Times Quick Cryptic No 2581 by Izetti

Perhaps some tricky things going on if you’re newish to these things.

Of course, one’s definition of “newish” will vary considerably (I’d put it at anything under a decade), but this was quite approachable for Izetti if you’re versed in things like dachas and tups from crosswords past (or even just from day-to-day life, if you’re in the unusual position of being a Russian shepherd with a recent Times subscription).

I thought I was going to get a clean sweep of the acrosses at one point, until giving up on the anagram at 18ac (but couldn’t see 24ac either). The Honiton-Umber column required trusting the wordplay, which is certainly a lot easier when you’ve got your all your tups and whatnot in place. So a fairly breezy 5.49 for me, in a lovely puzzle from Izetti, for which many thanks!

1 Finally retired, Bill has houses in the country (6)
DACHAS – D (“Finally” retireD) AC (account = bill) HAS. Rural houses in Russia.
4 Some quiet husband is so (4)
THUS – “Some” quieT HUSband
9 Rich team surprisingly losing one second fixture (7)
REMATCH – Anagram (surprisingly) of RiCH TEAM losing the I (one)
10 Cooker of fruit, missing ring (5)
RANGE – oRANGE (fruit) missing O (ring)
11 Sally at home with dog and boy around lunchtime? (9)
INCURSION – IN (at home) with CUR (dog) and SON (boy) around 1 (lunchtime?)
12 Sheep in place turned around (3)
TUP – PUT = place, turned around
13 Obtained pigmeat for New York, informally (6)
GOTHAM – GOT (obtained) HAM (pigmeat). Gotham for New York derives from Washington Irving (or is that Irving Washington?), who was ridiculing the city’s culture and politics by comparison with the town of Gotham in Nottinghamshire, famed for the stupidity of its inhabitants. One folk tale has it that they were just pretending; but one rhyme goes as follows:

Three wise men of Gotham,
They went to sea in a bowl,
And if the bowl had been stronger,
My song would have been longer.

First recorded around 1765, and became very popular. So about 40 years before Mr Irving made the link. (Good old Wikipedia!)

15 Ten numbers recalled in poem (6)
SONNET – TEN, NOS. (numbers) reversed
17 Line that is found in story (3)
LIE – L(ine) I.E. (that is)
18 I’d recount changes in institute (9)
INTRODUCE – anagram (changes) of I’D RECOUNT
21 Spokesperson‘s wickedness, admitting nothing (5)
VOICE – VICE (wickedness) admits O (nothing)
22 Cheated, in two different sleeping places! (7)
CRIBBED – CRIB and BED being the two sleeping places
23 Flower was a climber? (4)
ROSE – cryptic hint, referring to rising/climbing
24 Sparkling son has to wait (6)
STARRY – S(on), TARRY (wait)
1 Beloved learner in enterprise (7)
DARLING – L(earner) in DARING (enterprise/boldness)
2 Funny male in charge undermining firm (5)
COMIC – M(ale) IC (in charge) undermining CO. (firm)
3 Possibilities to convert indigenous people? (12)
ALTERNATIVES – ALTER (convert) NATIVES (indigenous people)
5 Devon town house with no metal put up (7)
HONITON – HO. (house) with NO and TIN (metal) “put up” or reversed
6 Difficult to walk when energy is limited (5)
STEEP –  STEP (walk) when E(nergy) is limited/restrained
7 Asian language restriction in broadcast (4)
THAI – sounds like (“in broadcast”) TIE (restriction)
8 Unorthodox logician, sort who may examine skulls? (12)
CRANIOLOGIST – anagram (unorthodox) of LOGICIAN SORT
14 This pet suffering? Worst possible thing (3,4)
THE PITS – anagram (suffering) of THIS PET
16 Stay due to be organised for 24 hours (7)
TUESDAY – anagram (to be organised) of STAY DUE
17 Turning up, make merry in bar (5)
LEVER – turn up or reverse REVEL (make merry)
19 Friar unable to move, needing head released (4)
TUCK – sTUCK (unable to move) ditching the head
20 Brown river sweeping away hotel (5)
UMBER – hUMBER (river) sweeping away the H(otel)


