Times Quick Cryptic No 2616 by Alex

Solving time: 8:02

First time I’ve blogged an Alex whose grid comes with a good mix of clues offering plenty of first letters if you can get 1a and 1d. I didn’t get either until very near the end and consequently found completion took a little longer than it might have, though I don’t think there’s anything that’s too ungettable here – I’d suggest that the Quitch might be just below 100?

What did you think?

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

1 Ambitious Parisian alto in action (12)
ASPIRATIONAL – Anagram [in action] of PARISIAN ALTO
8 Farewell notice that is universal (5)
ADIEUAD (notice) IE (that is – English for id est which is invariably shortened to i.e.) U (universal)

U is the abbreviation for ‘universal’ in the UK to refer to a film that is considered suitable for children of any age.

Notably as of last week, the film Mary Poppins is no longer a ‘U’, having been regraded to a PG (parental guidance) due to a “then-acceptable” term used by Admiral Boom, no-longer being considered acceptable.

9 Is one eaten by fish somewhere in North Africa? (7)
TUNISIAIS I (one) eaten by TUNA (fish)

The question mark is not part of the definition – it’s only for surface as the clue is posed as a question to ensure that IS and I are in the correct order.

10 Stations alter miniscule cases (7)
TERMINI – Hidden [cases] in alter miniscule
11 Urged peaceful bird to cross river (5)
DROVEDOVE (peaceful bird) to cross R (river)

‘cross’ indicates that DOVE surrounds R

12 Stand holding very European rodent (6)
BEAVERBEAR (Stand) holding V (very) E (European)

BEAVERs are the second-largest living rodents (after capybaras) and can weigh up to 50kg!

The ultimate origin of the name comes from an Indo-European word for brown and is the source of placenames such as Beverley in the East Riding of Yorkshire (originally Beverlac (10th century), referring to a colony of beavers in the River Hull).

14 Reproached youngster avoiding line editor (6)
CHIDEDCHILD (youngster)with the L removed (avoiding line) then ED (editor)
17 Place destructive insect missing tail (5)
LOCUSLOCUST (destructive insect) without its last letter (missing tail)

In genetics, a LOCUS is a specific position on a chromosome where a particular genetic marker is located. 20 different loci (plural of LOCUS) are used in DNA tests, including one (Amelogenin) which confirms the gender of the person providing the sample.

19 Untidily lazes around old university being enthusiastic (7)
ZEALOUS – Anagram [Untidily] of LAZES around O (old) and U (university)
21 Posh Royal marine overwhelmed by hard work and disruption (7)
TURMOILU (Posh) RM (Royal marine) overwhelmed by i.e. inserted into TOIL (hard work)

‘U’ (upper class) and its counterpart ‘non-U’ (the aspiring middle classes), was part of the terminology of popular discourse of social dialects in 1950s Britain. The different vocabularies can often appear quite counter-intuitive: the middle classes prefer fancy or fashionable words in attempts to make themselves sound more refined, while the upper classes in many cases stick to the same plain and traditional words that the working classes use, as, confident in the security of their social position, they have no need to seek to display refinement.

The terms were first coined in 1954 by British linguist Alan S C Ross and popularised by English author Nancy Mitford.

22 Keen on including run for a start (5)
INTROINTO (Keen on) including R (run)

In cricket, R (also lower case ‘r’) is the abbreviation for runs. A bowler’s innings or match performance is often listed in the order of O M R W (Overs Maidens Runs Wickets) e.g. 51.2-23-53-10 which are regarded as the best-ever bowling figures in a single innings of test cricket (Jim Laker against Australia at Old Trafford in 1956).

23 Army leaders ripped apart retail outlet (7,5)
GENERAL STOREGENERALS (Army leaders) TORE (ripped apart)
1 A home flipped with time, skill and resilience (12)
ADAPTABILITY – Today’s IKEA clue – A then PAD (home) reversed (flipped) gives us DAP then T (time) and ABILITY (skill)
2 Former abbot’s deputy (5)
PRIOR – Double definition
3 Usual defeat in East (7)
ROUTINEROUT (defeat) IN E (East)
4 Bird chewed tasty morsel (6)
TITBITTIT (Bird) BIT (chewed)
5 Had invested without credit (5)
OWNEDCROWNED (invested) without the CR (credit)

‘Invested’ here is for instance when a Prince of Wales undergoes their formal investiture and receives a sceptre, sword, crown, ring, and clasp for his mantle.

The word ‘invested’ and related words such as ‘investiture’ and ‘investment’ come from the Latin preposition in and verb vestire, “dress”.

6 Criminal bods can run away (7)
ABSCOND – Anagram [Criminal] of BODS CAN

ABSCOND meaning to “depart suddenly and secretly,” especially to escape debt or the law came from 16th century French abscondre meaning “to hide” and directly from Latin abscondere “to hide, conceal, put out of sight”.

