QC 1955 by Tracy

I thought this was probably the most challenging quickie I have ever blogged.

I get the feeling that the Monday morning ‘ease them into the week gently’ effect is even more pronounced for the quickie than for the biggie, but I don’t really know because I don’t often get around to doing the quickie on the days that I am not blogging, so I don’t have much experience of the other days of the week. But from the comments I hear and the general impression I have gained from the Monday puzzles I believe that this is probably the case.

With this offering today I felt that Tracy had turned the heat up just a notch or two, and I look forward to hearing how the rest of you who have more experience of the rest of the week found it. Many thanks anyway to Tracy for what I found to be a more than usually challenging Monday morning.

FOI was the write-in at 6A, and LOI was 10A which also gets my COD.

Definitions are underlined and everything else is explained just as I see it as simply as I can.

1 Campaign politically in pub — uproar follows end of oration (9)
BARNSTORM – BAR (pub) + N (end of oratioN) + STORM (uproar).
6 Graduate packing old long feathery scarf (3)
BOA – BA (graduate) ‘packing’ O (old).
8 Instrument installed in radio car in advance (7)
OCARINA – hidden word: ‘installed in’ radiO CAR IN Advance.
9 Girl taking article on board plane (5)
JANET – AN (indefinite article) ‘on board’ JET (plane).
10 Given to bragging, several employing strange lingo (12)
VAINGLORIOUS – VARIOUS (several) ’employing’ INGLO (anagram (‘strange’) of LINGO).
12 Reportedly standing in line, helping with lines? (6)
CUEING – sounds like (reportedly) QUEUING.
13 Force of lecture on the radio (6)
TORQUE – another homophone, sounds like (on the radio) TALK.
16 Dated American cocktail (3-9)
OLD-FASHIONED – double definition.
19 Highly valued trophy (5)
PRIZE – double definition.
20 Ran site shifting wine (7)
RETSINA – straight anagram (‘shifting’) of RAN SITE.
22 Deserter‘s charge reduced (3)
RAT – RATe (charge ‘reduced’).
23 Fast-growing trees, ideally spread across end of garden facing one (9)
LEYLANDII – anagram (‘spread’) of IDEALLY ‘across’ N (end of gardeN) then ‘facing’ I (one).
1 Punch black and blue (4)
BLOW – B (black) + LOW (blue, as in ‘feeling low’).
2 All are excited drinking English beer (4,3)
REAL ALE – anagram (‘excited’) of ALL ARE ‘drinking’ E (English).
3 Short hop for runner? (3)
SKI – SKIp (hop) shortened.
4 Old people going round large shrine (6)
ORACLE – O (old) + RACE (people) ‘going round’ L (large).
5 Chief butler in rank bad mood (5-4)
MAJOR-DOMO – MAJOR (rank) + DOMO (anagram (‘bad’) of MOOD).
6 Bishop elected to move house (5)
BINGO – B (bishop) + IN (elected) + GO (to move). HOUSE here in the sense of the alternative exclamation to BINGO when you have filled your card.
7 One who may paint European performer (7)
ARTISTE – ARTIST (one who may paint) + E (European).
11 Wrought iron panel beyond compare (9)
NONPAREIL – straight anagram (‘wrought’) of IRON PANEL.
12 Police officer bagging husband’s axe (7)
CHOPPER – COPPER (police officer) ‘bagging’ H.
14 Asked about queen, awfully erudite, taking time out (7)
QUERIED – Q (queen) + anagram (‘awfully’) of ERUDItE, taking T (time) out.
15 Slip up during attempt to produce a fortified wine (6)
SHERRY – ERR (slip up) ‘during’ SHY (attempt).
17 Current doctor, frightfully fit (5)
DRIFT – DR (doctor) + anagram (‘frightfully’) of FIT.
18 Prepare to take off in cab (4)
TAXI – double definition.
21 Drink in private afterwards (3)
TEA – hidden word: ‘in’ privaTE Afterwards.

62 comments on “QC 1955 by Tracy”

  1. ….I tackled this before turning in, and it flowed fairly smoothly. Some lovely surfaces from Tracy, and, besides my COD, I liked BARNSTORM, LEYLANDII and TORQUE.