74 comments on “Times Quick Cryptic No 2581 by Izetti”

  1. Easiest Izetti I’ve done. I didn’t finish, but it was the easiest. I didn’t know the rural houses or the place in Devon

    Lots of anagrams I could work out.
    I remembered the sheep because I swear the word ‘tup’ means to copulate in the period romance novels I read and the combined image is forever stuck in my brain

    I also never remember that ‘houses’ can be ‘ho’. I also didn’t know the river Humber but there are only so many words I know for brown.

    1. That’s also what Shakespeare thought it meant: ‘An old black ram is tupping your white ewe.’ Maybe both meanings are kind of combined there. Baa.

  2. I got through in 27 minutes which is not too bad for me, especially for an Izetti puzzle.

    I was happy to get DACHAS quite quickly but the long anagram CRANIOLOGIST took a while. I was looking at 5d wondering if HUMBER was the answer, then happened to look at 20d and realised it could be more useful there!

    HONITON/STEEP/TUP were my last ones. I was happy enough to put TUP in from wordplay even though I didn’t know the word, and was pretty confident about HONITON.

  3. Nice puzzle from Izetti, 9.30 for me. I was flying along for a while there but was held up by my last four: LEVER, VOICE, ROSE and ALTERNATIVE where I spent too long thinking it would end in nation. Thanks roly

  4. 9 minutes. No problems for me, but I surmised whilst solving that DACHA and HONITION may not be familiar to all.

    Honiton is famous for its lace-making, a cottage industry introduced by Flemish immigrants in the 16th century, but the town also became notorious amongst motorists in the mid-20th century for its traffic jams that regularly brought traffic on the main A30 route to the West Country to a complete standstill. I suffered through many of these myself as a child passenger. There was much relief when a dual-carriageway by-pass was opened in 1966.

  5. DNF, failed on 1a, which is always frustrating. I thought of Bill= Ac, but then thought no one uses that any more, I work in accounting and haven’t seen it except in old copperplate documents.

    COD CRIBBED, at school one of the teachers would ask “a bit of cribbage going on?”

  6. My father lived in Cornwall so I would go through Honiton every time I visited, so no problem with that one. Took a bit of time at the end to see ALTERNATIVES, even with the checkers. A bit over 20 minutes although I think I was doing other things in parallel.

  7. 11 minutes. Not too difficult for an Izetti though CRANIOLOGIST would have been tough if it hadn’t been an anagram. Favourite was the misleading surface for INCURSION.

    Thanks to roly and Izetti

  8. I always stop for coffee in Honiton when I transport Mrs ITTT from Dorset to her annual sojourn in Cornwall, so that was an easy start for me. However, I suspect I will remain towards the back of the class this morning as I came in at around 21 minutes, but I was all green and so I at least expect a gruff ‘Good Effort’ from sir.
    I thought this relatively mild for an Izetti and enjoyed the clues. I was very proud of myself for solving CRANIOLOGIST and ALTERNATIVES quite quickly which helped a lot with many of the shorter solutions. But my favourites had to be INCURSION and TUCK, although the latter took longer than it should’ve.
    Thanks as ever to Izetti and Roly

  9. Dnf did not find it easy. I was always taught that you can only have one alternative by the definition of the word. There cannot be many which is grammatically incorrect. There can be many options but one alternative

    1. SOED: (a) Of two things: mutually exclusive. (b) Of one or more things: available in place of another. M19.

    2. You were always taught wrong; there can be many alternatives, and nothing in English grammar says there can’t.

    3. I suspect you were taught that by a classicist, since in Latin “alter” means “one of two”.

      “Alternative” in English used to be confined strictly to a choice between two things as well, and according to my Shorter Oxford this is the only use given in Dr Johnson’s dictionary. But it has mutated, and the Shorter Oxford records Gladstone as saying “I prefer the fourth and last of these alternatives” in 1848.

