Quick Cryptic 2504 by Teazel

Slightly more chewy than average, and a few headscratcher solutions. A good clue has a solution that you know immediately is right,  and unless I am missing something there are a couple here which fail that test. 10 minutes for me, way over par.

1 Superficial need to sort inside refuse container (4-4)
SKIN-DEEP – Anagram (‘to sort’) of NEED inserted into SKIP (refuse container).
5 Keen to put name forward for bender (4)
KNEE – KEEN with the N moved forward
9 Judge information technology leads to renovation (5)
REFIT – REF (judge) + IT (information technology)
10 Times covering Antrim town in flattering speech (7)
BLARNEY – LARNE is the town, inside BY (times)
11 Extra tea that’s earned by sinking a red? (3,3,3,3)
ONE FOR THE POT – Double definition. The first relates to the practice of adding n+1 tea bags/spoons of leaves to a pot, where n is the number of people taking tea. The second refers to the fact that you ‘earn’ one point for potting a red ball in snooker.
13 Rugby dropped, not having enough time (6)
RUSHED – RU (rugby union) + SHED (dropped)
15 A chap with daughter, a girl (6)
17 A piece of paper worth keeping (5,7)
PRESS CUTTING – can’t really see what’s going on here, except that ‘piece’ means article in journalese, and ‘paper’ means newspaper obvs.
20 Old conspiracy includes one daring feat (7)
EXPLOIT – EX (old) + PLOT with I inserted
21 This Highlander may give a toss (5)
CABER – cryptic definition. A caber is a telegraph pole that people in highland Scotland like to throw around for some reason.
22 This garden ridiculously short? (4)
YARD – Again, I have no idea what this is supposed to mean. I get that yard = garden, does it just mean a garden which only measures 1 yard would be a small one? Bit weak if so.
23 Jokiness of orderly convulsed with laughter at first (8)
DROLLERY – Anagram (‘convulsed’) of ORDERLY + L
1 The sea on the shore slave listened to (4)
SURF – sounds like SERF
2 Four regularly visiting pub for a laugh (2,3)
IN FUN – alternate letters of FOUR inside INN
3 Retail outlet where staff have nothing to do? (4-4,4)
DUTY-FREE SHOP -self-explanatory
4 Bring me up part of tree to make board (6)
EMBARK – EM (‘me’ backwards) + BARK
6 Square leg, that bowler may aim at? (7)
NINEPIN – NINE is a square (number), LEG is a pin. Nice cricket surface, but aiming at square leg? Even poor old Steve Harmison only managed to get it to second slip.
7 Pharaoh for one training tiny page (8)
EGYPTIAN -Anagram (‘training’) of TINY PAGE
8 Very precise mail that came to be translated (12)
MATHEMATICAL – Anagram (‘to be translated’) of  MAIL THAT CAME
12 Support His Excellency? Extremely silly to predict (8)
PROPHESY – PROP (support) + HE (His Excellency) + S[ILL]Y
14 Spy ring (7)
SLEEPER – double definition, a dormant secret agent and an earring used to prevent the hole from closing
16 A fat book put into words (6)
BUTTER – B (book) + UTTER (put into words)
18 Generous founder of prize putting English last (5)
NOBLE – NOBEL with the E moved to last
19 I’d to abandon Crusoe’s man in brawl (4)

89 comments on “Quick Cryptic 2504 by Teazel”

  1. I think 17ac is just a cryptic definition. If you want to keep the article, you cut it out. As you say, weak! (But I often think that about cryptic definitions)

    I had the same thoughts as you about 22ac.

    I liked 11Ac!

    1. Could it also be an ad lib though – bit of newspaper is a press cutting, bit you keep is the press cutting, overall a press cutting. I’m also worried about yard as can’t work out the short part of the clue

  2. Didn’t get 14 coz I don’t wear an earring. Didn’t get 22 coz it’s not very gettable. Didn’t think much of this.

    1. I have never seen a keeper that is a ring, it’s always a pin with one of those clips you can easily pull off. OK I am no expert, I dont wear earrings either. I suppose the ring in the piggy-wig’s nose might be a keeper, but that is not its point in life; it’s there to discourage excess rootling that might lead to an escape, and to facilitate “leading by the nose.” Ditto for bulls. Oh well, I’m sure someone somewhere has made a keeper in the form of a ring; I just saw an Etsy one for a gentleman that is roughly ring shaped, but I think it’s main selling point is as a normal earring.

