QC 2025 by Orpheus

I felt this was a pretty standard Monday puzzle with a lot of the types of clue that I find most straightforward. I think there were three anagrams, four double definitions and two hidden words. I know some people have said that they find double definitions difficult and I agree that in the 15×15 they can sometimes be quite elusive but the ones that spring up in the quickie don’t normally give much resistance in my experience and such was the case today. Also one very obvious homophone at 5D. The rest of the clues were mostly charades that fell into line without much thought, such as 10, 15 and 22A, and 4, 6, 13, 16 and 18D. So all in all a very pleasant stroll to start the week off. Many thanks to Orpheus for that.

FOI was 1A. I can’t really remember what my LOI was. For some reason I don’t think it was 21D although it should have been because I think this puzzle could very well have been a sequential solve. As it was it was more a case of seeing lots of answers more or less at the same time and breaking off the natural sequence because I couldn’t resist putting answers in that had caught the corner of my eye as I was filling in something else. No discipline at all, I’m afraid, and I think my old school and university teachers might have recognised the pattern with more than a tut of disapproval.

Nothing really stood out as a COD any more than the others. Maybe 17A just because it was a little different and now I come to think of it perhaps that was my LOI as well.

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

1 In fiction, an inspector on public transport (5)
REBUS – RE (on) + BUS (public transport) gives Ian Rankin’s famous detective.
4 Onset of terrible pain in artist’s windpipe (7)
TRACHEA – T (onset of Terrible) + ACHE (pain) ‘in’ RA (Royal Academician, artist).
8 Love affair rocking Cremona (7)
ROMANCE – straight anagram (‘rocking’) of CREMONA.
9 Nocturnal primate girl observed crossing river (5)
LORIS – LOIS (girl) ‘crossing’ R (river).
10 Urchin knocked back fish and a toasted cake (10)
RAGAMUFFIN – RAG (GAR (one of the famous Crossworld varieties of fish that we were talking about the other week) ‘knocked back’) + A MUFFIN (a toasted cake).
14 One stopping to get an item of tack (6)
HALTER – double definition, I suppose the first slightly cryptic.
15 Stiffener celebrity required before church (6)
STARCH – STAR (celebrity) before CH (church).
17 When eventually in credit, girl gets squeeze-box (10)
CONCERTINA – ONCE (when eventually, as in “ONCE I have finished this crossword…”) ‘in’ CR (credit) + TINA (girl).
20 Perfect declaration of one distributing cards (5)
IDEAL – one distributing cards is a DEALER, who might presumably declare “I DEAL”.
22 Old club in Northern Ireland initially bearing defeat (7)
NIBLICK – NI (Northern Ireland) + B (‘initially’ Bearing) + LICK (defeat). Niblick is an old type of golf club, along with mashie. There were also mashie irons and mashie niblicks but I can’t explain the difference off the top of my head. Suffice to say that I believe a niblick was a bit like a modern wedge, i.e. a club with a lot of loft.
23 Escape? I don’t believe you! (3,4)
GET AWAY – double definition.
24 What lovers sometimes do in Handel operas (5)
ELOPE – hidden word: ‘in’ HandEL OPEras.
1 Lightly cooked? It’s not common (4)
RARE – double definition.
2 Union leader overwhelmed by British politician’s impact (4)
BUMP – U (Union ‘leader’) ‘overwhelmed’ by B (British) + MP (politician.
3 A line she’s rewritten in Sri Lankan language (9)
SINHALESE – straight anagram (‘rewritten’) of A LINE SHE’S.
4 Old Greek citizen in the bar (6)
THEBAN – THE + BAN (bar). A citizen of Thebes.
5 Be sick, alcoholic drink being spoken of (3)
AIL – sounds like ALE (alcoholic drink).
6 Bovine animal at this place on crossing (8)
HEREFORD – HERE (at this place) ‘on’ (i.e. ‘above’ in this down clue) FORD (crossing).
7 Sailor’s article about popular liqueur (8)
ABSINTHE – ABS (sailor’s) + THE (definite article) ‘about’ IN (popular).
11 Tunnel Abe engineered, impossible to defend (9)
UNTENABLE – straight anagram (‘engineered’) of TUNNEL ABE.
12 Appalling treatment in resuscitation room? (8)
SHOCKING – cryptic definition.
13 Mournful bloke weighed down by scheme (8)
PLANGENT – GENT (bloke) ‘weighed down by’ (i.e. ‘underneath’ in this down clue) PLAN (scheme).
16 Mean street in outskirts of Grimsby (6)
STINGY – ST (street) + IN + GY (‘outskirts’ of GrimsbY).
18 Cover over open-air swimming pool (4)
LIDO – LID (cover) + O (over, as in cricket).
19 Island contributing to risky enterprise (4)
SKYE – hidden word: ‘contributing to’ riSKY Enterprise.
21 Vulgar thing cattle often do (3)
LOW – double definition.