  10. All those years on the bus going from Yeovil to Exeter for athletics meetings paid off when HONITON was only about the eighth Devon town I tried. Enjoyed unscrambling CRANIOLOGIST and TUESDAY. Did not know GOTHAM was New York – not sure how that has stayed hidden from me for so many years. All green in 16. Good one.

  11. Completed in 13 minutes so this must have been one of Izetti’s milder ones, but even so quite a lot to think about. The two long down clues, Alternatives and Craniologist, needed all the checkers and I was held up by the concept of lunchtime = 1 o’clock = the letter I. No doubt an old trick but new to me, and I always find two-step associations tricky. But it was the SW corner, and the combination Lever/Voice/Rose, which was the last to fall – though when I finally got them I could not for the life of me see why they had taken so long. A feeling I am all too used to …

    Many thanks Roly for the blog

  12. Steady going today but held up at the end by two relatively simple clues – THAI and CRIBBED – which caused much forehead slapping when the answers eventually appeared 🤦‍♂️🙄.
    Started with DACHAS and finished with CRIBBED in 8.35 with COD to ALTERNATIVES.
    Thanks to Roly

  13. 4:53. Nice middle-of-the-road puzzle from Izetti. LOI CRANIOLOGIST , which fell out from the checkers and anagrist with an “Ah. That must be it” moment. COD to the neat ROSE. Thanks Izetti and Roly.

  14. Started with a sprint, ambled in the middle, and finished with a long slow crawl taking a little over the hour in the end. Nho TUP (thanks to Collins for the assist), biffed THAI (thanks Rolytoly for the explanation) and for some reason took an aeon over CRIBBED and TUCK (thanks Izetti for the mental yoga). Time for another coffee!

  15. 12:58

    Still a bit tired so found this on the tough side. I had to write out all the anagrams which didn’t help the time.
    LOI umber
    COD cribbed or gotham.

  16. 11:12

    A fast start, slowed down by the two long anagrams that needed pencil and paper.

    I’m never convinced that the Humber is actually a river rather just an estuary, but even the OS maps label it as a river, so no complaints about the clue.

    Thanks Izetti and Roly

  17. Found most of this ok (MER at alternative possibilities = alternative alternatives? something wrong there, but it had to be) but was put off the apparently obvious ROSE by “was” – why “was”?

    1. ‘Was’ provides the past tense of ‘rise’, so ‘was climber’ = ROSE. The fact climbing roses exist is serendipity.

  18. 17 mins…

    Not often I can say I enjoyed an Izetti, but I found this one pitched nicely. I liked 3dn “Alternatives”, 18ac “Introduce”and 22ac “Cribbed”. Didn’t know the origins of 13ac “Gotham”, mistakenly thinking it had something to do with Batman.

    FOI – 1ac “Dachas”
    LOI – 18ac “Introduce”
    COD – 11ac “Incursion”

    Thanks as usual!

    1. I reckon its contemporary usage is totally derived from Batman and fits the vibe so well that it has become part of the language. The brilliant writer Richard Ford, in his latest ‘Frank’ novel Be Mine, uses it as though it was NY’s alternative name. Batman it is for me.

      1. I don’t disagree, and when I was younger I always assumed “Gotham City” was just a substitute name for New York, even if it was never explicitly stated in the comics (no expert on this, so I could be wrong). However, the clue doesn’t have the “city” element, so maybe the explanations are quite distinct.

  19. Ooh, I liked this, and only 17 mins for me. I almost wish it was longer. Nothing held me up for too long but lots to enjoy as it fell into place. THAI took a while for no obvious reason other than I was thinking too narrowly geographically, and had to work through liver, lover, but of which seemed possible but didn’t reverse before getting to lever. Seemed very anagramy but all resolved comfortably in my head.

  20. Pretty straightforward for Don. Slightly held up looking for a country starting with DAC, before I read the rest of the clue and realised I just had to insert the HAS directly from the clue. That gave me LOI/COD ALTERNATIVES.

    I thought it a very good quick cryptic, with a wide range of clue types, with nothing too unusual, unless of course you haven’t driven to SW England along the A303/A30.


  21. Did not realise that GOTHAM = New York (like Mendesest I thought it was a made up name in Batman), but clue obvious. Faffed around trying to fit AIR (broadcast) + H into 7d, looked up AHIR to find that it exists! Only saw the light when I got DARLING/INCURSION. A very entertaining offering from Izetti.

  22. An enjoyable puzzle finished in one sitting.

    NHO GOTHAM or UMBER but they came easily for me from the clues.

    HONITON is also a train stop for some resorts on the south coast, so I knew that one.

    Last ones in TUP/STEEP. Should have got TUP much sooner as there is a pub of that name nearby.

    Thanks Izetti and RolyToly.

  23. Certainly one of Izetti’s easier offerings, and hopefully many who struggle with his puzzles will be encouraged.

    TIME 4:29

  24. I got properly Friar Tuck in the SE corner, with lots of blanks remaining even after having been through acrosses then downs. Eventually I remembered cranial osteopathy, winkled out INTRODUCE, decided that STARRY must mean “sparkling” in a parallel universe and eventually discarded the Tiber for the Cockney UMBER. Blimey what a farrago.

    Limped home in 09:10 for a Pretty Rubbish Day. COD to Gotham, more for the blog entry than the clue!

    Many thanks Izetti and His Rolyness.


  25. After struggling through this in 13.03, I was expecting a lot of comment saying how tough this was, but no! Most of the early postings and times would suggest this was fairly straightforward, so it must be me having an off day …. again! I started off well enough quickly solving the first two across clues, but thereafter it was painfully slow. I found the long down clues particularly troublesome.

  26. 6:31

    Another here that had no idea that GOTHAM had anything to do with New York – only heard of in relation to Batman, though didn’t go down the Batman avenue in reaching the answer. No problem with HONITON having been to Devon/Cornwall many times. I was left with the two long downs – had been thinking PHRENOLOGIST initially but didn’t fit the checkers, so removed the OLOGIST from the anagrist and configured the remaining unchecked letters appropriately.

    Thanks Roly and Izetti

  27. Gosh, managed to finish. Was uncertain about a few like STEEP but I now see that Restrained means inserted. Thought of DACHAS early on but couldn’t parse at first. LOsI LEVER, VOICE. Liked RANGE (also a late PDM), INTRODUCE, TUCK, ALTERNATIVES. In fact, various PDMs made this enjoyable.
    Biffed GOTHAM – thanks for that and other explanations in blog, Roly.

  28. I don’t allow myself more than half an hour for an Izetti, so was surprised and very pleased to finish in 29:57. NHO tup (in this context) or Honiton, but luckily dredged up “dacha” from somewhere.

    Thank you to rolytoly for the blog!

  29. Managed to finish this one with help from the cat with 3d.

    Some real head scratchers but eventually they came to me.

    Honiton I know from my frequent trips between home and CTCRM Lympstone (and later RMB Chivenor in Barnstaple).

    Never heard of TUP, but deduced it could be nothing else.

    I was not aware that NY was Gotham. Methinks the setter has been watching too much Batman 🤣

  30. Some scope for pedantry here on the question of whether the Humber is actually a river in its own right, or just the name for the combined estuary of the Ouse and the Trent. But that won’t have stopped anyone solving.

    1. In Canada the Humber River flows from the Niagara Escarpment and Oak Ridges Moraine down through western Toronto into Lake Ontario. It flooded badly during Hurricane Hazel in 1954 and contributed to most of the 81 deaths suffered therefrom. Some friends of mine named their highly successful bluegrass band The Humber River Valley Boys. (Well, maybe not exactly highly successful, but they did make a living playing small Ontario bars for a few years in the seventies)!

  31. 10.39. Two years ago this might have taken me twice as long. While I’m pleased with the progress I’ve made, I am in awe of those who can do any crossword in under 5 minutes.

    1. It really is extraordinary. Did you see Mark Goodliffe (of the Cracking the Cryptic channel on Youtube) tackling the QC on Saturday? Absolutely staggering.

  32. Another on wavelength day from DACHAS (learned from past QCs), via HONITON and GOTHAM City to INTRODUCE in 6:36. COD to the topical ALTERNATIVES.

  33. Completed and all parsed in 17 minutes, which I think is probably one of my faster times for an Izetti. I knew of Honiton in Devon, although I’m not sure I have ever been there, and I knew tup for sheep. Gotham as informal for New York was new to me – I only associate it with Batman and the area just outside Nottingham. A well-pitched xword from Izetti imo.

    FOI – 4ac THUS
    LOI – 6dn STEEP

    Thanks to Izetti and Rolytoly

  34. Today I learned that GOTHAM exists outside of Batman comics! The wordplay got me there first though. DACHAS was FOI and CRANIOLOGIST was LOI. ALTERNATION held up VOICE until LEVER arrived. 7:25. Thanks Izetti and Roly.

  35. “Around lunchtime?” for “put this around I, because that’s the Roman numeral for 1 and 1pm is a plausible time to have lunch” strikes me as something of a stretch cryptically, but otherwise all fair enough.

  36. This went in steadily with no real holdups, finished in 11:52. As a Yorkshireman, COD has to be UMBER, causing confusion for me only because, for the listener, the river has no H anyway (for non-natives, aitches are routinely dropped by Yorkshire folk as well as by Cockneys).

  37. 14.21 I was heading for another ten minute solve but DACHAS, a word I know perfectly well, took five minutes at the end. I’m not great on Devon towns but I do have a friend who lives in HONITON. Another nice puzzle. Thanks rolytoly and Izetti.

  38. Enjoyed this very much! But what does a REMATCH have to do with a fixture? (Edit: ah, Merriam-Webster tells me a fixture can be a date fixed for a sporting or other event. NHO.)

    COD CRIBBED. I sent many a clueless undergrad to the dean’s office for this.

  39. I don’t think I’ve finished an Izetti since before Christmas, so I was prepared to settle in for the long haul today, especially after I drew an initial blank with 1ac/d. Happily, things improved a bit thereafter, but I was still well into the SCC before Cribbed, Thai, Dachas and a couple of others could finally be put to bed. CoD to 15ac, Sonnet: probably a chestnut but still nice to see it magically appear from the instructions. Invariant

  40. I am very happy with 14/26 because I have now learnt that being a newbie lasts for 10 years. I have been trying for four years, and have three completions under my wing, so that’s ok.

    1. As long as you are enjoying it, that’s the thing, Ian!

      I worked in the National Provincial Bank in Honiton from mid-1965 to December 1970… Although it became NatWest in 1968.
      I gather the town has changed a bit since then- now said to be a magnet for antique hunters!

  41. 12:33 here, happy with that for an Izetti. LOI and COD to ALTERNATIVES. I find that that happens a lot: the clue that holds out the longest ends up being that day’s favourite. I wonder if it comes from the pleasure “hit” being doubled because that clue completed the puzzle, or whether it really is just about the quality of the clue.

    Thanks to Izetti & rolytoly.

  42. Not too hard so didn’t cheat, but added RIVER UMBER to my cheating machine. The river exists, but of course not needed for the clue. River Humber already installed of course.
    FWIW my cheating machine is 3 excel spreadsheets to solve for blanks and anagrams, and of course a standalone list of words and phrases, called stupidly, FINDER.

  43. 29:44

    Definitely chewy today. Had ENVOY for the spokesperson rather than VOICE thinking envy was wicked. So that held me up for ages. DACHAS took some getting and an I for lunchtime in INCURSION was a challenge. All of which took me well over target.

  44. Was doing pretty well, I cribbed Craniologist, which gave me the checkers to complete the rest
    COD Incursion

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