Times Quick Cryptic No 2580 by Mara

Solving time: 7:05

Medium-paced perhaps, though took a little bit of jumping around the grid to get into today’s puzzle. Getting 10a, 12a and 14a helped with filling out the lower half. The longer anagrams at 6d and 9d didn’t come too easily to me and I needed most of the checkers to understand what was going on with 9a – may be a write-in for gardeners and botanists.

Major eyebrow raise for 1d (see my comments below) though I don’t think it should hold anyone up for too long.

What did you make of it?

Definitions are underlined in bold italics, {deletions and substitutions are in curly brackets} and [directions in square ones].

1 Baker’s mistake? (7)
BLOOMER – A cryptic clue – a BLOOMER is a crusty loaf of bread with rounded ends and typically with several parallel diagonal slashes across the top.

A BLOOMER is also another word for a large or embarrassing mistake, perhaps synonymous with the American BLOOPER.

5 Swindle sees rascal ultimately wanting (4)
SCAMSCAMP (rascal) without its last letter [ultimately wanting]


7 River runs in every colour of the rainbow (6)
SEVERNR (runs – cricket notation) in SEVEN (every colour of the rainbow)
8 Firmly hold linen initially caught by breeze (6)
CLINCHL{inen} [initially i.e. first letter of] caught by CINCH
9 Flower produced in passionate game (3-3,5)
RED-HOT POKERRED-HOT (passionate) POKER (game)

One for the gardeners and botanists amongst us – RED-HOT POKER is the informal name for the Kniphofia.

10 Top sovereign put on good plane (6)
GLIDERLID (Top) ER ((former) sovereign – Elizabeth Regina) put on G (good)
12 Big deal has two moves (2,4)
SO WHAT – Anagram [moves] of HAS TWO
14 Fat stomach, and firm (11)
CORPORATION – Double definition
17 Unconventional door, say? (3-3)
WAY-OUT – Well, a door could be a WAY OUT…… hence the ‘say?’

WAY-OUT is 1940s jazz slang meaning “original, bold”, suggesting something far off from what is conventional or expected.

18 Hearing about brother originally in the family (6)
TRIBALTRIAL (Hearing) about B{rother} [originally i.e. first letter of]
20 Don’t go in small river (4)
STAYS (Small) TAY (river)

At 120 miles in length, the TAY is the longest river in Scotland (and seventh longest in Great Britain).

21 A golden, unusual county (7)
DONEGAL – Anagram [unusual] of A GOLDEN
1 Wide, say and so long (3)
BYE – Hmmm. So long means ‘goodbye’ or just BYE – fair enough.

However, I wonder if the setter has written ‘Wide, say’ when meaning ‘Extra, say’.

In cricket, a ‘wide’ is not the same thing as a ‘bye’, though both are recorded as an ‘extra’ run i.e. not credited to the batsman.

A ‘bye’ is a run scored from a ball which passes the batsman without being hit.

A ‘wide’ is a ball that is judged to be too wide of the stumps for the batsman to play.

Is there a completely different meaning to the wordplay here that has had me barking up the wrong tree?

2 Exaggerated discussion initially supporting old composer (7)
OVERDIDD{iscussion} [initially i.e. first letter of] supporting O (old) VERDI (composer)

‘supporting’ is apposite here as this is a down clue and all of the other letters are piled on top of the second D.

3 Fruit consumed by Roman gods (5)
MANGO – Hidden in [consumed by] Roman gods
4 Sets of instructions, precise for cooking? (7)
RECIPES – Anagram [for cooking] of PRECISE
5 Fasten piece of wood (5)
STICK – Double definition
6 Identify a strange canister (9)
ASCERTAINA then an anagram [strange] of CANISTER

MER as to whether ‘identify’ and ‘ASCERTAIN’ are synonymous… – What do you think?

9 Cattle run off, slow to act (9)
RELUCTANT – Anagram [off] of CATTLE RUN
11 Duck in Dorset surprisingly sat on a perch (7)
ROOSTEDO (Duck i.e. a nil score for a batsman in cricket) in an anagram [surprisingly] of DORSET

Why is a nil score called a duck? The shape of the number “0” is similar to that of a duck’s egg, a term that was in use long before Test cricket began. The tennis term “love”, according to one theory, is derived from the French l’oeuf (“the egg”).

