Times Quick Cryptic No 2712 by Jalna

Solving time: 13:29

I had a shocking time with this – not quite my slowest against Jalna, missing by only six seconds. Not sure whether it was tiredness on my part or the cunningness of the setter, or a bit of both – I’ll be very interested to see how you all got on?

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

1 He’s daft … I’m oddly clumsy (3-6)
HAM-FISTED – Anagram [oddly] of HES DAFT IM
6 Middle part of the passport possibly covered up (3)
HID – Middle part of ‘the’ is the letter H, then ID (passport possibly)
8 Roofer accepting two days will create something insignificant (7)
TIDDLERTILER (Roofer) with DD (two days) inserted
9 To some extent, it’s a long-forgotten beauty spot? (5)
SALON – Hidden [To some extent] in it’s a long-forgotten.

The question mark suggests a mildly cryptic definition.

10 New tier assigned as prime viewing space (8,4)

My LOI – this took me far too long, even with all of the checkers in place, and the assumption that the second word was SEAT. Tchoh!

12 Cry with pain (4)
WAILW (with) AIL (pain)
13 A bully occasionally dismissed in a deft manner (4)
ABLYA, then alternate letters [occasionally dismissed] of BULLY
17 Artist profits, having place for market in London (12)
GAINSBOROUGHGAINS (profits) BOROUGH (place for market in London)

I was well and truly foxed, looking at the wrong end of the stick here, thinking that the answer was one of the London markets – it was frustrating me that I couldn’t remember some of their names!

Borough market should, of course, be familiar to any of you who met at The George on the 14th, or who takes part in the annual crossword competition at the nearby News Building by London Bridge station.

Apart from the neat misdirection, I’m not really sure what ‘having’ is doing in the clue other than to improve the surface. The words ‘place for’ also seem superfluous. Perhaps ‘Artist profits at London market (12)‘ would be too easy and so, the rest is deliberate bumfuzzling…

20 I complain about Ruth’s mother-in-law (5)
NAOMII MOAN (complain) all reversed [about]

In the Bible, NAOMI was indeed Ruth’s mother-in-law. After the death of all the male members of her family (her husband Mahlon, her father-in-law Elimelech, and her brother-in-law Chilion), she stays with her mother-in-law, NAOMI, and returns to post-famine Judah with her.

21 Everything featured in TV programme is superficial (7)
SHALLOWALL (Everything) inserted into [featured in] SHOW (TV programme)
23 One unspecified area west of New York (3)
ANYA (area) to the left of [west of] NY (New York)
24 Bob maybe drunk this early (9)
HAIRSTYLE – Anagram [drunk] of THIS EARLY
1 Dislike what everybody shows (4)
HATE – Hidden [shows] in what everybody
2 Wine produced in restricted amounts at first (7)
MADEIRAMADE (produced) then initial letters [at first] of I{n} R{estricted} A{mounts}
3 Wicked leaders of industry love lay-offs (3)
ILL – First letters [leaders] of I{ndustry} L{ove} L{ay-offs}
4 Go home and go to bed (4,2)
TURN INTURN (Go) IN (home)

Nice surface.

5 Outlaw ridiculous road speed (9)
DESPERADO – Anagram [ridiculous] of ROAD SPEED
6 Divide things equally, or be obliged to accept 50 (5)
HALVEHAVE (be obliged) to accept i.e. insert L (50 – Roman numeral)

I wasn’t entirely happy with the wordplay, but think ‘be obliged to’ is equivalent to ‘HAVE to’ as in:

He would be obliged to/have to meet with his boss every morning

7 Senior academic had to give money (6)
DONATEDON (Senior academic) ATE (had)

Either ATE or ‘had’ could be used in a sentence such as:

Mary ATE/had her breakfast before leaving the house

11 Metalworker requires light mods to be re-tweaked (9)
GOLDSMITH – Anagram [re-tweaked] of LIGHT MODS

I don’t know whether ‘light mods’ are actually a thing, so not sure whether the surface reading of the clue actually makes any sense…

14 Support friend without breaking the law (7)
LEGALLYLEG (Support) ALLY (friend)
15 As stated, you look for a place in Africa (6)
UGANDA – Homophone of YOU is U, then another homophone of GANDER (look) gives GANDA

‘To take a GANDER’ meaning ‘to take a long look’ is 1880s slang, from the notion of craning one’s neck like a goose to get a better view.

