Times Quick Cryptic No 2629 by Jalna

A friendly puzzle from Jalna.

Lots of good surfaces at an approachable level of difficulty: there were quite a lot of straight charade type clues, along with quite a lot of the usual-suspect abbreviations and bits hiding in plain sight. I crept in under 5 minutes, which doesn’t happen that often.

Good, breezy fun – many thanks to Jalna!

7 Protest line is hard to break apart (8)
DEMOLISH – DEMO (protest) L(ine) IS H(ard)
8 Clothing made with bits of decorative stitching (4)
VEST – made with “bits” of decoratiVE STitching
9 Baskets caught river fish (6)
CREELS – C(aught) R(iver) EELS (fish)
10 Driving event undoubtedly lacks energy (5)
RALLY – REALLY (undoubtedly) lacks E(nergy)
11 Working group, we hear, for vineyard (3)
CRU – we hear the same as CREW (working group)
12 Flood ruins renovated hospital (6)
INRUSH – Anagram (renovated) of RUINS, H(ospital)
14 Careless agent accepting cut (6)
SLOPPY – SPY (agent) accepting LOP (cut)
16 Powerful, firm guy (6)
COGENT – CO. (firm) GENT (guy)
18 Box of significant weight next to vehicle (6)
CARTON – TON (significant weight) next to CAR (vehicle)
19 Lady’s husband about to retire (3)
HER – H(usband), RE (about) to retire = to reverse. Neat.
20 Celebrate birthday partly around family (5)
TRIBE – “partly” “around” in celebratE BIRThday
21 Song using a new, recurring melody for the most part (6)
ANTHEM – A N(ew) THEMe (recurring melody) “for the most part”
23 Force me, every now and then, to let go (4)
FREEF o R c E m E “every now and then”
24 Drunken yob tries not drinking (8)
SOBRIETY – anagram (drunken) of YOB TRIES
1 Criticise possible output of rotten AI (4,4)
TEAR INTO – anagram (possible output of) ROTTEN AI
2 Nasty ogre creating bloodshed (4)
GORE – anagram (nasty) of OGRE
3 Trashy equipment given to school (6)
KITSCH – KIT (equipment) given to SCH(ool)
4 Singers from Switzerland or America (6)
CHORUS – CH (Switzerland) OR US (America)
5 Nothing interrupts reviled, dishevelled criminal (8)
EVILDOER – O (nothing) interrupts an anagram (dishevelled) of REVILED
6 Pale-coloured tree close to abbey (4)
ASHY – ASH (tree) Y (“close” to abbeY)
13 Manchester team claiming senior journalist is lacking refinement (8)
UNEDITED – UNITED (Manchester team) claiming ED. (senior journalist)
15 Decent, extremely tidy real estate (8)
PROPERTY – PROPER (decent) TY (“extremely” TidY)
17 The first person who believes (6)
18 Bad-tempered whine about a couple of books (6)
CRABBY – CRY (whine) about A and BB (couple of Books)
20 Bitter found to have no head (4)
TART – to found = to start, ditch the head.
22 One of two siblings doesn’t ultimately achieve success (4)
TWIN – T (doesnT “ultimately”) WIN (achieve success)


80 comments on “Times Quick Cryptic No 2629 by Jalna”

  1. This was all rather straightforward except I NHO CREELS so I didn’t know if I was looking for fish or a basket

    1. I thought the same as you Paul —but I shrugged and moved on because it was so obviously what the setter was looking for.

      When I checked later though I found that, while the usual dictionaries seemed to confirm our view, both the Chambers and the Roget’s thesaurus give tart as a synonym for bitter—and bitter as a synonym for tart—so, with a nod to Jalna, I think am just going to have to put that down as my lesson for the day 🙂

    2. you’re right…tartness is a result of acidity, whereas bitter flavours, eg coffee and black chocolate, are alkaline…

  2. 8.07, held up for ages at the end by TRIBE only to find it was a reverse hidden, doh! I thought this was a perfectly pitched QC with a lot of easy ones and some that were quite tricky. A lot of fun, thanks Jaina and Roly.

