Times Quick Cryptic No 2587 by Joker

Joker certainly gave me a pinch and a punch on the first of the month! I made heavy weather of that, taking a glacial age to see the right ends of 1a and 4d, and needing lots of checkers for the long anagrams at 11a and 3d. All in all I was pushed out to 12:10 for a Bad Day, so I was well beaten by the funny man today. How did it go for you?

Definitions underlined in bold italics.

Across
1 Girl with authoritarian ward (8)
DISTRICT – the setters’ favourite girl/woman is DI, to whom we add STRICT (“authoritarian”) to get the answer. “Ward” is defined in Collins as “a district into which a city, town, parish, or other area is divided for administration, election of representatives etc”. I was very slow to get this, being fixated first on “ward” being part of a hospital and then on being a ward of Court, and it was my POI.
5 Primarily two roping in one? (4)
TRIO – the first letters (“primarily”) of “two roping in one” give us TRIO, and a TRIO could start out with two people who then co-opt a third. Neat. The cool-kid bloggers like John will be able to tell you if this is the Lesser-Spotted Semi &Lit; I can’t.
8 Precocious little girl’s angry morning (5)
MADAM – MAD is “angry”, as in “some people are going to be mad today when they find another faintly derogatory term for a female in the crossword”, and AM is “morning”. Collins sense 3 –  “British informal – a precocious or pompous little girl”.
9 Potential flower our beds might produce? (7)
ROSEBUD – buds have the potential to turn into flowers, subject to frost, pests and other hazards. An anagram (“might produce”) of “our beds”. What an elegant surface.
11 Near ancient? That could be it (11)
CENTENARIAN – an anagram (“That could be”) of “near ancient”. Beyond that, I confess that it’s not totally clear to me how this works. A CENTENARIAN could fairly be described as “near ancient”, but then what’s the “it” doing in the clue? Is the idea that CENTENARIAN here is an adjective, not a noun, and that in its adjectival sense it’s a synonym(ish) for “near ancient”? Should I just have underlined “it” as the definition? Instead I have tentatively classified this as an &Lit and underlined the whole thing, but I await enlightenment from the Hive mind.
13 Scared of a loud attack (6)
AFRAID – Off to IKEA we go. A + F (“loud” – musical notation) + RAID (“attack”).
14 Joker’s taunt about solver’s initial time (6)
JESTER – “taunt” is JEER, which goes around (“about”) S (“solver’s initial”) and T (“time”). A lovely surface and Joker would have been fully justified in taunting my time today.
17 Journey’s end in entering key European terminus perhaps (11)
DESTINATION – IN goes inside (“entering”) D (“key” – music) + E (“European”) + STATION (“terminus perhaps”). I never like “key” (or “note” for that matter) as cluing any one of seven letters, it feels imprecise and random, so I grumpily awaited checkers on this one.
20 Capone carrying weapons caused consternation (7)
ALARMED – good old AL, I wonder if he knew how useful he’d still be some 75+ years after his death. Anyway, he was regularly ARMED (“carrying weapons”) and he caused plenty of consternation, so this is a brilliant surface and my COD, bravo.
21 English lad going around northern wood (5)
EBONY – E for “English”, BOY for “lad”, containing (“going around”) N for “northern”. Et voila.
22 A thousand I will murder (4)
KILL – K is the “thousand” here, not “m” for a change, + I’LL (” I will”).
23 Biased? Indeed so, unfortunately (3-5)
ONE-SIDED – an anagram (“unfortunately”) of “Indeed so”. Another terrific surface.
Down
1 Hold back beginning of precipitation and moisture (4)
DAMP – DAM (“hold back”) + P (“beginning of precipitation”). Hands up if, like me, your first thought was that it was P followed by a short word meaning “moisture”.
2 Attachment for motorcycle is raced all over the place (7)
SIDECAR – an anagram (“all over the place”) of “is raced”. Smooth cluing from Joker.
3 Movement in arts mimics no art that is contrived (11)
ROMANTICISM – an anagram (“that is contrived”) of “mimics no art”. The Romantic movement swept Europe in the first half of the nineteenth century; in English literature it was kickstarted by the publication of “Lyrical Ballads” by Wordsworth and Coleridge which was a staple of my life as an undergraduate; I must dig it out again.
4 Opera about a king with followers (6)
CARMEN – an opera by Bizet, telling a tragic story of seduction, jealousy and murder. I love it and have seen it many times. How on earth, then, did it become LOI and add two+ minutes to your time Templar, you great galoot? Because I became fixated on the idea that there was a four letter opera going round ER or HR for “a king”, that’s how. In fact it is C (“about”, abbreviation of “circa”) + A + R (“king”) + MEN (“followers”). Ouch.
6 Jewish scholar’s talk, never-ending (5)
RABBI – ah, the good old chatty Jewish scholar, he’s a regular in these parts. Cockney rhyming slang for “talk” is “rabbit and pork”, customarily shortened to “rabbit”, and then shortened again here (“never ending”) to RABBI.
7 Gold supported by Kuwaiti currency and yen standard (8)
ORDINARY – OR (“gold”) + DINAR (“Kuwaiti currency” – my first thought was “dirham”, which is also Kuwaiti currency and was close enough to jog the right word) + Y (“yen”).
10 Say actor’s words with Shakespeare’s capital majesty (11)
STATELINESS – if you STATE LINES then you “say actor’s words”, very neat. Add on S for “Shakespeare’s capital” (first letter) and you’re there.
12 Book is difficult to endorse (8)
HARDBACK – HARD (“difficult”) + BACK (“to endorse”).
15 Tons to wrap more than nine times (7)
TENFOLD – T (“tons”) + ENFOLD (“to wrap”).
16 Young girl needs help surrounded by males (6)
MAIDEN – AID (“help”) inside (“surrounded by”) MEN (“males”).
18 Second shopping centre is limited in size (5)
SMALL – S (“second”) + MALL (“shopping centre”).
19 Closely watched every heartless editor (4)
EYED – EY is “every heartless” (that is, “every” with its “heart” removed) + ED for “editor”.

