Times Quick Cryptic No 2558 by Pedro

A fun puzzle from Pedro, pitched on the friendly side of average difficulty.

I didn’t have any major hold-ups, although some bits required extra thought, and words hiding in plain sight (like the trophy in 1d) are rarely the first thing you think to look for. I clocked in at 6.29, three minutes quicker than yesterday’s done just before.

Much enjoyed, and helped to distract from a slightly sore head – many thanks to Pedro!

I hope everyone had a lovely Christmas, and best wishes for the New Year.

7 Small tablet in shed (5)
SPILL – S(mall) PILL (tablet)
8 Shot possibly to fail in tournament (5-2)
CLOSE-UP – LOSE (fail) in CUP (tournament). Shot as in photo
10 Restore play area no longer in operation (7)
RECOVER – REC (play area) OVER (no longer in operation). REC, short for recreation ground, crops up a fair bit.
11 Mouldy? Has to end in decay (5)
MUSTY – MUST (has to) Y (“end” in decaY)
12 Nut? It is a chop that’s cooked (9)
PISTACHIO – anagram (that’s cooked) of IT IS A CHOP
14 Remains in the role of husband (3)
ASH – AS (in the role of) H(usband)
15 Japanese currency the writer removed from Arab country (3)
YEN – ME (the writer) removed from YEmeN (Arab country)
16 King or Queen taking dinner, say, a bit at a time (9)
PIECEMEAL – PIECE (king or queen, in chess) MEAL (dinner, say). “Taking” is just a linkword.
18 Deduce liner, heading away, is carrying female (5)
INFER – LINER, in plain sight, with the heading away, carries F(emale)
20 Acknowledging crowd’s applause after receiving 50 deliveries? (7)
BOWLING – BOWING (acknowledging crowd’s applause) receives L (50)
22 Error about the French church? Saying nothing (7)
SILENCE – SIN (error) about LE (the, French) CE (Church of England). As in something like: “One’s position is strengthened by saying nothing/silence.”
23 Friday and every Saturday initially revealing side? (5)
FRIES – FRI(day) and Every Saturday “initially”
1 Idiot claiming trophy is limiting opening in computer science (12)
ASTROPHYSICS – ASS (idiot) claiming TROPHY, and then IS limiting C (“opening” in Computer)
2 Describing bishop’s area, I’d upset Saint in the main (8)
DIOCESAN – DI (I’D “upset) S(aint) in OCEAN (main)
3 Eastern European’s singular toilet (4)
SLAV – S(ingular) LAV(toilet)
4 Surprised comment in school showing damage by fire (6)
SCORCH – COR (surprised comment) in SCH(ool)
5 Zero room in entire trans-dimensional passage (8)
WORMHOLE – O (zero) RM (room) in WHOLE (entire)
6 Inclines to overlook a camera feature (4)
LENS -LEaNS (inclines) to overlook A
9 Hitchcock film initially lacking obvious point for student of mental behaviour (12)
PSYCHOLOGIST – PSYCHO (Hitchcock film) L O (“initially” Lacking Obvious) GIST (point)
13 Clear father turned up with mother, say (8)
APPARENT – AP (PA = father, “turned up”) with PARENT (mother, say)
14 A variety of tripe provided as precursor to meal (8)
APERITIF – A, an anagram (variety of) TRIPE, IF (provided)
17 Circulating internet topic includes half of blue symbol (6)
EMBLEM – MEME (internet topic) circulating = reversing includes BL (“half of” BLue)
19 Fine, long-established congregation (4)
FOLD – F(old) OLD (long-established)
21 Gentle breeze, westerly at first, towards rear of vessel (4)
WAFT – W (Westerly “at first”) AFT (towards rear of vessel)

58 comments on “Times Quick Cryptic No 2558 by Pedro”

  1. I biffed DIOCESAN, WORMHOLE, & EMBLEM, parsed post-submission. WORMHOLE was my LOI, and took some time. Can’t say DNK, but I couldn’t have told you what it meant. 7:00.

  2. 11:08. I especially enjoyed unscrambling the two long down clues on the puzzle’s edges. I also liked side for FRIES and REC OVER.

  3. 9 minutes but I had failed to understand the definition of FRIES when I stopped the clock. I returned to it later and still it wouldn’t come so I asked my AI assistant to come up with suggestions, which he duly did, but not without blethering on about other stuff first. So ‘side’ can mean ‘side dish’ can it? And perhaps I eat out in the wrong places because I’m used to ‘chips’ being served as part of a main dish.

    1. ‘Side’ is perfectly natural to me, although I might restrict its use to the homelier sort of eatery: a cheeseburger and a side of fries, say, but not lobster Thermidor with a side of pommes Anna.