    1. No, I did too, upper case I looks identical to lower case l in the font used, wasted a lot of time in the nw corner, grrrrr.

  3. 8 minutes with not a single note or working in the margins, suggesting this was very much at the easier end of the spectrum.

    Nice to see CREEL again. One of those words I learnt from Telegraph crosswords decades ago and have never forgotten.

  4. I found this hard and gave up after 30 minutes with DEMOLISH and the nho CREELS to go.
    Not a good week so far with 0/4.
    Thanks to Jalna and Roly 👍

    1. Just have to reply to you, to say thank you for your comfort – with everyone else saying it was “friendly”, “easier”, “perfectly pitched”, “straightforward” and so on, with timings all under 10 minutes. So I’m not alone … NHO CREEL (ok, have now – but I think this is its first outing since I started), TRIBE too difficult to see, “Bitter found” is tricky, and must now remember KITSCH is deemed to = trashy (not quite as simple as that? – my dictionary says tawdry, vulgarized, pretentious).

      1. No, you’re certainly not alone! But some in here have been doing cryptics for decades and find them easy. Me, I’ve been doing them for about 8 years and don’t seem to really improve much. (If anything I’ve got slower as I approach my late 60s, which is a tad worrying.) However I shall plod on, now in the knowledge that my pedestrian achievements can bring comfort to others 😂

        1. I found this fairly difficult to finish too. I thought of both TRIBE and START but couldn’t see why. Found to start is a clever direction which I failed to see.

  5. I also found this quite tough, entering the portals of the SCC in 25:56. So, yesterday’s blistering (for me) performance was just a flash in the pan (not Flash & The Pan, a quirky but much-listened-to band from my younger days).

    Could not parse TART. TRIBE came from brute force with checkers in place, but never saw the hidden until I came here.

    Hey ho. Happy Thursday everyone. Pi ❤️

    1. Your Flash & The Pan mention reminded me of the very versatile George Young who was also a member of 60s band The Easybeats, and brother of course to Angus and Malcolm Young of AC/DC – he also wrote ‘Love Is In The Air’, a big hit for John Paul Young (no relation)

      1. I’m embarrassed to say, I don’t really know The Easybeats, but AC/DC Thunderstruck is a massive favourite in our family, especially when it gets cranked up to full blast in the car driving through the Highlands on a sunny day (rare!).

        1. Have you seen/heard AC/DC’s Thunderstruck played on two cellos? If not, you should look it up on YouTube. An amazing watch. And don’t be put off by the period costume stuff at the beginning.

          1. Wow. Thank you for the recommendation, they are amazing. It also led me to Whole Lotta Love vs Beethoven’s 5th Symphony, also on YouTube. That’s how Jimi Hendrix would have played the cello!
            I often have a similar time to you with the QC. Today it was around 24 minutes – I solve on paper with glance at my watch at the start and finish. Us regulars in the SCC must stick together.

      2. Absolute Australian rock royalty (well, we claim them anyway). Mustn’t forget Harry Vanda, the other half, of course!
        Another excellent QC – gettable cluing offset by tougher grid.
        Thanks Jalna (a tasty yoghurt in Australia), Roly and Mike.

        1. George Young, Harry Vanda, these guys were phenomenally talented musos. Never heard of the Easybeats? All I can say is (bearing in mind tomorrow’s crossword) that I’ve got Friday on my mind….

  6. Mild for Jalna but still a firm test. Like others I couldn’t parse TRIBE, perhaps not surprising because if took me several goes to get FREE despite being sure what was going on – seeing things in front of my face not my strong point today. Loved DEMOLISH, I just could separate ‘protest’ from ‘line’ until the checkers gave it away. Wouldn’t have been able to define CRU or CREELS before sitting down but they came to me. All green in 11.

