QC 2496 by Hurley

I enjoyed Hurley’s offering today, not easy but fair. The double def at 1A was my LOI and took me longest to parse. I managed to misclassify multiple anagram indicators today: Out (1A), Frenzied and Strangely (2D). The trouble with 423 known anagram indicators is that red herrings are common.

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

1 Impossible to be given suitable form? Out! (13)

The key to the definition is to see Fashion as a verb: something that is fashioned is given suitable form. “He fashioned a walking stick out of an old tree branch”. Hence the opposite. Tricky.

I miscounted the letters and looked for an anagram of (SUITABLE FORM)* with Out being the anagram indicator.

8 I’m surprised by US soldier’s pet (5)
CORGI – COR! (I’m surprised) + GI (US Soldier)

The OED reckons that COR is a short version of Cor Blimey a euphemistic alteration of the exhortation “May God Blind Me”

In terms of ‘swearing,’ you have oaths and curses. “May God Blind Me” is an oath — so the usage would have been—”May God blind me if I do not do as I say”. That is what swearing is, taking an oath.

In terms of cursing—the other form of what we now generically call ‘swearing,’ you might say “go to hell” or “damn you”—it is wishing harm on someone, and was originally wishing they would be damned and sent to Hell.

9 Vegetable cut following accepted standard (7)
PARSNIP – PAR (accepted standard) + SNIP (cut)
10 Dog’s second place to sleep before competitive event (7)
SCOTTIE – S{econd} + COT (place to sleep) + TIE (competitive event)

TIE as in Cup-tie.

11 Greek poet’s abode? Right (5)
HOMER – HOME(abode) + R{ight}

5 Letter Greek poet, that’s as close as a write-in as you’ll see today.

13 What might be on table soon, so pup barking inside (9)
SOUPSPOON – SOON contains (SO PUP)* [anagram indicated by “barking”]

Two words in the OED, but only one in Collins. And it’s Collins that counts.

17 Up to now, area prepared to welcome everybody ultimately (2,3)
AS YET – A{rea} SET (prepared) contains {everybod}Y
19 Busy month, eg October to some extent (2,3,2)
ON THE GO – hidden in month, eg October

This is rather a neat Hidden

20 Children or babies initially with a doctor in India? (7)
BAMBINI – B{abies} + MB (doctor) + IN + I{ndia}

The plural of Bambino is not given the OED, and Collins says either -nos or -ni. Now we get on to whether plurals of imported words should take their original form or an English form. Two Cappuccini anyone?

22 Protective covering, good, really fancy (5)
GLOVE – G{ood} + LOVE (really fancy)

GLOVE can mean any covering, not just the hands. As in “the exposed wire was covered in a plastic glove as a safeguard.”

23 Praising broadcast of sporting event, say, bringing in pulpit oddly? (13)
COMPLIMENTARY – COMMENTARY (broadcast of sporting event) contains P{u}L{p}I{t} [oddly]

Another red herring with broadcast meaning, broadcast: not a homophone or anagram indicator.

1 Remove from container a French suit (6)
UNCASE – UN (a French) + CASE (suit)

In the context of legal proceedings, the terms “suit” and “case” can be used interchangeably. Not a common term, but used with weapons and flags.

2 In frenzied manner, strangely using Fahrenheit for centigrade (9)
FURIOUSLY – CURIOUSLY (strangely) with the C{entrigrade} swapped for F{arenheit}

Clever stuff, I saw what was going on but struggled to find the pair of words which worked. Also “frenzied” and “strangely” are both common anagram indicators which provided further distraction.

3 Some Bangladeshi — at such massage! (7)
SHIATSU – Hidden in clue (some) Bangladeshi — at such

When I saw it was likely a foreign word, and that it was hidden, I came up with ADESHIA which seemed plausible

I thought SHIATSU was the dog, but that’s a Shih Tzu. I must have been cued up by the intersecting CORGI and SCOTTIE.

What’s a Shih Tzu? A Zoo with no animals. I’ll get my coat.

4 Miss in promise to change painting style (13)
5 Direction not to include Republican — hard (5)
NORTH – NOT contains R{epublican} and H{ard}
6 Container where bill has turned up (3)
BIN – NIB (bill) reversed

Thought this could be POT/TOP but could not see top=bill. Turns out that NIB= The beak or bill of a bird;  Now chiefly Scottish.