    TIME 3:56

  2. I started well enough but got bogged down on NONPAREIL, VAINGLORIOUS and ORACLE which took me way over my target time. Eventually I finished on 17 minutes. I needed only four more than that for the 15×15, so I’d recommend any QC-ers with ambitions in that direction to have a go at it.
    1. Thank you — I did, and finished it, along with a few others I noted from this parish. Very helpful when there is a recommendation as I don’t often attempt the 15×15.
  3. I had trouble sorting out a couple of the anagrams (NONPAREIL, LEYLANDII), not to mention remembering LEYLANDII. I needed the Q to come up with TORQUE, which of course is not a homophone of ‘talk’ in my dialect. 7:45.
  4. https://www.twitch.tv/videos/1140355125

    A very slow performance today from me — took me longer than the main. LEYLANDII was desperation (I sort of remembered there was something ending in II), VAINGLORIOUS took everything I had, and (don’t yell at me), I worried whether y’all might spell it PRISE rather than PRIZE.

    1. It took you longer than the main because you brought the main to its knees in next to no time; fantastic performance.
        1. You were actually quicker than me (ie than my recorded time with that stupid omission) so that’s outstanding — well done !
  5. Having found myself awake at 3 a.m. I went for an early solve, and enjoyed this pangram. A few words required a bit of thought but the clueing and grid were helpful enough, although BINGO and especially ORACLE didn’t go in easily. Liked the former when I saw through it. Not the softest start to the week but not a killer either.
    Catching up from last week I see PLYMOUTH appeared in Friday’s QC so maybe that is a good omen for me going into this week.
  6. As Plymouthian points out this is indeed a pangram, which may account for one or two of the more esoteric answers such as nonpareil.
    Leylandii, bane of my life. How I dislike them.
  7. … I thought this was extremely difficult and categorically not a QC. The expert solvers have posted high times and comments like “very slow”, “bogged down”, “had trouble”. As for me, a big DNF, with about 5 clues completely left blank, which is my worst effort this year by a long way, and even after reading Don’s very helpful blog I am still left scratching my head. Did not know Oracle could mean Shrine as well as the person prophesying at one. Did not know the cocktail. Did not know the meaning Barnstorm for Campaign politically. Etc. Even aiming off a bit for “one person’s NHO is another’s easy GK”, there are some obscure ones here.

    I have felt for some time that the theory that “Monday’s QCs are in general easier than average, Friday’s harder” was not in fact the case; my own times show little pattern across the days of the week. For me, today’s puzzle from Tracy completes the demolition of the “easy Monday” theory once and for all.

    Thank you Don for the blog — I confess I was very relieved to read your opening remark!

  8. Well this relatively new solver finished in a shade under 17 min. Held up by nonpareil and spelling of leylandii.
    I don’t believe it is comparable to a leaderboard 17 however. I solve as a private player who often resorts to aids (had to check nonpareil via anagram solver today) I have also found that when I started out I improved by using the ‘check’ facility in private play but need to use it less and less now.
    I’m not sure if I am ready to commit to solving via the Crossword Club or the pressure of leaderboard times but I am now far less reliant on aids and I might be ready to lose the stabilisers
    COD Bingo!
    Thanks Don and Tracy.
  9. I thoroughly enjoyed this one and although I could see that there were some tricky clues they seemed to fall into place without too many hold ups. I also learnt the real meaning of BARNSTORM and remembered the OCARINA from previous QCs.
    I finished with RAT – which became much easier once I noticed I’d spelt 12d CHOPPEE – in 8.07. Unfortunately I had a pink square due to misspelling LEYLANDII. I wish I could put it down to a typo but it was a genuine mistake due to laziness of not checking the anagrist.
    Thanks to astartedon
    1. I think CHOPPEE for one who gets the chop is an excellent word. Along with DROPPEE I hope to see it used by sports commentators talking about the team line ups.

  10. FOI: 9a. JANET
    LOI: 8a. OCARINA
    Time to Complete: DNF
    Clues Answered Correctly without aids: 14
    Clues Answered with Aids: 4
    Clues Unanswered: 8
    Wrong Answers: 0
    Total Correctly Answered (incl. aids): 18/26
    Aids Used: Chambers

    This week has started off much as last week finished, though I did fair a bit better. I was surprised at some of the clues I managed to answer (MAJOR-DOMO, VAINGLORIOUS), but I did have to double-check that these words existed in the dictionary before I had entered them.

    15d. I wanted to enter sherry but did not have the confidence to do so. I kept looking for words with “try” in them (“attempt”).

    Leylandii I would never have got in a million years. There was no way I was going to be able to solve this puzzle.

    But again, some of the clues were just too difficult for me (and by that, I mean I was at fault, not the setter).

  11. Distracted by email which set me back and then on return held up a little on LOI VAINGLORIOUS. A good challenge for the start of the week.

    Thank you, astartedon and Tracy

  12. 36 minutes, which is reasonably good for me! DW had already filled in Oldfashioned.

    Leylandii immediately came to mind as soon as I saw the clue. I felt there might be a back story here. 🙂

  13. I thought OLD FASHIONED was rather unfair to those like me who hadn’t of the drink. It takes me back to concise crossword days where if you don’t know the word then you can’t work it out – even removing the unnecessary ‘American’ would have helped point to a double definition. OCARINA was also unknown but clued so that it was possible to figure it out. 16 mins before resorting to aids for the cocktail.
    1. We had the OLD-FASHIONED in March – QC 1830 by Oink (“Cocktail that’s no longer cool”). Oink also used it in QC 1498 (“Cocktail that’s out of date?”), so he obviously likes them! Jack said that he hadn’t heard of the cocktail both times! (Tries and fails to insert smiley face)

      Edited at 2021-09-06 08:52 am (UTC)

      1. Still ‘never ‘eard of it’ today! It won’t stick for some reason. I agree with Chris, that in a QC it should have been clued more helpfully.
    2. I had heard of the cocktail which made an appearance in the series Madmen about Madison Ave Ad Agency Era (Netflix I think)

  14. OLD-FASHIONED, RETSINA and SHERRY would make for a memorable hangover.

    It was no Monday pushover but I didn’t find it too bad. Got a bit stuck in the NE for my last half dozen but JANET sorted that out.

    FOI BLOW, LOI VAINGLORIOUS, COD BINGO, time 09:54 for 1.3K and a Very Good Day.

    Many thanks Tracy and Don.


  15. Was pleasing to do it on the train once again, and nearly finished by Surbiton (18 mins) but DNF because of BINGO. An alphabet trawl found a dozen possibilities, went with BUNGO in the end, which I thought might be some posh slang for a Bungalow.

    Didn’t seem too bad to me.

    Took a sickie to go watch the cricket at the Oval. Hence the train-solve today.

  16. I went over target and agree with Don. I couldn’t see 1ac or most of the northern down clues so I started from the bottom and made good progress. However, VAINGLORIOUS held me up at the end together with ORACLE and BINGO.
    I really think this was tough for a QC and most of the difficult clues were there because Tracy succumbed to the temptation of a pangram. Daft I calls it. Thanks, Don. John M.
  17. but not that tricky. Just right from my point of view.

    Plenty had to be put together from wordplay; VAINGLORIOUS, BARNSTORM, MAJOR DOMO.


  18. Struggled

    Wrote out the fodder for NONPAREIL but it still needed some time to come (and I managed to include a typo as well). VAINGLORIOUS also took some eking out but was rather a good clue

    Totally missed/forgot the BINGO/House thing

    Thanks Don and Tracy

  19. It took me a moment or two to see BINGO and my last 2 in, QUERIED and TORQUE, otherwise no particular problems. 8:41. Thanks Tracy and Don.
  20. After 30mins I was ready to give up with a cluster around 13ac unsolved. At which point I decided to check if an Old Manhattan really was a cocktail… Apparently not. Inserting the right poison allowed Queried and Torque to drop out, but I still took another couple of minutes to get the Domo part of the nho Major Domo. Certainly not my idea of a QC. Invariant
    1. Think I’ve said this before on here, but Don Draper in Mad Men always used to drink an “Old Fashioned” cocktail – it’s the only reason I ever get this clue.
      1. G+T yes, Pimms even and of course the odd Kir or three, but anything else is usually a waste of a good spirit, not to mention ludicrously over-priced.
  21. On a train on a Monday morning for the first time in a while. Incredibly busy – almost feels like things are back to normal.

    As a result, thought it would be nice to clear some cobwebs with the QC. Unfortunately, more cobwebs seemed to appear and whilst the bottom half went it fairly ok, I just couldn’t get to grips with the top half. After 35 mins had to abandon with 10ac “Vainglorious”, 4dn “Oracle” and 11dn “Nonpareil” incomplete.

    FOI – 6ac “Boa”
    LOI – dnf
    COD – 6dn “Bingo” – caught out once again by this.

    Thanks as usual!

  22. Failed on ORACLE and put Banco instead of BINGO! (good clue) Sounds as if I spent time in casinos but, sadly, no – must be too many Bond movies.
    Solved the bottom half fairly quickly. OLD FASHIONED and NONPAREIL sprang to mind, as did VAINGLORIOUS and, in NW after some time, BARNSTORM and hence BLOW.. No problem with OCARINA and have drunk plenty of RETSINA.
    I suppose that if you see a Q you shd look for a pangram, but I didn’t.
    Thanks all, esp Don.
  23. Finished the main, did not finish the quick. Made up my own cocktail for OLD FASHIONED which derailed MAJOR DOMO.
  24. When I was at school, there was a curious & brief fad for ocarinas, so I have fond memories of them – and they tend to spring to mind quicker than they otherwise would. MAJOR-DOMO was unknown to me, though, so had to get it from the wordplay.
  25. A big DNF for me. Gave up after 50 with 5d, 6d, 10a, 11d and 16a still to get. I had MAJOR DOOM in for 5d, thinking he might be a character in a book I hadn’t read, and I had the BIN bit of 6d. Having looked up VAINGLORIOUS on here, I saw what was going on with 6d and I was able to sort out the barely known NONPAREIL. In retrospect, I should have got BINGO, and I think I might then have worked out that 10a ended with -IOUS. Given I knew there was a mix up of LINGO before that, I might have got VAINGLORIOUS on my own, but of course I’ll never know now. I don’t think I’d have got OLD FASHIONED whatever I’d done, even though I do now remember getting stuck on it before. Perhaps it will successfully take root in my brain on the third time of asking. Hopefully I can redeem the day later by having a go at (and completing??) the 15 x 15. Anyway, thanks Tracy and Astartedon.
      1. Thanks for the heads up on this — a rare completion of the 15×15 for me, albeit spread throughout the day.
  26. 16:20 for me, so tough enough. I suspected a pangram as soon as JANET went in, fairly early on, and that may have helped when I was looking out for other rarely-used letters. COD to 11d for the excellent anagrind and surface. Thanks both
  27. I was going to add another MER at oracle=shrine, 4d, til I looked in the dict and there it was.
    Very hard as QCs go.
  28. After struggling all last week I thought I might get off to a better start today. Unfortunately it was not to be and I was relieved to come here and find that a great many others had had the same experience. Some fairly obscure vocabulary didn’t help although there was none that I didn’t know. I was also slowed up by inventing the same non-existent cocktail as Invariant.

    FOI – 6ac BOA
    LOI – 12ac CUEING
    COD – almost too many wonderful surfaces to make a choice. Liked 10ac VAINGLORIOUS and 11dn NONPAREIL best.

  29. I thought my 12 minutes solve was very slow for a Monday QC but having read the blog and comments I don’t feel so bad. I struggled to see my own name JANET despite picking up on JET straight away. I didn’t pause for very long with OCARINA (seen it before) VAINGLORIOUS and NONPAREIL but I was delayed for a couple of minutes at the end with the unknown MAJOR DOMO (toss up between DOMO and MODO) but luckily picked the right one.

    Edited at 2021-09-06 12:09 pm (UTC)

  30. Had to use my usual solving slot to drive to my quite distant office. Solved on a phone and struggled. All fair if lacking in sparkle.

    Edited at 2021-09-06 12:38 pm (UTC)

  31. I was going well with only 7 clues still to get after just 20 minutes, but I then ran into the sand. 40+ minutes later, I had ground out TORQUE, VAINGLORIOUS, JANET, NONPAREIL (which I DNK, but it seemed more likely than NONRAPEIL) and ORACLE (my LOI). However, I put PRIME (instead of PRIZE) and the clue did not provide any way of selecting between MAJOR DOMO (which I had NHO) and MAJOR MODO. So, in thend end it was a 63-minute DNF with one error and one clue unsolved.