7 Police asked about taking in old toy (12)
KALEIDOSCOPE – Anagram [about] of POLICE ASKED taking in O (old)

The word “KALEIDOSCOPE” means “an instrument for seeing beautiful shapes,” from the Greek words kalos (beautiful), eidos (shape), and -scope (an instrument for seeing).

The KALEIDOSCOPE was invented in 1815 by Scottish inventor David Brewster and was wildly popular, selling by the thousands. However before it was patented two years later, the prototype was copied by opticians in London, so Brewster earned far less from his invention than he might have.

13 Point the finger retaining right to condemn (7)
ACCURSEACCUSE (Point the finger) retaining R (right)
15 Strives to follow cheap, unclothed thugs (7)
HEAVIESCHEAP (unclothed i.e. remove the first and last letter) followed by VIES (Strives)
16 First and last characters by a meadow finding flowering bush (6)
AZALEAAZ (First and last characters) by A LEA (meadow)
18 Pilfered shawl (5)
STOLE – Double definition
20 Dancing duo to excel (5)
OUTDO – Anagram [Dancing] of DUO TO

67 comments on “Times Quick Cryptic No 2616 by Alex”

  1. 14:03

    Needed help parsing OWNED and today I learnt that in the UK they spell it ‘titbit’ not ‘tidbit’

    I’m off to the dentist now to fix a broken molar, please wish my mouth and wallet well 🙁

    1. We enjoyed this, great mix of clues. LOI Was Azalea which once we had the Z we both saw bush in the clue, shouted the answer then a quick type to get one our best times of 18.27 before reading the rest of the clue to parse 😀

      COD to stole, made us smile.

      Mary Poppins still one of my all time top movies, will be watching with the grandchildren without any trigger warnings!

      Thanks Alex, and Mike for all the extra info

    2. That reminds me of the saying about putting your money where your mouth is. Hope you and finances come out okay!

  2. I biffed ASPIRATIONAL and KALEIDOSCOPE, never checked the anagrists. ADAPTABILITY took me some time, and I needed the initial A; no biffing here. So what did Admiral Boom say? Whatever it was, I can’t imagine many English parents deciding to forbid their kids to see “Mary Poppins”. 6:57.

    1. The word used was ‘hottentot’ which is now considered a derogatory term for the Khoekhoe – non Bantu indigenous nomadic pastoralists of South Africa.

      1. Tom Lehrer used it in one of his lyrics (We Will All Go Together When We Go). I wonder if he will be re-writing it in order not to give offence!

        According to Collins the word can still be used in the names of plants and animals.

  3. 12:42, steady going

    Slower than it should have been as I didn’t see the easy ASPIRATIONAL and tried to use “ripped apart” as an anagram indicator for GENERAL STORE.

    I thought the past tense of CHIDE was CHID?

    ADIEU is a common first guess in Wordle, although I usually mix it up with a different one every day.

    COD HEAVIES, that’s a fine word

    1. I’d have thought CHID, too; but ODE says ‘chided or (archaic) chid’,while Collins (UK and US) has ‘chided or chid’. Of course ‘chide’ is verging on the archaic itself; and so am I, for that matter.

    2. Talking of chid, I couldn’t believe my eyes when I read in the Telegraph (of all places!) recently that someone ‘pled’ not guilty to a crime.

  4. 11 minutes for this one. I was slow to get both long answers at 1. I saw the long answer at 7dn right away but had to go through the anagrist carefully to confirm the unchecked 7th letter.

  5. A bit over 11 minutes. Mostly not too difficult but with GENERAL STORE and ADAPTABILITY needing some thought and KALEIDOSCOPE a satisfying one to finish with.

    Thanks to Alex and to Mike for an informative blog

  6. I found this tough and slow-going, but got there in the end, 26m.

    I’ve only ever seen ACCURSE used in the past participle form as an adjective (ie accursed), never as the infinitive as here, but it’s logical, I suppose.

    Happy Wednesday all. Pi

  7. An eary contender for puzzle of the year. Just five on the first pass of acrosses and most of those in the south yet somehow the clues slowly made their way from jibberish to inspired and I crossed the line all green in 14 when I finally cracked ADAPTABILIY. I do like a KALEIDOSCOPE – my sister and I never had one but I liked our neighbours – so I made sure our girls did.

  8. Took a long time to get going and struggled with the 1ac/1dn anagrams like others, finally made it in 14.09. Not fully convinced that ADAPTABILITY = resilience but I’m not particularly fussed. Overall a really clever puzzle from Alex and a highly informative blog from Mike.

  9. Another bit of a plod this morning but all green in about 31 minutes. ASPIRATIONAL, TURMOIL and OWNED slowed me most of all. I liked GENERAL STORE most.
    Thanks to Alex and Mike.

