Times Quick Cryptic No 2618 by Myles

To me from my solving time,  a middle-of-the-road Quick Cryptic from Myles today that took me 5:39, just over my average, but I suspect some will find it rather harder. Did anyone else fall for thinking “short time” in 9A had to be T? It’s what held me up at the end. I thought 13A and 19A a bit tricky too. How did you all get on? Thank-you Myles.

Myles was one of the original QC setters – his first being No 10 on 21 March 2014, but then we didn’t get another one after number 29 until June last year.  Checking that out, I discovered that the 10th anniversary of QC No 1 is this Sunday, 10th March. Of course there is no (Sunday) Times Quick Cryptic then, but if you are pining for one…

Fortnightly Weekend Quick Cryptic.  This time it is Phil’s turn to provide the extra weekend entertainment. You can find the crossword  here. If you are interested in trying our previous offerings you can find an index to all 98 here.

Definitions underlined in bold italics, (Abc)* indicating anagram of Abc, {deletions} and [] other indicators.

1 Race had become disorderly farce (7)
CHARADE – (Race had)* [become disorderly],
5 Near end of employment, a dark time (5)
NIGHTNIGH (near) and last letter of employmenT.
8 Brutality imprisoning a monarch for lack of personal experience (13)
VICARIOUSNESSA R (Rex; monarch) in VICIOUSNESS (brutality). Hmm. A MER from me here… I’m not entirely convinced by the definition, but with a bit of squinting it sort of works.
9 After short time, added piece that can give more power to your elbow (7)
TRICEPS – Hands up if, like me, you were sure “short time” had to be T. But no. Here we have TRICE (short time) PS (added piece at the end of a message, perhaps). Nice one. And my LOI.
10 Insignificant actor in run — but no hit (5)
EXTRA – Double definition the second a cricketing cryptic hint.
11 Makes keener ahead of time, I assure you (6)
HONESTHONES (sharpens; makes keener) T (time). I love the definition!
13 For example, join in with this position (6)
STANCE – This is rather upmarket for a quick crossword! INSTANCE (for example) can be constructed by joining IN with STANCE.
15 Revolution engulfing one European city (5)
TURINI (one) in TURN (revolution).
16 Humdrum reporter saying it’s useful for cutting (7)
HACKSAWHACK (humdrum reporter) SAW (saying).
19 Stop male, one in natural setting that’s undefined (13)
INDETERMINATE – I think our setter has been shopping at IKEA. Follow the construction instructions carefully….. Put DETER (stop) M (male) I (one) inside, [in… setting],  INNATE (natural). Tricky!
20 Amount of heat concealed by weathermen (5)
THERM – Hidden in weaTHERMan.
21 Combination of scandium with other metal — that’s shocking (7)
SCANDALSC (chemical symbol of Scandium) AND (with) AL (chemical symbol of Aluminium; another metal).
1 Desire firm check (5)
COVETCO (company; firm) VET (check).
2 Card game requiring absurd caution: cross! (7,6)
AUCTION BRIDGE – [Absurd] (caution)*, BRIDGE (cross). Hmm. I’ve trouble making sense of the surface, but maybe I just can’t see it.
3 Something opponents may do to do the opposite (5)
AGREE – Cryptic definition, based on the phrase “agree to disagree” (or as I had it “agree to differ”). A bit contrived, I feel, but maybe it’s just too clever for me.
4 It goes badly for bighead (6)
EGOIST – (it goes)* [badly].
5 New climb just starting (7)
NASCENTN (new) ASCENT (climbing). N + ASCENT is a bit of a chestnut, I think, last seen in the 15×15 28797 in December, a crossword from the Championships semi-final last year.
6 Redirect gangs to be reformed as expression of friendship (9,4)
GREETINGS CARD – (Redirect gangs)* [to be reformed].
7 Having finally left everything one can leave (7)
TESTATE – [finally] lefT ESTATE (everything one can leave). A semi-&lit. (All but “Having” being part of the wordplay and the whole clue the definition). Very clever.
11 E.g. top ten names provided to dangerous criminal (3,4)
HIT LIST – Double definition the second a cryptic hint.
12 Problem about dreadful cant in sacred place (7)
SANCTUMSUM (problem) about [dreadful] (cant)*.
14 Repeated part of song about ancient deity (6)
CHORUSC (circa; about) HORUS (ancient deity).
17 Dishes from large part of the world (5)
CHINA – Double definition, the second a cryptic hint.
18 Revolutionary movement‘s superficial mark, we hear (5)
WHEEL – WEAL (superficial mark), sounds like WHEEL.

80 comments on “Times Quick Cryptic No 2618 by Myles”

  1. Yikes – that was a toughie. A weird mix of write ins and head scratchers. Half QC and half 15×15. No idea how long it really took as I had a long call with my son in the middle of the solve, but it was well into the SCC. I needed the blog to parse TRICEPS (yes, my hand is up) and INDETERMINATE. I thought TESTATE was finally lef(T) and everything one can leave (ESTATE) – but I didn’t like that either. I also didn’t enjoy a few of the other clues and surfaces – but maybe that’s just because I’m tired and grumpy and about to get into bed the wrong way. Thanks John and Myles. I look forward to seeing how others got on tomorrow morning.

      1. My understaning is the definition is ‘Having’, meaning TESTATE and then ‘finally left everything one can leave’ is the clue. So not a semi-&lit but a straightforward clue?

  2. 27:15. Enjoyed, TRICEPS, SCANDAL, and HIT LIST most. I missed thinking of “agree to differ” which would have helped parse AGREE. VICARIOUSNESS and INDETERMINATE took two thirds of my time!

    1. Feels impressive that you got all the stuff round the sides before two of the long ones. Those checkers would have helped!

  3. 14 minutes, so for the second day running I was right up against the outer limit of my extended target time.

    The cryptics at 3dn and 7dn* were my last two in, but also in the last few minutes I was battling with STANCE and TRICEPS, both of which I had delayed entering earlier as I couldn’t see how to parse them and wasn’t 100% sure they’d be correct. In the end with all checkers in place I was left with no choice, so in they went unparsed. Then with the clock stopped and all pressure removed I quickly spotted how they worked.

    *Edit: Since writing the above I see that Oiman has come up with a non-cryptic explanation of 7dn and the blog has been changed. Obviously I missed that, but it’s very clever.

  4. I DNFed with 9 clues outstanding, so this is another big miss. I’ve had a few like this in the last few weeks, I really struggle with the harder puzzles.
    I think this is a complicated puzzle, but good practice for unravelling long clues (which I always find more difficult). Clearly I need the practice!

  5. Had no idea about TRICEPS, either in terms of the clue or their relation to the elbow, so that’s a DNF. In probably about 20, I was doing my old (inadvisable) trick of watching the Oz v NZ test at the same time. All up a toughie with some terrific clues and some less so. Very good time by John I think, and thanks for the much-needed blog.

  6. This took me an inordinate amount of time, and now, as usual, I can’t remember much. GREETINGS CARD took a while, although I knew it was the UK version of US ‘greeting card’. VICARIOUSNESS was, I believe, a long time coming, and I too had eyebrow problems. No problems with TESTATE or AGREE. So why did the puzzle take me 11:32? And answer came there none.

  7. Cripes that was hard and rounded off a dreadful week of 4/5 DNFs!
    VICARIOUSNESS (I remain unconvinced) finished me off and was not helped by the fact I couldn’t get AGREE and COVET, but hey ho. Most other clues were fair in retrospect.
    I’m glad they no longer use the Dunce’s Cap – (‘Political correctness gone mad!’ according to Mrs ITTT) – for if they did I’d be facing the whole day standing in the corner following this week’s dismal performance.
    However, like the eager puppy that I am I shall just lick my wounds and bounce back for more punishment in the morning, but in the meantime I’m going to look at the DT 15×15 for some light relief!

  8. Yep, that was very tough. A morning of chipping away bit by bit. Tempted to make a second pot of coffee! All done in a long 46.40. Mostly biffed the cryptics and parsed after a lot of thought but could not unravel triceps so thanks John for the blog.

  9. Some tricky bits to this puzzle. I spent a long time trying and failing to parse TRICEPS, having joined our blogger in the time = t camp. Also got stuck on the unknown variant of the card game, wondering if cross might be the anagram indicator with ‘absurd caution’ as the fodder, until the I realised that bridge contained a ‘g’ 🤦‍♂️.
    Started with CHARADE and finished with AGREE in 10.23 with COD to STANCE for the PDM.
    Thanks to John

  10. I guess the ‘same wavelength’ thing really does exist because, in contrast to other posters, I didn’t find this QC especially hard. While it did take close to 15 minutes—so it was at the slow end of of my usual 10-15 minute range—I found it much easier than yesterday’s puzzle which took me twice as long.

    1. Completely agree, took us 16 which is at the bottom end of our normal range, 10 minutes less than yesterday’s. Also thought that one of yesterday’s clues was among the worst I have seen when the consensus here seemed to be it was extremely good, so just goes to show how different peoples thought processes are.

  11. Yes 23 min and an honourable membership of the SCC today for this QC+ puzzle. Many parsed by the reverse engineering method once checkers were in place. Triceps was a PDM for this OGP
    I think I remember Myles from my first Crossword book (Times QC No1) At least I managed to finish this one! Thanks J&M

    1. OGP? Open Government Partnership? Office of Government Property? Nope. You’ve got me. Any clues?

        1. 😂 I did wonder if it was a mis-type of OAP, but O and G are too far apart on the keyboard. And, I didn’t want to cause any unnecessary and inadvertent offence. 😬

        2. Just plain old OLD although I’d like to think more in the ‘retired’ than decrepit sense 🤔 If there were as many medical answers as lyrical and clerical I’d be jovial 😀

    2. Book 1 just accompanied me to Gran Canaria and back. Didn’t make to Myles at no. 54. If anything, I found the early puzzles more tricky than those today but that could, of course, been the output of an all inclusive input.

  12. Blimey. I really struggled with that, and DNFed after 30 mins with 3 unsolved. Given the comments, I don’t feel so bad, especially given a couple of NHOs that I biffed and some definitions I’d never come across for words that I knew.

    Still, there’s tomorrow’s offering to give me a chance at redemption.

    Happy Friday. Pi

  13. 39:40 … I had a feeling when Felix got the Thursday slot that we were in for a toughie today. And so it was. I had six left at my SCC cutoff and my last three of AGREE, TESTATE, STANCE (LOI) took over 10mins.

    Today’s lesson in sports science … TRICEPS the big muscle on the back of the arm which when contracted, extend the elbow! So called because they have three heads joining the muscle to the bone. Useful if you want to throw something.

    Completed all five of this week, but today just puts me over the 2hr mark by 38secs! See if I can manage a clean sweep tomorrow.

    Have a good weekend if you’re not back tomorrow 👍

    JohnI – think the blog explanation needs another N in INNATE.

  14. No coffee, no time but I will put 25 mins.
    Another setter that seems to lack judgement of what the quick before cryptic means.
    Even Verlaine the world champ took double at over 5 mins.
    Last few were extra, vicar.., triceps, stance, testate, and LOI agree.
    Stance and agree are pretty poor in my opinion.
    COD triceps at a push.

  15. No prize for me although bizarrely little trouble with some that puzzled others. Well into the back end of the 30mins to finish with VICARIOUSNESS which was a well crafted but challenging clue.
    I had better step smartly into the club to bag my favourite chair as I sense there may be quite a crowd jostling for the popular window seats.
    Thanks John and Myles

  16. There is a lot to enjoy in this so thanks, but I do think it is poorly pitched. Too much that is tenuous or obscure imo.

  17. I was very pleased to finish what I thought was quite a difficult QC but had to biff STANCE and TRICEPS as I couldn’t work out either of them. Thanks very much John for parsing.
    PS Agree with New Driver about the typo for INNATE

  18. Odd, I thought this fairly straightforward today and finished in 18 mins which is average to fast for me. Needed the blog to parse SCANDAL and thought HONEST and STANCE were brilliant.
    I think TESTATE is a normal clue rather than a semi-&lit, per my comment earlier, with ‘having’ being the definition of ‘testate’.
    I agree with Johninterred on the add surface of 2d, I don’t understand how to read it.
    I am sure AGREE is referring to ‘agree to disagree’ which is the way I have always heard it used, rather than ‘agree to differ’. The clue makes more sense that way.

    1. But ‘testate’ does not mean ‘having’ it means ‘having a will’. ‘Agree to disagree’ works for AGREE, though. Thanks. Blog updated.

  19. Very tough, not very enjoyable – 15 minutes and it felt like much more. Too many of the clues left me thinking “Really?” – Agree, for example, and Vicariousness (dodgy definition IMO), and Stance (a twisted clue). And I am far from convinced that Sc as the chemical symbol for Scandium is QC-level GK. Still, all done, all green … and now quickly forgotten.

    Many thanks John for the blog and in anticipation for the Sunday Special

    1. I figured Sc must be the symbol for scandium, and figured further that there’s an element called scandium. And thought that scand/scand made for a poor clue.

  20. 16:17 (James VI visits Scotland for the first time in 14 years)

    I found this very hard. I needed pen and paper to untangle GREETINGS CARD, and nearly gave up after spending several minutes trying to get TRICEPS, being one of many to think short time = T.

    Thanks John and Myles

  21. Better think trice
    Chastened by a crossword I could hardly shove anything into, but sheer bloody-mindedness earned a check-out time of 18.12. Just not making the connections in the internal Thesaurus.
    However, post-solve I did like the doubles in the grid, starting with Charade Night (soon to be headed by Ant and Dec?), The Therm Scandal of recent years, countered by the honest stance and the “more power to your elbow” triceps extra. And is a Turin Hacksaw a mafia euphemism?
    You might like to check the downs for yourselves.

  22. Well that was hard. Accidentally revealed HONEST and still struggled to cross the line. Not enough time or space to list the many clues that caused me problems but highlights include TRICEPS, TESTATE and STANCE (all biffed). Normally love a challenging QC but not really feeling it today for some reason. Thanks for the blog John – much needed.

  23. This QC was difficult but it did play to my strengths i.e. with tricky wordplay and little needed in the way of GK. FOsI CHARADE and NIGHT. I’m not quick on the long clues so I skipped over them until more checkers were in play but the long downs came before the acrosses and I parsed INDETERMINATE after submitting. Like Jack my last two were AGREE and TESTATE in 8:23.

  24. 12:11 but…

    …another pink square (that’s two QCs in a row) this time for HOT LIST – oh well.

    Having said that I note I also failed on Myles’ previous grid in early January.

    Definitely a tough crossword but enjoyable nonetheless – never heard of that version of BRIDGE, tried VICIOUSNESS early on but didn’t fit until you enter….. ah!

    Thanks John and Myles

  25. DNF, beaten by the AGREE / TRICEPS crossover after 20 minutes.

    I noticed earlier this week that my installation of Windows has been updated to include Copilot, Microsoft’s AI tool. Having given up on the crossword, out of curiosity I asked Copilot for a five-letter word meaning “to do the opposite”. It replied with “revert”. I pointed out that that’s got six letters and it apologised, suggesting “revert” as an alternative. I don’t think Skynet is going to be taking over imminently.

    1. Given the state of the world’s politicians, I’d suggest a stubborn refusal to reconsider its ignorance might actually line it up quite nicely for a takeover.

  26. I found it hard and agree with the blogger on his small criticisms.
    9a TRICEPS was a long time in the parsing but with the PDM a COD.
    19A biffed easily enough but the parsing was fun. John, a typo, the natural bit has two Ns, innate.
    17d CHINA, saw that it must be China but forgot to read the clue or to write the answer, so DNF. Possibly the silliest reason for a DNF.

  27. Very tough for me too and I just avoided the SCC. The difficult ones have all been mentioned by others and there were a few I couldn’t parse, including, yes, TRICEPS.

    Much the same as Prof above, I parsed 3d as ‘Something opponents may do’=DISAGREE, with ‘to do the opposite’=AGREE as the def, but that’s not quite right as it doesn’t stand as a def by itself. I still can’t get my head around TESTATE; I think you could argue for it to be a “proper” &lit with ‘finally left’ being ‘lefT’ in the wordplay and in the cryptic def reading meaning “died”. Still, I’m not going to get too fussed.

    Thanks to Myles and to John

    1. It is an &lit, the “having” in “having finally left” reduces its wow factor.
      However I will remove from my list of bad clues today!

      1. I did consider “having finally” as the final letter indicator, but I decided it didn’t work, so I still think it’s a semi-&lit.

  28. Have to agree with Cedric, amongst others, when he said, “Very tough, not very enjoyable”.

    I thought this QC was dreadful and I just could not get enthused by it.

    Let’s see what the Daily Telegraph cryptic brings me today. Next week, I hope, will be better.

    My verdict: Dreadful
    Pumpa’s verdict: HISSSS! SCRATCH!!!

    1. Opinions are opinions, PW, and we all have them, rightly or wrongly, but regularly dismissing the efforts of expert setters as ‘dreadful’ and ‘awful’ is not constructive and quite frankly becoming a little tiresome. Choosing individual clues to criticise and giving reasons would be another matter.

      1. And I am becoming quite tired of people like you who try to bully and force their opinions onto me.

        This QC for me was dreadful. For me. Not for you or anybody else. For me.

        If you don’t like my opinions then either block me so you can’t see them, stop reading my posts or ban me.

        I am sick to death of people like you not allowing me to have an opinion without trying to belittle me.

  29. Well, where to start – that was certainly (one of) my problem(s) today. Night was my only entry in the top half of the grid for far too long. The SE corner was more accommodating, with the Hacksaw and Wheel double act returning by popular demand, quickly followed by China and Scandal. Indeterminate (plus parsing) then gave me enough confidence to slowly work my way back up the grid. However my 30min cut off arrived with Triceps, Agree and Vicariousness (who/what?) still extant, so stumps were eagerly pulled for a welcome DNF. I think it’s fair to say that Myles is not my favourite setter. Invariant

  30. I’m with Pumpa. In fact I simply stopped doing it once I got AGREE, because I thought it was such a rubbish clue.


    Thanks John.


  31. I suggested in my comments on Tuesday that we had been set two easy ones to start the week, and that we were due for something a good deal harder. Well, the setters didn’t disappoint did they, by completing the week with another toughie after two harder than average puzzles on Wednesday and Thursday.
    Looking at some of the comments posted, I’m pleased that I finished with all correct and in a time of 11.22, although this was for the third day running outside my target time.
    My total time for the week was 56.16, giving me a daily average of 11.15. Bearing in mind the degree of difficulty for the last three days, I think I’m relatively happy with that.

  32. Well I did finish this but it took me 34 minutes. It’s not worth listing all the ones I couldn’t parse, most of which have already been mentioned anyway. Too many of the answers bore only a tenuous connection to the clue in my opinion, so much so that I still don’t really “get” them despite John’s excellent blog.

    FOI – 1ac CHARADE
    LOI – 3dn AGREE
    COD – 18dn WHEEL

  33. Much too hard for me despite getting 1A and 5A immediately. After such a good start the wheel came off and I DNF in a big way. I hope for kinder setters in the future.

