QC 2476 by Jalna

Quality surfaces today from Jalna, after my complaints last time out from Hurley that the surfaces were clunky. But Jalna serves up perfectly crafted sentences almost every clue.

Definitions underlined in bold, synonyms in (parentheses), (Abc)* indicating anagram of Abc, other wordplay in [square brackets] and deletions in {curly} brackets.

Three Hidden clues seems a bit excessive. Over on the 15×15 they have a rule of no more than one per grid.

As your newest blogger, I now have a short bio on the site.

1 Greek philosopher’s very constant values (8)
SOCRATES – SO (very) + C{onstant} + RATES (values)

If it’s (5) it will be Plato, if it’s (9) it will be Aristotle but for (8) it will be this guy. Although I spent some time looking at CRATES.

6 Frittered money with some terrible wine (4)
BLEW – Hidden [some] in terrible wine

I seriously thought about B-RED for terrible wine, in the same way that someone is a B-Lister or a B Player, but couldn’t quite get BRED=frittered money. The 15×15 had a clue which worked this way yesterday.

8 Fruit precisely gathered (4)
PLUM – PLUM{B} (gathered)

The adjective PLUMB can be used for “precisely” such as plumb LBW, or a plumb joint (true). Is [gathered] then a truncation indicator?

9 Edited chapter includes one diagram (3,5)
PIE CHART – (CHAPTER + I(one))* [edited]

Top Fact: The inventor of the Pie Chart was Florence Nightingale, and it was credited with persuading Parliament to release funds to fund hospitals in the Crimean War, saving hundreds of lives.

10 Adolescent support of course to bother journalist (8)
TEENAGED – TEE (support) + NAG (to bother) + ED (journalist)

So who had TEENAGER? This time Adolescent is an adjective. Not sure what “of course” is doing in this clue, should it be “on course”?

12 Horse and sheep heading west, then east (4)
MARE – RAM (sheep) [heading west— indicates reversal] + E{ast}
13 A large tree growing on mountaintops (6)
ALPINE – A + L{arge} + PINE (tree)

Alpine is now used as an adjective for any mountain, as in Alpine Skiing or Alpine boots.

15 Judge stupid people scornfully at first (6)
ASSESS – ASSES (stupid people) + S{cornfully}
17 Experts at chess regularly lost? (4)
ACES – AtChEsS [regularly lost— indicates alternate letters]

[Regularly lost] is the same as [regularly], I guess. You lose the alternate letters, as opposed to keeping alternate letters.

19 That’s unusually also something seen in a cloakroom (8)
HATSTAND – (THATS)* [unusually] + AND(also)
21 Sailor’s old instrument is perfect (8)
ABSOLUTE – ABS (Sailor’s) + O{ld} + LUTE (instrument)

Started this off with TAR. The “old” is helpful here cueing up looking for an old instrument, as opposed to being misdirection requiring a “lift and separate”.

23 Crazy attempt backfiring (4)
BATS – STAB (attempt) [backfiring— indicates reversal]

Surprisingly not in the OED, although I am sure I have heard it. Collins has it as BrE “crazy, very eccentric: from bats-in-the-belfry”.

I tried to make STUN work for “attempt”, for NUTS.

24 Man perhaps requiring lip salve frequently (4)
ISLE – lIpSaLvE [frequently — indicates alternate letters]

As in ISLE of Man, Jalna choosing Man over Wight to keep us on our toes.

25 Pet perhaps named Rob, weirdly (8)
DOBERMAN – (NAMED ROB)* [weirdly]
2 One providing crude painting easily (3,4)
OIL WELL – OIL(painting) + WELL (easily)

WELL has a long entry in the OED but I found the right one at definition II.9. as in “Jalna could very well (easily) have made this even harder”

3 Soup dish served up in one marketplace (5)
RAMEN – one marketplace [served up in]

For Ramen, I always think of the noodles, not the soup. The soup is an example of what artists call Negative Space.

4 Lid of pan turned upside down (3)
TOP – POT (pan) [turned upside down]
5 Firm dates arranged quickly (9)
STEADFAST – (DATES)* [arranged] + FAST (quickly)

my LOI as I was trying to get an anagram from (FIRM DATES)*, which fitted all my checkers. After being left with SMEIDRAFT as the best option for a word meaning “quickly” it was time for a re-think.

6 Airline owns around a thousand islands in the Caribbean (7)
BAHAMAS – BA (British Airways) + HAS (owned) containing A + M (thousands, in Roman Numerals)
7 Blunder and fear losing face (5)
ERROR – {t}ERROR (fear) [losing face—indicates drop the first letter]
11 Animal in young herd, possibly (9)
GREYHOUND – (YOUNG HERD)* [possibly]

Very nice anagram and surface

14 Forthcoming, as shop assistants may be? (2,5)
IN STORE – Double def, shop assistants are found in a store
16 Singer contributing to lyrics in a track (7)
SINATRA – lyrics in a track [contributing]
18 Small bear starts to eat some solids (5)
CUBES – CUB (small bear) + E{at} + S{ome} [starts to]
20 Root — one going underground? (5)
TUBER – Whimsical def. One who takes the Tube would be a Tuber. Just like a trainer, planer, busser, trammer, bicycler, carer.
22 Go back home, finally, with two books (3)
EBB – {hom}E [finally] + B{ook} + B {ook}

56 comments on “QC 2476 by Jalna”

  1. 15:01. Enjoyed HATSTAND, TUBER, ABSOLUTE very much, with TEENAGED my COD. I think the “support of course” works just as well as support on course. Also I read gathered as a homophone indicator. Enjoyed very entertaining blog!

  2. STEADFAST was my LOI for the same reason; had to fix TEENAGER first.
    “Gathered” means that’s how it may be heard, exactly like “plumb.”
    “With” is not part of the definition of BLEW.
    Most of the clues are actually perfectly crafted sentence fragments, not that this distracts from their value. (Sorry, couldn’t help myself.)

  3. 8.26. Another who thought FIRM DATES was an anagram, and didn’t know PLUM was a homophone so thank you Merlin. Enjoyed this from Jalna. For what it’s worth (not a lot) there were two dogs, one horse and some BATS…

  4. 8 minutes. I took the definition of ALPINE as ‘growing on mountaintops’ which references a whole variety of little flowering plants collectively known as Alpines.

    I have no problem with ‘of’ in ‘support of course’ with reference to the golf tee. ‘Of’ can simply mean ‘associated with’.

    Point taken about three hidden answers, but just to clarify the 15×15 rule or convention if it still applies is that only one ‘pure’ hidden word is permitted per grid, however a reversed hidden word (such as RAMEN today) doesn’t count as ‘pure’ and the setter is ‘allowed’ one of those in addition.

    On a subject of which I know nothing, the Wikipedia entry on ‘Pie chart’ acknowledges the part played by Florence Nightingale in its development and usage but states that the pie chart first appeared in a book by William Playfair published in 1801, nearly 20 years before Florence was born.

  5. I was slow today, well into the SCC at 28:29. No complaints: I was just dim-witted, exemplified by my LOI, where I had considered and discarded PLUM as not being a homophone of anything meaning “exactly”. Sigh.
    Thanks to Jalna and Merlin.

  6. C.16 mins with about 5 of those on STEADFAST, being thrown like Merlin down all variations of the anagram. PLUM also late in as was OIL WELL – both tricky and unparsed.
    Thanks Jalna and Merlin.

  7. Found most of this fairly gently but a careless biff of ‘greenhorn’ (a case of more haste less speed) made a mess of the SE and I fell into the ‘firm dates’ trap for LOI STEADFAST.
    Finished in 6.56
    Thanks to Merlin

  8. I fell momentarily into the “teenager” trap, but luckily I parsed it and amended immediately. This was a very enjoyable puzzle from Jalna, which I completed in two passes. Thanks to Merlin for his excellent blog.

    TIME 3:56

  9. Nice puzzle. I momentarily had TEENAGER for 10A before I read the last word of the clue. I see others have already commented about “gathered” being a homophone indicator and ALPINE referring to “growing on mountaintops”. I thought “support of course” was fine for TEE and it makes for a good overall surface. Thanks Jalna and Merlin. 4:16.

  10. I would have been a lot quicker if I had written down the anagram fodder on paper rather than trying to juggle the letters in my head. I made hard work of GREYHOUND, DOBERMAN and LOI the part anagram STEADFAST pushing me well over target in 11:34. Nevertheless, I enjoyed the solve.

  11. I struggled with some of the parsing – I too didn’t see how Plum worked, or Oil Well (well = easily didn’t come immediately to mind). And I also tried to find an anagram of firm dates. But all done in 11 minutes and as Merlin says, some very smooth surfaces.

    Many thanks to Merlin for the blog

  12. A good puzzle – harder than it seemed at first. I, too, was a little surprised to find 3 hiddens but wouldn’t complain. STEADFAST took too long (for the same reasons as others). I demurred over PLUM (which came to mind at the start but didn’t seem to parse). I thought this was the weakest clue today. Only when I tentatively entered it did I see OIL WELL and this led, at once, to my LOI ALPINE. I ended up slower than yesterday at 3 mins over target.
    Thanks to Jalna and to Merlin for a good blog. John M.

  13. Could not see BATS, or I’d have had the courage of my convictions and bunged in TUBER which seemed too random (is it a word anyway? Thank you, Merlin – you beg this question: are busser, trammer, bicycler genuine, allowable words? – surely the ambiguous carer would be absurd). Otherwise all green in the usual hour. Yes surely TEE is the support on a golf “course”; 17a “lost” technically superfluous but greatly improves the humour of the surface. Like Cedric I battled for ages trying an anagram of “firm dates”. Thanks to Merlin and to Jalna for a good puzzle.

    1. I wouldn’t call ‘lost’ superfluous because it completes the surface of the clue. ‘Experts at chess regularly’ doesn’t make much sense because if they are experts, ‘regularly’ doesn’t come into it. ‘Lost’ also has a legitimate function in wordplay alongside ‘regularly’ to indicate deletion of alternate letters.

      As for TUBER, I don’t imagine it’s in any dictionary meaning a person who uses the Underground and if that were the definition I would query it, but in this clue it’s a cryptic hint, possibly a made-up word, to support the actual definition ‘root’.

      1. You are of course right. I suppose what I was thinking was – and I concede that this is a tiny, niggardly, nit-picking point of no importance – that if you have to add a word to the clue which plays no part in either the definition or the wordplay, only benefits the effect of the surface, that could be viewed as a teeny-weeny degree of weakness, not so?

        And as for TUBER, I suppose my only query was whether it was a word (given that bicycler, for example, is surely not – the word is cyclist). But TUBER is in the dictionary (even though not, of course, with the meaning of someone who goes underground – but I agree that’s fair game), so the only problem there was my lack of GK. Thank you.

  14. Finished without too many problems, though not that easy. Could not parse PLUM. Fortunately went for TEENAGED as journalist = Ed in crosswordland.
    Thanks vm, Merlin. I enjoyed reading the bloggers’ bios.

  15. I tried to fit HORATIO in 1A but being mathematically but not classically minded did not know he was Shakespearean oh well. But being so minded I was interested to read about Florence Nightingale and the PIE CHARTS.

    Wanted to somehow to get LABRADOR for DOBERMAN.

    Like others I wanted to find an anagram of FIRM DATES.

    Loved the small bear starting to eat solids.

    COD 16A for its surface and skill of creating that hidden word.

    Thanks Jalna and Merlin – I enjoyed reading your bio and am with you on getting the younger generation interested in crosswords.

  16. What a fantastic puzzle from Jalna – thoroughly enjoyed this and ended up with ticks against half a dozen CoD candidates. Pushed into the SCC by the (Firm Dates)*/Teenager bear pit (I wonder if Jalna set a deliberate trap?), but untangling that was just extra enjoyment. My CoD is 19ac, Hatstand, for the surface, but it was a really difficult choice. Invariant

  17. Oh these hiddens! They get me every time and then when I spot them it’s another ‘oh duh’ moment.
    All finished in 1h 10m. Couldn’t parse Plum or Tuber but see them now thanks to the blog.
    LOI inevitably was STEADFAST after correcting TEENAGER, which didn’t parse, and finally working out the clue.
    Lots to enjoy. Thanks Jalna and Merlin.

  18. I was sailing along quite nicely just about within target for a sub 10 minute solve, when I ground to a halt with my LOI 5dn STEADFAST. Although others seem to have quickly spotted that it was TEENAGED and not TEENAGER, I unfortunately didn’t. I was so convinced it was an anagram of ‘firm dates’, I was blinkered to anything else. Eventually it dawned on me that this was not the case, and after correcting 10 ac, STEADFAST was easy enough. By this time the clock had gone on to 14.24 for a slow day. One of the prime rules in solving crosswords is to keep an open mind to all possibilities, and I failed to follow this today.

  19. 10 minutes, easy end of the Rotterometer. I looked at 1a and moved straight on to 2d as there are too many of these Greek thinkers. Saw OIL WELL straight away from the definition, but didn’t quite trust it, as WELL = easily was a bit of a stretch, but I stuck with it, and SOCRATES emerged immediately for a good start. Nothing else caused any problems.

    I read your Bio with pleasure – as I live in Chertsey, I’ll be looking for you in the only second-hand bookshop in Weybridge that I know of. You have also inspired me to write my own Bio for inclusion, which I will do soon. Thanks both.

    1. Tip your hat to St Peter’s as you pass. That’s where it all started for me, even if I was whisked off to Somerset shortly afterwards.

  20. I wonder if there’s ever been a puzzle in which every clue was a hidden? That would put the cat among the pigeons!

    A mole has chewed through the boundary wire which tells my robot lawnmower where to stop. After a futile hour trying to find the break I got so hot and cross that a commuter train and a crossword seemed positively alluring.

    All green in 08:28, LOI being SOCRATES since I freeze on seeing “constant” (having learned from bitter experience that it can be C, E, G, H or PI, and probably others too). Favourite was STEADFAST for the excellent misdirection.

    Many thanks Jalna and Merlin – spiffing blog old fruit.


      1. We recently queued up to get into Windsor Castle. The surrounding lawns were being cut by a robot lawnmower -a working member of the Royal Family.

    1. Presumably, now freed from its electrically imposed restrictions, it is happily cutting a swathe through all the neighbouring vegetation towards the far horizon…. At least it will be easy to track it 😊

  21. Straightforward but the fat-fingered GREYHOHUD gave me 2 pink squares by also spoiling ABSOLUTE. This reminds me why I didn’t originally use the club site, but I’m too far in now!


  22. 6:49

    Missed the PLUM/PLUM{B} homophone and was another misdirected by 5d (well done there Jalna) as well as absentmindedly entering TEENAGER. No other scares apart from nearly hitting Submit before entering the unches for 18d! I liked the idea of a DOBERMAN named Rob…

    Thanks Jalna and Merlin

    1. Rob the doberman reminded me of the old joke about a lawyer defending the behaviour of a client’s dog in court:
      “He’s a gentle, family dog as exemplified by his name – ‘Stan’. Stan sounds like a dog you can trust. Good old Stan…”
      He breaks off when his client taps him on the shoulder and they have a muffled conversation.
      He resumes: “Ah. Yes. As I was saying, this dog ‘Satan'”…

      Ay theng yew

      1. My very first court appearance as a pupil barrister was to defend a dog under the Dangerous Dogs Act. It was called Masha … after the Chekhov character … I suggested we had her in Court to show the magistrates how well mannered she was. My clients said she’d get stressed and might bite someone. We avoided the death penalty so it was a triumph.

  23. I enjoyed this, thank you Jalna. Also interesting to read your Bio Merlin, and support of use of more modern language to encourage under 40s 👍

  24. 14 minutes today. LOI DOBERMAN which took me ages to see despite writing all the letters out. Other hold-ups were GREYHOUND and the “STEADFAST ” anagram.
    High quality puzzle.

  25. 23 mins…

    An enjoyable puzzle, although it did feel like there were a lot of anagrams and hidden clues.

    Like many, I initially put “Teenager” for 10ac and also considered “Bred” for 6ac, although working out the animals (“Greyhound” and “Doberman”) took the greatest amount of time.

    FOI – 1ac “Socrates”
    LOI – 23ac “Bats”
    COD – 19ac “Hatstand”

    Thanks as usual!

  26. Like others, got tied up with thinking that 5d was an anagram of FIRM DATES, which took me from a rapid, maybe 12 or 13 minute solve, to a just-missing-the-SCC 19:21. Plenty to enjoy though, so thanks to Jalna and Merlin.

  27. 8:30. An enjoyable puzzle. Same experience with STEADFAST as many others and I took a while to spot the GREYHOUND anagram. Favourite was the surface for TUBER.

    Thanks to Jalna and Merlin – I’m with you in advocating for more modern terminology, even if it does take some getting used to.

  28. Enjoyable. LOI SINATRA – not expecting another hidden! COD to TUBER. Held up by STEADFAST, otherwise all went in fairly smoothly. Enjoyed reading the bio Merlin – another child of the 60s here. Thanks Jalna.

  29. We both enjoyed this. Found it at the gentler end of the scale and particularly liked SINATRA. Thank you, Jalna.
    Sometimes wonder if setters have an informal competition to see across how many words they can stretch a hidden.
    Agree with the above comments about “gathered” as a homophone indicator, “alpine” meaning plants growing in high places and the “lost” being used in 17a to indicate that letters of “at chess” must be regularly omitted.
    Thank you for the blog, Merlin – didn’t need it today but always enjoyable to read.
    Also enjoyed the bio – have always liked your times given as dates. I quite like seeing old slang used (I’m a similar vintage to you) but agree that it’s nice to see new slang/phrases introduced.

  30. Another gentle offering with nothing holding me up today. SOCRATES was FOI, CUBES finished the job. 5:27. Thanks Jalna and Merlin.

  31. 15.52 Sluggish today. I was misdirected by 5d, spent a while trying to think of a Greek philosopher beginning with V, discovered that COATHOOK is not an anagram of THATS and TOO, took far too long to parse TEENAGED and didn’t spot the hiddens until I’d solved them. I was enjoyably puzzled. Thanks to Merlin and Jalna.

  32. Took me a while, trying (like others) to make an anagram of FIRM DATES and struggling with the NW corner, not being able to parse SOCRATES or PLUM. Thanks for the clarifications!

  33. There’s invariably a point in every crossword when the acronym DNF pokes its horrible head above the parapet and, at about the halfway mark, it did so again today. Fortunately, I have sent it packing enough times now not to get overly concerned, but it still alarms me … until I enter the next few solutions, at least.

    I struggled in the NW corner, which remained completely empty after my first and second passes through all of the clues. I think ALPINE and GREYHOUND were my first tentative breaches into that sector. Time = 27 minutes today, so I’m quite happy.

    Many thanks to Jalna and Merlin.

  34. Made it in 16 after lengthy struggles with the all the hiddens: SINATRA, PLUM and RAMEN. Couldn’t make sense of the cryptic for any even though I’d guessed the right answer for two of them!

  35. Dozy middle of the night solve about 22 mins, nothing to add to the comments above generally. Did see TEENAGED first time around but STEADFAST misled me too. Nice surfaces, and I got back to sleep afterwards so all good.

  36. Seems like nobody else fell for the immediate write in of “chap” for 24a – still think it is a better answer!

    1. You are right, that is a good answer. Only mark against it would be the spurious “frequently”.

  37. 8:40. I agree – some terrific surfaces here. TBH I didn’t look very closely at them at the time – just cracked on with solving – but on further inspection, there is so much to enjoy here. The DOBERMAN called Rob made me smile although I struggle a bit with pets with very obviously human names – two dachshunds called Kevin and Dave spring to mind! The surface for BLEW rang true as well, although fortunately not so much since the days of student parties and cheap plonk. I also liked SINATRA, PIE CHART and ISLE a lot.
    FOI Blew LOI Steadfast CsOD Hatstand and Cubes
    Many thanks Jalna and Merlin

  38. Very slow today missing a number of clues, eg plum, hatstand and a few others. We blame the hot weather on our old brains. Missed two of the three hidden.

  39. 11:20 (sinking of the White Ship)

    I’m glad Jalna stuck to the rule of only using philosophers who get a mention in Monty Python’s philosophers song.

    My last two in were the two dogs.

    Thanks Merlin and Jalna

  40. Another what might have been.

    Well outside SCC territory with only 5dn to go. Tried to concoct a word from ‘firm dates’ as the checkers fitted. Eventually realised that I needed to replace ‘r’ with ‘d’ as the last letter for 10ac to make TEENAGED. Still thought it was a full anagram until the light dawned.

    An awful way to finish after such promise. 27 mins, but might have been sub-15. Sometimes I feel so close to cracking this and then I have a nightmare ending. Really no excuse for not getting ending of 10ac right first time.

    Already at 46 mins for the week when it might have been under 30.


    Thanks for the blog (and bio!)

  41. Took 9 hours and am seventh in the leader board!!!

    I have been solving Times Quick Cryptic starting from number 01.

    In number 12, I forgot to pause the clock. So when I looked at it next morning I had clocked 9 hours. Well, finished and placed in the top 10! Only 20 people in the leader board, and only six had solved it without error!

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