Times Quick Cryptic No 2593 by Joker

Fun puzzle with a good mix of clues.

I made fairly even progress through this well-pitched QC, coming in at 6.54, despite being held up briefly at the end in the NE. I needed a bit of a pause to decipher the something-ABLE anagram at 6d, and to realise that the “case” of WhiskeY wasn’t fittable into 7d.

That just left 11ac, the sort of thing that can strike fear if you’re in the habit of stumbling on the last clue: when faced with _ N _ E _ A _ _ (as it stood before I got the final checker from 7d), it looks like there should be a ton of possibilities. Nope. There are maybe six that would appear in the QC or the 15×15 (antedate, interact, kneecaps, kneepads, underact, underarm). Whenever I check this sort of thing, I’m always surprised by how few options there are.

Anyway, much enjoyed – many thanks to Joker!

1 Upset concerning monarch’s seat, we hear (10)
OVERTHROWN – OVER/on/about/concerning are all synonyms, and THROWN “we hear” the same as THRONE (monarch’s seat)
8 Being physically fit, filled with energy in the meantime (7)
INTERIM – IN TRIM (in good trim = being physically fit) filled with E(nergy)
9 Older person dismissing one Spanish fellow (5)
SENOR -SENiOR (older person( dismissing I (one). Edit: as spotted by Merlin in the comments, the ñ in señor actually appears in the anagrist for UÑMANAGEABLE that crosses with this clue. Great stuff from Joker!
10 Horrific travel by railway (4)
GORY – GO (travel) by RY (railway)
11 Be closely involved in short treatise about English (8)
INTERACT – IN, TRACT (short treatise) about E(nglish)
13 Nation,   say (5)
STATE – double definition
14 Unwilling promise by left (5)
LOATH – OATH (promise) by L(eft)
16 Caliban upset about new man-eater? (8)
CANNIBAL – anagram (upset) of CALIBAN about N(ew)
17 Runs engine very swiftly when starting? (4)
REVS – &lit, with the whole clue being both definition and wordplay, provided here by the starting letters of the first four words.
20 Musical form with runs about note (5)
RONDO – R(uns) ON (about – see 1ac) DO (note, as in do-re-mi)
21 Room in church with a yellow light (7)
CHAMBER – CH(urch) with AMBER (yellow light)
22 End Ptolemy’s shifting movement of eg troops (10)
DEPLOYMENT – anagram (is shifting) of END PTOLEMY
1 Planting seeds without last of seeds due (5)
OWING – SOWING = planting seeds, without last (or indeed the first) of seedS.
2 Start on instruction, right away causing amusement (12)
ENTERTAINING – ENTER (start) on TrAINING (instruction), with the “R” away
3 Go with one leaving Italian city (4)
TURN – I (one) leaving TURiN (Italian city)
4 Friends regularly hiding chap put in custody (6)
REMAND – f R i E n D s “regularly” hiding MAN (chap)
5 Wind with one in the opposite direction missing area (8)
WESTERLY – W(ith) EASTERLY (wind with the opposite direction to the answer) missing A(rea)
6 Malagueña Ben dancing is too demanding (12)
UNMANAGEABLE – anagram (dancing) of MALAGUENA BEN
7 Sad case of whiskey leading to vomit (6)
WRETCH – W(hiskey) leading to RETCH (vomit)
12 English National Opera dates raised in interval (8)
SEMITONE – ENO (English National Opera) TIMES (dates) “raised” = reversed
13 Showing confidence about city firm (6)
SECURE – SURE (showing confidence) about EC (city)
15 Right place set out for package (6)
PARCEL – anagram (set out) of R(ight) PLACE
18 Brace of small fish, not old (5)
STRUT – S(mall) TRoUT (fish), not O(ld)
19 Quick profit involving cocaine (4)
PACY – PAY (profit) involving C(ocaine)


95 comments on “Times Quick Cryptic No 2593 by Joker”

  1. Nice crossword from Joker, I was going along quite smoothly until I got hung up on SEMITONE and CANNIBAL (once again deceived by man-eater). Then a carelessly entered sprat in place of STRUT (I read the small fish part only) dragged me out to 10.22. But all good, thank you roly.