  3. 15 minutes, so my first solve this week where I have needed to invoke my new extended target in order to claim a personal success. Nothing here was hard, but of the four long answers only ONE FOR THE POT sprang immediately to mind so I found myself constantly hopping around the grid unable to bring any flow to the proceedings.

    I lost time over CABER although it was the obvious answer, and it was only after I had finished that I realised one needs to separate ‘this’ from ‘Highlander’ to make the grammar of the clue work.

    I liked PRESS CUTTING once I had thought of it, but I agree with others that the clue to YARD was a bit feeble – although I believe I have seen the same clue or similar on a previous occasion.

  4. I found this tricky but ordinary and so not very enjoyable. like others, I found 22A was less a penny drop moment that a, ‘Oh…really?’ moment. I also thought 1D was unfair because I could good case for either of the two opitions..

    1. …although if one invokes ‘the definition is always at the beginning or end’ rule, then it has to be the foamy answer

    2. The homophone indicator (listened to) is adjacent to the slave, so that is the one you don’t want.

  5. 11mins with YARD, SLEEPER & PRESS CUTTING all proving to be troublesome but only for all the reasons others have given – going in with ‘can’t be but must be’

    Thanks Teazel and Curarist

  6. That I missed my target is, in my opinion, more Teazel’s fault than mine. The SW corner was my problem area, and it took me a while to justify PRESS CUTTING in order to open it up. SLOI YARD is, in my opinion, the poorest clue to appear in a QC this year (or possibly longer). LOI was down to my tendency not to wear jewellery.

    TIME 6:15

    1. Not enthusiastic about today’s. Similar comments to Busman but his time + 20 minutes. which is not bad for a Friday, but I like to take my time knowing that all the answers are parsed correctly which was not the case today. Thanks Teazel and Curarist.

    2. I missed your target as well, Busman, and that wasn’t your fault either. Unlike you, however, I can’t lay the blame at Teazel’s door.

  7. DNF for me. I think the ninepin bowling is not a cricket reference but to the lesser version of ten pin bowling where the pins are set up in a diamond pattern

  8. I agree with DramS that NINEPIN is referring to Ninepins (otherwise known as skittles) – a game played a lot in pubs around the South West of England, though I’ve never heard it used in the singular. It is said that in the 18th century the UK government of the day taxed the game of ninepins in the fledgling colony of America, which prompted them to add another pin thus cunningly avoiding the duty and inventing 10-pin bowling. Apocryphal, I think.

    1. ‘Ninepins’ is the game but ‘ninepin’ is the skittle, e.g. you can knock someone down ‘like a ninepin’.

  9. I’m glad I’m not alone re YARD and I wasn’t that convinced by PRESS CUTTING but overall I liked this Teazel back when I did it hours ago before a long lunch with a grizzled former staff member of one-time PM and ongoing Oz legend Bob Hawke. So I’ll just say 10.51 and leave it at that. Thanks all.

  10. Don’t mind today’s typo too much because it’s given me the nice to say ‘ninipin’. Not sure how I managed that given keyboard geogaphy and that I quite liked the clue on solving. Thought of YARD as soon as PROPHESY gave the starting letter but left until SLEEPER made it inevitable. ONE FOR THE POT was great, liked KNEE once I realised the clue wasn’t ‘blender’. Generally hard then fell in a rush before the yard pause. Not all green in 16.

  11. Found this quite chewy with some MERs along the lines of those already mentioned.
    Took far too long to untangle EGYPTIAN as I wondered if it would be the name of an obscure pharaoh. SLEEPER went in unparsed and, like Jack, needed time to see how CABER worked.
    Started with SKIN-DEEP and finished with KNEE in 13.28.
    Thanks to Curarist

  12. I thought this was a very poor crossword indeed. A large number of weak clues, as others have said – Press cutting for one (a bank note is also “a piece of paper worth keeping”), Yard another, the surface for Caber is clunky, did not like Duty-free shop (in which the staff do actually have something to do), Mathematical does not really mean very precise, Noble and generous not direct synonyms, another clunky surface for Fray …

    OK, probably my fault and no doubt I got out of bed on the wrong side, but my eyebrows were in pretty constant motion for the 21 frustrating minutes this took me to complete. My worst completed puzzle for a long time, and also I might suggest Teazel’s.

    Many thanks to Curarist for the blog, and a good weekend to all

    1. Well, I guess Teazel did put a question mark to joke about staff duties/work in the Duty Free shop.

    2. I thought press cutting rather good – why else would one make a cutting from the paper except for it being worth keeping?

    3. Fair comment on the DF Shop, and I revert to “probably my fault and no doubt I got out of bed on the wrong side”. On the other hand “A piece of paper worth keeping” says nothing about it being a cutting, and since there are many many pieces of paper that are worth keeping, from bank notes to birth certificates, the clue still seems to me to be barely cryptic, and barely even a clue.

      1. It’s paper in the sense of newspaper. That’s the cryptic bit the solver has to deduce and then the answer follows on logically.

  13. Bad DNF after 25 mins. The SW corner had many blanks. I thought SLEEPER was an impossible clue if you didn’t know the earring definition. PRESS CUTTING seems weak, but if I’d got the easier BUTTER and RUSHED maybe I’d have finished.

    YARD didn’t seem that terrible to me.

    COD ONE FOR THE POT. I saw POT early on as the crossover between tea and snooker, but there were five places to put it.

  14. Tricky, and needed the blog to parse some of the answers, even once I revealed them.
    17/24 after 20 mins. Time will tell whether my timed completion rate correlates (inversely) well with the Quitch, which stands at 133 as I type this.

  15. Gave up after 20 …

    CDs often catch me out. I inserted PRESS CUTTING without any degree of confidence but YARD defeated me. My daily capacity for solving slightly obscure CDs had clearly been exhausted! Couldn’t see SLEEPER – a perfectly fair clue – which might have helped .

  16. Hmph. Finished eventually. Slowly. Confused by the tiny page for far too long, thought it might then be a fun puzzle, but…

  17. Plain sailing until the SW … phew what a stinker. YARD and PRESS CUTTING were rubbish. They held me quite a bit but fortunately I had enough checkers to think “it just has to be”. On the other hand, ONE FOR THE POT was very good and I also liked SKIN-DEEP and EXPLOIT.

    All done in 09:02 for an Unsatisfying Day.

    Many thanks Teazel and curarist.


  18. Not fast but got there in the end. Liked LOI BLARNEY, SURF, FRAY, DUTY-FREE SHOP.
    Biffs: SLEEPER (as long forgot the earring), YARD, PRESS CUTTING, DROLLERY (missed anagram), SKIN-DEEP (ditto).
    Thanks vm, Curarist. Despite finishing, I left many clues unparsed.

  19. Even trying and trying, couldn’t do more than a small fraction of this. NHO LARNE, BY (= times?? how that?), BLARNEY, DROLLERY, SLEEPER…. well at least I’m not berating myself too much. Thanks, Curarist.
    Thank you both (below) – I agree with the timber (yes of course!), but times tables never “by…equals”, either 2 times 2 is, or two twos are (eight sevens are). But these things are personal (or geographical?), and of no consequence here.
    By the way, that’s interesting, isn’t it, that “3 by 2” apparently takes for granted the unit of inches. Do metric builders not say “3 by 2” when they’re talking in centimetres? If inches are gradually disappearing (are they?), will the expression “3 by 2” also disappear? Do we yet know?

    1. I live in Portugal and it often amuses me that, while a fairly standard construction timber here is 100 by 50 (millimetres), even the local Portuguese builders usually refer to it as 4 by 2

      1. Fascinating.
        About 35 years ago I built a frame for a built-in cupboard and sized it to the plasterboard I was going to use, which was 8 x 4 (feet). When it arrived it was 8’2.5″ (2.5 m) x 3’9″ (1.2m) so less than 4 feet so I had a useless offcut and a 1″ gap. DOH!

      2. In the UK timber sections are in inches eg 4″x 3″, 3″x 2″ etc but lengths are metric – how daft is that! I recently had a door frame made and suggested the very experienced carpenter measured it for himself – he said he measures in inches as there is no chance of an error as too many people come to his workshop tell him they want something, say 200 x 300 and then are confused when it turns out they meant cm rather than mm or vice versa…

        1. Aye, but no dafter than us buying petrol/diesel in litres when all speedos, odometers, satnavs and our maps etc are in miles and if we know the fuel efficiency of our car it’s mpg not litres/100 km. Surely litres/100miles is even madder?
          I assume we all know there are ABOUT 4.55 litres in a gallon; how good is your 4.55 times table?
          Oh, and on the subject of 2″x 4″ that was the size BEFORE they planed it to make it smooth. How daft is that? As the planed amount is fixed-ish then the cost on the narrower wood is greater so if you put 2 one onch bits side by side they add up to less than one two inch bit. When you get down to 1/6 inches there is NOTHING THERE.

  20. 17:04 (battle of Blenheim)

    L2I were YARD and SLEEPER, and I hesitated before hitting submit, since neither of them made sense. I am not familiar with earrings, and YARD seems to be a very weak clue.

    Thanks Curarist for making sense of it all.

  21. Taken into the SCC for the second time this week at 22 minutes. LOI BUTTER, and all sorts of problems before then. I can’t really say anything in favour of YARD, but some of the other criticisms above I think are a little unfair. Thanks Teazel and Curarist.

  22. 8.02

    I rather fear that the bar for permitting entry into the grid for me is rather lower than many of my fellow esteemed solvers. “Garden” four letters starting with y…. Possibly helped that I didn’t read the rest of the clue. However PRESS CUTTING does require the degree of squintage necessary to justify some of the MERs.

    Liked the SHOP clue

    Thanks Curarist and Teazel

    1. I think the problem some of us had was that yard and garden are not immediately synonymous…

      That said, although I had an abject fail today on reflection I’m warming somewhat to both YARD and PRESS CUTTING.

  23. I was happy with ninepin (via tenpin bowling alleys) and press cutting (a piece of ‘the’ paper worth keeping). Sleeper was obvious from the spy but I couldn’t remember the earring connection so that one went in with a shrug. That left yard as the only four letter word with Y and R – seemed a bit loose but then cryptics (especially 15x15s) often seem to be to me. Just crept inside 10 minutes so pretty happy with that.

  24. I share others disquiet about this crossword, not one of Teazel’s best. As Curarist says, you should feel confident that in solving a clue it is indeed correct. There were too many such as YARD and PRESS CUTTING where you couldn’t be sure.
    I did at least finish with all correct in a time of 11.56, my slowest of the week though.
    My total for the week was 47.30 giving me a daily average of 9.30, and I’m happy enough with that.

  25. I see I am not alone in finding some of this tricky.
    After a normal time (around 13 minutes) I needed three. PRESS CUTTING came first; not that bad but a tricky definition. Then SLEEPER, a difficult double definition as both meanings are not obvious at first. Finally YARD being the only word that made any sense; American for garden and better than YORK. I thought of the parsing on the way to my computer.
    So all correct in 19 minutes.
    It helped I knew Larne, as it has a football team in the NI League.
    I’m going to let Teazel off with the thought that YARD could have been better clued.

  26. Trickiest QC in a long time – but unfortunately because of the weakness of PRESS CUTTING, and the fact that I’ve never come across a SLEEPER as a ring, rather than because of any particular deviousness. Took me well over double my normal time.

  27. 8:13

    Only four in on the first pass of acrosses and not too many downs either, however progress was even and none of the clues disagreed with me. I thought PRESS CUTTING was fair (though helped by a few checkers), was less certain of SLEEPER though was aware of the metal used to keep an ear (or any part of the body) piercing open, finishing with YARD which I didn’t balk at – indeed I thought it was quite clever. COD to ONE FOR THE POT though.

    Thanks Teazel and Curarist

  28. I concur with the majority view that this was not one of Teazel’s best efforts. YARD the only option once the Y of PROPHESY was in, but can’t really see why it should be “ridiculously short”. Guessed SLEEPER, not linking it to what is put into an ear. PRESS CUTTING another that I entered with a shrug. A slog.

  29. I agree with everything Cedric said apart from his comment about DUTY-FREE SHOP, which I quite liked. I did actually finish this in around 39 minutes spread over a couple of hours but several of the answers were entered with a shrug as I simply didn’t understand them.

    FOI – 15ac AMANDA
    LOI – 14dn SLEEPER (the earring conection completely escaped me)
    COD – 11ac ONE FOR THE POT

  30. Managed to solve this one, though needed a little help from the cat.

    22a. YARD. I have no idea how this clue works. Yes, I understand that a yard can be a small garden, but how does this work here?

    If the setters read these blog posts I hope they’ll come and explain to us just how this clue works.

    Didn’t dislike this QC, but wasn’t overly into it either.

    1. Hello PW. Lots of people think that YARD is a pretty weak clue (as do I) but I *think* it’s supposed to work like this … (1) YARD is another word for garden (in the US anyway), and (2) if a garden were only a YARD long then it would be a “ridiculously short” garden. Something like that anyway. Don’t shoot the messenger!

          1. I agree completely with your explanation, Templar (possibly because it fits exactly with my own). Admittedly it’s not the greatest of clues, and I described it previously as ‘a bit feeble’, but I don’t think it deserves all the criticism it has received. Clues are intended to make us think laterally and occasionally elicit a mild groan.

      1. As a a Canadian I’ve never heard of YARD as a synonym for garden. We do have front yards and back yards, but flower or vegetable gardens would be distinct parts of those yards.

        1. In the UK the whole “yard” would be the garden, with the flowery / vegetably bits being patches, beds or borders (or sometimes gardens within gardens). Suffice it to say that the entire outside space would be called a garden here and a yard in the US.

          1. Who was it who said “However small one’s garden, one should always devote at least half an acre to woodland” (or something like that)?

  31. There were some excellent clues e.g. SKIN-DEEP, BUTTER, SLEEPER (no problem with the second definition as I wore sleepers after having my ears pierced at a young age) and then there were the cryptics that I wasn’t fond of i.e. DUTY-FREE SHOP and YARD. Still, I solved steadily with LOI BLARNEY as I did not know of Larne. I’m now off to restore order to my garden in Mallorca after two escaped goats have gained entry and wreaked havoc. They seem partial to exotic plants. My bird of paradise and banana plants are looking decidedly sad. 9:33 for an OK Friday.

  32. 1/24, which was AMANDA. I did think of CABER, but didn’t write it in because I wasn’t certain that it was correct. I think this is my worst ever performance.

  33. One of my longest recent solves at 24 mins, and nearly gave up with sleeper and rushed o/s.
    Had a ? next to yard. Also skin deep and surf took a while.
    Think some of the criticism is unfair.

    But for caber, I prefer: Brace wrongly fitted, highlander may toss it.

    FOI prophesy.
    COD duty free.

  34. 19.11. Similar thoughts re SLEEPER and YARD as many above. Out back there was an odd leftover little patch of ground between fences and our house about a yard square in which I tossed a couple of packets of assorted wildflower seeds last year. So now I am indeed enjoying a “ridiculously short” garden!

  35. I enjoyed this. No problem with press cutting, as people have already mentioned a piece is a press article, so can’t see the issue.
    Took a while to parse yard, but when I did it made me smile.
    Thanks Jack for explaining exactly how caber works.
    COD TO One for the pot.

  36. This one took me almost to my target time with LOI, YARD casuing a pause for alternatives to come to mind. I finally gave up and accepted that if a garden was a yard long it was quite small, but I don’t call a yard a garden as a rule. SKIN DEEP was FOI. Liked ONE FOR THE POT. 9:26. Thanks Teazel and Curarist.

  37. Hello from the Isle of Man today, and it’s a beautiful afternoon here. All correct in 32 minutes, which is about average for me but now seems quite good, given some of the comments above.

    I couldn’t really tell if YARD, PRESS CUTTING and CABER were correct (not a good sign), and I DNK the meaning of BLARNEY. However, I really enjoyed DUTY FREE SHOP and ONE FOR THE POT.

