QC 2055 by Hurley

An almost completely sequential solve for me. The only one that I had to pass over first time round was 21A where the double definition just managed to elude me but popped out like a glass eye once I had the checkers. Thanks Hurley for a very gentle start to the week.

FOI was obviously 1A and LOI 21A as suggested above. COD as usual is difficult for me to decide as nothing really stuck its neck out but perhaps 12D?

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

1 Case for weapon in small taxi seen by poet (8)
SCABBARD – S (small) + CAB (taxi) + BARD (poet).
6 Mother’s meeting son’s crowd (4)
MASS – MA’S (mother’s) + S (son) [edited following Kevin’s comment below].
8 Nasty riot in southeast leading to soldiers’ sudden sally (6)
SORTIE – anagram of RIOT (‘nasty’) ‘in’ SE (southeast).
9 Floor covering in vehicle — a favourite (6)
CARPET – CAR (vehicle) + PET (favourite).
10 Release without charge (4)
FREE – double definition.
11 Business discussed after hours as spa loth to change tack ultimately (8)
SHOPTALK – anagram of SPA LOTH (‘to change’) + K (tacK ‘ultimately’).
12 Dance company not getting approval initially (5)
CONGA – CO (company) + NGA (Not Getting Approval ‘initially’).
13 Behind in time — some daft error (5)
AFTER – hidden word: ‘some’ dAFT ERror.
15 Angry words as aid returned by large family? (8)
DIATRIBE – DIA (aid ‘returned’) + TRIBE (large family).
17 Conspiracy cutting India out of experimental programme (4)
PLOT – PiLOT (experimental programme) with I (India, country abbreviation and phonetic alphabet) ‘cut out’.
19 Good to visit West African country, harmless (6)
BENIGN – G (good) ‘visiting’ BENIN (West African country).
20 Chesspiece that is needed for new recruit (6)
ROOKIE – ROOK (chesspiece) + IE (i.e., that is).
21 Flier’s harmless mischief (4)
LARK – double definition.
22 Nudge perhaps about person caring for children (8)
REMINDER – RE (about) + MINDER (person caring for children).
2 Singers, choosy (not half!) I recognise at first (5)
CHOIR – CHOosy (choosy ‘not half’) + IR (I + Recognise ‘at first’).
3 Bird nibbled beside another one (7)
BITTERN – BIT (nibbled) + TERN (another bird).
4 First-rate catcher? Nothing odd in that (3)
ACE – cross out the odd letters of cAtChEr.
5 New version of Art Deco — to a degree (9)
DOCTORATE – straight anagram (new version) of ART DECO TO.
6 Dormer I think displays good qualities (5)
MERIT – hidden word: dorMER I Think ‘displays’.
7 All set for reform at end of December? Outstanding! (7)
STELLAR – anagram (‘for reform’) of ALL SET + R (end of DecembeR).
11 Shop for writers where trains are — supported by Queen (9)
STATIONER – STATION (where trains are) ‘supported by’ (i.e. ‘on top of’ in this down clue) ER (queen).
12 Agree with artist it’s unrealistic idea (7)
CHIMERA – CHIME (agree) + RA (Royal Academician, artist).
14 Typo containing H — cricket side storm (7)
TYPHOON – TYPHO (TYPO ‘containing’ H) + ON (the LEG side in cricket).
16 Indication of approval to include King in batch of playing cards (5)
TRICK – TICK (indication of approval) ‘to include’ R (king).
18 Nothing good kept in reserve (2,3)
ON ICE – O (nothing) + NICE (good).
20 Farm animal’s damage on way up (3)
RAM – MAR (damage) reversed (i.e. ‘on way up’ in this down clue).

46 comments on “QC 2055 by Hurley”

  1. Straightforward, although I was looking for DEC, too, which may have made 5d my LOI. Don, you’ve got an extra S in MASSS; “son’s” is just S. 5:46.
  2. 11 minutes having lost time on 11ac by having to revisit it several times before eventually spotting SHOPTALK once all the checkers were in place. Until I knew the answer the definition had meant nothing to me but I now see it was most apt.
  3. 20 minutes with 15ac DIATRIBE causing much delay.


    LOI 21ac LARK

    COD 19ac BENIGN

    WOD 14dn TYPHOON a storm brewing in a new teacup.

    I’ll fetch me cheung-sam!