  10. I feel I got lucky today as both of the 1s went straight in and from there it was a fairly straightforward solve.
    Finished with KALEIDOSCOPE in 6.03.
    Thanks to Mike for the very informative blog.

  11. LOCUS means “place” in a much more general sense than the specialized biological one that Mike has chosen to explain, which is the third definition in Collins and the last one you’d expect to see referenced in a Quickie clue (as it wasn’t here).

  12. 13:32 (Edward Balliol crowned King of Scotland after victory at Battle of Dupplin Moor)
    My last three in were 1a, 1d and 5d, so I did not get the benefit of all the starting letters. Entered OWNING without parsing – thanks Mike for explaining how it works.

  13. A gentle offering from Alex, and nothing to add the above comments.

    TIME 4:29

  14. ASPIRATIONAL came early, which helped with the Down clues, but I found ADAPTABILITY more intractable and only solved it as my penultimate one in (POI?). And I needed it to give me the B in BEAVER, which was my LOI. Time = 21 minutes which, whilst just missing out on an escape from the SCC, is definitely quick for me.

    Many thanks to Alex and to Mike H for the very interesting blog.

  15. 10 across wouldn’t work if you spell minuscule as I thought you should but it appears to be a new acceptable spelling.

  16. Took too long over my LOI KALEIDOSCOPE, and pen and paper were involved. Well over average as a result.



  17. DNF

    Froze for the first minute or two as couldn’t see the long ones nor any of the ones I tried to start with. Then a whole rush leaving me the toy after 6 minutes…then further paralysis and the towel was chucked in. Just couldn’t see or parse it

    Thanks all

  18. Finished but looked up Strive. Not a favourite puzzle, don’t know why. Too many anagrams? Liked AZALEA, the toy, BEAVER, among others.
    Thanks vm, Mike. Great blog.

  19. 14:19
    Same MER as Lindsay re ADAPTABILITY = resilience. But its in the google dictionary.
    Also struggled with owned aspirational beaver!

    COD general store.

  20. I thought it was going too well with two quick times to start the week. Today I was brought back down to earth with one I really struggled with. The comments and times noted so far would suggest that it really wasn’t as difficult as I seemed to make it, and my time of 17.39 is my slowest for quite some time.
    The long ones in particular slowed me down almost to a grinding halt, and it took me far too long to realise 23ac didn’t require an anagram of ‘retail outlet’. One of those brain fog days I suppose.

  21. 10 minutes with all parsed and no real hold-ups, though I share the slight surprise at Adaptability being seen as a synonym for resilience, and at the second T in Titbit (I’d spell it Tidbit).

    As for miniscule/minuscule, my dictionary comments “Many feel that miniscule is a misspelling, but it occurs so frequently that it appears as a variant spelling in some dictionaries.” Count me among the many here, but of course minuscule would not work in the wordplay.

    Many thanks Mike for the blog – you have set a new standard for explanations, background info and amusing asides!


  22. Exactly what AndyPandy said. Found this more difficult than last two. Struggled in same way with GENERAL STORE, expecting an anagram. Also took a while unravelling ADAPTABILITY which eventually paved the way for LOI BEAVER. Didn’t parse OWNED. Fond memories of kaleidoscopes. Great blog Mike. Thanks Alex.

  23. The 1a/1d pair looked very hard, but I only needed a few letters for the answers to become obvious.
    I thought that 23a GENERAL STORE/s was green paint, but it is in Wiktionary. I have an inkling that UK doesn’t use the term; I can’t think of any British examples. However I added them to my cheating machine.
    Took a while for the crOWNED penny to drop.

  24. Oh woe is me. The 1s led to a very, very rapid solve of the grid and I had less than 4 mins on the clock with just 4 to go. 3 of them came relatively easily. They were HEAVIES, CHIDED and INTRO but then I just stared at the anagram fodder for the toy for what seemed like ages. When the answer KALEIDOSCOPE came to me I did at least check the vowels as by then the hope of a PB had been well and truly scuppered. 6:27

  25. Enjoyed this
    Got 1A straight away which helped but still 28 minutes finish.
    LOI owned
    Liked tunisia
    Thanks for blog and puzzle

  26. Managed to complete this one without help from the orange one.

    Wasted a few minutes getting my last answer in (INTRO) due to a misspelling of OUTDO putting a U where INTRO needed to go.

    Finally got my HM Forces Veterans card today. Only took 7 years. 🤣


    My verdict: 😀
    Pumpa’s verdict: busy fighting other boy cats.