13 Fish in box stuffing part of bird (7)
WHITINGHIT (box) insert into [stuffing] WING (part of bird)
15 Native Australian, this crossword writer’s generous (5)
ROOMYROO (Native Australian i.e. kangaROO) + MY (this crossword writer’s i.e. possessive pronoun)
16 A rock cut in part of Birmingham (5)
ASTONA STONE (rock) cut i.e. remove the final letter

My grandmother’s birthplace but probably better known as the home of the football club ASTON VILLA.

19 Everyone with long legs perhaps striking head (3)
ALL – TALL (with long legs perhaps) striking head i.e. removing the first letter

Perhaps ‘perhaps’ has been added here as other creatures e.g. spiders, daddy-long-legs etc… have long legs but are not tall.


88 comments on “Times Quick Cryptic No 2580 by Mara”

  1. 13.05. Nice crossword from Mara, perfectly fair but agreeably crafty at several points. I had no idea about either meaning of LOI BLOOMER and was pleased to see that answer get the congratulations signal after blunder was clearly never going to work. SEVERN (ah! That’s what the rainbow ref was about!), RELUCTANT and GLIDER all held me up at the end and for a while at 9dn RELUCTANT I thought the anagrist was slow to act, not cattle run. I’m with you on 1dn Mike, I can’t see how it can be referring to anything else and a wide, as you say, is an extra or a sundry (remember them?), as is a bye. On that note, I’m looking forward to the Oz v WI day-night test starting tomorrow.

  2. I biffed ASCERTAIN, so only the briefest of MERs, but it is iffy, isn’t it? My ignorance of flowers is encyclopedic, but we’ve had RED-HOT-POKER before; the hyphen and the K were enough to get it. I couldn’t tell the difference between a bye and an extra if one bit me etc., but B_E left little room for error. CORPORATION should be a gimme for any of us with a little experience of these puzzles. 7:33.

    1. I really dislike the continued use of Corporation for stomach. Its use in crosswords is wildly out of proportion to its use in the real world. Time to put it out to grass. Every single newbie has to learn this one.

      1. I learned it here; on a 15×15, no doubt. Never come across it in real life, or even mine. I wouldn’t mind seeing it go, along with SA and ‘it’; but on the other hand, why shouldn’t a solver equip himself with such arcana?

  3. Hmm yeah the 1D clue should definitely read something like ‘extra, say and so long’.

    I have never heard of either of those definitions of BLOOMER which to me is either a flower or a pair of underpants. I had no clue what to write there, I tried BLUNDER but that didn’t work out with mango

    So many rivers today!

    Glad for the discussion around ‘corporation’ recently or I wouldn’t have managed that one. I also tried so many words before CLINCH – clutch, clench etc

    SCAM was my FOI so funny how brains work

  4. I found this very tough. CLINCH, RED-HOT POKER, OVERDID, BLOOMER, and SEVERN held me up for 25+ minutes, for a total over 40 minutes.
    I originally put in BOARD for 5d which I still think is a reasonable answer. This slowed down the rest of the NE corner. I never understood “all the colours of the rainbow” = 7 either, that feels extremely tough.
    I still don’t understand 1a, “Baker’s” is not a definition, but a BLOOMER is not a baker’s mistake, it’s something a baker has made. Unless no baker has ever made a BLOOMER (as in the bread product) on purpose, I don’t see how this works. If it’s just supposed to mean a word for mistake that’s also associated with baking, that seems really vague to me, and very unsatisfying. I don’t like these “find the most obscure definition of a normal word” clues.

    1. I think if you knew that a bloomer was a loaf of bread and an error, then the cryptic clue works *because* there’s a question mark on the end of the clue
      As far as my newbie brain understands it a question mark indicates that it’s a play on words somehow, a funny joke, a pun even

      Like: Q: what does a plumber use to write with?
      A: a fountain pen!

      Q: what kind of mistake does a baker make?
      A: a bloomer!
      *boom tish* hyuk hyuk! *slaps knee* *audience groan*

      They’re different to double definition clues like the ‘Fasten/piece of wood = stick’ clue.