Earlier, it had meant “to wander foolishly” as in the nursery rhyme, which is believed by some to refer to searching for priest holes for itinerant Catholic priests in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries:

Goosey goosey gander,
Whither shall I wander?
Upstairs and downstairs
And in my lady’s chamber

16 A snooty type upset over current style of Japanese art (6)
BONSAIA SNOB (snooty type) all reversed [upset] over I (conventional symbol for ‘current’)

The conventional symbol for current is I, which originates from the French phrase intensité du courant, (current intensity).

18 Yellow-white gold surrounded by green leaves? (5)
IVORYOR (French for ‘gold’ – typically used in heraldry) surrounded by IVY (green leaves)
19 Final parts of chat show were quite sentimental (4)
TWEE – Last letters [Final parts] of {cha}T {sho}W {wer}E {quit}E
22 Publicity materials using laddism from time to time (3)
ADS – Alternating letters [from time to time] of laddism


98 comments on “Times Quick Cryptic No 2712 by Jalna”

  1. I’m in a hospital waiting room for surgery AND this was a wash 🙁

    I found this really hard but I don’t know if it’s because I am stressed.

    1. I hope it goes well Tina. I think you can be forgiven for being distracted, though cryptics can be a great way to force the logical side into prominence when the emotional side is dominating. ☘️
      It was tough- thanks Mike and Jalna

    2. I hope your surgery is successful. One thing a cryptic crossword is not designed for is stress relief.

    3. All the best with the recovery – hopefully there’ll be more time and headspace for solving then as well!

    4. No. You are correct. This was a very hard one.
      I finished it, with very little satisfaction, in 90 minutes.
      Good luck with your surgery.

    5. Hospital brain is a thing, even if you’re not the one being treated. May they treat you well! Let us know how you do!

    6. I crashed out too, so you’re in good company (or at least, you’re in company). Best wishes for a swift recovery!

  2. My eyebrows were motionless as I went through this, but reading the blog raised some questions:
    1) ODE sv mod 3 gives mod ‘(usually mods)’ as short for modification, and one of the examples has ‘easy mods’.
    2) ‘style of Japanese art’ somehow feels wrong; just plain ‘Japanese art’ sounds better to me.
    3) DNK Borough Market, but since that’s the name of a market, BOROUGH isn’t a place for a market–except in so far as borough is a place for everything in London–and it isn’t a market either; Borough Market is a market. Anyway, after wasting time trying to make artist=RA, I managed to solve it.

  3. 12:26. Couldn’t figure out how TURN IN was “go home” until I thought to separate the TURN and the IN!

  4. 10:53
    Not too much trouble today. Borough is (surprisingly) the name for that part of London, that is what the Tube Station is called. I’d heard of Borough long before I knew there was a market there.


    Best of luck for the surgery, Tina.

  5. Ten minutes quicker than yesterday but still not fast at 16.40. Only three on the first pass of acrosses and all of those in the bottom half. Thought my GK was going to fail for the Japanese art, the mother-in-law and the artist but BONSAI, NAOMI and GAINSBOROUGH all emerged OK. Used to work close to Borough Market, just off Borough High Street and reached by Borough Station (although I got off at London Bridge – pre-Shard), so while all that is in the Borough of Southwark I’m willing to accept that Borough is a place.

  6. I think this is a seriously good QC and very much fits my definition of a QC as a Times ‘lite’. I really enjoyed it and, at about 15 minutes over breakfast, it really hit the spot for me.

    1. I agree 100%. I was going to throw in the towel at one point but pushed through some tough but always fair clueing for 11’30”.
      Thanks Jalna for a terrific puzzle and Mike H for a great blog.