    My LOsI were EMBARK, BLARNEY and NINEPIN (a very good clue, IMHO).

    Many thanks to Teazel and Curarist.

    1. Thought I was ploughing a lone Manx furrow here, good to know there’s at least two of us!

      1. I’m sorry, but I have to disappoint you, Mr D. Mrs Random and I were visiting friends in the in the IoM (Ballakilpheric, near Colby), but we have now returned home to West Sussex. We love the island, but were very sad to find out that Moore’s smokery in Peel has recently closed down. Kipper baps are my favourite.

  38. Dnf…

    I tried, I really did, and whilst I was also slightly bemused by 22ac “Yard” (which I guessed) I just couldn’t get 13ac “Rushed” nor 14dn “Sleeper”. Still not exactly sure what was cryptic about 17ac “Press Cutting” which could quite easily have been found in the Times2 crossword on the other side of the page.

    Other problems were realising 7dn wasn’t after a specific Pharoah and an inability to spell “Prophesy”

    FOI – 9ac “`Refit”
    LOI – dnf
    COD – 16ac “Butter”

    Thanks as usual!

    1. If a professor is someone who professes is a person to whom he/she professes a professee? And if so, isn’t PROFESSEE the correct spelling of prophecy?

      1. I wouldn’t know – because it’s spelt Prophesy on here (I always thought it had a “c” as well) 😀

          1. I knew it I’d seen it somewhere. I guess the noun is used more than the verb – well, that’s the excuse I’ll use.

  39. 21:44, so looking forward to a cup of tea and a crumpet in the SCC. LOI SLEEPER, with the ear-ring definition unknown, but it had to be. Unlike many, I have no problems with PRESS CUTTING or YARD.

    Thanks to Teazel & Curarist.

  40. We spent an hour on this, especially in the sw corner. One error 13a. Mixture of fairly easy and quite tricky clues.

  41. A toughie I thought, but at least it was a steady solve rather than one of those ones where you get most of it easily and come unstuck at the end. I think I was lucky to get BLARNEY. Once I had all the checkers I put it in because I knew of the BLARNEY stone, but I guess that has nothing to do with anything other than being in Ireland somewhere, and I now realise I wouldn’t have thought of Larne having only vaguely heard of it, and I’ve never heard of BLARNEY meaning flattering speech. Anyway, LOI was a tentative SLEEPER in 32:17. Thanks Curarist and Teazel.

  42. DNF

    Excellent puzzle. Just the right side of difficulty. Infuriatingly, having patiently worked my way through this I came a cropper with 1dn putting SERF instead of SURF for a dreaded pink square. It would have been a slow time anyway. Loved a snooker and a cricket reference in the same puzzle. Even if the latter was nothing to do with cricket.

  43. I can’t take much more of this.

    Another day of utter hell. Took me 1 hr, 25 mins, much of which was devoted to SLEEPER and YARD.

    This is my fifth absolute nightmare in less than 2 weeks. I know I’m a poor solver, but I haven’t been on a run like this since I began over 3 years ago. To have 1 or 2 horrible days is an occupational hazard at my level, but 5!!!

    As Mr R completed this in just over 30 mins, I can’t complain about it being one solely for the speed merchants.

    I don’t know where I am going with this or how to arrest this decline. My performances have fallen off a cliff and my confidence/self-esteem/enjoyment is gone. I find it humiliating to come on here and post these dreadful times. My weekend is ruined as I will spend it agonising over this and worrying about Monday, when I will return for more punishment.

    Thanks for the blog.

    1. Gary, there’s no obligation to report your times here – many contributors don’t. You can still comment in general terms if you found a day particularly hard or a little easier without actually quantifying it. Why not count your successes e.g. the number of clues solved each day, rather than what you perceive as your failures? There’s no obligation to report them here either unless you wish to.

    2. Dear Mr A,
      Despite your struggles last week, I hope you enjoyed your weekend and have sent those negative thoughts packing. I decided some time ago to try to see some positives when I have to post the worst outcome of the day. One of those positives is that at least I was making everyone else look and feel just that bit better about how they did.

  44. missed sleeper, because the only ones I’ve come across were studs rather than rings. Surely a ring would simply be another earring?

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