  34. Well, looking at the Quitch we’re now feeling pretty happy with coming in about on par, perhaps a little slower, at 13:40. That, however, was only by entering LOI STANCE with fingers crossed as we had no clue how it worked. Thank you, John, for the explanation! Clever clue, Myles; TRICEPS also had us puzzled for a while.

  35. 17 minutes, LOI TRICEPS unparsed-tough.
    And I made a mistake; add me to the Hot List.
    Nothing much new to say but on reflection I think 8a is very good -the V word.
    I liked it apart from SCANDAL.

  36. 35 mins…

    Whilst I completed this, I can’t think of many other QC’s where I had at least 4 clues unparsed: 9ac “Triceps”, 3dn “Agree”, 13ac “Stance” and 7dn “Testate” all left me scratching my head somewhat. Definitely a tough one to end the week with those long answers that straddled the grid.

    FOI – 4dn “Egoist”
    LOI – 3dn “Agree”
    COD – 11dn “Hit List”

    Thanks as usual!

  37. A Friday workout!! Having started with CHARADE and EGOIST, the NW yielded no more so I moved on. On returning, I tried MO, MIN and SEC to start 9a, but got nowhere until I thought of PS for something extra, then the penny dropped and COVET arrived too, which kick-started VICARIOUSNESS. I failed to parse STANCE and peered at AGREE through the mist. Spotted TESTATE ok though. HIT LIST took a while and mutated from HOT SHOT to HOT LIST to the final version. AGREE was LOI. 12:05. Thanks Myles and John.

  38. Strangely this went pretty fast for this novice, coming in at 19:18–but I never parsed 13A or 19A. And 19A went in with only one checker; a little voice just whispered “INDETERMINATE” and I went with it. It probably helped for 3D that in my part of the world we say “agree to disagree”. (We “beg to differ” though.)

    Several really enjoyable clues, notably 3D, 4D, 12D, and 7D. Thanks Myles and John!

  39. Very surprised by the general consensus that this was hard. We breezed through in 16 mins as close to a PB. Admittedly some were inspired guesses and others got just from the definition rather than working out the cryptic wordplay

  40. Well, Myles is my nemesis – after a pretty good week, I went in and then out the other side of the SCC today, and threw in the towel after half an hour with two left. Sorry to be negative, but I didn’really like this one – even when I struggle, I usually still enjoy the challenge, but today found myself getting a bit bored.
    Perhaps we need to see Myles more often so we can get used to his style – it seems to be a lot more convoluted than most other quickie setters.
    Having said that, I did really like GREETINGS CARD, and SCANDAL got a tick too. I didn’t know the element but took a punt on Sc.
    FOI Night DNF with TRICEPS and AGREE to go. I realised 9a must be anatomical in some way, but couldn’t get past tendon!
    Thanks anyway Myles, and to John for the much needed help

  41. A couple of 8 minuters in a row. A good Friday test. A lot of red on the Quitch!



  42. Needed aids for almost half the clues. Definitely not on Myles’s wavelength but a useful learning experience thanks to the blog.

  43. Second QC in a row where I struggled, did actually finish only after biffing TRICEPS and VICARIOUSNESS which I thought meant something else.

  44. Finished after an hour, several visits and a lot of biffing.
    Definitely at the hard end of the spectrum and the Quick Snitch bears this out.
    Still it was a useful exercise in solving harder clues and there was lots to enjoy.
    LOI: Would never have parsed STANCE in a month of Sundays.
    Thanks both.

  45. 40.22 And I thought yesterday’s was tough! At the end TESTATE took an age, TRICEPS took another five minutes and I biffed STANCE to finish. Thanks John and Myles.

  46. DNF. In retrospect I should have got TRICEPS from definition, but was stuck on time being T, and couldn’t get the added piece, having already been held up by my POI AGREE. This so often happens to me – I sail through the rest of the crossword, then come to a grinding halt with the last two. There were some great clues here, though. Particularly liked the clever TESTATE and STANCE. I suspect Myles sets for the 15×15 too – even the easy ones like SCANDAL are beautiful surfaces.


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