    2. Agree!

      Great QC… finished in just under 25 mins. V enjoyable. LOI GAINSBOROUGH but pleasingly obvious once you’ve finally figured it out.

  7. I usually make my way into Borough Market at some stage after the Times Championship, since it’s a mere cockstride from Times HQ (and from The George). Some excellent food and drink to be had.

    I found the puzzle fairly anodyne, and heavy on chestnuts (GAINSBOROUGH, NAOMI, DESPERADO…..)

    TIME 3:31

  8. 10.14, nothing too alarming. Starting with 1ac is always good for confidence though I slowed down in the bottom half. LOsI were RINGSIDE SEAT and HAIRSTYLE which I couldn’t see for looking, as they say. Thanks Jalna and Mike. I think the ‘having’ in 7ac refers to gains ‘having’ borough, ie being attached to it. Maybe.

  9. After managing to resist my initial urge to biff ‘mad-hatter’ at 1a I found this quite gentle going starting with HAM-FISTED and finishing with BONSAI in a spritely 6.21.
    Thanks to Mike

  10. Being still relatively new and not knowing many chestnuts yet we found this tough but enjoyable. Some clever clueing and misdirections kept us going for 37.30

    COD to turn in, very neat.

    Spent a while looking at A?Y thinking it could only be any, but we’re reading the clue for 24a instead of 23 so completely mystified😧

    Thanks Mike for some of the parsing which eluded us and to Jalna for the workout.

  11. I seem to have bucked the trend here as I whizzed through this in just under 8 minutes (why does my predictive text suggest “months” here once I type the initial m??), with only salon for beauty spot causing the mildest of eyebrow flutterings. The question mark is doing some quite heavy lifting!

    Many thanks Mike for the informative and interesting blog

  12. Kicking myself for not thinking of BONSAI (knew it as tree, not as art) – otherwise all green (eventually).

  13. Hope all goes well with your op, Tina.

    Enjoyed today’s QC. It took a bit longer than most, but some satisfying PDMs. Vague recollection of Borough market – not my part of the world. Not quite sure about SALON as beauty spot – presumably in the sense of an art gallery. Thanks to Mike and Jalna.

  14. Should have been a comfortable mid-20s but, being unable to decide between WAIL and BAWL, I undertook a slow and thorough alphabet trawl. Having found 25 or more candidate words I returned to my two most likely options and immediately saw how to parse WAIL. A head-slapping moment if ever there was one! Outcome = 30 minutes and a degree of frustration.

    Many thanks to Jalna and Mike..

  15. 6.57

    I often have similar times to Mike, so it might seem I was on the wavelength but in fact it felt far from that, as I struggled to get a foothold in the NW. Other parts of the compass were a bit more amenable though and it was finally wrestled into submission.

    UGANDA was either terrible or inspired but I liked it either way.

    Thanks Mike/Jalna

    1. I like the concept of the terrible-but inspired- clue. I’ve known more than a few of them.

  16. 5:59
    Snuck under six minutes even with a couple of added seconds at the start to disable the timer. Does anyone know of a way to turn it off permanently on CC? It seems to always want to re-enable.

    This more or less went in as I saw the clues, with my reading speed accounting for most of the time not typing things in, which is unusual for me. Strangely the fast days always seem to come when others have struggled more, but wavelengths are by now of course a well-documented phenomenon.

  17. Decent puzzle, which seemed quite tricky as I was going along, but I went under par, so maybe it wasn’t.

    Not really au fait with either testament, so was unaware of Naomi’s offspring, but I’ve seen that device before plenty, so no problems. Had to wait for all the checkers before seeing HAIRSTYLE and LOI MADEIRA. I thought HID was neat.


  18. 7:20

    Pretty steady, but slow to untangle RINGSIDE before MADEIRA and LOI WAIL.

    Good fun, thanks Jalna and Mike

  19. I mopped this one up in 8.08 to keep up my run of sub target times. There weren’t too many clues where the answer came to me immediately, but there wasn’t a single clue that I particularly laboured on. My LOI was RINGSIDE SEAT preceded by GAINSBOROUGH where I needed all the checkers in place to solve them.

