QC 2436 from Hurley: A Role Reversal

Much discussion over the last few months about whether the QCs are getting harder or not. I felt this one from Hurley was slightly on the harder side, but still very fair.

We have a Reverse Cryptic today at 1d. A Reverse Cryptic is when the answer can be read as a Cryptic clue itself: the answer explains the wordplay. So a setter could clue EMIGRE (6) with the clue “Regime Change”.

These are rare beasts in the QC, but all should be savoured. Here are three others that I found

  • Linguistic confusion from mother & pa, apparently (5,8) MIXED METAPHOR : QC 2369 23A
  • Secret plan possessed by Copenhagen, Danish? (6,6) HIDDEN AGENDA: QC 2029 17A
  • Eg East Grinstead in relation to its Great Danes? (7) ANAGRAM: QC 1149 13d

Definitions underlined in bold italics, (Abc)* indicating anagram of Abc, deletions and [] other indicators.

1 Rue a true star being redeployed — chef’s boss maybe? (12)
RESTAURATEUR – Anagram (“redeployed”) of (RUE A TRUE STAR)*

Very tricky word to get right, lots of vowels can be shuffled to give a plausible result.

8 Animal blood, no end — I’ll advise to begin with (7)
GORILLA – GOR{E} (blood) + ILL + A{dvise}
9 Girl with old catching rope (5)
LASSO – LASS (Girl) + O{ld}
10 Windfall maybe, one I’m surprised about (5)
MONEY – MY (I’m surprised, “My, My!”) with ONE inside

At first I thought this was an anagram of (ONE IM) to yield MONIE, which is an old spelling, although not since the 1500s. But it’s just the interjection “My” which is of the same vintage.

11 Ron entertained by Dorothy’s dog in North American city (7)
TORONTO – TOTO (Dorothy’s dog in Wizard of Oz) contains RON

“North American” is a hint this is Canada or Mexico, as “American city” is used otherwise , as in 16d. Hurley was generous here, other setters might have used “man”, or “fellow”.

Over on the Big Board the clue might have read “Fellow entertained by dog in city (7)

12 King is in Paris: high point (5)
CREST – CR (our new King) + EST (“is” in French)

Carolus Rex is making quite a few crossword appearances, it appeared last week as The King has jewelled items (6) : CROWNS

14 Outdoor celebration could be brief? No! (7)
BONFIRE – Anagram of (BRIEF NO)
15 Very much dislike mania to be different (9)

I don’t think I really know this word, but of course I am familiar with “abominable”, and “abomination”.

17 Recede, revealing some pebbles (3)
EBB – Inside pEBBles
19 Relation had urged grant must be modified (13)
21 Form a liking for version two, we hear (4,2)
TAKE TO – Sounds like “take two”.

I can’t decide if I like this clue or not, with “two” in the clue and the homonym.

22 Asian mother, 50? Indeed (5)
MALAY – MA (mother) + L (50) + AY (Scottish for Yes, Indeed)
1 Political transition — suggestion of emigre? (6,6)
REGIME CHANGE – Reverse Cryptic

See preamble

2 Unusual street oven (7)
STRANGE – ST{reet} + RANGE (oven)

Doesn’t get much easier than this.

3 Marble in narrow passage (5)
ALLEY – Double Def

Alley is a kind of Marble, supposedly one made of alabaster, but just like Truce Words, slang for marbles is highly fragmented, regional and is being rapidly forgotten. For example we called an outsized marble a “dobber”, but there are at least 20 variant words. What was yours?

4 Nonsense to include a second cut of meat (5)
ROAST – ROT (Nonsense) contains A + S{econd}
5 Lot upset — prelate ultimately managed church, providing open-mindedness (9)
TOLERANCE – TOL (Lot upset) + {prelat}E + RAN (Managed) + CE (Church)
6 Teams in tunnel oddly showing little emotion (13)
7 Shy, edging away from hotel’s wild dog (6)
COYOTE – COY (Shy) + {h}OTE{l}

“Edging Away” indicates that the first and last letters are to be omitted.

13 Do nothing initially that would involve extremely deluded French article (7)
TWIDDLE – T{that} + W{ould} + I{nvolve} + D{eluded} + LE (French Article)

Not convinced that Twiddle can be used intransitively to indicate doing nothing. One can twiddle ones thumbs, or twiddle with ones hair, but just twiddling?

14 “Well done” — welcoming a daughter’s courageous display (7)
BRAVADO – BRAVO (Well done) contains A + D {aughter}

Not sure of the context of d. for daughter. Debretts maybe?

16 US city custom, a habit to some extent (5)
OMAHA – Hidden in custom, a habit
18 Muscular learner in Greater Manchester town (5)
BURLY – BURY (Manchester town) contains L{earner}
20 Something to chew sucker brought up (3)
GUM – MUG (sucker) reversed

70 comments on “QC 2436 from Hurley: A Role Reversal”

  1. 15:02. We called outsize marbles “boulders” in my childhood (Ontario, 1950’s). I thought BURLY was just overweight not particularly muscular. I think you have to look at your explanation for 18 down again!

      1. 18dn is still saying Bury (muscular) on my screen. It should be Bury (town) I assume.

    1. Thinking more of marble/alley/aggie terminology from around when I was 9 to 11 years old I recall cat’s-eyes as highly prized – and of course cat’s-eye boulders were close to priceless! Some kids would raid their dads’ workbenches for ball bearings and play with them but that was mainly frowned on.

  2. Enjoyable crossword and thanks Merlin for explaining the clever REGIME CHANGE which I didn’t see until coming here. Agree re TWADDLE and note we had one North American city and one US city to underline the differentiation. Everything went in fairly smoothly (1dn a handbrake until checkers appeared) for an 8.11 finish, which was strange because yesterday seemed harder but I did it in about 6.40. I noticed the grid was not symmetrical, is that common and does it matter? Delighted to be hip to Hurley’s cunning CR = king trap, last time I missed it completely.

    1. Grid is symmetrical about the NW to SE diagonal. Same as the Concise today. The 15×15 has top to bottom rotational symmetry. I think there are 4 possible reflections, and 2 possible rotations, plus a 4way symmetry that I can’t recall ever seeing.

      1. I never knew they did that! As for today’s, I stared at it until my brain hurt and will be happy to take your word for it, thank you Merlin.

  3. 8:23 WOE
    I’m not sure now what took me so long, but it definitely wasn’t proofreading: I failed to spot RLAST at 4d. Damn. I biffed RESTAURATEUR & GRANDDAUGHTER without checking the anagrists. The surface for GORILLA is rather odd. I liked 1d.

  4. 9 minutes with my first attempt at RESTAURATEUR needing correction before I eventually solved 4dn. I looked twice as BONFIRE being defined as a celebration rather than part of one.

  5. I agree with Merlin that this was on the trickier side. After my first sweep I only managed two clues and then once I saw RESTAURATEUR I painstakingly managed to complete all green in just over 28 minutes. I admit it was satisfying to have finished but there were one or two I still couldn’t parse even when the obvious answer was in.
    GRANDDAUGHTER inexplicably held me up (I knew it was Grand-something) and TWIDDLE I thought a little far fetched.
    I really enjoyed TOLERATE and ABOMINATE even though I thought the latter a bit of a stretch as I’ve never come across it.
    Thanks Hurley for a good workout, and to Merlin for the blog. 2/2 this week so far, so I am pleased with that.

  6. Didn’t write too many acrosses in on the first pass and those I did fill in included ‘acorn’ where MONEY ended up – it so nearly parses it took me a while to revisit, they are windfall, ‘cor’ and ‘my’ are interchangeable and ‘one’ could be ‘an’ – the containment grammar doesn’t work though. Anyway, worked through it to end up all green in 13. Didn’t know ALLEY was a marble and I can never spell RESTAURATEUR, not sure I say it very often but if I did I’d say it wrong – not enough Ns in there!

  7. Nice crossword that took me just under 10 minutes (9:59). I’ve fallen into the trap of trying to put an N into RESTAURATEUR before since “restaurant” has one even in French. I like the smooth way the setters have switched from monarch being “ER” to “CR” (and normal people have switched from “God Save the Queen” to “God Save the King.” for the National Anthem.)

  8. A bit under 10 minutes for a good QC puzzle. Yes, the REGIME CHANGE reverse anagram was good and was my favourite. No problems with ABOMINATE but I see what you mean about TWIDDLE. Exactly the same comment about the spelling of RESTAURATEUR as made by Mendesest and Paul above; I ran out of lights on my first attempt.

    All this talk about “4 possible reflections, and 2 possible rotations, plus a 4way symmetry…” has my head spinning; your visuo-spatial skills are clearly much better than mine!

    When we played marbles as kids, the big marble was called a “tombola” (nothing to do with the lottery game) although I suspect that this was a micro-regional variant.

    Thanks to Hurley and Merlin

  9. Funnily enough I didn’t find this too difficult.
    Joint CODs to MONEY and CREST which both took some working out and then the PDM which is one of the pleasures of the QC.
    NHO ALLEY for marble but the definition fitted.
    Thanks Hurley and Merlin for the blog and explaining 1d which is still making my head go round in circles.

  10. I associate twiddle more with useless activity so I had doubts, but Collins has it as doing nothing.

  11. Got off to a good start, or so I thought, with 1a but struggled with some of it’s offshoots as I stuck an ‘n’ in the middle of it. Slight feeling of deja vu so I think I’ve made this mistake before in a QC.
    The name of Dorothy’s dog would have been a bit of a struggle in the concise crossword but the helpful ‘Ron’ meant the clue didn’t hold me up for long.
    I really enjoyed this puzzle with some nice PDMs along the way, particularly for COD REGIME CHANGE.
    Finished in 11.07 with an unparsed ALLEY – marbles weren’t much of a thing in my childhood.
    Thanks to Merlin

    1. I knew ALLEY only from Stalky & Co, where Beetle is sent to a prefect “for playin’ marbles in the corridor an’ shoutin’ ‘alley tor’ an’ ‘knuckle down.'” We never played marbles at all in the 70s.

  12. Bizarre – at 6’11” this all flew in for me and it’s the first time ever for me to be a fraction of a Kevin. Would have been sub-6 too if I’d spotted BONFIRE as an anagram.

    Saw REGIME CHANGE at the second attempt but can’t decipher the last 2 of Merlin’s other examples. [edit: GOT ‘EM!!]

    Still, I won’t allow that to diminish the very (rare) satisfied feeling I have right now.

    Thanks Merlin and Hurley.

  13. 9 minutes for me, helped by (most unusually) getting all three of the long anagrams pretty much straight away. LOI was Alley – NHO its meaning of Marble and needed the checkers to be sure of it (and that it wasn’t eg Aisle).

    Toronto was very generously clued; even in the QC we sometimes see random men’s names clued not spelled out!

    Many thanks Merlin for your blog. I think though you need one more D in the “IKEA construction” of Twiddle – it is “extremely deluded” giving D{elude}D.


  14. After bagging 1a and 1d in 30 seconds I decided that this was going to be fast and so it proved. I liked COYOTE, TAKE TO and the well-disguised BONFIRE.

    All green and parsed in 05:59 for a sub-K and thus a Red Letter Day, callooh callay!

    Many thanks Merley and Hurley.


    PS on edit – Hurley gave us another old word for a marble (taw) in QC1508 (“Poor quality marble, lacking interest (6)” = TAWDRY). We last seem to have had ALLEY from Alconiere in QC796 way back in 2017 !

  15. Looked harder than it really was and things began dropping in once I got up and running. Finished not much off par in 23.20 with no passes.
    COD had to be MONEY as it brought back with a smile Star Trek’s George Takei’s catch phrase. (See his Graham Norton interview on YouTube for more details of its first appearance on Howard Stern). May not be suitable for all!
    Thanks Merlin and Hurley

  16. Seemed harder when I was doing it, but finished in 16 mins so I will have to forego a visit to the SCC today. The Emigre clue was very clever but I didn’t fully understand it until coming here, so thanks for the explanation.
    I join the legion who knew 1A but struggled to get the spelling – even though there was no N in the anagrist, the urge to include one was strong!

  17. I started quickly and had no trouble with my FOI 1a. It all went well (the long answers flew in) and I thought I was in for a quickie but I came to grief with BONFIRE (didn’t see the anagram) which took too long although BRAVADO followed, given the B. It took me another age to see my LOI TAKE TO and I’m still not sure about it. My COD was REGIME CHANGE.
    I was thrown by an error message at the end and realised I had fat-fingered MONLY. I’ve never gone from a super-fast solve (for me) to a final crawl and frustration so quickly. In the end, I was a minute over target (but still under 2K like yesterday).
    Thanks to both. I thought this was another very good QC and hope we maintain this week’s standard for the rest of the week.
    Thanks to both. John M.

  18. Some easy clues but overall tricky enough to take average time. Spotted REGIME immediately but saw the full parsing only from the blog. Thought ALLEY must be a sort of marble., bur it could be builders’ slang for alabaster as well as aluminium. When a boy, the game of bowls was aptly called old men’s marbles. FOI RESTAUTATEUR with corrections, LOI and COD TAKE TO, which I thought parsed OK. Thanks Hurley and Merlin

  19. Aisle at 3d from the A in 1a scuppered a good time c15 mins.
    Once fixed gorilla and money went in.
    Unsentimental gave me parsing difficulties as I was looking for sides in UNL.
    COD regime change.

  20. Slow today, but within 1 standard deviation from trend, therefore disappointed but not writhing with self-loathing. NHO ALLEY as marble. Fell into MONIE pit, as it were.

  21. Again finished in an hour, but couldn’t parse ALLEY (NHO = marble though I remember aggy from the 1960s) and guessed LOI 7d (morose?) wrong. Slight MER at unchanged ONE (in MONEY), otherwise all good. Thank you, Hurley and Merley (sorry, Templar, you were first with that one). FOI RESTAURATEUR, COD MALAY.

  22. A steady solve today. LOI BONFIRE as I didn’t notice the anagram at first and don’t necessarily think of bonfires as celebratory. POI COD COYOTE.
    Could not parse ALLEY, REGIME CHANGE (v clever)
    Thanks vm, Merlin.

    1. Did you get RESTAURATEUR spelling right as First One In? If so, that’s impressive.

      1. Yes, it is a word I have only relatively recently learnt how to spell!

      2. RESTAURATEUR FOI and correctly spelled for me too, but entirely thanks to Harmonic Row of this parish, who in November 2022 provided us all with this education after Izetti had also included “restaurateur” in QC2267:

        “Restaurant is a French word. It’s a gerund, i.e. a verb form that serves as a noun (as in ‘swimming is fun’, where swimming is a noun. English gerunds end in -ING, and the French equivalent ending is -ANT (cf regardING / regardANT). Restaurant comes from the French verb restaurer meaning to restore. So, restorING = restaurANT. A restaurant is therefore a ‘restoring (place)’ – an establishment where one is restored by being fed and watered. The owner of this place is a RESTORATOR, one who restores his customers. The French equivalent of the agency-indicating suffix -ATOR is -ATEUR (there is also a female version: -ATRICE). Thus in English, we remove the -ING from restorING to leave restor, and then we add -ATOR to give restorator. We do the equivalent in French: we remove the -ANT from restaurANT to leave restaur, and then we add -ATEUR (or -ATRICE) to give restaurateur (or restauratrice). And that’s why there’s no N in restaurateur. Cheers, hope this helps.”


        1. That is such a brilliant comment. It got much applause first time out, and gets kudos from me again: 👏

          1. I am also fascinated and grateful, even as someone who knew how to spell the word. Thank you Templar

      3. Thank you! I confess I did hesitate due to the lack of N, but (a) the anagram made it inevitable, and (b) I worked out the etymology, that the N only belongs to the suffix. After all, in an hour I had plenty of time…..

  23. Managed this in 10 which i was quite pleased about. I agree that Twiddle isn’t quite right and I think Alley is a bit obscure to say the least, but it had to be that. Personally I don’t like ‘my’ for surprised – it’s a bit of a chestnut but not really 2023 speak . Lot to enjoy though – thanks all!

  24. To Merlin’s point about the homophone in 21ac, surely with a bit more thought (it took me a second or so) the setter could have come up with “Form a liking for the second version, we hear?” or similar.

  25. @Merlin Take To : Iagree …second version we hear…?
    under 10 for me so I found it on easier side. many thanks M&H

  26. 11 minutes exactly (1100 Henry I becomes King after death of William Rufus in hunting accident)

    No particular problems, other than struggling with the spelling of FOI RESTAURATEUR. LOI was REGIME CHANGE.

    Thanks Merlin and Hurley

  27. 6.52

    On the wavelength for this one

    Didn’t know that meaning of ALLEY but had to be

    Couldnt remember the dog but with the checkers hey presto and that was my LOI

    Thanks Hurley and Merlin

  28. 13:58 Dubrovnik founded.
    It never ceases to delight me that we are all so different. Unlike a number of people, this felt like an easy one and I have two good escapes from the SCC in a row. FOI RESTAURATEUR, LOI MALAY (nice symmetry there, I thought) and a fairly steady top to bottom solve in between. It always helps when the long ones arrive quickly – needed the crossers for REGIME before that clicked, though – and the anagrams like BONFIRE leap out. I wish I could remember our marble terminology; I rather think ALLEY may have been one of them but I don’t remember dobber. Looks like it might be a good day for the 15×15. Thanks Hurley and Merlin.

  29. 7:50

    Was a little slow in places – took a while to see GRANDDAUGHTER and understand MONEY. NHO marble = ALLEY (never played) and needed all of the checkers for REGIME CHANGE. LOI BONFIRE.

    Thanks Merlin and Hurley

  30. I surprised myself by getting RESTAURATEUR straight away and even spelling it properly. Having fallen into the ‘n’ trap before, I had learned my lesson and it obviously stuck. Like yesterday a good steady solve from start to finish, and finishing in a similar below target time of 9.11 (the second time in a few weeks I’ve finished on this number, and my mind immediately goes to the tragedy in New York).
    I think Merlin’s description of being slightly harder than average but very fair is spot on.

  31. 15 mins…

    I enjoyed this, although I needed all the checkers to get 1ac correct. Didn’t know “alley” was associated with marble. Personally, I didn’t have a problem with 13dn “Twiddle”, as I just naturally linked it to “twiddling thumbs” – although I can see the issue as a pure standalone definition.

    FOI – 2dn “Strange”
    LOI – 21ac “Take to”
    COD – 11ac “Toronto” – great surface.

    Thanks as usual!

  32. Some of the clues were very clever today, reflecting the skill of the setter and brought a smile to my face, particularly where the clue relates in some way to the answer e.g. 11A set in North America, the EBB and flow of the tide revealing the pebbles, the image of the marble in the narrow passage.

    Also managed to finish in a time of ‘1 cup of coffee’ and no further sittings.

    Thanks to Hurley and Merlin

  33. I couldn’t finish this one. Too difficult for me. I only got half of the clues answered.

    However, I have to say I did enjoy it. Even though it was too hard for me, I felt that each of the unanswered clues were right on the tip of my pen. It was like I was almost there but I couldn’t quite make it.

    The only thing I didn’t like was in 22a. “ay” = Indeed (or yes). I always thought it was spelled “Aye”. Had the clue hinted towards a Scottish indeed/yes I may well have got it.

    I did think of Coyote, but didn’t enter it due to my thinking it was spelled “Cyote”. I should have written that word out on paper. Then I would have seen my error.

    So, a difficult unfinished QC, but actually enjoyable.

  34. Don’t you hate it when you write a long and hopefully erudite comment, then scroll up to remind yourself of the Setter’s or Blogger’s name, and find the Comment box empty when you return to sign off? Just happened to me!

    What I wanted to say was, I find it interesting that some of our fastest solvers seem to have struggled slightly with this, whilst the 15 minute brigade, with whom I usually associate myself, seem to have done rather better, according to times and comments above. I, myself, am an exception to that observation having taken 18 minutes elapsed time by being simultaneously slow and interrupted.

    This was a good QC IMHO, with thanks due to Hurley, Merlin and to Templar for reminding us of Harmonic Row’s excellent and learned discourse on why there is no N in RESTAURATEUR.

    1. Yes! The same thing happened to me yesterday – maybe not very erudite though! Also quite irritating: getting logged off everyday by default 🤨

      In fact, it’s just happened again!

  35. I entirely agree with the comment about this being tricky but fair. It took me outside my normal range of 15 to 20 minutes, to 23 minutes fully parsed. I managed to spell RESTAURATEUR correctly first time (having come to grief in the Izetti crossword referenced above by Templar). I can’t say that I remembered the learned discourse from Harmonic Row but I was – and remain – very impressed by it.

    LOI – 14ac BONFIRE (never noticed the anagram until I had entered it with a shrug)
    COD – 1dn REGIME CHANGE. I had originally marked 22ac MALAY as my COD but that was because I had been oblivious to the reverse cryptic pointed out by Merlin. What a very clever device.

    Thanks to Hurley and Merlin

  36. With regard to the very helpful explanation of Reverse Cryptics, I am reminded of one of the great clues from the Times 15 x 15 which floored my sister-in-law for a whole day !
    The clue merely state ” Eggs (Anag) (9,4)
    The answer was “Scrambled Eggs ” !!

  37. 11.42 I’m another member of the “fifteen minute brigade” doing better than usual. I didn’t see the cleverness in 1d. I thought it was a vague suggestion of emigres seeking a change of regime. That would have been rather woolly, but so is TWIDDLE for do nothing, so I didn’t worry about it.

    REGIME CHANGE and BONFIRE could be references to The Twelfth. The main event is tomorrow but the bonfires are tonight.

  38. Having wondered where the N went in RESTAURATEUR last time out, I wrote 1a straight in this time! BONFIRE brought up the rear. 6:56. Thanks Hurley and Merlin.

  39. Well! Having ended up on the threshold of the SCC yesterday, I burst out of it today by finishing in 16 minutes. Once again, however, Mrs Random snatched the family point away from me – 15 minutes for her.

    RESTARATERUR came quickly and I was then able to solve three of its associated down clues, which provided something to build from. I enjoyed REGIME CHANGE, but only after coming here to find out what was going on, and I also enjoyed working with a reflectively symmetrical grid for a change.

    Many thanks to Hurley and Merlin.

  40. Only had a small window to complete this and it made me realise (again) how being up against the clock spoils the whole process for me. Anyway, tomorrow I will enjoy taking my time… 😊 COD to RESTAURATEUR purely because I remembered the correct spelling and very much savoured the reminder around the missing ‘n’. LOI MONEY. Thanks all.

  41. I surprised myself by seeing the answer for 1ac without having go through the tedious process of shuffling the anagrist, so I was off to a flyer (just a shame it didn’t end that way. . .). A steady solve thereafter, but any lingering chance of a sub-20 was dashed by the Regime Change/Money intersection. Having read Merlin’s blog, the former now replaces Bravado as my CoD. A subtle and clever clue. Invariant

  42. Very pleased with a PB of 15 minutes today greatly helped by seeing the long answers quickly. Fits with the Rotters observations as usually 18-28 minutes to complete.

  43. Another school day! Today we took about 45 minutes going through everything slowly but surely. Even after one day MrB is starting to get a bit of an inkling (I put it no stronger than that) for how some clues work but a reverse cryptic was a bit extreme! Trying to explain how they work was a bit of a struggle 😅 So thanks to Merlin for such a clear explanation. MrB does indeed enjoy and understand the concept but doubts that he’ll recognise or solve one in the near future.
    He says he likes the PDM of an unlikely word dropping out of a good surface – I think we may have snared him! His top three today are EBB, GORILLA and TWIDDLE.
    Unfortunately I misspelt our FOI RESTAURATEUR, but that’s part of the learning curve and proves how important it is to check the anagrist or remember expert advice 😅
    FOI (with one letter wrong) Restaurateur LOI Abominate my COD Regime change
    Thanks Hurley and Merlin

  44. Vg puzzle. Late to it, as in the office today, so no chance to do the puzzle until just now. I was also interrupted on a couple of occasions, so I’ve taken a minute off my recorded time for spreadsheet purposes.

    BONFIRE was LOI – took far too long to see it was an anagram. REGIME CHANGE v good – I like the reverse cryptic device, and this had a neat surface.

    7:38, reduced to 6:38 on appeal.

  45. I do think puzzles are, on average, getting more difficult. Today’s Hurley on the harder side again, I thought. However, worked through reasonably steadily, with a short break to ponder the unsolved clues which then came to mind. Not sure about TWIDDLE = doing nothing, though. Marbles called SHOTTEES where I come from – is ALLEYS a northern term?

  46. I enjoyed this and was on the wavelength for once. Unfortunately had a hugely annoying interruption halfway through so didn’t accurately record the time and had to spend a short while ‘resetting’. I’m awarding myself an SCC escape 🏅 for the day in any case.

    Thanks for the blog.

    PS Surprised myself with correct spelling of 1ac first time!

Comments are closed.