      1. Yes, it’s not a term unknown to me, but having ‘side’ as the definition of ‘fries’ seems very loose to say the least. Collins has ‘side’ as ‘side dish’ or ‘side order’ and gives various examples including ‘a side of potato salad’, so would it be okay to use ‘side’ in a crossword clue to define ‘potato salad’?

    2. Fries would normally be included in the sides part of the menu, and the clue has a question mark to cover the DBE.

  4. 10:15. Not too many hold-ups for me either, but I didn’t know what the ‘trans-dimensional passage’ in 5d was all about. I now see there’s an esoteric ASTROPHYSICS sense for WORMHOLE in addition to the common-or-garden one I was aware of. I’m not too keen on the use of ‘side’ for ‘side dish’ either, but when I ate out pre-Christmas that’s exactly how FRIES were shown on the menu, served separately with a big dollop of aioli, presumably to soak up all those calories.

    I noticed the crossing CLOSE-UP and LENS in the NE corner which is probably coincidental.

    Thanks to Pedro and roly – happy New Year to you too

  5. I didn’t understand FRIES, although it had to be, and WORMHOLE and CLOSE UP slowed me down, but I finished all green in 17:01, so I am somewhat redeemed after my dismal showing this week.
    No real stand out clues for me today, although ASTROPHYSICS and PSYCHOLOGIST were very satisfying.
    Thank you to Pedro and Roly.

  6. I found the NW very difficult to crack so went round the rest of the grid first. That gave me checkers to guess that ‘trophy’ was in 1dn and then the rest followed. Struggled with LOI WORMHOLE (taking me 5 seconds over 10 minutes) but what a great clue. Can’t help thinking about Eddie being in the space time continuum. 😊

  7. Quick, slow, quick for me today.
    Started with ASTROPHYSICS which opened up the left hand side of the grid very nicely but then got bogged down with a few towards the end – SCORCH, CLOSE-UP, PIECEMEAL and EMBLEM – but after staring at them blankly for a while they all clicked into place in a rush.
    Particularly enjoyed my PDMs for CLOSE-UP and FRIES and watching too much Stargate SG1 in the dim and distant past meant that wormhole was a bit of a write in.
    Finished three seconds below my average in an average 8.08.
    Thanks to Roly

  8. An excellent and enjoyable puzzle which took me 11 minutes. My L2I were the two long down clues at the edges, and for both the checkers were a great help. I did not fully parse Psychologist (the LO escaped me) and was also a little surprised to see Trophy in both clue and answer for Astrophysics.

    A quirk of 21d is that the four letters W, A, F and T are the initial letters of part of the clue (“Westerly, at first towards”). It almost looks as if Pedro was lining the clue up to be an “initial letters” solve before changing his mind.

    Many thanks Roly for the blog

  9. Enjoyable puzzle.

    I followed the instructions for FRIES, and was momentarily stumped until the penny dropped.

    ASTROPHYSICS LOI because I had computer science in the back of my mind until I realised what “opening” was doing. I liked WORMHOLE, biffed DIOCESAN.


  10. Quite difficult. DNF WORMHOLE. Was trying to remember how characters went from one world to another in e.g. Philip Pullman.
    I guess FRIES can be a side *dish* but ‘a side’ sounds weird. US usage?
    Otherwise I plodded slowly through. Quite pleased with ASTROPHYSICS, PIECEMEAL. Also liked BOWLING, SPILL, SLAV, INFER.
    Thanks for blog, Roly.
    Later: OK, I admit Sides instead of Side Dishes is probably quite normal. I don’t eat out often these days – sob !

    1. A “Wormhole” was/is often used in Star Trek – an example of which is given in Star Trek: The Motion Picture from 1979 – caused primarily as a result of misaligned warp engines.

  11. 12′ though in retrospective nothing was really that hard. Spent too long starting on 1 dn without crossers looking for an IT related solution. Once I changed tack things flowed nicely. Thanks Roly and setter.

  12. 10:51
    Last 3 were also CsOD: close up, wormhole, and musty.
    I’m off to see A Christmas Carol at the Old Vic and have done both crosswords so will have to complete an old one from the club on the train.

  13. Just under 9 minutes for me today.
    Not everything parsed such as LOI ASTROPHYSICS where I was wondering about the Computer part.
    Lots of London restaurants invite you to choose sides which increase the total price very quickly.
    A fun puzzle. COD to CLOSE UP.

  14. Since Domino’s regularly delivers leaflets through my door, I didn’t think twice about FRIES as a side, though why anyone would want to up the already high calory count with extra starch is a mystery.
    Though nobody has mentioned it yet, I also had no issue with FOLD as congregation. My local CofE has what is believed to be a unique horseshoe shaped altar rail known as a sheepfold to corral its flock at feeding time.
    A leisurely 9.18 for me, held up by the Star Trek entry, which even with ORM tentatively entered, looked unlikely.