  20. Quite fast. Enjoyed this one very much but failed on WAIL, put Bawl but knew it wasn’t right. Should have thought harder.
    Could not parse SALON but it had to be. Why is a Salon a beauty spot? To me it what the French call a sitting room or in ye old days a literary gathering. Later: oh I see, beauty salon.
    NAOMI a write-in. Reminds me about the journo’s witty headline about Lord Longford among the alien porn. (look it up).
    UGANDA made me smile.
    Thanks vm, Mike.

  21. I have decided that my slow solving must be due in part to my phone. Having to scroll around between seeing the grid and accessing the keyboard while not seeing where the letters are being entered, added to the perennial fat finger syndrome must add at least 20% to my final time. I switch between using the App and Chrome at random and then struggle between magnification and eyesight. I think I may switch back to the printed version and forego timings.
    That being said, a nice puzzle. RINGSIDE took longer than it should and NAOMI challenged my biblical knowledge. Smiled at GAINSBOROUGH, familiarity with Borough Market made it a write in.
    Thanks Mike and Jalna

  22. Today I paused to parse, suspecting that BAWL would not pass muster. That added two minutes to my time, so 15 in the end. Happy to see WAIL eventually.
    Other hold-up was RINGSIDE SEAT where I wrote out the anagram twice to get a clearer view.
    Some good stuff here. COD to TURN IN.
    Borough Market is now seemingly on every tourist’s list of places to visit. I have been stopped more than once with people asking for directions. The crowds do make getting to The George more difficult -which is another place now on the tourists’ list.

    1. Not the best place to stand about holding your mobile phone either from what I’ve read. A hotspot for thieves on mopeds etc.

  23. 32 mins…

    Looking back, nothing seems too hard – but this was constructed in such a way that for 15 mins I only had about 4 answers, and thought I was either having a terrible off day or it was fiendishly difficult. I must have looked at 10ac “Ringside Seat” for an age and just couldn’t see it without trying all kinds of permutations on paper – similarly with 1ac “Hamfisted” and 24ac “Hairstyle”. I got there in the end, but it felt hard work.

    FOI – 6dn “Halve”
    LOI – 16dn “Bonsai”
    COD – 16dn “Uganda”

    Thanks as usual!

  24. 50 minutes of pain.

    I don’t improve and so I don’t get any enjoyment. When it takes 15 mins to get BONSAI (with three checkers), it is a sign that things are going very badly.

    My day was summed up by my initial answer to 6ac. I put ASS. It’s the middle three letters of the passport and, with it’s American meaning, it’s something that you would expect to see covered up. That is how truly woeful I am after 4 years of this. You either have the brain for this or not, and I don’t. I can learn the abbreviations and the basic word play indicators, but beyond that I’m clueless.

    Computer now going off for the day (maybe the week), so please don’t reply.

    1. Finished in 90 minutes but just did not enjoy it at all.
      I thought that

      This was a monster.
      Many of the clues were very poor.
      Took me 90 minutes to finish.
      There will be better puzzles – do not give up.

        1. I was tempted by the ASS, too! But couldn’t parse it, so thought again.
          Some of the clues were tough, to me, but none I considered “poor” – they were all perfectly parseable.

      1. Not an easy puzzle as noted by others, but I’m not sure there were any (let alone ‘many’) ‘very poor’ clues. Would you care to elaborate?

        1. Hear hear, no poor clues at all. I thought it was all very straightforward and perfectly fair.

  25. Immediate thought for middle part of passport was ” ass “as that’s usually covered. But couldn’t get 6 & 7 d to work. Good luck Tina. Just spotted I can’t spell my code name! Blame the heat.

  26. Easier than yesterday, harder than Monday imo. Sort of average really which might explain my average time of 17 minutes. Had to parse some after completion though. I was delayed by thinking that the answer to 17ac was one of the London markets and by not seeing that 24ac was an anagram. However, all good in the end and although I don’t keep records I have a feeling that I have struggled with Jalna’s offerings in the past.