88 comments on “Times Quick Cryptic No 2587 by Joker”

  1. 5:14, but with a fat-fingered OYDINARY.

    Thanks for explaining the origins of rabbit for talk Templar. Don’t think I ever knew that, despite its regular appearances here.

    Happy to sit back and let others pick apart the correct categorisation of CENTENARIAN and TRIO.

  2. 11:44

    DESTINATION was one that I could never build from the wordplay – I put in the definition and hope the wordplay supports it

    I liked a lot of the surfaces for this one too.

    AFRAID was my LOI I really gotta remember ‘F’ for loud.

      1. You would think six years of private schooling that included a musical education would have served me better

  3. And this is what I was going to say: Thanks to Templar for his illuminating blog. 7.51 for me, I was slow to get going and ROSEBUD was my FOI. Fell into the same traps regarding DAMP and CARMEN, and was also confused by CENTENARIAN though I’m pretty sure it’s an &lit. COD for me was TRIO, not sure how to describe it but it works beautifully and the maths are pitched right at my level: 1 + 2 = 3.
    PS: Just read John’s monthly special blog and had never heard of all but two of the answers. I think I know my limits and will leave that one to the experts.

      1. Very good. Reminds me of the old “there are 10 types of people in the world, those that understand binary and those that don’t”.

  4. 14:27
    Panicked a bit before the FOI which was about the the tenth I tried, SIDECAR.

    Some great surfaces, like ROSEBUD and AFRAID. RABBI/RABBIT really is a chestnut, along with SURGEON/STURGEON.

    LOI JESTER.

    Exemplar blog, Templar.

  5. I thought this was a lovely QC. with, as others have said, lovely surfaces. I found it quite hard and it pushed me a shade over what I consider to me my typical 10-15 solving time range. But having finished it, and looking back at the answers, it was hard to see what I found so difficult. Very much the sign of a good Times crossword for me.

  6. Tricky for me, with a DNF as usual. Couldn’t see ROMANTICISM or CARMEN.

    Delayed by the appearance of a random short name and a random musical key – Joker pressed a couple of my red buttons today.

  7. I was very happy to come in all green at around 23 minutes. The clues that held me up were the long ones, but after some perseverance I managed to crack them. A bit tricky though. So following my recent promotion towards the front of the class, today I find myself back where I belong and where I can at least muck about with my SCC classmates.
    It was a nice puzzle overall though. TRIO raised a smile to my grizzled lips and STATELINESS flowed nicely. Last one in was CENTENARIAN, although I couldn’t spot the anagrist.
    I’m not sure if I’m imagining it but I seem to be getting far more successful finishes than I did back in the autumn. Maybe it was Dry January wot did the trick. My brain has perhaps become less pickled? We shall soon find out. All those leftover Christmas bottles, which Mrs ITTT banished to the garage loft on New Year’s Day, have been calling out to me on those dark, dry January evenings like sirens. But no longer.
    “I’m coming my darlings, I’m coming!”

  8. Councillors are elected to wards and then sit on the DISTRICT council so my time in local government really slowed me down. It felt a bit like defining a pint as a quart until I remembered words were used in the real world too. Ended up all green in 19 but ROMANTICSM, DESTINATION, CENTENARIAN and even CARMEN all stretched me and not getting the long ones easily deprived me of a lot of checkers. Hard yards (hard inches?).

  9. All done in under the hour – probably an PB. Enjoyed this one very much. Thanks to Templar for the helpful explanations – especially DESTINATION and STATELINESS.

  10. I thought Joker was on top form today with some lovely surfaces and enough difficulty to get me scratching my head over a couple of the parsings but without causing too much brain ache.
    Like our blogger I wasn’t too sure what was going on with CENTENARIAN but by squinting at it I just about made sense of it.
    Started with TRIO and finished with STATELINESS in 7.30 with COD to Jester.
    Thanks to Templar

  11. 12:36
    Found this difficult, although seems an average time.
    Didn’t parse tenfold, saw the fold but not the “en”.
    Liked the two &lits trio and Centenarian.

  12. Drew a blank with DISTRICT on first time around but once I’d solved DAMP and remembered to try ‘Di’ it fell into place. No other major hold-ups. Liked STATELINESS. Thanks Joker. Great blog – I didn’t know the origin of rabbit either. Well I never.

  13. 8:22 (Ceolwulf of Mercia invades Powys)

    I seem to be in the minority in finding this on the easier end. I even managed to get my LOI CENTENARIAN without needing to resort to paper and pencil.

    Thanks Templar and Joker

  14. An early solve for me and, unlike yesterday, I managed to decipher my last few in. Time = 28 minutes, so I’m very pleased.

    ROSEBUD was my FOI, but as the other acrosses were proving more problematic I switched over to the downs. They were more productive with DAMP, SIDECAR, RABBI and ORDINARY all succumbing fairly quickly.

    My final three held me up for 4-5 minutes, but DISTRICT suddenly magicked its way into my head just as I was beginning to despair. Its two remaining dependants, ROMANTICISM and CARMEN then made themselves known to me within seconds and I breathed a sigh of relief. As a non-classically educated heathen who has (narrow-mindedly) not really made the effort to rectify the situation through adulthood, I always struggle with artsy/literary clues. Actually, the same goes for clues involving Greek mythology, films, classical music, …… the list goes on.

    My favourite clue was CENTENARIAN, especially as I am currently visiting my 94-year old dad, who still lives independently. A year or two ago he said he didn’t want to get to 100, but despite losing my mum last summer (just short of their 70th wedding anniversary) he is still going strong and seems to enjoy life. He’s reading The Times as I write this.

    Many thanks to Joker and Templar.

    1. Have you introduced your dad to the joys of the QC?
      At the end of the month my parents are celebrating their 65th wedding anniversary and will receive a card from His STATELINESS to compliment the one received for their 60th from Her Majesty.