  15. 13:25 (Queen Isabella separates from Edward II, and conspires with Roger Mortimer against Edward)

    I originally biffed an incorrectly spelled APETISER in 14d, which held up completion of the SE corner until FRIES forced me to reconsider, making APERITIF my LOI.

    WORMHOLE went straight in, having recently read The Light of Other Days by Arthur C Clarke and Stephen Baxter, in which wormholes are developed to enable people to view any location in the present or past, proving useful to paparazzi and historians.

    Thanks Pedro and Roly

  16. DNF as neither myself nor the cat could answer 5d.

    Not happy with 9d. As far as I am concerned a psychologist is not necessarily a student. You can have qualified psychologists. Or does the setter think that a psychologist is a trainee psychiatrist? They’re two different things. The main difference being that a psychiatrist is a medical doctor who specialises in mental behaviour and illnesses. Whereas a psychologist is not a medical doctor.

    However, due to the Hitchcock reference I did answer it correctly.

  17. Struggled a little to begin with this one and only built up a head of steam to finish. I eventually crossed the line in 10.24, slowed by looking for a non existent anagram for 5dn.

  18. 10’20” on a tricksy puzzle.

    No issues at all with FRIES as ‘side’- I’d guess that the majority of UK restaurants/pub menus now have a ‘Sides’ section under which you’ll often find fries at the very top, although it took a PDM to see it.

    DIOCESAN slowed me down as I looked to fit St in the answer. I forget S works for saint too.

    Was about to throw in the towel on LOI WORMHOLE when I saw it and parsed it too – a very pleasing completion.

    Thanks Pedro and rolytoly

  19. DNF. Couldn’t see WORMHOLE and didn’t really know what I was looking for in the clue. Don’t think I would have got it if I had continued staring at it for any longer. As it was I was at about 20 minutes when I ran out of time and used an aid for the answer. Also failed on FOLD because I had overlooked it! Wasn’t able to parse DIOCESAN and didn’t bother to parse PSYCHOLOGIST as the crossers and the Hitchcock reference made it a write in. Not a good day – well there’s always tomorrow!

    FOI – 7ac SPILL
    LOI – DNF
    COD – liked 16ac PIECEMEAL and 17dn EMBLEM

    Thanks to Pedro and Rolytoly

  20. A bit of a struggle. Didn’t see FRIES = SIDE, FOLD or PIECEMEAL for ages and didn’t understand the WORMHOLE clue and needed help to find the answer.

  21. 7:38

    Bit of a mess from biffing PSYCHOANALYST (too long), PSYCHIATRIST (wrong) and finally PSYCHOLOGIST to fit the checkers. ASTROPHYSICS was comparatively easy (not a sentence you’ll hear everyday). WORMHOLE was my LOI but only parsed after the fact.

    Thanks Pedro and Roly

  22. SIDES
    Creamed spinach, pangrattato, 4.95
    toasted pine nuts and grated Parmesan
    Sprouting broccoli, lemon oil 5.50
    and sea salt
    Extra virgin olive oil mashed potato 4.75
    Thick cut chips 5.50
    Green beans and roasted almonds 4.95
    Garden peas, broad beans 4.50
    and baby shoots
    Jasmine rice with toasted 3.95
    coconut and coriander
    Truffle and Parmesan chips 6.50
    Brussels sprouts, chestnuts 4.75
    and cranberries
    From a menu at The Ivy.

  23. A tip of the hat to Plett for starting with 1d, Astrophysics. The prize of all those initial letters certainly made it a very tempting target, but after a minute playing around with Ass/fool + cup/shield/plate + vent/crevice etc, and getting nowhere I decided it was time to move on. In the end, writing the answer for 20ac in the space for 22ac, hesitating over piece for king/queen (🙄), and trying to justify Apetiser in 14d, all conspired to turn what should have been an enjoyable sub-20 into a scramble for a seat near the front. CoD to either of the photography clues in the NE, both excellent. Invariant

  24. 10.45 This was a nice puzzle. As many others have said, “side” rather than “side dish” seems to be commonplace on menus nowadays so I thought nothing of it. Mistyping PYSCHO in 9d made MUSTY LOI. Thanks rolytoly and Pedro.

  25. Fairly gentle today I thought. BOWLING caused the most problem (wrong definition). Got the two long down clues early on which helped considerably. WORMHOLE was biffed them parsed afterwards. Puzzled a while over FRIES before the penny dropped. No issues with clue. Liked FOLD and PIECEMEAL. LOI EMBLEM. Many thanks Pedro and roly.

  26. 19 mins…

    Have to agree, this was a fun puzzle. Enjoyed 1dn “Astrophysics”, 9dn “Psychologist” and 3dn “Slav”.

    FOI – 7ac “Spill”
    LOI – 5dn “Wormhole”
    COD – 5dn “Wormhole”

    Thanks as usual!

  27. On a late running train from Paddington so had time to chew over this one, but heartfelt thoughts for the driver and family of the person struck by an earlier train.

    DNF due to WORMHOLE.

    COD to ASTROPHYSICS and that hidden TROPHY and those APPARENT PARENTS.

    Thanks Roly and Pedro

  28. My third 24-minute solve in a row, so this is turning into an excellent week for me.

    I started with SPILL, having first looked at 1d, and managed to solve precisely half of the 24 clues during my first pass. 12 minutes had passed by then, as I always give each clue a decent attempt before moving on.

    I liked WORMHOLE and ASTROPHYSICS, although both required all of their checkers. APERITIF caused some trouble, as I forgot how to spell it and EMBLEM was my LOI.

    Many thanks to Pedro and Rolytoly.

  29. I was inside 4 minutes until I got to my LOI…..

    TIME 5:44

  30. 25 mins (as yesterday) and unhappy (as yesterday).

    If this was gentle or friendly, then I’m wasting my time thinking I can ever be a good solver. I thought this was hard and was delighted to have all done bar WORMHOLE in about 16 mins. Then I was brought back to reality.

    First, took 9 mins to work out the aforesaid WORMHOLE – depressing beyond words. Completely unable to parse it and didn’t have a clue what a trans-dimensional passage was. A lucky guess, nothing more, so no credit there.

    Second, came here, read the comments and felt thoroughly flat after seeing that it wasn’t rated as that hard by most solvers. I can’t tell you how demoralising it is to think you have done very well (bar one clue), only to find that you haven’t done anything special at all.

    So yet another frustrating and dissatisfying day for me, and another opportunity missed to escape the SCC.

    1. If you had them all bar a fairly esoteric answer (albeit a write in for Star Trek fans) in 16mins, then you were just one answer away from beating nearly everyone in your peer group. . .

    2. Gary, I’m always delighted just to finish the QC and often have a few that I can’t parse along the way. That’s what the blog’s for. Why compare yourself to others when it’s really not a level playing field? Most people who post have been doing these for many years. It sounds like you’re doing an amazing job (16 mins for all bar one is very quick) but the most important thing of course is to enjoy the process.

      1. Thanks, I know you’re right. Just frustrated today with last clue syndrome. Despite my comments, I do try to enjoy the process of solving, but perhaps I have set my expectations a little high.

  31. A great QC. DNF as I didn’t go back and rethink Messy/Musty – was pushed to get away for a short trip out and really shouldn’t have allowed myself to count this as done and dusted. Nonetheless it was fun.
    FOI 7a Spill
    LOI 5d Wormhole
    COD 16a Piecemeal

  32. Hang on…. Ocean for Main? What’s going on there? Stumped by 2d as a result. Otherwise just Astrophysics I couldn’t parse. Largely very enjoyable. Thanks for the grid and blog.

      1. Thank you! Still strikes me as a stretch Especially for a Q! I was trying to stitch Di with St and See! Thanks again CO

  33. Tackled by the fire after 10 hours driving north, arriving in the Highlands in a hailstorm to find the new keys are very very stiff … humph.

    Could not get ASTROPHYSICS for the life of me first up, all thought processes as per Invariant. So that was two minutes down the drain. Then reasonably smooth until going back to 23a, where I’d written FRIES on first pass and decided to revisit it at the end to see if it could possibly be the right answer … after some squinting a PDM ensued so that has to be COD.

    Finally submitted in 08:57 for an OK Day.

    Many thanks Pedro and roly. Have called GaryA’s counsellor to warn them.


    1. A shame you weren’t in the Highlands 2 days ago. The Cairngorms were blanketed in thick snow under azure skies…simply magical. Then howling storms yesterday. You missed the very best and the very worst.

      1. I’m over Glencoe way Pi (West Coast Best Coast 😉). We had a wild night last night but totally still and clear today. Epic walk – you could see way out past Mull! Snow’s down at about 650m.

  34. 14:25. Felt like it should have been faster but not unhappy. No problems with WORMHOLE and actually rather liked FRIES which we are accustomed to seeing described as a side on local menus.

  35. A happy and satisfying solve in just over 30 minutes. I love the cosy fire in the SCC! And for me 5d was easy as WORMHOLE is the only trans-dimensional passage I know.

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