    FOI – 8ac TIDDLER
    CODs – 20ac NAOMI and 15dn UGANDA

    Thanks to Jalna and Mike

  27. Took a long time over this although nothing was that tricky in retrospect. Struggled with the longer anagrams even when I’d written them out, especially HAIRSTYLE and LOI RINGSIDE SEAT. Also slow to see IVORY with all the checkers. Brain clearly not switched on today 😂 Many thanks Jalna and Mike.

  28. Finished this one in a little over 30 minutes, with some help from the Orange One (who is enjoying the hot weather).

    Have to say though, I really didn’t enjoy this one. Not sure why.

  29. Sometimes I think doing these puzzles is just a repeated lesson in how persistently I can ignore the obvious. 27:40

    Do tolers do roof work in Britain🙃?

    I’m lost in admiration of these clues. There’s not a clunker in the lot. (After reading the commentary: newbie point of view, but I stand by it.) COD LEGALLY.

    Thanks, good stuff, Jalna and Mike!

      1. Thanks! But my problem was that I didn’t recognize “tiddler” as a word and tried to make “toddler”😂

      2. Sorry but I think that you are mistaken. As was the setter. Tilers do not work on rooves.
        They are skilled craftsmen who lay tiles on walls, floors and ceilings. Not rooves.

  30. Should’ve seen DESPERADO sooner, but still got from HATE to ABLY in 6:17. HAM FISTED went in after HATE and MADEIRA. Thanks Jalna and Mike.

  31. Took me ages, on and off. Biffed a quite a few – tanks for explanations. LOI HID, once I finally saw HALVE. Very testing indeed. All the best, Tina.

  32. Anagram hat still frustratingly AWOL and it makes quite a difference. Having to limp through the letters to find HAIRSTYLE, GOLDSMITH, HAM-FISTED and RINGSIDE SEAT, instead of them just magically appearing in my head, added minutes.

    Hey ho. Good puzzle; I wrongly guessed Izetti when I got to NAOMI. 09:00 dead, for 1.3K and an Unsatisfactory Day. Many thanks Jalna and Mike.

  33. Horrible QC. Only good for those who can handle the main Cryptic which is where this should have been. After about 90 minutes I gave up. Not fun and in my view not at the right level for a QC.

  34. 15.55 I found this tough too. I solved very few on the first pass and worked back up from the bottom. RINGSIDE SEAT took several minutes at the end. I had convinced myself it would be some kind of NEST. Thanks Mike and Jalna.

  35. Ah mince (as the French might say), I thought I’d succeeded only to find it was WAIL not BAWL. I assumed it was a double definition.

    And this resident of the SCC found it hard but not unreasonably so. Thanks all.

  36. Haven’t had many DNFs lately, but I did today – a long way off the wavelength with four unsolved (WAIL, GOLDSMITH, BONSAI, HAIRSTYLE).

    Thank you for the blog!

  37. I’m a bawler, not a wailer, and I forgot to take a gander once (I thought) I’d finished. 20 minutes so SCC awaits. Flirted with Billingsgate but Gainsborough (from nearby town of Sudbury) prevailed! Enjoyed the clueing which seemed fair to me. Best wishes to Tina – get well soon!

  38. Exactly 12:00 today, from HID to IVORY. I initially had KEEN for the “cry with pain”, until MADEIRA came along and was clearly correct. COD to GAINSBOROUGH, where I was also trying to remember Billingsgate and suchlike.

    Thanks to Jalna and Mike.

  39. Slow solve again but enjoyable clues. Thanks to setter and also for the usually helpful comments above.

  40. 13m
    9 for everything then the rest on ringside seat, I had penciled in nest so had air (G) side! until it fell into place.
    COD hairstyle

  41. A fascinating set of comments for those who study not only crosswords per se but also crossword doers. Jalna really does seem to have served up a marmite of a puzzle, with people finding it either very addressable or pretty tough and not that many in between. I wonder why, and whether any of our more experienced solvers can pin-point what leads to a crossword engendering such an either-or set of reactions.