7 Once impudent coming to be knowledgeable (6)
EXPERT – EX (once) + PERT (impudent)
12 Unexpectedly mentions a state (9)
14 Old court in the past primarily noted for many-sided shape? (7)
OCTAGON – O{old} + CT(court) + AGO(in the past) + N{oted}
15 Be calm, receiving fresh order for wine (6)

Malbec originated in France but is now most commonly associated with Argentina, the grapes grow best above 4,920 feet elevation

16 Arrive extremely devotedly for As You Like It maybe (6)
COMEDY – COME (arrive) + D{evotedl}Y

As You Like It being one of Shakespeare’s comedies.

18 Trouble relating to group bishop shunned (5)
TRIAL – TRI{B}AL (trouble) B=bishop removed (shunned)
21 Parent  saying nothing (3)
MUM – Double Def

Keeping MUM means saying nothing, it is the older of the two definitions by several centuries.

74 comments on “QC 2496 by Hurley”

  1. Tough but fair offering from Hurley, with an enjoyable mix of the dead easy and the very much not. It took me 11.32, I made mediocre progress on the first pass then took an age at the end on FURIOUSLY (thanks for explaining Merlin, I was in the dark) and UNFASHIONABLE. Both turned out to be excellent clues. NHO bill/nib. Enjoyed the mini dissertation on ‘oathing’ and cursing and am now pondering how those origins are reflected in the way swearing is conducted in the modern age. Go to hell, for instance, possibly has more force behind it than anything commonly followed these days by OFF…

  2. That’s rather unnerving, I posted more than three hours ago and I’m still the only one. In the meantime I’ve been to the shops, had lunch, read two articles in the New Yorker and done the 15×15 which – this is the point of this post – contains a fair bit of NHO vocab but is nevertheless relatively easy, and the MANY commenters over there are posting good times so it’s worth approaching with a positive point of view I suggest…

  3. Oh dear, after yesterday’s disastrous (for me) 19 minutes I needed 15 for this one although it may have been a few seconds over that. I don’t think any clue in particular held me up, it’s just that the answers were slow in coming to mind and I had to revisit too many of them multiple times.

    My only query was ‘bill/NIB’ which gave me pause as my first thought was ‘bill/NEB’ which has come up before and I’ve committed to memory. It turns out that both would be correct but only NIB can be reversed to spell a container.

  4. Only one I couldn’t parse – AS YET, thanks Merlin – but three I couldn’t type. So 16m of hard but rewarding work yielded three pink squares for a record 6 errors. If you’ve ever wondered how people at the bottom of the leaderboard are so hopeless I can confirm it’s surprisingly easy! I can’t explain how I typed ON THE Ge to ruin COMEDY but simple B for N gave me “borth” and missing an I gave me ‘trall’ which led to BAMBaNI- which looked wrong as I went to submit but didn’t properly register. I’d been pleased with myself there too. Monthly leaderboard now shows me with 13 errors in the month. Time to finally start paying attention to my typing?

  5. For reasons I can’t quite put my finger on, I didn’t enjoy this. The two long across clues held me up. An SCC sort of time, which is quite normal for me, but not much made me smile. Two neat hiddens however.

  6. NHO NIB, combination of write ins and puzzlers took me to 22.20 and a lazy stroll in to the club for a coffee and toast since the preferred croissant is out of stock. COD DD UNFASHIONABLE and its misdirection to anagram land.
    Thanks Hurley and Merlin

  7. Even slower than yesterday and a typo to boot, happy days!
    Struggled all over the grid and not being able to make head or tail of 1a meant that I missed out on all those useful starting letters.
    Initially put ‘grate’ in at 22a, thinking that if you really fancy something you might rate it but seeing the anagram for MINNESOTA caused a rethink.
    Started with CORGI and ‘finished’ with TRIAL in 14.16.
    Thanks to Merlin

  8. A very good puzzle but, yet again, not a QC IMO. I am getting really tired of typing these words so often.
    Like jackkt, I went over my target today and yesterday. I refuse to accept that so many solvers (who, like me, are consistently taking longer to complete the QC) are simply getting thicker. I seem to manage other intellectual exercises (and other cryptic crosswords) in the way I always have done. These puzzles are getting harder and are increasingly pitched at the whiz-kids who get upset and resort to self-flagellation if their times reach double figures.
    The 15×15 should be enough to satisfy the experts. For pity’s sake, let us have a few QCs that are accessible to reasonably intelligent and reasonably experienced solvers (and, more importantly, to the newer solvers who are being discouraged and simply dropping away). I have been solving the QC from its inception. My average used to be 10-12 mins (with a good number of sub-10 solves). I am now more often between 15-20(+) mins.
    I think I might join them if things don’t change. There are plenty of alternative, but more consistently accessible, cryptic crosswords available.
    Thanks to Merlin but not to the Crossword Editor and many setters. Why are so many of the formerly good and fair setters changing their spots? John M.