  5. 14:11. GLIDER, OVERDID, and WHITING were my favourites. Didn’t know required meanings of BLOOMER and RED-HOT POKER. Something seemed unfair about SEVEN being clued by all the colours of the rainbow. My quarrel with BYE is that the second word of the clue, “say”, suggests a BY or BUY should be involved, that is, pronounced like BYE but spelled differently. If the two meanings are both spelled BYE what is the “say” for?

    1. I don’t know cricket, but if a wide were a type of bye, then ‘say’ would mean ‘e.g.’ and we’d have a DBE.

      1. That’s true Kevin.

        But as others have pointed out, a wide isn’t a type of bye. The clue’s just wrong I’m afraid.

        1. I was aware, from Mike, that a wide isn’t a type of bye; note that I said “If a wide were etc.”

  6. 11:29. Same comments about BYE as others; maybe there is another explanation but I can’t see it. I agree with Mike and Tina about the parsing of BLOOMER. I took some time to work out GLIDER, not a common ‘plane’ in crosswords.

    My favourite was the extended definition for RECIPES.

    Thanks to M & M

  7. 12 minutes, so I’m with vinyl1 in finding this strangely harder than it should have been.

    The long answers were write-ins.

    I never gave a second thought to BYE at 1dn despite having had to mug up on the rules of cricket many years ago at school in order to perform umpiring duties.

    The only delay I can remember was at 21ac where I managed to misread ‘county’ as ‘country’.

    Identify / ASCERTAIN seems fine to me. SOED: ascertain – find out or learn for a certainty; make sure of, get to know. L16.

  8. After a racing start, and the heady prospect of a PB, I ground to a halt with ASCERTAIN, CORPORATION and RED-HOT POKER, each of which I really should’ve seen. I liked CLINCH, although that too took a while. The usual cricketing clue caused me to roll my eyes. Yet another easy bonus for The Chaps.
    So I came in all green in at around 22 minutes which means I’ll be consigned to the back of the class yet again to stare enviously at the backs of the heads of the swots. Still, I did enjoy this one so thank you Mara and Mike.

    1. Agreed! Awful clues. For beginners like us, just off- putting, when usually the answers bring a smile or a laugh. Remember we aren’t all old hands who want to beat the(ir) time limit. Some of us do it for pleasure .

      1. So you don’t use the word CORPORATION to refer to your stomach? Don’t worry, no one does, apart from setters.

  9. Several clues which I didn’t fully get until Mike’s blog including CORPORATION and RED HOT POKER. With the benefit of hindsight I should have remembered the fat stomach definition. Agree about BYE but didn’t spot it while solving. 15m27s so a par. LOI GLIDER

  10. Slow to get started but gradually tuned in for a finish in an average time.
    I didn’t think too hard about BYE so had no problem with it and even if it’s not technically correct it feels close enough IMO. I got very stuck on RED-HOT POKER in a previous puzzle so it came to mind quite quickly today once a couple of checkers were in place
    Never did parse OVERDID where for some reason I got stuck on Ovid even though he was a poet not a composer and completely overlooked the obvious Verdi 🤦‍♂️.
    Started with CORPORATION and finished with OVERDID in 7.57.
    Thanks to Mike

  11. I read “Wide, say…” as in measurements: 6 x 4 pronounced six by(e) four, so a homophone.
    Just outside the SCC, enjoyed the journey.

      1. I’m not so sure, if bye=by, then you should be able to substitute wide for “bye, say”, and 6 wide 4 doesn’t make any sense.

        1. Exactly. It doesn’t mean “wide”, it’s just as in Collins sense 12: “12. placed between measurements of the various dimensions of something – a plank fourteen inches by seven”.

          1. I have no skin in the game here, but 6×4 is, say, 6 high by four wide, the height/ width/depth already being implied by the usage, so the “say” for by= bye when dimensions were involved seemed plausible. Anyhow, I entered it, and it worked, and if I got there by mistake then…

  12. 11′ with not much thought being given to BYE. However I did initally have an unparsed CLUTCH for 8ac which held me for a little while in the NE corner before STICK eventually came to mind giving me LOI SCAM. Some nicely hidden anagrams and I enjoyed OVERDID. Thanks Mike and setter

  13. 5:42. I sometimes take a while to get on Mara’s wavelength and so it proved today. “No!” written on my copy against 1D, and I see several have remarked on it already. LOI SCAM, needing the A from ASCERTAIN to think of SCAMP. I liked the duck roosting in Dorset but COD to RECIPES for the clever surface. Thanks Mara and Mike.