53 comments on “QC 2025 by Orpheus”

  1. FOI 1dn RARE

    LOI 14ac HALTER

    COD 22ac NIBLICK


    Is 6dn HEREFORD there to celebrate Red Bull’s victory last night!? Poor old Hamilton!

    Edited at 2021-12-13 12:28 am (UTC)

  2. 8 minutes for me, which is fast for me. The only problem was my LOI, the Sri-Lankan language that I had to use the anagrist to get sorted out since I thought it was SINGALESE but there is not G available.
  3. DNK the famous detective, DNK the horsey tack, but luckily didn’t need to. I remember NIBLICK, mashie, and spoon, but couldn’t have told you what they’re called now. 5:07.
  4. Niblick – a 9 iron for pitching

    Mashie – a sort of 12-13 iron

    Spoon – between a 3-7 wood

    and there was a jigger – ‘a chipper’ and ‘a cleek’ – a putter.

    – all wooden handled and only for right-handers!

    1. You can’t really mean a 12-13 iron? I thought a mashie was more of a 5-6 iron.

      In my golf bag there is no such thing as a 12-13 iron. 9 iron is the top number followed by things like wedge, utility, sand iron and 54/56 degree wedges. Unless perhaps those things were all numbered sequentially at one time, but still I think mashie is more of a medium iron.

      You may have superior knowledge and may be right and if so please put me right. But that is my understanding.

    2. I’m afraid I have to support Astartedon over Horryd here, or at least he is closer to the truth. My Chambers says ‘corresponding to a 5 iron’. It’s not often that Horryd gets it wrong, but here I fear he has been misled.
      1. I was using nomenclature from old American Heritage Crossword manual where, back in the day, irons have ranged in number from 0 through 12. Now the most common number range in the modern set of irons is 3 to 9. Further a 13 iron was defined as a ‘Mashie Niblick’

        Since 1998 Callaway have made a pro ‘Big Berta’ 12 iron.

        I apologise guys for misleading y’all by living in the 19th C. – I last played at Cotton Bay, Eleuthera in 1892! (1992). I am a ‘leftie’ and perhaps a bit on the rusty side!

  5. Very much enjoyed the groan for 16d, fell for all the traps left by Orpheus but can’t believe there wasn’t a better way to clue THEBAN. LOI as I couldn’t persuade myself there was really only one letter to change. Didn’t know the language but the anagrist were kind and I’d hard the club said but I’d always heard a ‘t’ at the end, so that didn’t come easily. FIve on the first pass of acrosses on the way to all green in 14.
  6. Christmas is looming, the tree went up yesterday.

    A bit of a gift of a puzzle, a treat on a dank morning.

    Some slightly unusual vocabulary in PLANGENT, LORIS, THEBAN and NIBLICK.



  7. A colleague of mine was addicted to 7dn – it has done him no good whatsoever. My COD has to be Ragamuffin (Ragdoll) – which was recognized as a breed of cat back in 1994 – I had two Raga and Muffin. Bless! Time a Monday-ish 4.43

    Edited at 2021-12-13 10:34 am (UTC)

  8. 8:22 but didn’t take enough notice of the anagrist at 3d. SINGALESE. Drat. Thanks Orpheus and Don.
  9. A PB in that I solved the NW corner without hesitation and worked steadily clockwise round the grid. I can’t remember who was struggling to work PLANGENT into a poem. Maybe it was Adrian Mole. I was also lucky to remember NIBLICK.
    RAGAMUFFIN sprang to mind straight away. Must have been on the wavelength.
    Thanks all, esp Don.
  10. A good start for me in the NW corner but then the curse of Izetti (shown as Orpheus on my iPad version of the blog) struck and I had to work hard to see through some of his tricks and subtleties. Maybe old hands like Don find his style easy but I don’t.
    Nevertheless, I enjoyed the challenge and just managed to avoid the SCC. Last in were PLANGENT, TRACHEA, and THEBAN. Thanks to both. John M.

    Edited at 2021-12-13 09:53 am (UTC)

  11. A satisfying start to the week, thank you Izetti and Don.

    Our American son has a cat called Muffin — but he’s grey and sleek and beautiful — not a rag in sight.


  12. I beg to differ with Don and some other commenters. There were too many obscure words to make this a standard Monday puzzle. My GK is not great but I do know of DI John REBUS which is more than I can say for NIBLICK and SINHALESE. The nocturnal LORIS (clued with a random girl’s name) and mournful PLANGENT were also dragged from the depths. My FOI was REBUS and my LOI was CONCERTINA (using another pet hate of mine a random girl’s name) in 11:52. Thank you Orpheus?, Izetti? for making the unknowns at least accessible through the wordplay.