    1. That’s a great question Cedric. In my opinion, generally harder puzzles appear to engender a wider spectrum of views – a 50% harder than average will take someone that averages 4 mins an additional 2 mins, whereas someone that averages 20 mins will take an additional 10 mins. Frustration grows in the same proportion perhaps – for the speedster, it’s only 2 minutes more, but for the SCC member, perhaps a little envy of those that seem to find it comparatively easier? While many of us might try to consider the outcome rationally, we are not all rational people and the spectrum of differences of opinion broadens, with the appropriate brickbats for the perceived trickier clues. What do you think?

      1. Yes I think that must be part of it. And while the “50% more difficult” puzzle might merely give an experienced solver a slower time, it might tip a less expert solver into a DNF. The translation of difficulty into solving times is unlikely to be linear.

        1. I agree: for us SCC types I think there’s an upward curve of difficulty rather than a straight line. Anyone who does the 15×15 to any standard is unlikely or much less likely to be caught out by the types of clueing in the QC, but I still find some clues perplexing, whilst noting that the regular 15x15ers rarely find them as such.
          And, if people perceive it as Quick = “Easy”, even by Times standards, there seems to be a resentment if it’s at the tougher end of the QC spectrum. Seeing challenging clues as “poor”or “bad” recurs frequently.

          1. I do get tired of some people who regularly moan whenever the Quick Crossword is on the hard side and complain that the clues are poor as a consequence. Firstly, what is the point of setting everything at the same fixed level of difficulty? Nobody progresses. Secondly, as Richard Rogan himself said, it doesn’t matter how long it takes to complete a crossword; the aim is to enjoy it, whether it takes 3 minutes or the best part of a week – and I have been known to spend several days going back to a worthwhile puzzle in order to finish it – but to complain that it’s poor because you can’t finish in 10 minutes is, I think, a childish evidence of sour grapes.

    2. I tend to agree with Mike Harper’s comments. I am comfortable to stay with the QC as it is usually about my level of solving and fits the timeslot I have available for it. My times usually put me around the entrance to the SCC. When we have a QC that is closer to 15×15 level some of the clues will be beyond me, leaving me frustrated. For the solvers who regularly do the main crossword it just means it may take a minute or two longer than usual, which can result in them praising the clues for being a bit more challenging than the typical QC ones.

  42. I found this puzzle quite approachable. Took me a while to get BONSAI was looking for something more obscure. Knew Borough Market as my son took me there for lunch many moons ago. Thanks Jalna and Mike.

  43. Personally, I thought that many of the clues were poor. A tiler is not a roofer and vice versa.
    A roofer deals with all roofing issues including laying roof tiles.
    A tiler lays flat, decorative tiles on walls, floors and ceilings.

    Uganda may sound like “you gander” but the expression is “you have a gander”.
    In English it is a noun. In American English it may be used as a verb.
    It is not an unfair clue, just a poor one.

    Gainsborough. Borough = place for a market in London ? What about those who are not experts on London ? Very poor clue.

    style of Japanese art (6) – BONSAI. Bonsai is not a style of Japanese art – it is a Japanese art.
    As Kevin Gregg stated earlier. Just as is Origami ( I have a black belt in this).

    WAIL – W (with) AIL (pain). This just sounds wrong. I think the verb “ail” means to have pain not just to hurt. To pain is a transitive verb e.g. ” It pains me to say that…” = it hurts me to say that …

    1. As Mike indicated in his blog U sounds like “you” and GANDA sounds like “gander” (look) – two elements served by one homophone indicator but treated separately. In that context ‘gander’ and ‘look’ are both nouns.

    2. To be fair, if you look on Google, there does seem to be such a person as a roof tiler, which I think fits the description.

      1. A roof tiler is roofer.
        A tiler is not a roofer. He/she is a completely different type of worker who lays flat, decorative tiles on walls. floors and ceilings. Not rooves.
        I checked dictionaries not just what anyone can post on Google.


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *