Times Quick Cryptic No 2676 by Jalna

Solving time: 7:11

I’d say this is gentle off-breaks rather than medium-pace from Jalna – no unknown words, though I do wonder how many will be left, like me, with 6d as their final entry – it certainly didn’t spring into my mind though I could see that IT belonged in there somewhere.

17a has come up quite recently in the 15×15 with the same definition so should be fairly fresh in the minds of those that attempt the bigger puzzle.

What did you make of it?

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

1 Lasting changes in each key group of counties (4,6)
EAST ANGLIA – Anagram [changes] of LASTING inside EA (each) A (key)

Spent more than a few seconds thinking that the definition read ‘group of countries’ rather than ‘group of counties’!

7 Clock, perhaps, to send back (5)
TIMERREMIT (to send) reversed [back]

Definition by example indicated by ‘perhaps’

8 Middle parts in clue edited (6)
NUCLEI – Anagram [edited] of IN CLUE
10 Orioles regularly abandoned eggs (3)
ROE – Every other letter [regularly abandoned] of Orioles
12 One new translation flipping everything on its head? (9)
INVERSIONI (One) N (new) VERSION (translation)
13 River creature going after river rat (6)
ROTTEROTTER (River creature) going after R (river)
14 Less attractive fruit about to be returned (6)
UGLIERUGLI (fruit) RE (about) reversed [to be returned]

The real name of the UGLI fruit is the Jamaican tangelo, a natural hybridisation of a tangerine or orange with a grapefuit (or pomelo), discovered growing wild around 1917.

UGLI is a registered trademark of Cabel Hall Citrus Limited, under which it markets the fruit, the name being a variation of the word “ugly”, referring to the fruit’s unsightly appearance of rough, wrinkled, greenish-yellow rind.

17 Zany crew gatecrashing start of school dance (9)
SCREWBALLCREW inserted into [gatecrashing] S{chool} [start of i.e. first letter of] then BALL (dance)

SCREWBALL comedy, which gets its name from a type of breaking pitch in baseball where the ball goes in the opposite direction to other types of breaking pitch, was a popular film subgenre of the romantic comedy genre, putting the emphasis on the spoofing of love.

Typical elements included fast-paced overlapping repartee, farcical situations, escapist themes, the battle of the sexes, disguise and masquerade amidst plot lines often involving courtship and marriage (or re-marriage).

The first film credited as a screwball was Three-Cornered Moon (1933) starring Claudette Colbert.

19 Self-esteem, say, zero (3)
EGOEG (say) O (zero)
20 Influence of fine performer (6)
FACTORF (fine) ACTOR (performer)
21 Pipes from bath emptied slowly at first (5)
TUBESTUB (bath) then first letters [at first] of of E{mptied} S{lowly}
23 Modern area bordered by Stepney Rd after renovation (7-3)
PRESENT-DAYA (area) surrounded by [bordered by] anagram [after renovation] of STEPNEY RD
1 Venture to break in with force (10)
ENTERPRISEENTER (break in) PRISE (force)
2 The whole amount — or a little, we’re told (3)
SUM – Homophone [we’re told] of SOME (a little)
3 Hotel ditched by very fine travel company (7)
AIRLINE – H (Hotel) ditched i.e. removed from HAIRLINE (very fine)
4 Vegan travelling round European city (6)
GENEVA – Anagram [travelling] of VEGAN round E (European)

Just so happens that GENEVA is a European city.

5 Suffer in pain, curiously (5)
INCUR – Hidden [in] in pain, curiously

The comma is of course, ignored

6 Firm to explain about computers, etc (8)
DEFINITEDEFINE (explain) about IT (computers, etc)

Wonder how many will be breeze-blocked as I was by the four vowel checkers…

9 Incredibly sour lemon mixed with last bit of honey (10)
ENORMOUSLY – Anagram [mixed] of SOUR LEMON with last bit i.e. last letter of {hone}Y

Example – She is ENORMOUSLY/incredibly talented at playing the piano.

11 Superficial former partner learnt to change (8)
EXTERNALEX (former partner) then anagram [to change] of LEARNT
15 Setter using extremely gauche, outdated language (7)
GELATIN – End letters [extremely] of G{auch}E then LATIN (outdated language)
16 A daughter entering before sons and fathers (6)
PADRESA D (daughter) inserted into [entering] PRE (before) then S (sons)
18 Server dropping one drink (5)
WATERWAITER (Server) with the I (one) removed [dropping]
22 Attempt to get British passport? (3)
BIDB (British) ID (passport?)


64 comments on “Times Quick Cryptic No 2676 by Jalna”

  1. I am definitely NOT one of those whose LOI was 6dn DEFINITE, because I threw in the towel at 15 for a DNF when I couldn’t get it. The alphabet-trawl options were just too vast but the clue was perfectly sound. To complete the debacle I then found I had forgotten to finish PADRE, so I might just file this one away and move on. I’m not really satisfied that incredibly and ENORMOUSLY mean the same thing though obviously there will be millions of examples, I just think it is a bit slack. Thank you Jalna and thank you Mike for that interesting dissertation on SCREWBALL. After messing this up I will hold close to the memorable words from that classic screwball comedy Gone with the Wind, tomorrow is another day…

  2. 15:41. PADRES and GELATIN were favourites. I had trouble getting past HOME or WEST for the first word in EAST ANGLIA

  3. 12 minutes of which the last 2 were spent on alphabet-trawling the seemingly impenetrable ?E?I?I?E at 5dn. The only thing obvious was that IT was going to be part of it, but which ‘I’ would the ‘T’ follow? I can’t recall now whether the answer came to me as a result of the dogged trawl or suddenly as a inspired biff.

    My first thought for 1ac had been ‘West Country’ which would have required an extra space but I found it hard after that to get WEST out of my brain.

  4. I’m another that read ‘counties’ as ‘countries’ so I had to come back round for EAST ANGLIA. Stumped by ENTERPRISE until I realised I put in ‘remit’ for TIMER, with the right checker it jumped out and gave me the E I needed to get the counties too. From there pretty quick until DEFINITE where like Jackkt I tried IT in both positions before the second alphatrawl bore fruit. Including a break to fetch a pen that worked I ended up all green in 17. Enjoyed GELATIN.

  5. A difficult one for me, throwing in the towel after 30 minutes after failing to see AIRLINE. Putting REMIT instead of TIMER slowed me down greatly and meant that ENTERPRISE was far too long in coming.
    So a DNF consigns me to the Special Table, yet again, and spoils my week’s clean sheet so far. Hohum. I liked GELATIN the most.
    Thanks to Mike and Jalna.

    1. Our progress was also slowed considerably by me making the same mistake. COD also GELATIN and LOI (surprise, surprise!) DEFINITE. Don’t have an exact time but it was not far short of 20 minutes. Still to achieve par this week. Thanks, Mike and Jalna.

  6. Another one of those crosswords that, at 20 minutes, took me way over my usual breakfast 10-15 but, when looking back after I had completed it, it was hard to see what had taken me so long.

    No problems with 6D which went in without having to think too hard but I stared blankly at the anagram for 9D for far too long.

    All in all, a top quality QC from my standpoint. Albeit at the tougher end of the scale.

  7. 12 minutes but WOE, as my alphabet trawl produced DECISIVE for 6D. It certainly fits the letters, it fits the definition Firm, shame about the parsing.

    I expect I should have tried harder, but I confess I wasn’t that invested in this one. It remains something that puzzles me – why do some crosswords really enthuse me, and others leave me more cold. It is not to do with difficulty, or my speed through the clues, and I think it is more to do with loose definitions: I notice looking back over my comments that remarks that “X does not really mean Y” seem to be quite frequent.

    Today we have the Incredibly/Enormously pair, and yes one can construct a link (as Mike has in his blog), but it is loose. As is describing East Anglia as “a group of counties” – where is the poetry in that? Could one not find a reference to a proud ancient kingdom, at one time ruled by Raedwald, one of the most powerful of the early Saxon kings?

    Anyway, a long ramble to explain why I quit while I was behind on 6D, and duly got my reward of a few pink squares. One moves on, and as LindsayO says, “tomorrow is another day”.

    Many thanks Mike for the blog

  8. Add me to those who misread 1a and therefore had to search elsewhere for an initial foothold. Other than that I made good progress through this until hitting my last two in.
    Started with TIMER and finished with AIRLINE (after having a sudden revelation over DEFINITE) in 7.19. COD to GELATIN for the surface.
    Thanks to Mike

  9. We had the same kind of feeling as Cedric, didn’t really enjoy this but hard to say exactly why, a few of the clues just seemed a little clunky. We too raised an eyebrow for enormously.

    After looking at the crossers for the same LOI for a minute we took to the thesaurus for explain and define jumped out to finish in 22.46

    COD to Geneva.

    Thanks Jalna, and to Mike, especially for the parsing of padres.

  10. I’m with Lindsay on failing to get DEFINITE and with Cedric and Roundabout on simply not feeling the joy with some puzzles, including this one. Hard to put my finger on why. Still, doesn’t mean I’m not grateful to Jalna for it; I am, thanks.

    Thanks too, MikeH for the blog.

  11. 10:50 (Macbeth, stepfather of Lulach the Unfortunate, makes pilgrimage to Rome)

    I was definitely breezeblocked by my LOI DEFINITE.

    I liked GELATIN, and wasted time assuming “setter” meant ME or I.

    Thanks Mike and Jalna

  12. Well I enjoyed that. It felt cunning, like arguing against an opponent who subtly shifts their ground every time you think you’re getting on top. Even three letter clues like SUM and BID gave pause for thought. I especially liked AIRLINE, INVERSION and UGLIER.

    LOI and breezeblock special was inevitably DEFINITE. What a lot of vowels! Fortunately D is early in the alphabet and I got there in the end for slightly above par 08:27 for a Decent Enough Day.

    Many thanks Jalna and Mike.


  13. 13 minutes. Like many others DEFINITE was my LOI by some margin and I was another to mis-read ‘counties’ as “countries” at 1a which gave me a slow start as well. I had trouble with INVERSION along the way so I was happy to finish with all in correctly.

    Thanks to Jalna and Mike

  14. I was also DEFINITEly delayed for my LOI, it popped into my brain just as I was about to give up – maybe I should contemplate giving up sooner / more often. Or just get better. Once solved it seems obvious, despite the unhelpful checkers. Hmm.
    Deep into the SCC, way at the back past the coatracks but glad to finish.
    Pleased to see our late and much missed colleague ROTTER honoured in the grid. I still miss his contributions, and thought of him when “Jollies” popped up earlier this week.

  15. Oh dear, exhausting and not that enjoyable. I couldn’t get going today and hopped slowly around the grid at random.
    I too biffed Decisive for 6d despite thinking it ought to contain IT. LOI AIRLINE. Another who misread Counties, but reached E Anglia in the end. Maybe some of us need new glasses.
    Thanks vm for blog, Mike.

  16. Couldn’t get very many during my first 10min session before having to go out, but the second sitting was much more fruitful, albeit a bit ugly in places. . . Like others, my loi by a long way was 6d Definite. *e*i*i*e was indeed a daunting combination, but taking IT out would always leave *e*i*e, and that made define/Definite a bit easier to see. Not too many in the SCC, so there was still a good selection of window seats available. CoD to Airline for the parsing. Invariant

  17. I also read “countries” first of all, and I made slightly heavy weather of it thereafter, yet my time is decent enough. Gordon Kennedy’s dismissal of the puzzle as “disgusting” is more than a little harsh though. There were plenty of “entry level” clues to allow a decent enough start, and a little gumption thereafter was all that was needed.

    TIME 4:35

    1. Disgusting was not the right adjective but I found it a hard puzzle with few entry-level words and have been here lurking in the SCC for about four years, I think!

  18. DNF – DEFINITE & PADRES defeated me. A bit of a struggle all round – definitely not on Jalna’s wavelength.

  19. 10:12

    Another with LOI DEFINITE extending time by 50%. Perhaps it’s not a great clue. Otherwise I thought it was very good.

    Thanks Mike and Jalna

  20. All green except that indeed, breeze-blocked I was by -E-I-I-E. Stared at it for ages and eventually alas had to throw in the towel.

  21. I finished todays offering in 8.27 which I generally wouldn’t get too excited about, but I had a feeling when solving it that I was just on song today, and that some may find it a little tough. Like many others my LOI was the elusive DEFINITE, but it only cost me about thirty seconds or so before the lightbulb moment. Nice to remember our old friend ROTTER at 13ac whose contributions are greatly missed.

  22. Oh dear! 24 minutes for the first 23.5 clues (very good for me) but, as with a number of others above, I was left with either _E_ItI_E or _E_I_ITE at 6d. I crawled across the line after a further 10 minutes of alphabet trawling and trying to find a suitable synonym for either ‘firm’ or ‘to explain’. By my calculations there are more than 5,000 plausible/pronounceable combinations of consonants to eliminate. Absolutely soul destroying!
    Total time = 34 minutes.

    Polite request to all setters: Please try to avoid leaving solvers having to complete long words with only vowels in the checked letter positions? It always ruins an otherwise enjoyable crossword.

    Thanks to Jalna and Mike.

      1. My gast is flabbered. Thankyou for reading and replying, Jalna. Please keep setting for the QC. My stats show that generally (for me) your crosswords are neither too difficult nor too easy, although I have yet to escape the clutches of the SCC with one of yours.

  23. This was DEFINITEly on the tricky side. LOI 6d after what seemed forever. Alarmingly, the first 6 or 7 clues eluded me, before I finally broke into the grid with ROE. Things got better thereafter, but slower than usual. Liked ENTERPRISE and SCREWBALL, both of which taxed me before I got them. Thanks to Jalna and Mike for the blog.

  24. Living in Suffolk, I enjoyed East Anglia and it went in immediately after I spotted the downs sum, Geneva and incur, so I took to this Jalna puzzle straight away. And I thought I was in for a PB until my last two crossers in the southwest held me up: factor took ages and then I just couldn’t see padres: my biff was cadres, hoping that cres had something to do with sons and fathers. Doh. So good misdirection by Jalna and great blog by Mike. Screwball had to be, but I wondered about crew being en clair part of the clue: is that customary? Gelatin made me chuckle when I suddenly got setter! My fix for the day.

    1. It’s always good to find someone else in Suffolk. Whereabouts are you, if you don’t mind me asking? I’m in… well you can work it out for yourself from my avatar and blogging name.

      1. John, I’m in the Fynn valley between Woodbridge and Ipswich. And the sun has just (at last) come out!

  25. Dnf…

    I’m afraid 6dn “Definite” defeated me. Like Mike, I knew IT had to be in there somewhere, but as there were two options, I just couldn’t see it. As “firm” is a fairly wide expression for a variety of things, it didn’t spring to mind.

    1ac “East Anglia” took far longer than it should, as I have a habit misreading “counties” as “countries”.

    FOI – 7ac “Timer”
    LOI – Dnf
    COD – 17ac “Screwball”

    Thanks as usual!

    PS. After reading some of the comments above, it seems I’m not the only one who has an issues with counties/countries.

  26. Another DNF. DEFINITE was too much for my addled brain before a long flight to New Zealand.

    Thought SETTER was very clever, couldn’t decide between “I” or “ME”.

    Need better specs after misreading “counties” as “countries”. No idea about the UGLI fruit.

  27. DNF……I couldn’t see DEFINITE. I’m not sure I would have ever come up with DEFINE to mean explain although I was on the right tracks in terms of the wordplay. Ah well.

  28. 7.51

    DEFINITE added a good minute at the end but just happy to get it. Rather a good puzzle I thought though can’t necessarily explain why. A bit tricksy; but no unknowns and some nice surfaces

  29. Loved the reference to the Setter using outdated language 🤣.
    Tough but fair. Thanks Jalna and Mike.

  30. 15.58 A poor effort. I spotted the anagrams immediately but struggled to solve them. At the end when EAST ANGLIA emerged from the checkers I realised, like many others, that I had misread the clue. Happily I didn’t waste any time on DEFINITE and spotted it quickly from the checkers. GELATIN was nice. Thanks Mike and Jalna.

  31. I found this tricky throughout, and was eventually beaten by DEFINITE after 38 minutes. I see that I wasn’t alone in misreading “countRies” in 1a, or in entering “remit” in 7a. Funny how we often make the same mistakes. COD GELATIN, where Jalna successfully mislead me with the use of “setter” in the clue.

    Thank you to Mike and Jalna!

  32. Another who can’t tell the difference between countries and counties at first glance! I was also breeze blocked with LOI, DEFINITE. I originally inserted IT in the wrong place and spent ages alpha trawling, until I moved it to the other spot and trawled for the first letter, with a eureka at D. TIMER was FOI. 13:21. Thanks Jalna and Mike.

  33. I was slow throughout, not helped by reading counties as countries. Eventually, after what seemed a very long time but was in reality 25 minutes or so, I was down to 3 clues: 1dn, 3dn and 6dn. It was then that I first realised that I had got 7ac the wrong way round. Correcting remit to TIMER led to the immediate solve of 1dn and 3dn, which left the pesky 6dn with its unhelpful crossers. I realised that IT had to be in there somewhere but couldn’t get it and eventually (at my cut-off time of 30 minutes) used an aid to solve it.

    FOI – 10ac ROE
    LOI – DNF but would have been 6dn DEFINITE
    CODs – 12ac INVERSION and 18dn WATER

    Thanks to Jalna and Mike

  34. Excellent challenge for a non-expert like myself. It took me the best part of an hour and was a very satisfying solve. Had a few eureka moments, 1a 2d 6d 16d being examples.
    Thank you Jalna for setting such a fair challenge. Nothing disgusting about it. Thanks Mike for the blog and for once I didn’t need a load of explanations – just the ugli fruit this time not heard of.

  35. I liked this one. Nice mix of write-ins and more challenging clues. Breeze-blocked by LOI AIRLINE (oh, that sort of travel company). Also totally misdirected by GELATIN, so much so that when the entirely unexpected answer emerged from the wordplay I had to smile. Very much COD. Thanks Jalna and Mike.

  36. 6:40. I see I neglected to comment earlier after solving. I had some noise distraction from the workmen in my kitchen on my kitchen replacement project which maybe slowed me down a little. Like others, the one that held me up at the end was my LOI DEFINITE. I didn’t help myself by not reading the clue properly and putting in REMIT for 7A. Doh! Nice puzzle and blog. Thank-you Jalna and Mike.

  37. I also misread 1a as ‘countries’ and ‘bloc’ kept putting itself forward in my mind. For 4d I thought it was an anagram of vegan and ‘o’ (round) which gave ‘Genova’ apparently an alternative spelling of Genoa ( a European city).

  38. 17:07, but with aids for DEFINITE and PADRES (oh, that sort of “fathers”!) COD to GELATIN. I had a MER at “superficial” for “external”, which I’m a bit surprised that no-one else has mentioned.

    Thanks to Jalna and Mike.

  39. A nice puzzle that had me scratching my head at times, ending with Pumpa having to come to the rescue.

    Like others I was pleased to see Rotter appear as an answer.


    My verdict: 👍
    Pumpa’s verdict: Leave me alone! I’m sunbathing (next to an ant nest! 🐜🐜🐜 🐈🐜 🐜🐜)

  40. I found this tough going and a DNF as I needed to reveal Padres.
    FOI took me ages to get going and then a few write ins, starting with 10a Roe
    LOI other than Padres, 21a Tubes
    COD 13a Rotter – sadly missed Jolly.

  41. Yep! A DEFINITE breezeblock, but I didn’t give up the ghost. I stopped after 12 minutes, with a lot already spent on 6d, had a break, and finally saw the answer after a couple more minutes. Fortunately I restarted the alpha-trawl with a D – it seemed a good option, although it could just as easily have been an R. Otherwise not too bad. I liked PRESENT-DAY and ENORMOUSLY very much, but my LOI was just so neat!
    FOI Sum LOI Definite COD Bid (although the service has improved no end recently)
    Thanks Jalna and Mike – another very interesting blog 😊

    I also paused to remember our much-missed ROTTER.

  42. Unlike Penny even after taking a break and coming back I still didn’t see DEFINITE. Did anyone else spend ages trying to use ‘zany’ as an anagrind?

    1. Me, I was like ‘this will be so easy how many words have both a z and a y in it?’ jokes on me.

  43. DEFINITE While crossing letters are all vowels, there are four of them, and not too many alternatives among common words MEDICINE DECISIVE FEMININE GENITIVE DERISIVE and REGICIDE, bit of a stretch, and that’s about it. None with IT apart from GENITIVE.

  44. Here I am so so late but just wanted to say how much I enjoyed GELATIN!

    Dull-brained so it took me 28:05 and whether it was the style of cluing or my state of mind, I can’t say, but I mostly had to solve by looking away and trying to hear my little voice whisper the answer.

    Thanks to Jalna and Mike!

    And I too paused to think of our old friend Rotter, with whom I overlapped only briefly, but whose contributions I enjoy when wandering through the back catalog of QCs and their blogs.

  45. The day rushed past with too many distractions to get to the finishing post before giving up with LOI DEFINITE as many above.
    RIP ROTTER. Sadly missed and well remembered.
    Thanks Jalna and Mike


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