    1. The most important function of the QC IMHO is to provide an entry point for potential new, younger solvers. eg 6D could have been “Container with writer turned up (3)” which would have had the elegance of a cryptic, but did not require knowing archaic/Scottish usage. I thing setters need to dial back their vocab, leave that to the 15×15 which contains at least 7 NHOs for me today.

      I’d question COR & GI. Yes, they are crossword staples, introduced no doubt in 1948 when they were part of common usage. But times move on, and these “conventions” never do.

      1. Thanks, Merlin. I agree that it would be helpful if some setters ‘dialled back their vocab’. Examples like the ones you mentioned have been becoming increasingly common.
        I also agree with the ‘entry point for potential new, younger solvers’. I made the point above (and on earlier occasions) that it is important to encourage newer solvers. There is so much pleasure and satisfaction to be gained from solving a good cryptic crossword. We have seen many new solvers progress impressively over the years given approachable QCs and encouragement from other bloggers (certainly, many have overtaken me time-wise!). It is tragic if they are frightened off at an early stage. John

        1. I’m with you chaps. I’ve put some of my thoughts on why it was difficult below.

          I’ve noticed over the past 3 puzzles – Friday’s Felix, Monday’s Alex and today’s that barely anyone is DNFing – so they’re solvable. The problem is they aren’t quick solves.

          My analysis was yesterday’s was slow due to tough/obscure definitions; today’s partly because there was extra misdirection in clues.

          I think sometimes setters think they’re creating a quicker crossword for beginners by adding in more words to be explicit but actually it just adds in more to process. It’s a fine line to tread of course.

          1. There are plenty of DNF’s most of us don’t bother to comment. Today is the first comment I made in weeks and I suspect there are many more like me.

        2. This (69 year old) solver is also convinced that dabbling with the 15×15 is making him overthink some of the QC answers – Rate for really fancy being today’s example.

  9. Phew, hard yards today. That felt more like a 15.

    Got there in the end but can’t say I really enjoyed it. All done in 13:17 for a Tough Day.

    Many thanks Hurley and Merly.


    PS on edit – the Quitch is running at 129 at the moment so this was a toughie!

  10. Got off to a slow start with this one – could not solve either 1A or 1D, or much else in the top half for that matter. Bottom half much more approachable and I slowly worked my way up. Uncase is an unusual word – one knows what it means of course but I had not actually met it before – and I tried just about every way of reading the clue for Unfashionable (yes, including looking for anagrams, but there is neither a satisfactory anagrind nor quite the right anagrist) before the word appeared. There ought to be a word in the glossary for “this word fits the checkers but I can’t see the parsing” …

    11 minutes in all, so I would agree harder than usual, and the QSNITCH (what a great innovation) confirms that. I would not go quite as far as Blighter in my criticisms, but certainly the cluing for Bin strayed beyond QC-land I think, and quite unnecessarily so. Merlin’s alternative is much better.

    Many thanks to Merlin for the blog

  11. Getting a tricky one like 1ac straight away puts you in a good frame of mind for the rest of the puzzle. Unfortunately I didn’t have a clue what was going on, so gave it a miss and settled into my standard bitty solve, hopping around the grid desperately searching for the ‘easy’ clues – there were precious few. Glad to see I wasn’t the only one who tried Grate at 22ac, and of course I then struggled with Minnesota. All eventually put to bed in a slow 26mins, so put me down as another finding these considerably harder than they used to be. CoD to the hidden On the go. Invariant

  12. No sure of my exact time. Greater than 15m, less than 20m. I started on the club site, on my iPad, but after a few clues it began to misbehave; when I entered a letter it did not move on to the next letter, and if I selected the next square the one I had just entered vanished. I switched to the non-club version which worked fine and completed in 15m.

    I thought this was a reasonable QC.
    LTI were UNFASHIONABLE and FURIOUSLY. I agree that 6d could have been clued differently; nib=bill is very esoteric vocabulary.

    Thanks Hurley and Merlin.

  13. Taken well over my target 15 minutes, but short of the SCC at around 19 minutes, so plenty tough enough from the usually benign Hurley. I think that times stretch out when it takes so many checkers before the 1s emerge. 1d was actually my LOI because I failed to see CASE = suit, which was a bit dim of me – I had thought of it early on. Similarly, I was very slow in seeing and parsing 1a. I also had an MER at PERT = impudent, not at all how I think of its meaning, and NHO the NIB in that sense – I spent a long time trying to find a reason for the N to be there in CAN for 6d, which also slowed 1a. Thanks for a tough work-out Hurley, and for an impressive blog Merlin.

  14. 25:02 corrected DNF. Yet another week already goes begging for a clean sweep but there’s not much you can do when you’ve NHO an anagrammed word. I plumped for lAmBEC over MALBEC, probably influenced by lambrusco. No regrets.

    FWIW there are 8 American states beginning with M. A fact I know but couldn’t be bothered to go through and recall them all, both on this occasion for Minnesota and a few weeks back when Maryland popped up. Today I got as far as Mississippi, Missouri, Massachusetts, Maine and Montana but forgot the aforementioned M’land, Michigan and the answer itself which I now see was an anagram 🤦‍♂️ That held me up on GLOVE where I’d considered and discounted Grate which could have worked if there was a homophone involved but there wasn’t!

    On finishing and looking back through the answers, I can see why this may have seemed like it would be quick. These things ARE easy if you have the bif-then-parse ability but, for example FURIOUSLY/cURIOUSLY needed all the checkers as my LOI. It was clear what to do with the C/F interchange, the problem was finding those two words. Many of the clues seemed that way.

    Like yesterday, where we had two anagrammed 13-letter words; today’s three long words take up a lot of the grid and if you can’t get them from the definition – leave you floundering for checkers.

    With IMPRESSIONISM there was a little part of me which died and gave up when I saw “painting style”. Turns out I was wrong to because most of us have heard of it so it wasn’t that difficult but when allied to a mostly blank rest of the grid and no starting letter, I felt low hope of resolving a 13-letter anagram on a subject I’m not into. Ultimately I needed 5 of the 7 checkers to get it.

    Like I say, didn’t seem terrible on reflection. In the early going, I marvelled at the hidden SHIATSU, ON-THE-GO and COMEDY, enjoyed unravelling OCTAGON and BAMBINI but then felt bogged down and the enjoyment ebbed.

  15. I think Hurley gave us a toughie here as my time of 13.28 would suggest, well over target. The right side went in more easily than the left, but after a complete assessment of all the clues I had less than a third solved. As others, I wasn’t sure about BIN, but an alphabet trawl of vowels suggested it couldn’t be anything else. Even then it needed correction as I initially biffed CAN.

  16. Definitely a wavelength thing for me. I’ve been skipping through the main one but broke off to do other things. Thought I’d knock this one off quickly before I returned but no such luck. Managed it but a real grind. As you say nothing unfair. Thanks setter and blogger!

  17. Difficult enough.

    As a counter to Blighter and others, when I started doing these, I was delighted to break 10 minutes, having learned how to do cryptics on the main Times puzzle, which I rarely finished. Now my average is around 6 – 7 mins, with a range of 3:30 to DNF. Therefore by the same crude measure, the puzzles are definitely getting easier. Now I keep a spreadsheet again, I see clearly there are harder weeks and easier weeks, harder puzzles and easier puzzles. The difficulty varies, just as it should, and just as it does for all cryptic puzzles. The style belongs to the Times. Guardian puzzles can be quite different, and use more “modern” English if that’s your thing.

    For the umpteenth time, nowhere does it say EASY cryptic. Fewer clues, smaller grid, easiER than the 15×15, makes it a QUICK cryptic for the Times. Quick can mean 3 minutes, 10 minutes, 25 minutes or an hour, depending on the difficulty of the puzzle and your level of ability.

    To be honest, I am as exercised by the whinging when a puzzle is harder than people think it should be, as they are by the existence of the harder puzzle, and as a result, am inclined to post here less.

    11:09, which is my 5th slowest time this year, apart from 3 DNFs, so this is without doubt a hard quick crossword, so you should not expect your time to be as quick as usual.

        1. Very well said, hopkinb! It’s sad to see how the attitudes of the ‘snowflake generation’ (who believe everything should be laid out on a plate for them) are creeping into these comments. The 15×15 is now beyond me so I very much appreciate the modest challenges posed by the QC setters. The QC may have been designed to encourage beginners but it’s also a boon for those of us heading in the other direction.

          1. As someone said above, the 15 x 15 is approachable today despite the presence of some new (for me) words.

          2. ReturningOldie – please refrain from expressing your personal prejudices and bigotry on here e.g. referring to “attitudes of the snowflake generation”.

    1. It is the first time I have been called a snowflake. Thanks to Returning Oldie.
      Quite a compliment at my advanced age!
      I have never called the QC an easy Cryptic. QC refers to Quick Cryptic and, in the early days, it certainly was as far as most solvers were concerned. It certainly sucked me in to crosswords and helped me get the confidence to branch out to other puzzles. As I said, I started with QC number 1. Others have gone back to the early puzzles and have found that, generally, ‘QC’ is a better description for those than for many recent offerings, good puzzles though they are.
      The comments here and in many earlier posts on the use of the QC by new or inexperienced solvers emphasise that it is not simply a playground and a little diversion for those who already find the 15×15 manageable. It is a useful training ground and, as I said above, it is wonderful to see new solvers moving from bewilderment to mastery in these blogs over time. Too high a barrier and they lose heart and fall by the wayside rather than moving on to tougher cryptics.
      We all make our own comparisons on our own times over time but we are all different. That said, the comments over recent months from solvers I admire and respect seem to chime with the view that, on average, the QC is getting harder and less deserving of that description for many solvers. John

      1. Hello Blighter,
        Mrs Random has never called me a snowflake. She doesn’t think I’ve developed that level of resilience yet. It’s still an aspiration.

    2. Dear hopkinb,
      Do please keep posting your thoughts. A range of views is good for us all, as is a range of level-of-difficulty.
      I come here for the blog and associated debate, and for the side conversations.
      I don’t dwell too long on out and out whingeing or gloating.
      Good luck tomorrow.

  18. I was held up by the long answers at the top and bottom (I’m not good on words with more than about 9 letters), but at least I saw IMPRESSIONISM straight away with the help of checkers from some of the other across clues. UNCASE seemed odd to me, but the wordplay was clear. Thanks Hurley and Merlin. 5:24.

  19. Usually find Hurley friendly but this one was harder, and couldn’t do the NW corner at all. NHO event = TIE.

      1. Yes of course – as Merlin says in the blog. But I’d NHO it before, or rather had vaguely, but DNK a tie was an event. (So you can win, or lose, a tie?! Can you also tie a tie?) There are many sporting terms which seem to rate as “G”K but which those of us for whom sport is of zero interest or importance will never learn (except through doing crosswords!).
        Just for fun (to set a cat or two among a pigeon or two?): I read somewhere that the Shah of Persia was once invited to attend a horse race. He declined, announcing: “I know very well that one horse can run faster than another. It does not matter to me which horse it is.”
        Similarly, I have never understood why a game of football should be deemed of any more importance than, say, one of Monopoly. If the answer is “one is exciting, the other is boring”, then for football substitute cricket. There!

        1. Am not much interested in sport apart from tennis, but, fortunately for my crossword skills, most of my family is/ was. Snooker is a tricky one, ditto darts. I like horse racing better than the Shah did, though.

  20. Almost as long as Big Brother for me, at 11.00, mostly because the long ones didn’t reveal themselves quickly. GLOVE my last in, with that very deceptive really fancy.

  21. DNF.
    Ridiculously hard for a “Quick Cryptic”.
    Very nasty.
    Octagon a many-sided shape ? No. That would be a polygon.
    Bambini ? What ? I thought this puzzle was meant to be in English.
    nib = bill ? Not in my universe it doesn’t. If the setter searches for the most obscure and unusual
    meanings you get to the stage where anything can mean anything. In that case why bother trying to be logical in solving these puzzles ?

  22. Very, very slow but got there in the end. Took ages on LOI UNFASHIONABLE despite crossers.
    FOsI OCTAGON, MUM and BIN. Had to plod around a bit today to get going.
    Thanks vm, Merlin.