    I think a lack of GK should not prevent one finishing the QC, although maybe that’s fair for the 15×15 and Cryptic Jumbo, so I feel a little peeved with 5d. In summary, this was a rather too rigorous test for me.

    Many thanks to astartedon and Tracy.

    Edited at 2021-09-06 02:01 pm (UTC)

    1. Unfortunately GK is a central component of many cryptic crosswords; certainly The Times sees it so, and that won’t change.
      To a large extent though, not knowing the word can be mitigated by trusting the wordplay and just writing in the indicated word. You singled out 5dn and if you take that for an example, if you have the other clues you are left with M-J-R _O-O. Rank = MAJOR seems gettable to me, and a bad mood with -O-O leaves you at least a 50% chance with either MODO or DOMO.
      I am not meaning to be in any way critical .. just saying that once you are used to finishing, it turns out you can always find a way…

      Edited at 2021-09-06 03:12 pm (UTC)

      1. Many thanks Mr WH, and absolutely no criticism taken. Actually, I did get as far as MAJOR _O_O, and I knew the second word was an anagram of ‘mood’. It’s just that I don’t allow myself to use any aids or to guess blindly, so I have to (at least) think I have parsed every clue not to record a DNF, or to have a reasonably strongly favoured option. But I didn’t on this occasion. Never mind, I’ll try to smash it tomorrow.

        Edited at 2021-09-06 03:27 pm (UTC)

        1. Personally I see using aids as a slippery slope, so I agree with you there.
          I’m sure you will smash it tomorrow but if not, there is always gin 🙂
        2. One could guess DOMO from the word Domus = house. If I were going to mention obscure usage, I would say I NHO ORACLE = shrine, but it is in my largest dictionary. Sigh.
          1. Domus = house? Latin wasn’t even taught at my school, but Mrs Random has suggested I learn it (along with learning French, reading Beowulf and The Iliad, and taking a course on Greek mythology, and ….). She thinks I should be able to do these things by Christmas.
      2. That is really true and I’ve never heard anyone say it before: “once you are used to finishing, it turns out you can always find a way…”

        There has been some challenging vocabulary and GK in the biggies recently. Years ago I would have given up, but now I always finish just because I know the answer is there either staring me in the face or discoverable with a bit of imagination and ‘trusting the cryptic’.

        And very often the clue I have been cursing as a mistake or impossible turns out to be the neatest clue on the page once the proverbial penny drops.

        1. Yes, you and jerrywh are only too right. With 5d, I presumed that MAJOR DOMO/MODO was some literary character (like Jeeves), whom I had never come across.
  32. Glad to learn that others found this difficult, we were wondering if the sun had affected our brains. Resorted to aids very quickly, which is unusual for us. Even when we got the answer we could not get the wordplay, eg 15d sherry. Still, a puzzle that extends the ability to solve more difficult clues. Thanks Tracy and for the helpful blog.
  33. 5:26 this afternoon. Felt I struggled a bit after a week away but there were a few answers that might be described as a little obscure.
    One of the reasons I enjoy this site is that many of the comments confirm that “it wasn’t just me”.
    Actually spotted the pangram for once but not until after I had submitted.
    COD 12 ac “cueing” in what I thought was an above average difficulty QC.
    Thanks to Don and Tracy
  34. Scuppered. NHO Major-Domo and gave up even after thinking of mood anagram…
    Then lost heart and didn’t see Bingo..
    30 minutes and those two to get…
    Will try the 15×15 so thanks for the tips to look at that.
    Thanks all
    John George
  35. I too failed on bingo and oracle, which I still don’t really think it’s the same as shrine. Very tricky one which pushed me well over 30 minutes.

    My husband likes an Old Fashioned though so that went in easily, they’re rather strong when made well!

    1. Think of a coconut shy at the fairground. You have a ‘shy’ at hitting a coconut off its stand. As I explained in an earlier post as well, if you have a ‘cock-shy’ at something you are having a go at something as a rangefinder or to ‘get your eye in’. There may be other contexts for the meaning but those are good enough for me…

Comments are closed.