  2. 15:05

    I needed the blog for some parsings.
    I will never remember EC for city (and I didn’t know the home counties thing yesterday either)

    Also on = about in RONDO and I nho of ‘in trim’

    I enjoyed SEMITONE the most because it was satisfying putting in ‘eno’ from the bottom and then a word for dates (times) in and discovering it made a word.

    That’s always more fun to me than putting in a word from the definition and justifying it through the wordplay.

    I went through a lot of vomit synonyms. What are some fun words for vomit from your slang in your youth? Mine is ‘chunder’ it might be Australian, unsure.

    1. “When I swallowed the last prawn I had a technicolour yawn and I chundered in the old Pacific Sea”- Barry Humphries.

      1. Barry has a lot to answer for. I think he also coined “drive the porcelain bus”, an unpleasant but rather brilliant piece of imagery.

          1. I heard that too, from someone who had been on a pirate radio ship in the 70s. It was a reference to being seasick, bending over the toilet and wailing Oh God!

            1. That’s how it was interpreted to me, although it was drunkenness not seasickness; don’t suppose it matters much which.

  3. I biffed ENTERTAINING, INTERIM, RONDO, & LOI WESTERLY, parsed post-submission. 5:54.

  4. 12:01. I didn’t think PAY and profit were synonyms. I always spelled LOTH without the A but I see the spelling with A is the more acceptable. I think I remember from my studies that the derivation of Caliban’s name in The Tempest had likely something to do with the word cannibal.

    1. Re PAY for ‘profit’, what about “Regular exercise pays (= profits or is advantageous) in the long-term by reducing one’s risk of heart disease”? Maybe.

    2. Ah, a fellow “loth” believer. I can’t get the NY Times spelling bee to accept it, so annoying!

      As in “nothing loth”, but from where I couldn’t tell you. Lost in the mists of my voraciously reading youth. Sir Walter Scott?

  5. Found this tricky, but I did finish in just over 25 minutes. There were a lot of clues I struggled with, from all over the grid. Probably the trickiest for me were WESTERLY, INTERACT, RONDO, SECURE.
    I’m still not convinced by “in trim” = “fit”. If it were “in good trim”/”in fine trim” or similar I wouldn’t mind, but “in trim” is a bit loose IMO.

    1. The first definition that Google provides for “in trim” is “slim and fit”.

      Might be one of those usages that’s more common in some places than others.

    2. When I worked in an office on a business park, there was a ‘Trim Trail’ so that the lunchtime joggers could get in trim.

      1. We had a lunchtime trail from our office back in the day. It was about 50 yards long and led to the pub next door….

        1. Ah, those were the days….we moved offices to the top Shaftesbury Ave and were spoilt for choice – Covent Garden ahead/Chinatown to the right/Soho behind us/Bloomsbury to the left…. I even lost my pipe-smoking habit as I rediscovered my sense of taste.

  6. IN TRIM is very common in the UK, at least in my experience. I’m a little surprised that Collins doesn’t have it as a main entry (except in COBUILD) but it’s listed in the English section as an example under ‘trim (noun) 18’. SOED offers: trim Condition, state, or order, esp. of preparedness or fitness (freq. with specifying word). Freq. in trim, out of trim. E17.

    11 minutes for the puzzle, btw.

  7. I struggled mightily with this one and was still five answers short by the time I reached my cut off time of 30 minutes. Eager to please, however, I persevered and finally came in all green in around 42 minutes.
    Were these the good old days I’d be sent down to the infants for the day for this performance, but as it is I’ll probably just have to spend it on the Special Table in corridor with the TA. The Walk of Shame here we come. Again.
    LOI was SEMITONE (this despite me having ‘A’ Level Music I’m ashamed to say).
    Ho hum.

  8. 14:29. Yet again, not sure why I wasn’t a bit quicker, though RONDO held me up and I thought ‘case of whiskey’ at 7d was going to be WY. I had SECRET for a while for 13d which is close but didn’t fit with the crossers.

    Another music related clue, SEMITONE, needed crossers and was my last in.

  9. Great puzzle that was a game of 2 halves for us. Under 10 minutes for the left side then another tough 30 for the other half. COD was revs, also our LOI having spent too long thing up small fish containing an o

    Thanks Joker and rolytoly

    Started early this morning hoping the rain would stop for our walk which we normally do first, no luck, where are the wellies?

  10. Steady solve in which my musical knowledge was stretched to the limits. I’d heard of SEMITONE and knew that it related to music but didn’t know that it meant interval and RONDO was dredged from deep in the ‘it’s appeared in the QC before memory bank’. Nearly biffed SPRAT but managed to avoid the temptation as it looked wrong – maybe I am learning!
    Started with OVERTHROWN and finished with PACY in 7.45.
    Thanks to Roly

  11. Before starting I was pleased to see my errors for the month had dropped to 5. I then typed DEPolYMENT wrecking PARCEL in the process take me back to 7. Struggled with general knowledge here, NHO RONDO (I’m sure I must have) or IN TRIM. Also took an age over TURN – despite having been to Turin to see Juventus (with Ravanelli, Moller and Baggio – and Antonio Conte the amazing footballdatabase.eu tells me) draw with Cagliari. The problem with TURN was I couldn’t separate ‘go’ from ‘with’ so once I arrived at Turin I couldn’t parse. Not all green in 19.

      1. Now that’s a tune I know!

        So I’ve never heard of a rondo despite having heard a rondo.

  12. 12:21, which was surprising with a long time waiting for FOI. Eventually got started with SENOR, then a clockwise solve from there.

    I thought it was Rondeau, is that something different? That was my LOI, along with a change from RACY to PACY, as I couldn’t just see ray=profit. Even toyed with LACY.

    A ñ ( n tilde) appeared in the anagrist, for UÑMANAGEABLE, and it pleasingly provided the ñ for SEÑOR. Coincidence, I don’t think so, because Malagueña is such an obscure word, there would have been simpler anagrams. I think Joker was being clever here.

    1. Good spot Merlin. I was going to comment on what a weird choice of clue it was to use ‘Malagueña’ but I now see that it was clever by Joker.

    2. A rondeau is a potentially confusing term as I believe it can have at least two meanings. Many rondos composed by French composers are called rondeau in their scores, however there is also a form of French poetry also called rondeau which has nothing to do with the musical form.
      The rondo musical form has a starting theme (A) followed by a secondary theme (B), followed by the starting theme, and so on . There may be many secondary themes, but they are always interspersed with the starting theme. A typical rondo with form ABACA is Beethoven’s Für Elise: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2fcX2dWmR6g

    3. Yes lovely spot – I think Joker’s definitely having a clever and original bit of fun with that. Very good!

  13. 10:30 (death of St Olaf, King of Norway)

    Took a while to get going, with 13a being my FOI. I also spent a while trying to find words with WY in 7d. LOI was 20a, where I pondered whether RINGO might work, before finally spotting RONDO.

    Thanks Joker and Roly

  14. After yesterday’s success a dnf after 30 minutes with 5 missing. Back to the drawing board I think. Would never have got SECURE and couldn’t justify RONDO.

  15. Sorry my first comment on here is to observe a typo in the blog. 13 down. ‘AURE’ =‘SURE’

    1. Ah yes, thanks – welcome and well spotted! Blog corrected.. and kind of you to let others share in the fun, taken up by gcook directly below (where I had exactly the same mistake with A(mall) instead of S(mall) at 18d)

  16. I think you have a small typo in your explanation of 18d. I thought that particular clue was a bit obscure as was Pacy (pay for profit – might be right but there is no need to be tenuous for a quickie in my opinion). Enjoyed it though so thanks Joker and rolypoly.

    1. Thanks, well spotted – blog corrected. I’m blaming some cack-handed form of muscle memory from 13d (as noted by Austin directly above).

  17. After yesterday’s glory comes dismal defeat. DNF after 30 mins.

    I had TENOR (Runs about NOTE) in place of RONDO, so could not then get SECURE or SEMITONE. Also failed to see PACY or STRUT.

    And it’s raining 🐈 🐈 and 🐕 🐕 , so I might just go back to bed and watch a film. Except I can’t, as I have work to do. What a miserable day! 😊

  18. I wasn’t on Joker’s wavelength for some reason, and turned this into a slog. With hindsight there’s no apparent reason.

    TIME 7:22

  19. Tricky, so I was fairly slow to start. I needed help with LOI STRUT as I knew it couldn’t be Sprat.
    FOsI CANNIBAL, SENOR and OWING, then I found some anagrams and gradually plodded around the grid.
    Thanks vm, Roly.