  23. A good job I was not in a rush today. I’m in the tough but fair camp.
    Some easy stuff to get going although if you carelessly put IMPRESSIONIST without careful checking of letters it will hold you up.
    My big problems were FURIOUSLY , where I could see what was going on, but could not think of solutions; UNFASHIONABLE where I thought there might be an anagram for a word meaning Impossible ( I’ll make that COD as it really misled me) ; and LOI EXPERT where I was just slow and enjoyed the PDM which arrived after 27 minutes of solving.
    So, yes, a tough test today but a good puzzle.

  24. Made a right meal of this one but persevered to a finish. UNFASHIONABLE, FURIOUSLY and COMPLIMENTARY were the most troublesome although on reflection all are fairly clued – I was just well and truly misdirected, as I often am in fairness. Did not think of BAMBINI until I had the b from MALBEC, instead tried to conjure an obscure name for a doctor… oh dear. Nib=bill was new to me but had to be. A bit of a challenge today! Thanks Hurley and Merlin.

  25. Although I read this blog pretty well every day, I don’t very often post here. But I have been always intrigued by the often heated discussion about what the QC should be so I thought I might chip in today.

    To be fair, while I have been doing the main Times crossword on and off for many years, I have only really been doing the QC for about a year so I can’t comment on whether it has become harder since it started. What I can say though is that I have always seen the QC as a sort of Times crossword ‘lite’—not so much a simple crossword but rather one that has the same style and flavour as the main crossword but just a little smaller, rather easier and, as a result, more approachable for a beginner. And in that context, just as with the main crossword, I expect a fairly broad range of difficulty and that is exactly what I find. Most days, I reckon on being able to knock off the QC over breakfast in about 15 minutes. Sometimes it is much easier and I can do it in 10 (I think I have only been sub 10 minutes a couple of times) and on other days I find it much harder and (as was the case today) it can take me 25.

    In contrast, a typical day for me doing the main crosswords is 45 minutes to an hour, with an easier puzzle being 30 minutes (occasionally a little less) and the harder ones seeing me throwing in the towel at an hour and a half with less the half the grid filled in.

    While I am by no means an expert solver (and clearly no speed solver!) I consider myself a pretty experienced solver—with a good vocabulary, decent general knowledge, and the requisite warped mind that is necessary to appreciate a good Times crossword. But I don’t honestly always have the time or the inclination to spend an hour doing every it day so the QC gives me exactly what a need—a ‘lite’ cersion of The Times crossword I can do every day. Long may it continue!

    1. “Requisite warped mind”, ha ha, I thought,very funny but surely an exaggeration. On second thought, assessing my own mental state, I realize I might just have to agree with James’ assessment!

    2. Dear AJ,
      Do please comment a little more often. As an “experienced” solver you take on things wil be much valued – by me, at least.

  26. 9:44

    Pleased to break the 10 mins for Hurley who I often find to be one of the tougher QC setters. Can’t recall if the Quitch will eventually determine which setters we solvers collectively find easiest/trickiest.

    Interestingly on the subject of whether QCs are getting harder or not – the Quitch now extends back as far as the w/c 27/02/2023. If you scroll down to the ‘Past Crosswords’ section, the lefthand-most number is the average for the week. You can see for yourselves that the spread is fairly even across the year – there was a period between w/c 19/06 and w/c 21/08 where seven of the ten weekly averages were below 100. But if you go all the way back to the seven weeks between 27/02 – 10/04, six weeks out of those seven averaged three figures.

    There are certainly stretches of days where the average stays high – we are currently in a four-day stretch where the daily figure has been more than 100, but then there are several earlier periods where the same applies, balancing the runs of lower numbers (QC2443 – QC2450 is I believe, the longest stretch where all of the grids scored below 100).

    Of course, these figures are based, I believe, only on those solvers who solve through the club, or post their score in the blog, but that will certainly be a big enough set for a fair analysis.

    Also, having said all that, the figures are currently only available back to February – it will be interesting to see the trends if the figures extend back further in due course.

    Thanks Hurley and Merlin for the elucidations.

  27. Very slow today but I did eventually manage to finish it and parse everything. I had no idea what was going on with most clues on first pass and had to solve from the SE upwards. All of which took me 34 minutes. With hindsight (always a wonderful attribute) I’m not sure quite what the problem was, although there were definitely some tricky clues. A combination of a harder than average puzzle and me just having an off day.