  7. This took a while to get started but once in got through the right half then steadily down the left side once Mrs RH saw Creels which is NHO for me. Also cru NHO as vineyard but easily clued.

    Lots of clever surfaces, COD to anthem, very nice.

    Tribe and tart took the last three of exactly 20 minutes. Didn’t parse tribe until hastily typed trying unsuccessfully to get under 20 only to then see the reverse hidden. Forgot what we call the Tina mantra, if you can’t make any sense of it, it’s probably a hidden!

  8. After a very odd solve I’m still not sure what to make of this puzzle. I found it very difficult to get started, and dotted around the grid trying to find a way in with most clues making no sense. Then the dam burst, and the answers started coming, and in the end I finished in a quite respectable (for me) 11½ minutes. Which at 4 minutes, 2 clues done looked most unlikely.

    And then I come here and find the consensus is that this was Jalna at his/her most friendly. Is this the elusive wavelength thingy (as in, I was certainly not on it when I started)?

    Anyway, I now sit back with a completed puzzle and can start to appreciate the cleverness of the clues. Which I didn’t at the time.

    Many thanks Roly for the blog

    1. Sounds like you just needed to get some checkers on the board. The better I’ve got, the more I’ve seen how my brain is able to zone in on answers from just having one or two letters in place.

  9. Mostly gentle, despite the tricky grid, with a breezeblock at the end for the TART/TRIBE combo. One day I’ll remember to check for hiddens when nothing else makes sense!!
    An enjoyable solve finished in 7.08.
    Thanks to roly

  10. A super fast solve for me today at just over 7 minutes—maybe even a personal best—so I would put this at the easier end of the QC scale.

    But a nice little Times crossword nonetheless.

  11. My first-letter dependency showed up badly today. Either that or the late night, but I’m going with the FLD. Got badly stuck on my last trio of CREELS, TART and TRIBE and limped home in 09:44 for a Poor Day. COD to ANTHEM.

    Many thanks Jalna and roly.


  12. 8:00 (martyrdom of St Alkmund)

    This took a while to get going, with only half the across clues entered on first pass, then the down clues all fell into place. I agree with those who have TART meaning acidic rather than bitter.

    Thanks Jalna and Roly

  13. 6.01

    A PB since I joined the group and started to use a stopwatch. Would have broken 6’ if I’d seen the EVILDOER at first sight instead of needing the checkers.

    Thanks all.

  14. Very pleased to see I wasn’t the only one who couldn’t parse TRIBE. So obvious when you know. The Tina mantra sounds a good one to remember! Thanks Jalna and Roly.

  15. 11:07, nothing too tough here

    CREELS a tough word, no idea why I knew it. And and COGENT to INDOLENT earlier this week as a word I see fairly often, but don’t really know what it means.

    Also did not parse HER. TART/TRIBE combo was last in.

    COD TEAR INTO, and surface is highly topical

  16. 5:28

    I was at 4:50 with just two to go, but TART and TRIBE just needed that extra level of thinking. But for one of those portcullis grids, where first letters are less easy to come by, this was generally pretty friendly. Don’t know why I’m familiar with CREELS, just one of those words that has stuck like a barnacle to the bottom of my brain.

    Thanks Jalna and Roly

  17. Not too difficult, and even managed to spot the well hidden Tribe, but still nudged into a window seat next to the driver by loi Creels. One of those impossible clues that suddenly become straightforward when you have the answer. CoD, by a country mile, to 17d Theist for the chestnutty surface. Invariant

  18. Did while waiting for the train to London – no problems, no unknowns, very gentle. I know from Jalna’s 15×15 reveals that he can certainly rack it up when he wants to, so he’s being jolly kind today. Liked LOI COGENT – I so nearly bunged in potent from the crossers, but fortunately checked whether it parsed first!

  19. Not too bad. Like Plett, I was held up by the TART/TRIBE pair, and facepalmed when I realised TRIBE was a hidden. For once, a portcullis didn’t trigger my FLD (TM Templar).

    I liked UNEDITED and THEIST.


  20. I completed this one, albeit with quite a bit of help from the Orange one.

    However, I really didn’t like this one. I just found it uninspiring , and toward the end I just wanted to get it over and done with.


    My verdict: 😴
    Pumpa’s verdict: 🐩

  21. Very slow in SW, not helped by biffing Sir for Lady’s husband at first. Finally a PDM with THEIST. Then LOI TRIBE with a groan. Hidden in plain sight.
    Felt a bit smug knowing Confédération Helvétique for Switzerland but mostly I was a bit dim today, as not that difficult a puzzle. Liked SOBRIETY, CRABBY, DEMOLISH, CARTON.
    Thanks vm, Roly.

      1. Isn’t it from confoederatio helvetica, Latin being neutral as it were in a land of so many official languages?

        1. I’d always thought it was Cantons of Helvetia or some transliteration of the same, so I’ve learnt something today – thanks!

  22. I found this fairly straightforward finishing in 7.49. Like others, I was a little held up at the end by TART and then finally TRIBE. I eventually found the reversed hidden and all was well.

  23. Slow to spot the anagram in TEAR INTO. Was looking for a cryptic but should have noticed no ‘?’ (doh). Also held up at the last by TART/TRIBE, very belatedly spotting the hidden. Otherwise fairly plain sailing today. Misdirected at first by clever clue for HER which gets COD. Many thanks Jalna and roly.

  24. I liked the connection between creels (9a) that can be defined as an anglers basket that caught river fish!

  25. Tricky grid and some tricky clues. Some of the definitions made me frown- CRU, UNEDITED,INRUSH (when Onrush would be normal for me, but the anagram forced it).
    Anyway I got it all after 17 minutes with some time on my last two UNEDITED and TRIBE.
    Not wanting to be crabby, I liked HER, and TRIBE when I got it.

  26. I absolutely ripped through this, and was looking at a sub 3 minute solve – but then I breezeblocked in the same place as numerous others. I find that my dyspraxia is a real hindrance when it comes to reverse hiddens.

    TIME 3:34

  27. 10.11 Mostly very quick again with three minutes spent on COGENT, TRIBE and TART at the end. Stuck on the wrong meaning of found, I never did parse TART. Thanks rolytoly and Jalna.

  28. I was looking at repeating yesterday’s time of 12 minutes (fast for me) until I got breezeblocked by the TRIBE/TART combination, This added a couple of minutes, taking me to a respectable 14 minutes, all parsed. I nearly managed to get all the down answers on first reading, failing only on the last three. This would have been a first and I suspect it might be a while until I come that close again.

    FOI – 8ac VEST
    LOI – 20dn TART
    CODs – 9ac CREELS and 24ac SOBRIETY

    Thanks to Jalna and Rolytoly

  29. Despite the less than helpful grid I fared well. FOI the hidden VEST and LOI the reverse hidden TRIBE. EVILDOER was a late solve requiring all the checkers despite seeing the anagram fodder. TEAR INTO was another requiring checkers. COD to TART for surface reading and brevity. 7-Eleven.

  30. Just under 10 minutes. Not too difficult but another victim of the TRIBE / TART combo at the end which extended my solving time.

    Thanks to Jalna and Roly

  31. 7.08

    My problem is not forgetting to think about hiddens and reverse hiddens but peering successfully at the tiny type on my phone!

    Pleasant puzzle

    Thanks all

  32. I see I’m not alone! If it hadn’t been for the TRIBE/TART pair, this would have been my first clean top to bottom sweep. As it happens TART arrived just before TRIBE, and I then saw the hidden. Doh! 6:21. Thanks Jalna and Roly.

