9hrs.

                1. I’ve always been intrigued by how mind and body interact, and of course the issue of getting a good night’s sleep is a whole other kettle of fish( or can of worms)!

                  1. Generally speaking, most people have the mind drive the body. That’s the case for me when I’m racing or working out.

                    But outside of that e.g. hunger, waking up, going to bed, whether to train – I let the body dictate to the mind what it wants to do.

                    So to use a car analogy, some people push their car to the limit and are always in danger or wearing out the brakes or an accident. My mind/driver is there to monitor the instruments and road conditions and adjust accordingly – to touch the brakes or accelerator when necessary or a turn of the wheel.

      1. It was meant to be a bit of fun rather than just a whinge. Humour tends to be OTT, sorry it didn’t float your boat.

  13. I did enjoy this so thanks!. I don’t think it qualifies as a quickie however – far too obscure in places in my opinion.

    1. Well I don’t agree. The objective of the Quick Crossword is to provide an introductory level for solvers that will help them graduate to the 15×15. This does not mean the crosswords always have to be easy. To my mind, anything that is easier than an average 15×15 (which this one is) is a valid QC and there will be a spectrum of difficulty up to that level. Yes this is at the harder end, but that does not invalidate it as a Quick Crossword.

      1. I get your point but there has to be a balance doesn’t there? I don’t think this particular one was outrageously over the mark, but recently there have been too many that in my, and apparently many others’, opinion have been poorly calibrated. I’m not sure, for example, that I should be reaching for the dictionary to check that a word exists.

      2. Some of us are sore because of recent QC’s where we barely started. And L-Plates was trying to be helpful in saying the sorts of things that make QC’s especially hard. I do sometimes wonder (not today) whether I am too young at 70 for the QC!! There are times when really antique terms are used. (I do remember people running in imperial units but QUARTER MILERS did seem a strange choice being so dated)

  14. Eyes rolling at “cryptic crossword is cryptic” complaints, though I should be used to it by now.

    I liked it, found it quite hard, missed the theme despite having a quick look. LOI was SPAWNS as I took a while to see PAW. All in vain anyway in terms of leaderboard and QUITCH, as I included a fat fingered NAIVEET.

    8:39 but.

  15. A chess theme was always going to pass me by, as I find it the most boring pastime known to mankind.

    I struggled with this, but despite missing my target I completed.

    TIME 6:32

    1. I used to play chess regularly (and at a reasonable standard) but I haven’t for over 40 years now, ever since I realised that there were those I was always going to beat, those I was always going to lose to however hard I tried, and not very many at just my level to provide the right combination of challenge, fun and doubt about the outcome.

  16. I suspect I am among those Jack had in mind with his comment at 6.18 on NINAs and forced answers, but Juno has done us the great favour of cluing obscure words very fairly (Azeri, Terai), and where the clue itself had an obscure word (the oribi in Nairobi) both its place in the clue and the answer were also very fair. So No Complaints At All from me – sorry if that disappoints some!

    I thought this a cracker of a puzzle, with the right balance of clues and a nice theme. I was immensely helped by getting both 1A and 1D almost straight away, and thereafter the answers appeared at a regular and pleasingly rapid rate far an 11 minute solve. I missed my “the week’s five done in an hour” by 2 minutes, but for that I have my poor efforts at the start of the week – and a hold-up on my LOI Spawns which required a letter search – to blame/thank.

    Many thanks John for the blog, and a good weekend to all

  17. I enjoyed this after some protracted battles to finish over the last few weeks. Liked the clueing on the NHO and slightly obscure (to me) words. And squeaked in at the edge of the SCC entrance. As I am a regular I am sure they will still let me in for an end of week drink.

    1. I envy you regulars for the favoured treatment you receive. When I look for any bending of the rules I get a gruff “Look, lad, just put in an honest twenty minutes and you’ll get in the door.”

  18. What a wonderful site – where two broadly different opinions can be maturely and intelligently discussed. I come down on the side of the ‘hard but fair’ team as I got the two unknowns with a bit of a blink and hope but was pretty sure they’d be right. Having batted about the grid, I was surprised that only 12 minutes had elapsed. The Nina seemed like an extra bonus to anyone who finished the grid. Thanks all.

  19. NHO AZERI or TERAI and did a mild eye-roll at QUARTER-MILER being clued as “track athlete” rather than something like “track athlete once”. Overall, however, it was a super puzzle with some nice anagrams and lots of neat tricks. Very much enjoyed.

    I was very slow, however, because I got completely stuck on the SPAWNS/ALBERTA crossing. My trouble was that I had confidently thought that “showing up” indicated RIA (“air” going up) and had jotted it in. And a province ending RIA seemed quite likely, so I ran up and down and up and down that blind alley for a long time, twice putting in SIBERIA (well it’s pretty near Canada … maybe it’s part of Greater Canada or something … have I ever said before that geography is my weakest suit?) and then staring at it and taking it out again.

    Finally light dawned, but only after 14:17 for what I expect is 2 and a bit Kevins and a Terrible Day.

    Many thanks Juno and John.


    1. If it’s any consolation, I had Siberia in for a while, but failure to progress with SPAWNS made me realise I should maybe remove it, pay attention to the word Canadian, and then I spotted the hidden.

    2. Part of Greater Canada… I love it. I’m sure Putin would be happy to concede SIBERIA to a Canadian Empire…. not!

      1. Yes, the greater Canada concept could gain a lot of momentum. Certainly Alaska and Greenland would be allowed in too.

  20. I started very quickly but slowed down a lot to finish in around my average at 14 minutes.
    LOI was SPAWNS.
    Not all parsed so thanks John for the explanations.
    I agree TERAI clearly signposted; NHO before.
    A good QC which had something for everyone perhaps.

  21. A good start in the NW and reasonable progress thereafter left me with just two to solve in the SE corner after 20mins or so. Better still, I could see 7d was an anagram and even guessed there would be a Spa somewhere in 23ac. . . No, the trouble was I had Outlook for 9ac. This was a reasonable (but wrong) answer that unfortunately ended in a ‘k’, so still fitted the unused anagrist. Cue mounting frustration. All sorted in the end via Saint PatricK, but only with the 30min line in clear sight. As for the nhos Azeri and Terai, I actually thought they were generously clued. Invariant

  22. I thought this a nice example of the Quick Cryptic, with the obscure words nicely clued. Coincidentally is that a terai that David Jonsson is wearing in the photo on the front of the paper Times2?

  23. 12:25
    Enjoyable and fair, in my opinion. All gettable. Held up by evoking, reality check and LOI spawns.
    Lots of anagrams usually slow me down, if I can’t see them immediately.

    Today’s 15×15 is not that hard (compared to a normal Friday).

    COD Reality Check

  24. Just managed to finish within target time at 9.40, and was happy to do so with a puzzle that was above average difficulty. Like others, AZERI and TERAI were new to me, but I was confident in my answers as they were fairly clued. In spite of being a keen chess player in my youth, I completely missed the Nina as usual.
    My total time for the week was 48.34, giving me an average time of 9.43, which pretty well matches my time today. My times suggest it was tougher this week than last when my average weekly time was just over a minute quicker.

  25. 7:17

    Didn’t notice the setter’s name going into this one, but did register in flight, the large number of related answers which turned out to be the nina. No real issues apart from trying to justify SPAWNS – SAW with a P inserted somehow then NS? Gave up in the end and just bunged it in, so thanks for the elucidation John.

    My ha’penn’orth on QCs – I wouldn’t expect the QC to be dead easy everyday, it should generally have slightly less convoluted clues than the 15×15 and perhaps stretch one’s vocab a little (today’s NHO TERAI seemed a little forced (what else could the setter stick in there?), but easy to spot with all checkers). Ultimately, decent progress might encourage the once-novice solver to have a go at the 15×15, but to get to that point, they need to be stretched…

    Thanks John and Juno

  26. Yet another DNF (in 38:02) but so close. Threw in EMBED rather than EBBED because I thought bachelor might shorten to M as it can only be a man, and assumed the definition was just something I wasn’t going to see. Had to look up a few (AZERI, TERAI) after I’d parsed the clue to make sure they were actual words, but the rest seemed mostly reasonable to me. I particularly enjoyed IDIOTIC, mainly because I would’ve struggled with that one a few months ago.

  27. I found myself off the wavelength for this one and took an age to get started. ENEMY and SPILL were first 2 in. SPAWNS was LOI with PAW taking a while to see. 13:27. Thanks Juno and John. I spotted the theme once John had poined out there was one. I never spot them off my own bat!

  28. 22.02 Mostly quick at the top, slow at the bottom. NHO TERAI. REALITY CHECK LOI. I didn’t realise it was an anagram until after I’d submitted.

    I’ve said before, but I think the difficulty level is very well pitched. There’s been only one clue in months that I couldn’t solve (or at least biff!) but the 15×15 is far more challenging. If this was easier it would be a poorer introduction to the harder puzzle.

    Thanks John and Juno.

    1. Like some others I found this hard, well over my target at 32:31 though doing it in a coffee shop may not have helped. Did not know TERAI or AZERI. Started fast but then slowed down and took ages to get SPAWNS, ALBERTA and REALITY CHECK.

      Thanks John and Juno.

  29. I managed to complete this one with help from the cat for 2d (never heard of it, therefore it’s a made up word by the setter as he couldn’t think of a word to go there 🤣), and 15d.

    Other than that I did enjoy it to an extent, but did feel a little underwhelmed by it. Not that I mean I found it easy, but I just felt that, on the whole, this QC really didn’t “grab” me. Perhaps it’s because I haven’t had any candy yet. Or should I use the ever popular “wasn’t on the setter’s wavelength” excuse? 🤷‍♂️

  30. I’m hardly qualified to comment, but, for what it’s worth, I thought this was one of the best QCs that I have seen. It is, of course, entirely subjective, but there was nothing today that couldn’t be worked out. The word play was very fair and there is no problem with NHO words when the word play is clear. Although it is absolutely right that we should have straightforward days like yesterday, my personal preference is for what Juno gave us today. And no, I’m not saying that because I had a good day. I didn’t, but I still want to commend the setter this offering.

    I had a poor day (separate comment made).

  31. A very poor 31 minutes for this excellent QC. Bad end to the week after yesterday’s gentle session and definitely below expectations.

    I didn’t think it was particularly difficult because the word play was so fair (see my earlier comment). The Snitch would suggest I’m wrong, but I’m sticking by my opinion!

    I am extremely disappointed as I missed some obvious ones and didn’t do myself justice. I should have been much quicker, and spotted much of the word play a lot sooner. Everything was quite gettable.

    I’ve had another shockingly bad week (42 mins, 42 mins, 70 mins DNF, 11 mins and 31 mins). If my maths is right, that’s 3 hours, 16 mins – nowhere near acceptable, but the sad reality of where I am at with my solving abilities. I suspect it will be years before I am where I want to be with the QC.

    Thanks for the blog John and best wishes to you all for the weekend.

    1. Hello Mr A,
      My total for the week was 4 hours 11 minutes, although that includes a 1 hour 40 marathon effort on Monday.

      1. Well if it’s any consolation, my times this week compared to last are pretty dismal. Last week I completed all 5 QCs in a total of 22:40. This week it’s 30:27. Definitely a harder week, although the QSNITCH has the week at only 108 compared to 91 last week.

      2. I salute your indefatigability Mr R! A tough week for many. Your marathon solve will go down in history. How you kept that going is remarkable.

        Have a good weekend.

  32. Tricky to get started, as the four long ones around the edge remained elusive for quite some time. However, they all went in eventually and I was faced with S_A_S, O_T_O_E and E_B_D between me and the finish line. SPAWNS required a careful alphabet trawl and EBBED needed me to spot that my faintly-written EmBED was wrong. OUTCOME, on the other hand, remained hidden from view for the best part of 10 minutes after everything else had been sorted. Eventual time = 37 minutes, but it could (should?) have been so much quicker.

    Many thanks to Juno and John.

  33. Dnf…

    Struggled with the SW corner on this – particularly 13dn “Alberta” (for some reason the only Canadian province that I didn’t think of) and 17ac “Ebbed”. Dnk 2dn “Azeri” either. Definitely on the trickier side to end the week.

    FOI – 8ac “Enemy”
    LOI – Dnf
    COD – 23ac “Saint Patrick”

    Thanks as usual!

  34. 8.52

    Never spot a theme even when as here it’s one I am very actively involved with. To be fair it helped with AZERI as they are one of the top chess nations.

    Would it be too much to ask folks to turn down the moaning? No one minds a bit, but I sometimes have to grit my teeth before coming here when it’s been a toughie.

    Thanks Juno and John

    1. I look forward to the moaning! Getting a bit concerned about GaryA’s existential despair, though.

  35. I found this a nicely pitched QC, but then I never worry about time which seems an important factor for others. I’m just happy to finish and enjoy myself along the way. A couple of new words and some head scratchers – perfect. Many thanks for the blog which I needed to fully parse EERIE and SPEECH. I liked EVOKING and learning what a TERAI was. Many thanks all.

  36. Just about 20 minutes today. As others I found the obscure fairly clued but struggled most with Reality Check, and LOI Spawns.
    Pretty tricky but satisfying.
    Quarter Miler a bit dated mind – didn’t we go metric?
    Thanks all

    1. Going metric is more of an ongoing journey than a single decision. Any country that buys its petrol in litres and has for 50 years or so, but still talks about miles per gallon, has serious issues with going metric …

      1. That is a very good point! Miles per litre? No idea. I guess it will morph into miles per watt before we know it.

  37. 23:30, well over my target, but no complaints here. I’d NHO TERAI, will try to remember that one. As others, I ground to a halt in the SW corner, where I had biffed ONTARIO and SPOONS, despite neither making any sense whatsoever. And oh, the head-slap moment when you realise you’ve missed a hidden!

    Thanks to John and Juno.

  38. 21:02

    Took ages to get the last 2, SAINT PATRICK and NAIVEST. Not helped by looking for an X and J to complete the pangram.

  39. DNF. Far too hard for me. Resorted to help,but still 5 short of completion. NHO AZERI or TERAI. This isn’t a QC.

  40. As I have never got anywhere near the leaderboard and do this in the evening I can look at the comments having tried the QC.
    8 out of 10 in the two weeks
    If they were all doable I might give up as there would be no challenge involved. Nothing gained from doing easy things.

  41. very disappointing clues, clue 15 in particular very obscure. this is supposed to be a quick cryptic and Juno’s clues are I’ll defined and inaccurate. not enjoyable

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