  15. A brisk start in the NW, but that proved a bit hard to sustain lower down the grid. I had to biff Destination with a couple of crossers in place and then backfit the parsing, but at least that opened up the LHS. Thankfully, all done in time for a window seat near the driver, which is about par for Joker these days. CoD to Stateliness for the parsing – this one I managed the right way round. And a special shout out to Templar for a terrific blog 👏, witty and informative. Invariant

  16. I found this hard going, dotting all over the grid to get a toehold and then struggling with the parsing of some of the clues. I still don’t really understand Centenarian – the definition (is it “near ancient”, or is it “it” – or is it the whole clue?) seems to me somewhat vague, and I did not see an anagrind at all until I came to Templar’s blog and learned that it was “could be”. A new anagrind (approximately number 123,456) to add to my list of words that can serve!

    On the other hand I liked Jester, and I wondered briefly if Joker was joining Oink in including a self-referencing clue in his/her puzzles.

    13 minutes in all for a relatively slow day. Many thanks Templar for the blog
    Cedric

  17. 21 mins…

    Made fairly good progress on this, but then slowed down trying to solve 10dn “Stateliness”, 14ac “Jester” and a subsequent mini muddle trying to spell 11ac “Centenarian”. Overall, a good puzzle.

    FOI – 1dn “Damp”
    LOI – 14ac “Jester”
    COD – 5ac “Trio”

    Thanks as usual!

  18. 8:51

    Felt a little slow today though the Snitch is 101 suggesting that this was medium-paced. Final three in were STATELINESS, JESTER (where I didn’t quite get the parsing right in flight) and CARMEN. Same ums and ahs about how exactly CENTENARIAN worked – eventually bunged it in and moved on.

    The blog deserves a paragraph of its own – amusing and full of interesting gobbets – thanks Templar!

    Thanks also to Joker

  19. 13 minutes for me which felt OK for quite a tricky puzzle.
    LOI DAMP without full parsing. POI DISTRICT.
    CARMEN was tricky.
    Enjoyable QC.
    David

  20. I made heavy weather of this but finished eventually, all correct. Particularly slow in NE, apart from FOsI RABBI and TRIO. LOsI CENTENARIAN, CARMEN, having belatedly solved the should-be-easy ROSEBUD, and ORDINARY (COD?).
    Liked HARDBACK, EBONY, MAIDEN. Failed to parse JESTER and DESTINATION.
    Thanks vm, Templar.

  21. It didn’t go very well Templar! At first glance I thought we were in for a lot of random names again but fortunately that wasn’t the case and there were lovely surfaces aplenty. I nearly had to resort to writing out the anagram fodder for CENTENARIAN and that was with all but one of the checkers in place. I didn’t parse my penultimate solve DESTINATION so thanks for that and my LOI was STATELINESS in 10:08.

  22. 8.44

    Toughish. CENTENARIAN certainly needed some squinting but if you get it right that makes it a model clue imho!

    Thanks all

  23. What an enjoyable QC! Even whilst solving it I noted some great surfaces and then went back to read them all afterwards. My favourites are ORDINARY and MAIDEN. Super setting. I was also rather pleased that I snuck in a whole 2 seconds under ten minutes which seems like an achievement given other comments. All this rounded off by a great blog. Thanks all.

  24. 11:24. A good mix of a few gentle ones to get started and some tougher ones to make us solvers earn the correctly completed grid. Like our blogger, I had an inordinate amount of trouble with the not so difficult CARMEN, but in my case I just couldn’t shake “Norma”, crossword’s favourite opera, trying to make it a container for R or K with ‘followers’ as the def.

    I liked the semi-&lits, both the lesser- and greater-spotted ones, even if my identification of the latter might be a bit iffy.