  14. Very tough. Couldn’t fully parse BYE, and plenty of others were head-scratchers. I’m now late for work.

  15. 13:32 (Edward Balliol defeated at battle of Annan)

    I found this hard to get going, with only two of the across clues solved on first pass (CORPORATION and WAY-OUT). I dismissed BYE as a possible answer for 1d for all the reasons above, reluctantly entering it at the end when nothing else would fit, fearing a pink square and hoping for an explanation of why it is correct.

    Thanks Mara and Mike

  16. Cricketing shocker from Mara, what a BLOOMER!

    I was quick through this until my last two, which intersected – STICK/SCAM. Both obvious once seen, but the cause of head scratching and alpha-trawling today. COD to WHITING (ho ho).

    The result was 09:23 for 1.4K which has to go down as a Poor Day.

    Many thanks Mara and Mike.


  17. I wish the setters would compare notes! Maybe they could help each other to calibrate the puzzles more effectively? Plymouthian might be right about by but it feels like the clue is actually a mistake. Enjoyed the challenge mind so thanks setter and blogger!

  18. Squeezed in a sub-20, but it was a close run thing (a scampered leg bye perhaps ?), with all sorts of problems in the NE corner. Couldn’t see Ascertain despite having the right anagrist, and ignored the obvious Scam in favour of something beginning with L, or perhaps G, or even a (straw clutching) R. Talking of clutch(ing), that was also my initial stab at 8ac Clinch. . . All sorted in the end, but what a mess. Invariant

  19. Wides and byes are both extras, but they are not the same thing. It couldn’t be anything else, but that feels like a very rare error to me.

    Otherwise, like others, I found this strangely hard. Especially my LOI SCAM, but that’s my fault, not the setters! I like OVERDID and ASCERTAIN (which had me looking for a canister from IDENTIFYA* until the C from CLINCH came along).


  20. Got there in the end but this was a struggle, not helped bye the clear error at 1D. The K helped me to find the flower (which I’m usually hopeless at). Had FAR OUT to start with but knew it was wrong – eventually I twigged. Some nice clues. Thanks Mara and Mike.

  21. Very slow to get started on this one – my FOI was not until 20A – but thereafter I picked up speed for a 13 minute finish. Needed the blog to explain All, and to reassure me that Bye was indeed a straight error not me simply not seeing the parsing. LOI was Roomy, where I was slow to see what meaning of generous was wanted. In retrospect a fine puzzle, 1D excepted, but it felt hard work at the time.

    Many thanks Mike for the blog

  22. I was going relatively well on this till I arrived at the ne corner, and I then went to pieces. I put CLUTCH in for 8ac which made 5dn problematic. I would have been around the ten minute mark but for this, but as it took an age to correct my error, and I eventually finished in 16.54.

  23. 17:36
    Struggled with this, held up by plethora of anagrams.
    LOI red hot poker
    COD so what.

  24. Did notice the BYE problem but it didn’t delay me – getting from the colours to 7, that did delay me. In fact the whole top half was hard to crack (no MANGO though). All green in 18.

  25. For once my limited cricket knowledge played to my advantage as BYE was my FOI followed by BLOOMER. With the exception of bunging in an unparsed CLutCH, things moved very swiftly and I finished with WAY-OUT in 6:05 for a red hot day.

  26. A very slow start, with absolutely none of my first 10 attempted clues solved and already 5-6 minutes on the clock. I daresay some will have finished the whole puzzle before STAY came to my rescue. Fortunately, the down clues were more yielding and I solved five of them on first pass.

    Thankfully, my second pass proved more productive and things started to flow more smoothly …. until my last clue. The clock said something like 23 minutes when, faced with C_I_C_ I slammed into the buffers. I wrestled with CLutCH, but it didn’t fully parse (and STuCK didn’t really work for 5d), so an extensive alphabet trawl ensued. In the end it took me >10 minutes to find CLINCH and, even then, trying to equate CINCH with breeze made me doubt the solution. Total time = 35 minutes. Exasperation!

    Thanks to Mara and Mike.

  27. DNF. Did not know CINCH = breeze, CENCH and CUTCH looked just as likely. This led to STUMP and RED-TOP PAPER, but at that point I was just banging in letters to finish.

  28. A quick scan of the acrosses yielded nothing until 20ac, so a poor start to say the least. The downs proved more accomodating and things speeded up from there. Finished in 16 minutes and all parsed except 8ac where I did not see the significance of ‘breeze’ until much later. MER at 1dn.

    FOI – 20 ac STAY
    LOI – 8ac CLINCH
    COD – 2dn OVERDID

    Thanks to Mara and Mike

  29. Didn’t notice or care about bloomer at 1d BYE. I didn’t think it very hard, but maybe I’m not a good ref for that. Took a while to get rainbow=7 (but going to school in Worcester puts SEVERN high on the list of random rivers) and cinch=breeze, but approved of those.

  30. I think cinch means breeze in the sense something is easy,for example the crossword was a breeze today(though I thought it wasn’t).I was looking for a breeze in the sense of a light wind 🙄

  31. Wow this one was tough. Even the cat struggled when trying to help me, though he’s somewhat preoccupied as I notice he’s walking about holding one of his ears horizontally flat.

    I gave up with six left unanswered, including corporation. I have never heard of corporation being used in that way.

    Despite finding it very tough, especially for a mid-weeker, I did enjoy it.

  32. BLOOMER was FOI and I didn’t worry too much about BYE. A steady solve ending with ALL. 6:58. Thanks Mara and Mike.

  33. 7.44

    Happy enough with that.

    It’s a blessing with everything that is going on in the world that we can focus on the important things in life (whether 1d is wrong or not). I laughed at Vinyl’s comment about ignorance being an advantage as it is so true. As is the opposite. Every time there is a legal reference or definition I know it’s going to be the last one I get.

    Thanks muchly Mara and the excellent blog from Mike

  34. Found it quite tough but got there in the end. LOI CINCH – biffed it, then saw CINCH = a breeze (dead easy). TRIBAL took a while, too. I wonder how our non-commonwealth solvers get on with the frequent references to cricket we seem to get?

    1. I like to think of the non-cricketing world gradually being civilised by the medium of The Times crossword.

      1. Agreed! 🤣🤣

        I feel a little sorry for LindsayO having to watch a day/night test match with the dreaded pink ball. What’s wrong with the old fashioned red ball under a day of Australian 🌞? Bet the day/night test is over in three days.

  35. I also jumped around the grid today, finishing in 10:38. RELUCTANT held me up as I was also looking at the other end of the clue for the anagrist, CLINCH was also slow, because I was clutching at straws for a while (STICK sorted that out), and I thought GLIDER was quite tricky. But ticks went next to RECIPES and RELUCTANT, and the surface for ASTON brought BIrmingham’s jewellery quarter to mind.
    Regarding the discussion about older words, slang etc: it doesn’t bother me – it’s still part of the language, even if not much used these days. I think it’s quite important to be aware of older usage and the history of our language. Of course, I’m more than happy to see more modern terms too, even if I’m not likely to use many of them either! We had MY BAD recently (can’t remember if it was here or in the biggie though) – not a phrase I will ever knowingly use, but I still got the answer. I’m not overly keen on cricketing, chess and bridge terms but lots of us do have the knowledge so they are fair game. We only have to look at today’s discussion about BYES – that went completely over my head!
    FOI and COD Bloomer LOI Glider
    Thanks Mara and Mike

  36. Glad others have come to the conclusion 1D is just an error – was worried I was missing some other explanation.

  37. 22 mins…

    The 1dn “Bye” debate totally passed me by (no pun intended) – although my first thought from reading the comments was whether a “wide” was a type of “bye” in any case – which it seems it isn’t – so does look like a bit of an error. My only rationale is that Mara was too focused on the wordplay, as it probably flows better than using “extra”.