  33. Looks like I’m out on a limb on this one as I have recorded a DNF, even after biffing TART and ASHY (NHO – only ASHEN). Just didn’t see the anagram for 1d, didn’t recall CREELS for 9a, didn’t associate COGENT with poweful for 16a, and didn’t see TRIBE hidden backwards for 20a. A very bad day.

    1. Chambers has ASHEN and ASHY as having different meanings. ASHEN can indeed mean very pale (faced), but ASHY is simply the adjective for ASH, ie silvery-grey and/or dusty. So I’m not entirely sure Jalna’s “pale-coloured” is correct.

  34. It was all going so well until I hit the SW corner and had to give up on 20a&d. I realised what was needed for 20d but couldn’t get Start for Found and was convinced that there must be a word meaning celebrate which had kin in the middle of it. A pathetic DNF.

  35. 11:40 here. In common with almost everyone else, TRIBE and TART were the last two in, and there was a pause of a few seconds for thought before the penny dropped on which sense of “found” was required for the latter.

    Thanks to rolytoly and Jalna.

  36. A missed opportunity! With just two to go after 15 minutes, I was comfortably on track for a second successive SCC escape – but those two, TART and TRIBE, refused to play ball and held me up for a further 13 minutes.

    I couldn’t think of a synonym for Bitter and found = sTART never occurred to me. With TRIBE, I thought Celebrate was the definition and never saw the reverse hidden. As both words started with the same T, I was forced to engage in two massive alphabet trawls. Not a pleasant experience, which was a shame as the rest of the puzzle was very enjoyable.

    By the way, I have come to realise that my most limiting (undeveloped?) competence in this game is the ability (or inability) to conjour up the right (or even any) synonym quickly. I’m quick with numbers and OK nowadays with cryptic clue structures, but very slow with words. Must be different parts of the brain.

    Many thanks to Jalna and Roly.

    1. Yes, I always think those with an art/literature background have an in-built advantage over maths/science when it comes to crosswords.

  37. 15:58 with about five mins spent at the end on the TRIBE/TART (loi) pairing. Until I spotted the reverse hidden I couldn’t get past blood or kin=family. Even without the hidden, need to put tribe into the synonym list.

    For the most part, I found it was very friendly albeit CRU, ASHY, HER were somewhat shrugs and SLOPPY, INRUSH were a bit slow.

    2nd escape of the week so I will settle for that

  38. DNF defeated by Tribe, thinking the I must be in Kin for family. Otherwise enjoyed solving the other clues. Thanks all

  39. Eventually got TRIBE but couldn’t parse it. I also could not get kin = family out of my mind. If a word gets stuck in your mind like a song, is it an earworm or a mindworm?!

  40. 24:11

    A steady solve, should have been around the 16 minute mark but took forever on last 2 despite this meaning of found coming up all the time to give TART then missed the hidden word for LOI TRIBE.

  41. 16:43
    Solved after a lot of cider.
    So roughly par score
    Got held up by creels and tribe.
    cod tribe

  42. 18 minutes

    Any satisfaction I might have felt at escaping the SCC was crushed when I read all those posts saying it was easy/gentle/a write in etc. Sometimes I regret reading the comments as they only serve to make me feel depressed and exacerbate my lack of confidence .

    Ultimately another day when my self-esteem took a battering. If this was ‘friendly’, I might as well give up because I’m never going to get it.


    1. I took much longer than you did, but mostly enjoyed it. Why don’t you turn off the clock and do the puzzles for fun? These speedsters have mostly been crosswording for years and years.

  43. 28 mins…

    Realised I’d forgotten to put my time down for this. If memory serves me right, I ended up doing this in a couple of sessions and that it wasn’t straight forward.

    FOI – 2dn “Gore”
    LOI – not sure
    COD – 19ac “Her” – simple, it effective.

    Thanks as usual!

  44. Nearly didn’t bother with this when I saw the setter’s name. Changed my mind and was pleasantly surprised. Can’t see how retire = return though. About right for difficulty I thought.


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