    Edited at 2021-12-13 10:13 am (UTC)

    1. Your ‘pet hate’ is rather misogynistic is it not! Edwina

      Edited at 2021-12-13 10:32 am (UTC)

      1. Well random boy’s names are just as bad (if you agree that they are bad in the first place of course).
        1. Yes you are right. I don’t like clues that use random names (male, female or non-binary) in the wordplay. Janet
  13. I don’t really understand the Orpheus/Izetti question. Wherever I look (print and all online versions that I can see) it seems to be Orpheus.
  14. I enjoyed this – thanks setter and blogger. I think there is a serious point about using ‘girl’ or ‘boy’ to clue a forename. Some adults don’t appreciate being referred to in this way.
    1. …it’s a mixed-up, muddled-up, shook-up world. Except for Lola.

      I know what you’re saying, but I’ve never really understood why people get so upset about it.

      I mean someone waved me onto an escalator the other day with an “After you, young man”. Well I’m not a young man but I thought no more about it until now. And had I been female I might have had “young lady” but I still can’t imagine getting het up about it.

      But no offence. I do take your point, it’s just not something that bugs me personally.


  15. Back from traipsing around Africa avoiding red-list countries and straight into a straight-forward QC, solving in 9:59.

    NHO NIBLICK but went in with a shrug once all the crossers were in place.

    LOI PLANGENT, which I’ve only ever read and never heard anyone say out loud.

    CONCERTINA went in with a shrug, never quite unpicking the clue but couldn’t think of anything else for squeeze-box

    Nice Monday morning puzzle, all in all. Thanks Orpheus and Astartedon

  16. Didn’t really enjoy this puzzle with the NHO LORIS, PLANGENT or REBUS. And I have only come across a NIBLICK as a murder weapon in Agatha Christie.

    Was able to guess my way through most, but did not think of the random ladies name of LOIS.

    Drink of the day: ABSINTHE.

  17. On my iPad version, the Setter is shown as Izetti, so there is clearly a problem somewhere. I took 11 minutes and must admit that the vocabulary made me think it is more likely Orpheus than the Don, perhaps someone will clear it up definitively. My WOD has to be PLANGENT — such a lovely word, and COD to GET AWAY. Thanks Setter, whoever you are, and thanks Astartedon.
    1. I agree. It didn’t feel like the other Don’s handwriting. Now presumably though he’ll reveal himself and we’ll realise how little we know.
      1. Thanks for your comments, rotter and Don.
        I followed a hunch and checked the puzzle on my iPad using the ‘new’ Times app. It shows Orpheus, as you say. However, I prefer the ‘old’ (classic?) app. It still shows Izetti as setter there.
        Perhaps rotter and I are the only ones using the old app. It does seem odd, though. John.

        Edited at 2021-12-13 11:46 am (UTC)

  18. Finally a more gentle offering! I got a bit stuck around plangent, concertina and niblick, but the rest went in smoothly for a sub 20 solve.
    FOI Trachea
    LOI plangent
    COD ragamuffin

    Thanks Orpheus & Don

  19. Pretty straightforward although I wasted time on 16d trying to find a word beginning with G and ending in Y before the penny dropped. Guessed CONCERTINA, which I couldn’t parse at all.
    1. Exactly my two hold-ups! Penny did indeed eventually drop on 16D Stingy (I was considering Grungy before the checkers came in, but couldn’t make rung = street), but I never did parse 17A Concertina and it was biffed as my LOI.

      11 minutes in all and I would be surprised if it was an Izetti puzzle, not least because he did Friday’s. Perhaps the editors failed to update the byline from Friday’s QC.

      Many thanks to Don (the other Don!) for the blog.

  20. My poor form from last week continued as I made hard work of this, with the SW proving particularly stubborn. The language needed all of the checkers but the rest of the GK was known, if not on the tip of my tongue.
    I got bored of staring blankly at the SW so took a break and when I came back the not too testing SHOCKING and HALTER became obvious and the rest quickly followed.
    Finished in 13.23 with LOI PLANGENT
    Thanks to astartedon

    Edited at 2021-12-13 11:48 am (UTC)

  21. For some reason my online times has this as a puzzle by Izetti, yet the comments seem to refer to Orpheus. Do I have a unique copy?