  27. Having failed to see either 1ac or 1d, this turned into a very slow start. After 10mins I only had a few scattered answers and so decided to change tactics and just focus on 1ac. Aspirational then gave me enough starting letters to get a foot hold and progress steadily, until loi Heavies – Vies for strives took quite a bit of time. Ended up being grateful for a window seat solve. CoD to 23ac, General Store for the sneaky anagram misdirection. Invariant

  28. I very much enjoyed this puzzle – for the simple reason that I completed it in one sitting! Thanks to Alex. Our neural pathways must have been in sync…. 😀

  29. 7.28 Very quick for me. 1a went straight in, which helped a lot. ADAPTABILITY, TERMINI and a biffed OWNED were the last three. Thanks Mike and Alex.

  30. 23 mins…

    I thought this was going to be really hard, as on the first pass I hardly got anything. However, there are some puzzles that seem to fall into place once you have a few answers in the grid, and this was one of them. In fact, if I hadn’t got stuck on 15dn “Heavies”, I’m confident this would have been a sub-20 solve.

    FOI – 11ac “Drove”
    LOI – 15dn “Heavies”
    COD – 3dn “Routine” – simple but effective.

    Thanks as usual!

  31. Slow with this one and needed an aid to get the second part of HEAVIES. Struggled with all four of the long outer answers which didn’t help. Nothing wrong with the puzzle – just me being off the pace – but it took me 23 minutes in all, with very few clues yielding easily.

    FOI – 8ac ADIEU (one that did go straight in!)
    LOI – 22ac INTRO
    COD – 9ac TUNISIA

    Thanks to Alex and especially to mike for the informative blog

  32. An enjoyable stroll for an on-par time, though my brain froze in indignation at that new-fangled spelling of minUscule, thank you very much, get off my lawn (waves cane in fit of fury, falls over, hits head on garden gnome). And I was very slow to get the longs at the beginning though KALEIDOSCOPE went in as soon as I saw the K and “toy”. Didn’t understand OWNED so thanks for that! COD ACCURSE although I can’t say why. I just like the word I guess.

    Thanks Mike and Alex!

  33. Was convinced that 12a was going to be WEASEL with EASEL being the stand and W BEING a European pronunciation of V.☹️

  34. Very enjoyable for me. I agree with others that seeing the long anagrams early helped enormously. Got LOCUS but never heard of it .

  35. 14:54 here. The four long answers on the edges were my last four in, and I needed help for the anagrams at 1a and 7d. Overall found it a little anagram-heavy, COD to TUNISIA.

    Thanks to Alex and Mike.

  36. Lovely puzzle; enjoyable blog.
    Struggled to get started so the bottom half went in first.
    FOI 17a Locus
    LOI 14a Chided
    COD 23a General Stores

  37. Not a PR for us but certainly one of our faster ones at 9:29, helped by seeing FOI 1a fairly quickly. LOI TERMINI was biffed so thanks for pointing out the missed hidden, Mike. COD OWNED. Thank you, Alex.

  38. I almost biffed inspirational for 1a. But realised too many letters. So a proper IKEA answer- a piece left over.
    Then it all flew in. 10mins. My target is 25. 😀. J

  39. 9:44 on this fun crossword.
    I nearly chose TITBIT as my COD but ultimately felt that ‘bit’ didn’t quite equal ‘chew’, so it went into the not-quite basket. However, I can’t really come up with an alternative that works as well – that’s why I’ll never be a setter!
    I liked ZEALOUS, GENERAL STORE and ACCURSE too. I didn’t parse OWNED, so thanks for the explanation, and missed the unusual spelling of minuscule – it may be in some dictionaries, but …
    FOI Adieu LOI Chided COD Kaleidoscope
    Thanks Alex and Mike, especially for all the extra interesting facts and figures

  40. 17:31

    This would have been done in around 12 minutes but spent over 5 minutes trying to figure out the wrong anagrams for the last 2, GENERAL STORE and KALEIDOSCOPE.

  41. Tackled this after a long day walking the Lowther Hills. Footsore and it would appear brainsore too, since I couldn’t get the 1s without all checkers and tried very hard to make GENERAL STAFF work (and then to make an anagram of “retail outlet”).

    So ended in 10:06 for 1.5K and a Pretty Poor Day. Have to go 15 miles tomorrow so I’m going to be even worse!

    Great blog Mike and thanks Alex.


  42. Completed in 15 mins. Almost the perfect run. I do across then down clues. And nearly got them in order. Intro and owned running the perfect run.

    Entered owned without parsing.

    Thanks Alex and Mike

  43. Out for lunch today with a bunch of retired ex colleagues so late to the puzzle. Must have been on the wavelength, as I went from ABSCOND to KALEIDOSCOPE in 5:49. Thanks Alex and Mike.

  44. My last two clues in were 1A and 1D. Took ages on both despite having all the checkers and knowing 1A was an anagram. I was misleading myself thinking 1A would start ‘IN’.


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