  4. 20 minutes from FOI: SCABBARD through to what I thought was LOI: LARK then realised I was missing the middle letter of 4d so bunged in C for ACE without reading the clue until after.
    Wordplay helped with CHIMERA as the definition was new to me.
    COD: PLOT.
  5. I spent so long in the SW where I found all the clues hard that I forgot to go back and sort out BITTERN. I’d whacked in BETWEEN in a sort of ‘well it fits’ moment and promised myself I’d come back to it, only forgot. So I start the week with a 15m solve, three pink squares and one error. Wordle took me to the limit too!
    1. Me too, and in the more usually seen phrase “talking shop”, it is very obviously two words. But while not in the same league as German for its ability to make compound words (let alone Finnish), English does allow this so I accepted the word happily enough.
  6. I’ve never heard of SHOPTALK as a noun, whether one word or two, but only as a verb (as in “don’t talk shop!”). So that took all the checkers. Otherwise pretty straightforward, even jabbing away at my phone.

    FOI SCABBARD, LOI REMINDER, COD TYPHOON, time 07:49 for 1.4K and a Very Good Day.

    Many thanks Don and Hurley.


    Edited at 2022-01-24 08:38 am (UTC)

  7. Arrived early before the SCC was open today. Must be Monday.
    Thanks Hurley and Astartedon. Have a good week everyone.
  8. Gentle enough start to the week …
    … and all done in 8 minutes. Only hold-up was on my LOI 21A Lark, where even with the two checkers I still took time to see the answer — my usual problem with DDs, where I find that if I don’t immediately see it, it can take a while. Especially as there are quite a few words that go -A-K.

    Like others, I had not seen not seen 11A Shoptalk written as one word before, but given that the final K was so clearly signposted, the answer could not have been anything else, so it went in despite its unfamiliarity.

    Many thanks to Don for the blog

  9. I cast around this one a bit, never really getting into a flow.

    CHIMERA unlocked what was my main sticking point — the bottom left, LARK went in last.


  10. A nice, but fun, start to the week. We were all done in 10 minutes.


    Thanks Astartedon and Hurley.

  11. Eleven minutes, just about as quick as I think I’ll ever do. FOI scabbard, LOI lark, same reasons as Cedric above. Gentle start to the week indeed. Slowed down a little as had disco instead of conga at first, but bittern soon sorted that out. All parsed, unusually for me. COD doctorate. Thanks, Don, and Hurley.
  12. A smooth, relaxed solve which I enjoyed. Hesitation over CHIMERA, LARK (my LOI), and SHOPTALK as a single word took me just over target but no matter. I rather liked DIATRIBE, BITTERN, and TYPHOON. Thanks to Hurley and Don. John M.

    Edited at 2022-01-24 09:39 am (UTC)

  13. I didn’t find this as gentle as some and never really tuned into Hurley’s wavelength.

    I overcomplicated 1a by trying to put WN (case for weapon) into a short word for taxi to come up with a poet, which set the tone for the rest of my solve. I was slow to untangle DOCTORATE and SHOPTALK (which I have heard of) and nearly submitted without solving LOI ACE. Finished in 10.45. so only just over target despite my troubles.
    Thanks to astartedon

  14. Absolutely whizzed through most of this and thought I was on for my first-ever sub-5 minute solve until I came a cropper in the SW corner; frustrating as in retrospect these were all very gettable solves.

    Ended up limping home in just under 11 minutes.

    Thanks Setter and Blogger.

  15. Held up at the end by LARK. Should have got that straight away, but it isn’t the season for Larks.
    CHIMERA and DOCTORATE were the other ones I didn’t get without some thought.
    A nice puzzle with which to start the week.
    Thanks for the blog!
  16. FOI MASS and then quick progress, although I too was held up by LOI LARK- well done to the setter for that one.
    Nevertheless I was home in 08:00.
  17. Enjoyed this puzzle. FOI MASS, LOI REMINDER. Felt quite quick, tho slightly slower in the SW as had to think about BENIGN. DIATRIBE sprang to mind straight away which helped with CHIMERA. SCABBARD made me smile.
    CARPET was a favourite playing charades as a child.
    Thanks vm, Don.
  18. Pretty straightforward apart from some time getting LARK. Saw SHOPTALK, but not seen it as a noun before.
  19. A good start to the week with a 16 min solve. Enjoyed this, although I nearly had another last clue brain freeze with 22ac “Reminder”.

    DNK the definition of 12dn “Chimera” (I always thought it was a kind of mythical monster)

    FOI — 2dn “Choir”
    LOI — 22ac “Reminder”
    COD — 18dn “On Nice”

    Thanks as usual!

  20. Started with SCABBARD and made good progress in the top half, but slowed down, down below. DIATRIBE held me up, as did DOCTORATE and LOI, SHOPTALK. Surprised to find I managed to get within my target time, even after proofreading. 9:10. Thanks Hurley and Don.
  21. Quite slow for me, but avoiding the SCC. I was mostly held up in the SW where BENIGN, STATIONER and TRICK all resisted, and LARK was LOI. After getting all but one, I couldn’t get HAWK out of my head for LOI but couldn’t make it work, so had to resort to an alphabet trawl to find the right answer — all adding up to just short of 18 minutes. To my shame, I also slowed myself down by putting in CONGO instead of CONGA which had to be fixed before I could see STATIONER. I must have been musing on 19a at the time! Thanks both.
  22. Breezed through this until I came to the SW corner, which slowed me considerably. Was slow to see diatribe and benign which then led me to trick and lark. Also needed all the checkers to see shoptalk. Finally finished in 17 mins, all parsed.