    Thanks to Joker and Templar

  25. My inability to beat my target of ten minutes continues with a finish timed at 13.03. Nearly every day I have been close to finishing within my allotted time with just one or two clues to get, and then the wheels come off. Today it was CENTENARIAN that was the culprit, even though I sussed fairly early on it was an anagram. To quote the song, one wheel on my wagon and I’m still rolling along!

  26. 22 mins fully parsed and fully enjoyed. What a wonderful puzzle, clever surfaces and lots of sitting back and admiring from me. Another one where I started in NE, worked clockwise and finished with 1a and 4d.
    COD to TRIO, very neat.

    Whilst I agree with Templar that use of ‘key’ to clue any one of seven letters is lazy cluing, I am giving Joker a pass today for an otherwise wonderful puzzle, just what a QC should be.

    Thanks Templar and Joker

  27. Late to this today, and took longer than average again, albeit not quite so long as yesterday’s grim red smear on my QUITCH.

    I had to write out the anagrist for ROMANTICISM, and was held up by CARMEN for exactly the same reasons as m’learned blogger.

    I liked DESTINATION, STATELINESS and TRIO, but I think CENTENARIAN gets my vote as COD.

    7:34

  28. 12.50 with a fat-fingered EYDD. This felt quite tough but it had some lovely surfaces. I finished up with ROSEBUD, CARMEN and STATELINESS. Thanks Templar and Joker.

  29. I had a terrible struggle with this. My FOI gives a clue to the struggle I had in the top half of the puzzle, and I promptly stopped working in order and resorted to using available crossers. Immediately nailing HARDBACK got me started, and the bottom half came together fairly quickly. The NW corner was hard slog, and thus I missed my target. My award of COD to a four letter answer is unusual, but I came back to it afterwards to admire its sheer brilliance – maybe a clue that an amateur setter admires more than most.

    FOI AFRAID
    LOI ROMANTICISM (I needed that R!)
    COD TRIO
    TIME 6:29

  30. 12:27. STATELINESS was my favourite. I share your admiration for CARMEN, Templar, I’ve never come across a performance on stage or screen that failed to impress. I think the work itself is so outstanding it’s impossible for anyone to butcher a production!

    1. Have you ever seen the Royal Albert Hall production, curryowen? It’s fantastic, a really lavish spectacle. (I’ve got tickets for Carmen at Glyndebourne this summer, can’t wait!)

  31. Loads of smiley faces today esp for surfaces of TRIO, ROSEBUD and AFRAID.

    Thanks for the laughs Templar and Joker.

  32. So many great clues, yet I did feel grumpy about the seeming lack of anagrind for CENTENARIAN, my LOI. Only Templar’s helpful blog explained. Truly, truly, anything at all can indicate an anagram, is the moral of the story.

    Couldn’t parse DAMP either. Definitely, MADAM was a stumbling block, as I never heard of the uppity little girl meaning, fixated on the brothel-keeper meaning, and had quite a nasty feeling about putting it in.

    Nonetheless, a fine puzzle and a hearty laugh at JESTER.

  33. I totally messed this one up with 2 typos ALARMSD and EVED, which also screwed up EBONV . Best to draw a veil over it! 10:40 held up by CENTENARIAN at the end on top of my other woes. Thanks setter and Templar.

  34. Solved this quite steadily in about half an hour – not bad for me. LOI was JESTER. A nicely pitched puzzle, I thought.

  35. I completed this with the cat’s help on 10d and 4d. Other than that it wasn’t too tricky for me.

    I would say the clues had “lovely surfaces”, but not being an ex-public schoolboy I’ll instead say “Yeah mate, they were awright!” 🤣

      1. Oh he went to private school! He’s far more intelligent than I am. Hence why I ask him for help with the QC. 🤣

  36. 5:50. A bit tricky from Joker today, I think, but maybe I was just a bit slow having been on a 12 mile sunrise walk at Felixstowe this morning. CARMEN my last one in too, mostly because I took “about” as an inclusion indicator rather than CA. The long ones took me a while as did DISTRICT, but all was fair. Thank-you Joker and Templar.

    1. 12 miles in Felixstowe? Must have been zig-zagging back and forth between the rows of containers at the port. Strange, but maybe quite interesting.

      1. There’s a bit more to Felixstowe than the port, impressive though that is. Our 12 mile walk was from Felixstowe Ferry by the River Deben along the sea front to Landguard Point, with its wonderful cafe for breakfast, and back. See some of my photos here. Click the little TV at the top for a slide show if you’re interested.

  37. A lovely puzzle and a great blog, thanks Templar! I found it hard but enjoyed all 27 minutes, though I had no idea how DESTINATION worked so the blog was very helpful in unpicking that.

    I interpreted CARMEN a bit differently: CR (king) about A, + MEN. Is that wrong or are both equally valid?

    1. Thanks!

      I’m not sure that that quite works for CARMEN, since the clue says “about a king” not “king about a”. They all count, though.

  38. This must be a record finish for me and now a first time post. Less than 11 minutes so I must have been on joker’s wavelength. I struggle terribly with other setters, notably izetti, where I am pleased if I manage to get more than half done.

  39. Got there in the end after jumping all around the grid. Enjoyed 14a but struggled (unnecessarily) with 1a.
    Thanks for a very informative blog!

  40. 11:54 today. It was definitely a bit of a workout but enjoyable. I had a general idea of what was going on at 10d, but all I could think of for actor’s words was script, and that didn’t fit. A total PDM when I realised the answer. It was the only one I wrote out today. I liked AFRAID, JESTER and SIDECAR .
    The problem with using key in a clue is that we now also have to think of alt, del, space bar etc, as well as musical keys 😵‍💫
    FOI Trio LOI Stateliness COD One-sided
    Thanks Joker and Templar – another terrific blog! How you do it so late is beyond me 😊

      1. Well, this is very true! I don’t get to sleep very early, but solving, researching and blogging is beyond my capabilities at 2 in the morning 😅

  41. 13:51

    A dreadful first pass landed me just 2 of the acrosses, but the downs were much easier. Thought TRIO a great clue. Slight hold up at the end for DISTRICT and LOI CARMEN but well under my 20 minute target (for the first time this week).

  42. Late to it today but a most enjoyable puzzle from Joker made up for that. I was quite quick for most of the puzzle but the last few took me out to 17 minutes, all parsed. Some fine surfaces which I hve been admiring at my leisure.

    FOI – 8ac MADAM
    LOI – 10dn STATELINESS
    COD – 9ac ROSEBUD, closely followed by 5ac TRIO

    Thanks to Joker and to Templar

  43. Another dismal performance. The slight satisfaction I felt upon completing this disappeared when I read most of the comments and saw that it really wasn’t that hard.

    I might just have avoided the SCC had I not struggled with JESTER (so easy!) and TENFOLD. As it was, I limped home in a dire 26 minutes. My miserable day was complete when I read an earlier commenter say that 6.29 minutes represented a ‘terrible struggle’. I know I shouldn’t make comparisons, but I would give anything to achieve double that time.

    An awful week so far. Only one SCC escape and a stupid DNF.

    Thanks for the informative and entertaining blog Templar.

    1. Gary, that’s Phil. He’s a Countdown ninja – https://wiki.apterous.org/Phil_Jordan He’s a Times Nationals finalist. He normally completes the QC in about 4 mins. He’s in the elite.

      It’s totally pointless comparing yourself with him. It’s like a weekend golfer comparing themself with Tiger Woods. Just admire him, like you’d admire an elite sportsman.

    2. Gary! I can solve a Rubik’s cube in about 45 seconds which is impressive right

      The word record is 3 seconds!!!

      Some of the people that post here are world champion crossworders. It is what it is

      What you do is impressive!

      1. Thanks Tina, much appreciated.

        Well done on your superb time today. Given the Quitch rating, that really is impressive.
        👏👏👏

        Perhaps you could have a go at the monthly special?

        1. I either have good times or no times, no in between for me

          I haven’t had a run of finishes for ages, I hope today is better

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