    Overall, I also thought it was a middling puzzle. Luckily, 9ac “Red-Hot Poker” was achievable with the checkers, otherwise I wouldn’t have had a chance and 14ac “Corporation” is just one of those things you have to learn. Main hold up was 7ac “Severn”, not being familiar with the seven = every colour of the rainbow. Is that an expression or just the fact? Still not sure if I truly get it.

    FOI – 1dn “Bye”
    LOI – 7ac “Severn”
    COD – 8ac “Clinch”

    Thanks as usual!

    1. My thought was when you think of famous things that are grouped in seven the colours of the rainbow are not high on the list(if at all). Seven Hills of Rome, Seven Deadly Sins, The Seven Sisters(Pleiades), the classic Greek tragedy, Seven Against Thebes etc rather. Also is it generally agreed there are exactly 7 colours in a rainbow? Sometimes I see fewer or more! (And some websites posit 10 or 12).

        1. And there’s the original of the Magnificent Seven too, The Seven Samurai. Oh I just thought of Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.

      1. I believe that in France there are only six colours in the rainbow (no indigo). This seems perfectly reasonable, since the division of the continuous spectrum into separate colours is arbitrary and subjective. That I ‘see’ indigo as a separate colour is purely a matter of cultural conditioning.

    2. I don’t think I’ve come across ‘seven’ for every colour of the rainbow either, but there are certainly seven traditional colours: ROYGBIV. Mrs Invariant, being from Yorkshire 🙄, insists the order can be remembered as Rowntrees of York give best in value, rather than the *cough* slightly better known Richard of York gave battle in vain. . .

      1. But were Rowntree’s as good as Macintosh, which I believe were originally based in Halifax? All consumed into the Nestle brand now for many decades…

        1. There was a time when I walked past the Rowntree’s site every day. The aroma of chocolate was to die for. 😋

              1. The Terry’s factory on Bishopthorpe Road in York was close to the college I taught at for a number of years. Unfortunately the aroma of chocolate from there had to compete with a rather unpleasant smell from a sugar beet factory that was close by.

  38. After a good run this was a DNF in my new 60min target. NW corner got the better of me. Couldn’t see past Yellow for 7a being both a river and colour of the rainbow. Novice error. Knew it was wrong when I finally say 3d but too late then. Thanks to Mike for the helpful explanations.

  39. 9.53 That’s three in a row under ten minutes for the first time. Tomorrow will probably be a stinker. It was all quick except for the NE and RED-HOT POKER. It’s one of the few plants I know but the checkers suggested red-top paper to me and it stuck in my head for much too long. When I saw sense the NE fell into place. A nice puzzle. Thanks Mike and Mara.

  40. I was just thinking that I’d not typoed myself for a while… and ended up with CORPORATIIN. D’oh! Otherwise about 5.30. Didn’t notice BYE, raised an eyebrow at SEVERN.

    Thanks Mike and Mara.

  41. More difficult than yesterday, but we finished in abt 35m, not too bad for us. Happy with cinch with breeze but seem rather past their time. However we are getting on a bit.

  42. As there’s been a little discussion around 8d, and as a rugger fan whose team is unusually riding high in the premiership at present, may I offer an alternative clue?

    8d: Northampton Saints sponsor takes in learner to seal the deal. (6)

    Agreed, it’s tad niche but hey!

  43. 23:24, pretty much par for me, which is surprising because this felt quite hard. NHO CORPORATION in this context, and will probably forget it before the next time we see it again. COD: OVERDID.

    Thank you Mike!

  44. My initial impression was that this was rather hard. FOI CORPORATION, which I only know of through following this blog! The pace fortunately picked up after that and we came in with a surprisingly faster than average for us 11:03.

  45. Another 16 mins, making 56 for the week thus far. Definitely not counting my chickens as there is an Izetti coming.

    Had a horrible start and took ages to get going. Not helped by spending 2 minutes bringing spectrum to mind for 7ac and then realising it wasn’t going to be of any use. I also missed some anagram indicators and, as usual, was somewhat deficient in the parsing department.

    Thanks for the great blog Mike.

    PS Very proud of myself for solving the Quintagram today. Took ages but hugely satisfying.

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