    FOI – 6ac MASS
    LOI – 21ac LARK
    COD – nothing really stood out. Liked 7dn STELLAR and 12ac CONGA for the surfaces.

    Thanks to Hurley for a relatively gentle start to the week and to Astartedon for the blog.

  23. Thought I was on for a really fast time, but slowed down with half a dozen to go and finished on 18:43 with CHIMERA. Like James above, I hadn’t heard the word used in this context, but as the monster is a mash-up, it seemed plausible that it might have come to mean a wacky idea. Anyway COD to BITTERN. Thanks Hurley and Don.
  24. 9:30, with a minute on LOI LARK.

    Nothing troublesome, COD BENIGN. A little confused on 5d where I thought the anagrist was “of Art Deco”, so this led to words like the mathematical drink Factorade.

  25. Considering that I had everything apart from Trick, Lark and Reminder after 15mins, I can only be disappointed with a 26min finish. Those last three just wouldn’t come to mind, and I pushed on, rather than pause to let what passes for a brain reset itself. How odd that unusual words like Diatribe and Chimera could go in with no difficulty, whereas their straightforward companions Trick and Lark put up a fight to the death. Invariant
  26. A good one for the start of the week. Most of it went in fairly quickly, but I got a bit stuck by the bottom left corner, as one or two others did too.

    Thank you, Hurley and Don.


  27. I was off the pace again. My LOsI which all required several visits were DOCTORATE, DIATRIBE, CHIMERA and finally LARK. 11:18 for a poor showing.

    Edited at 2022-01-24 01:57 pm (UTC)

  28. Gather that e.g. a cat with one grey eye and one distinctly green would be a Chimera as genetically it is made from two different eggs, ie twins that merged in the womb. Or something like that.
  29. Like others we were slowed down in sw corner, otherwise a fairly fast solve. Thanks Hurley for a pleasant start to the week.
  30. ….to achieve a top to bottom solve (SHOPTALK put paid to that piece of whimsy), and then by taking a full half minute over unravelling my LOI.

    COD BENIGN (I daren’t state here what my first thought was !)
    TIME 4:22

  31. Got home in 29 minutes, which is definitely good for me.

    Couldn’t get 1a (SCABBARD), but all its four dependants came quickly, as did 5a (MASS) and much of the top half of the grid. Slowed somewhat, but not too badly, until I had just 4 clues remaining — all in the SW corner, and all interconnected.

    Unfortunately, 8 minutes then passed until I eventually broke through with TRICK. BENIGN, CHIMERA and LARK (my LOI) then followed fairly quickly. All in all, I was quite happy with the outcome.

    Many thanks to Hurley and Don.

  32. ‘Shoptalk’ is an online shop’n’chat show in Vegas, so my WOD! My COD to Diatribe. Lark was nice!
  33. a fish, a ram and a myth … have all made their nest in my beard – apologies to Edward Lear. Bittern, Lark, Rook(ie), Conga (eel), the sheep rolled over by the Earl of Mar, and the peculiar Chimera. Flowed fairly well for me, 22 min another GN4.
  34. Mrs Random has had a lot on her plate (so to speak, as I generally have more on mine) recently, and she found herself 4 QCs behind the rest of us. So, I banished her from the kitchen (it’s my turn to cook) and suggested she had a crack at one of her pending crosswords. 14 minutes later, she was back and readying herself to explain (in detail) how I was making a pig’s ear of things. Luckily for me, she accepted my suggestion that she went back to do battle with Rongo’s offering from last Friday. Another 14 minutes and she was back in the kitchen again …
    I can’t win!
  35. Almost within my target of 20 mins; thought I was on for a PB until I got to the last two rows. Stumped because on my first pass I put PIG instead of RAM (I’m suffering a bit of Gip in my leg seemed to fit the clue) and HAWK instead of LARK (he was a hawk in policy setting was akin to harmless mischief but not really correct). Then held up by BENIGN as I could see what the clue wanted but couldn’t bring the appropriate country to mind.

    Altogether a very enjoyable solve and a few more learnings on process. Thanks for blog and puzzle as always. Prof

  36. After my struggles last week I was around 12 mins. Truly astonished as this setter is the one I struggle with the most. Just shows that if you can get a decent start everything becomes so much easier.


  37. PS Forgot to thank those of you who supplied me with words of reassurance on Friday. Much appreciated!

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