  20. Taken a little over average, but not as much as I thought I would be after my first pass through the acrosses and downs. Luckily crossers came to the rescue.



  21. I thought this was a bit stiffer than usual, with that daunting anagram at 6d making you wonder what a Malaguena was. Apparently it’s similar to a fandango, and/or a very famous song from Mexico and/or a very famous piece for classical guitar. Hm.
    I was startled yesterday to see (apropos 21a) the Met Office announcing an amber snow warning. I'll try to remember not to eat it.
    10.29 (St Olaf, King of Norway diagnosed with a serious but undisclosed illness).

    1. Malagueña Salerosa is a very famous (the most famous?) Mexican song. Brilliantly used in one of Tarantino’s films. Kill Bill I think.

  22. Certainly the toughest of the week so far, and I wouldn’t expect anything less from the Joker who rarely makes it easy for us. I struggled a little, particularly in sorting out the two long anagrams, and this took me over target for the first time this week at 11.53.

  23. DNF

    Oh, that’s annoying. Had EASTERLY for the wind, which, of course, made 1ac impossible and put OVERTURNED to mean upset but without being able to parse. In hindsight the answers were obvious.

  24. Wot Phil said, but slower – 09:01 for 1.7K and a Sluggish Day.

    I thought “yellow” was a bit unfair for “amber” – “yellowish” is what all the sources say.

    Many thanks Joker and Roly.


      1. Yes, I now see that Chambers says “yellow or reddish”. Just the bitterness of the disappointed, Tina!

  25. I was off to a good start with OVERTHROWN but after that my solving became somewhat patchy. I didn’t correctly parse WESTERLY (I thought it was something to do with WEST and EaRLY). RONDO required several visits. PACY nearly ended up as rACY and with my LOI STRUT it was difficult to get the unparsed SpRaT out of my mind. I resorted to an alphabet trawl but finished in good company next to Templar on the leaderboard in 9:02.

  26. Big round of applause from me for SEMITONE 👏👏👏 Like Tina, just slotted the N into the O-E ending and then thought of a word for dates to get to the answer. One of those answers where I knew it was correct as I typed it – actually had to force myself to go back and see whether the clue was looking for something music related.

    While DEPLOYMENT unravelled with no checkers once I’d written the letters out on paper – I can never understand how I’m unable to rearrange as few as six letters into PARCEL until I’ve got -A-C-L to help. Saw the anagram requirements immediately just failed to unravel. Sometimes I even struggle with just four letters!

    Had to hold myself back from putting SpRaT in for STRUT and then finished in the NE with INTERACT and then WESTERLY which needed all the checkers. The latter seems quite a complicated clue for QC – unless you know winds! I was wary of misdirection for it being some form of winding/turning/twisting.

    I didn’t think this was as easy as other puzzles Joker’s set, so not surprised to see some of us struggling with it. Joker is a setter whose puzzles I always feel confident of completing. He rarely includes a word I’ve never heard of. So I’m always willing to press on for a while longer. But that was unnecessary today as I recorded 17:52 to be batting over 50% at 18/34 for the year on sub-20s which is my cutoff.

    1. No shame in writing out the anagram fodder – if I can’t biff the answer I always use pen and paper as I’m unable to even visualise letters in my head, let alone manipulate them!

      1. Indeed – I’m more than happy to write them out when necessary. I write consonants on one row, vowels on another. The circular method has never worked for me.

        I sometimes also have to rewrite Down answers horizontally. Again can’t visualise the fillers downwards but the answer will often jump out when presented horizontally.

        It’s just I can’t understand why my brain is sometimes unable to do what should be easy short anagrams 🤷‍♀️

        1. It sounds frustrating!

          I have a blanket inability to visualise anything but have developed strategies over the years to compensate. For me the short anagrams are therefore as tricky as the long ones…

        2. I like the idea of writing out vowels and consonants on separate lines for solving anagrams, also rewriting down clues horizontally. Thanks, ND, should give me some time savings in future!

          1. You’re not meant to be getting tips on how to get even more faster than me. I already can’t keep pace with you! I ban from using my technique 😃

    2. A year or two back one of the most accomplished solvers here suggested (to help with parsing) writing each word of a clue underneath its predecessor. Doing that discourages the solver from reading the clue as an ordinary phrase or sentence.

  27. Trickiest of the week so far imo. I finished in 17 minutes, all parsed, which I was happy with as a Joker puzzle can always be a bit tricky. I managed to avoid the sprat/racy pitfalls in the SE quadrant, although both words were the first that sprang to mind.

    FOI – 9ac SENOR
    LOI – 19dn PACY

    Thanks to Joker and Rolytoly

  28. Found this tricky in places, particularly the NE. Last two in were WRETCH followed by INTERACT. Another to try sprat before STRUT. Had ‘thrown’ but took a while to accept OVERTHROWN as a synonym for upset (was thinking of another sort of upset). Several biffed them parsed (SEMITONE, RONDO, INTERIM, CHAMBER, SECURE). COD to WRETCH for the misdirection (case of whiskey)! Thanks Joker and rt.

  29. I thought this was quite challenging, as my time of 13½ minutes suggests, but in the end I convinced myself it was all entirely fair. Not before I found I had to slightly recalibrate how close two words had to be for Joker to count them as synonyms – yellow and amber in Chamber for example (though I note the discussion above between Tina and Templar), on and about in Rondo, times and dates in Semitone, pay and profit in Pacy. All not exact synonyms, so I took time to see them, but all fair enough I accept in a looser sense.

    I was more honestly – and completely – bamboozled by the clue for Wretch, and like others I was sure there was a WY in there (“case of WhiskeY”). That took the most time, and only after I had worked it out did my LOI Interact fall. I’m still not entirely sure what the word “closely” is doing in the clue for Interact – there are lots of people I interact with, from my third cousins to HMRC, without the interaction being in any way close.

    Fellow QCers might want to try the 15×15 today. This is usually a code for people to wave a wee flag saying “I managed to finish it for a change” – which I did (don’t ask the time it took) – but I think it really is quite addressable, witness the fact that Busman spent less time on it that he did on today’s QC.

    Many thanks Roly for the blog

  30. Agree this was tricky – coming in at 12 minutes. The long anagrams took time and I finished on WESTERLY – so agree with the NE being stubborn. Enjoyable QC though – thanks all.

  31. 18 mins steady solve with no particular hold-ups, so an average one for me.
    I particularly enjoyed WESTERLY and INTERIM. Didn’t know that cocaine could be abbreviated to ‘c’ but it had to be PACY, which became my last one in.
    I was pleased to remember Rondo from previous QCs.

    Thanks Roly for the blog. Small typo in 18d by the way.

  32. Not happy! A relatively speedy and enjoyable solve (28 minutes) ruined by a failure of GK at the end. With just R _ N _ O to complete I set off on a thorough alphabet trawl. After 3-4 minutes I had whittled the likely options down to ReNtO, RiNgO and RONDO. RiNgO didn’t parse, but both of the others did. Unfortunately, I chose the wrong one – R (Runs), ENTO anagram (about) of note.

    Thanks to Joker and rolytoly.

  33. 8:52

    Chewyish I felt – plenty on the RHS required the unlocking of UNMANAGEABLE. Likewise DEPLOYMENT didn’t jump out and required writing out the letters. Overally enjoyable though.

    Thanks Roly and Joker

  34. Just couldn’t get into this one. Nothing in this QC caused me to want to stick with it. I found it to be quite uninspiring.

    Let’s hope tomorrow’s setter can give us something better.

    My verdict: 🥱
    Pumpa’s verdict: 😾

  35. Small point but if W= Whisky from the NATO phonetic alphabet, surely it has to be whisky and not (Irish) whiskey? Managed most of this eventually but stumped by four in the SE corner.

    1. Wikipedia says … the drink can be whisky or whiskey, and lists the phonetic alphabet as W=whiskEy. The clue was “whiskey” so not sure there’s any problem.

      Well done on getting most of it done. REVS was a lovely little clue which I didn’t spot the initialism in for some time. PACY – I had no clue what to do with until I had -A-Y.

      1. You’re absolutely right! Apologies. But I’m shocked that it gives preference to Whiskey over (the surely superior) Whisky. Am I guilty of sacrilege?

        1. Well, the Japanese spirit of that name is winning all the awards, at present, so the word is up for grabs.

  36. 39 mins…

    Struggled on this, and wasn’t sure about a few definitions and answers. In my mind “Retch” is having a dry barf and not being actually sick, and I don’t care what Collins says, “amber” really isn’t yellow. I always thought 14ac “Loath” had an “e” on the end and still don’t know why cocaine is classed as a random “c”.

    Not starting well didn’t help – misreading 1dn and putting in “Sowed” which caused all manner of problems with the NW corner. Once I sorted that out, the rest went in fairly slowly.

    FOI – 9ac “Senõr”
    LOI – 19dn “Pacy”
    COD – 1ac “Overthrown”

    Thanks as usual!

    1. C is just one of the many slang terms for cocaine.

      Loath and loathe are two completely different words, though obviously easy to confuse.

      1. Fair comment on Loath/Loathe – you’re right, they are different words. I have to say though, whilst I’ve heard of many slang names for cocaine, I’ve never heard of it just being called “C”.

        1. I agree with you on that, but it’s supported by the usual sources. And our setters do seem to love their drugs!

  37. A solve unusually early for my usual late afternoon/evening/night-time routine. I was was doing well but fell for the ‘sprat’ as I thought the word could relate to a single or many fish. So a DNF but an enjoyable test.
    FOI 1d Owing – I needed to validate the first letter for 1a. Not confident about 13d SURE in Secure. Happy to spell 14a Loth/Loath/Loathe but probably would use the last version as my default.
    LOI 11a Interact – failed to recall ‘tract’ quickly enough to enter this one earlier
    COD 5d Westerly – a tad complicated but a good feeling once parsed.

  38. 9.55 A biffed RONDO and SECURE were the last two. The former took several minutes to parse after submission. R ON DO. Doh!

    Another fairly gentle puzzle. According to the Quitch we’ve had only four above-average puzzles in the last month.

    Thanks rolytoly and Joker.

  39. Glad to see I’m not the only one to get hung up on SPRAT instead of STRUT though at long long last I got there. INTERACT was one of those clues where after getting it I scratched my head over why, why, why it took so, so long. But I repeat myself.

    COD to REVS, though as a former teacher I suppose it ought to be ENTERTAINING.

  40. Not being musically minded, this was a DNF on Rondo. I got semitone but wasn’t entirely convinced it was a word. I took a while to get started but then settled in to a steady pace. Think it was around 16 mins before I found myself staring at what would become Rondo

  41. No time today as I started this last night & finished it this morning, and left the timer running overnight, whoops. I found this slightly harder than average. No COD today, but the Letter of the Day has to be the Ñ, which I didn’t spot at all.

  42. Somewhat slower today, in keeping with the higher QSnitch, but nevertheless still happy with 12:39 even though it felt it was going to be faster. Was reluctant to put in LOI RONDO through not seeing ON = ‘about’ until afterwards but didn’t feel it could have been anything else.

  43. No time to read the comments just now, but I promise I will later!
    10:03 this morning. FOI Overthrown LOI Unmanageable Nothing really stood out as a COD but GORY raised a rueful grin – we’ve all experienced a horrific train journey.
    Thanks Joker and Roly

  44. Needed 4 sittings for this one – breakfast coffee, lunch cuppa and two short commutes…
    Never mind I got there in the end but with one wrongun.

    Yes put off by the musical references (bad experiences at school) so ended up with RENTO, which I must have got from Crosswordland, instead of RONDO.

    Enjoyed the PDMs with INTERIM, REVS and a special mention to DEPLOYMENT – who has the mind that can create an anagram from that!?

    So thanks Rory and the Joker.

  45. No thank you. That wasn’t in the least enjoyable. Sorry Joker but honestly!? I don’t know where to start.

  46. 22 minutes, which I am not happy with. Yet another day in the SCC. As usual, several stupid errors, which you won’t want to hear about.

    1 hour, 44 minutes so far this week and no SCC escapes. Quite atrocious. No excuse for missing an SCC escape today.

    February is fast becoming even worse than January, so doom and gloom from me (no surprise there).

    Once again, some former SCC members are putting me to shame. I must have visited some clues 5 or 6 times today (perhaps more). If I don’t see the answer immediately, I am all at sea and in a panic. I find it incredibly hard to concentrate on a clue for more than a few seconds because I fear becoming bogged down and losing time.

    Thanks for the blog.

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