    1. Please see other comments. We think it is Orpheus but on one version out there Izetti appears and we think the editors probably forgot to change his name from a previous puzzle.
  22. At 18mins back to something like normality after last Friday’s Izetti shocker. I was perhaps lucky in knowing Loris and Niblick, and relieved that the cluing for nho Plangent was generous enough once Halter was in place. Like others though, my main hold up was the bear trap in 16d, Stingy — well done Orpheus in catching so many of us out. Invariant

    Edited at 2021-12-13 01:59 pm (UTC)

  23. Bounced around the grid to finish in just over 10mins. Had to guess Lois as have not heard of a LORIS and also dragged PLANGENT from the depths as a word not often heard. RAGAMUFFIN is a lovely word and NIBLICK a golf club descriptor that I wish they could bring back somehow, it sounds like a club to be used with precision – so not sure how useful it would be for me…

    Edited at 2021-12-13 12:37 pm (UTC)

  24. Me neither actually, but I know some women who bristle. Had the same experience with someone who must have known I was older than them with my silver top.

  25. NIBLICK familiar from PG Wodehouse. SINHALESE familiar from a beer, I think. Lowbrow? Moi? Some tricky vocabulary/GK today.

    FOI RARE, LOI CONCERTINA, COD STINGY, time 09:02 for 1.9K and a Decent Enough Day.

    Many thanks to whoever set it and Don.


    Edited at 2021-12-13 12:51 pm (UTC)

  26. I finished, all correct, in 38 minutes today, but I have to admit to some lucky guessing. Whilst I haven’t read any of Ian Rankin’s novels or seen any of them on TV, I have heard of REBUS, so 1a was an educated guess I suppose. As were PLANGENT, THEBAN and LORIS, all of which I DNK. I have heard of a NIBLICK, but that’s another obscure word for a QC, I think.

    However, the fact that I still made it to the finish line, despite my poor GK/vocabulary, perhaps demonstrates the skill of the setter – and I may have learnt something along the way.

    Many thanks to Orpheus and startedon.

  27. Friday – thought it was a 15 x 15 I was in by mistake; DNF, in fact completed only half of it. Today – bit of a write-in, probably a PB time for me if I had checked. Did not parse concertina, didn’t feel the need. Thanks for the blog, Don, and thanks, Orpheus for the relief after feeling rather thick on Friday.
  28. Started off at a canter with the first four across clues going straight in. Progress then slowed but at 14mins I was left with 17ac and 16dn. These two took an additional 5 mins as I couldn’t think of a synonym for squeeze-box other than accordion, which was clearly wrong, and I was trying to fit the outer letters of Grimsby in positions 1 and 6 rather than 5 and 6 – completely bamboozled by the setter (Orpheus according to my print copy). Nevertheless an enjoyable, if slightly frustrating, solve.

    FOI – 1ac REBUS
    LOI – 16dn STINGY
    COD – 14ac HALTER

  29. ….this was a non-starter. No problems here.

    FOI REBUS (my favourite crime novels, and Ken Stott brought him to life superbly in the later TV series, which occasionally still appears on “Drama”).



    TIME 3:42

  30. This took me ages as I got very stuck in the SW. 12d a major culprit as it denied me all those first letters; REVILING and lots of words starting RE were tried/invented. The squeeze box was another big problem as I just couldn’t think of the right word; and ANNE for girl would not go away.
    Got there eventually with HALTER LOI having narrowly rejected HOLDER which lurked as an easy way just to get to the finish.
    29:50 in the end. ORPHEUS outplayed me but I enjoyed the tussle.
  31. I struggled with this, having NHO of Niblick, Loris or Plagent. Concertina I have heard of but it just wouldn’t come. Like many, also spent an age on 16dn trying to fit something between “g” and “y”. Overall, quite a few tricky clues.

    FOI — 1dn “Rare”
    LOI — dnf
    COD — 10ac “Ragamuffin”

    Thanks as usual!

  32. Had trouble accepting that THEBAN was that obvious, but it was. Generally an uncomplicated and steady solve. A number of excellent words, PLANGENT and NIBLICK need to be used more often.
  33. Gar turned up with an AGA, my first chance to cook this fish. I started golf with my grandfather’s jigger, mashie and putter, then a spoon, no niblick, and there I stopped. I have been buying a watch as a present so LORUS (brand name) got me puzzled. I have not met a girl called Lous(!), and Lemur and Possum were not right. But I do know a Lois (F) and a Lois (M). 22 min and GN4 except for the nocturnal primate.
  34. …complete and say how straightforward this was.
    Oh well, not in my camp.
    This was difficult and I DNF. Well I gave up with 50% incomplete.
    Old-school-Orpheus strikes again.
    Utterly out of my league
    Thanks all
    John George
  35. I found much of this straightforward, but overall I’d say it was about average or slightly harder as the inclusion of the unknown PLANGENT and NIBLICK held me up for several minutes. SINHALESE was only vaguely heard of and needed dredging up and checkers before I could be confident of the spelling. Thankfully LORIS was well known to me. Anyway, FOI TRACHEA, LOI PLANGENT, COD STINGY, Time 25:32. Thanks Astartedon and Orpheus.

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