    FOI – 11ac HOMER

  28. 9.10

    I am a little saddened by the difference of opinion on difficulty level as I love this blog for its quirkiness and good humour and Blighter and Hopkinb are two of my favourite posters.

    I do a Dad/son/daughter get together every couple of weeks where we chat online and do a Quickie. They’re both noticeably improving but I think they would be in the “It’s not fun if it’s impossible” camp. But I completely get the “It’s really 15×15 lite” argument as well.

    Hopefully room for everyone.

    Personally I prefer both this and the main fare to be as tough as possible as I like the challenge but there will be just as many folks who get enormous pleasure from knocking off an easier one

    Anyway thanks to Merlin and Hurley for this one which was on the tricky side but yielded in due course

  29. 21 mins…

    I enjoyed this, and whilst I got a little bogged down on my last few (1ac, 2dn,17ac and 18dn), I thought it was a reasonable difficulty.

    Quite a few possible misdirections: I nearly put “Unpack” for 1dn and the usual “Can/Tin” combos for 6dn, until I had a few more checkers.

    FOI – 5dn “North”
    LOI – 18dn “Trial”
    COD – 19ac “On The Go” – cleverly hidden.

    Thanks as usual!

  30. FOI CORGI and LOI COMPLIMENTARY but in truth I was jumping all over the grid. A lot of the time I was coming up with a word that fitted the checkers and parsed it rather belatedly. 13:20

  31. I was distracted by the window cleaner waggling his brush over the window while doing this and in my hurry to finish before he knocked on the door for his dubloons, I failed to read 16d properly and put COMELY in with as you like it as the definition instead of what As You Like It is. The annoying thing is that the first part of the wordplay I decoded was “extremely devotedly.” Drat.! I found this puzzle on the tricky side too. CORGI was FOI, MINNESOTA was last. 10:59 WOE. Thanks Hurley and Merlin.

  32. 15:24. Mostly solved by studying checkers, finding definition, then parsing after. Got misdirected several times by looking for anagrams that weren’t there(yes, I’m looking at you especially UNFASHIONABLE). Another problem was not seeing that fancy was a verb not an adjective. Remove from container for UNCASE and impudent for PERT were slow for me to see also.

  33. I don’t really complain about the QC, however hard because it is just a game for me. But this one left me cold and I failed by a country mile. Too hard for me. Since so many others got it I guess it is one of those that goes in to helping to get better. Or something like that!

  34. Crumbs! 59 minutes today, which makes my total for the last 10 QCs a massive 8 hrs 21 mins (average = 50 minutes) – and one of those was a DNF. Prior to this extended period of treacle-wading my average time for the previous 6 weeks was 29 minutes, so for my times over the last two weeks to jump by an average of more than 70% suggests either that I’m really losing it or that something has changed (or both).

    I only really struggled with 9 clues today – UNFASHIONABLE, UNCASE, FURIOUSLY, BIN, EXPERT, AS YET, TRIAL, COMPLIMENTARY and GLOVE. I got there in the end, but I’m afraid the joy of the challenge had largely disappeared much earlier. Kudos to everyone who had a good day.

    Thanks to Hurley and Merlin.

  35. Working until late tonight so solved during short breaks at work. Can’t concentrate properly at work so not thinking about time (thankfully!)

    Got there eventually, but very hard QC.

    Thanks for the excellent blog.

  36. 28.48 Slow today but I can blame that on a dose of covid. Most of the laggards were in the NW with SCOTTIE the last one in. I’d made it more difficult by typing IMPRSSSIONISM. Thanks to Merlin and Hurley.

  37. I think the definition for 1 across is Out, with unable= ‘impossible’ given/around Fashion = ‘suitable form’. So UNfashionABLE.

  38. Carelessly put unachievable in for 1a misspelled. So nw corner was impossible. Enjoyed today’s comments above, we seem to be having more trouble to finish, putting it down to advancing years.

  39. Got there in the end, but not at all easy. Guessed UNCASE – not familiar with the term. COMPLIMENTARY took a while, even with many letters in.

    1. I also guessed UNCASE, although I deliberated over UNCASk for quite a while. The legal meanings of CASE and suit didn’t occur to me until several minutes after I’d put down my pencil.

  40. Managed to figure out 6dn but not sure about NIB being “ Now chiefly Scottish” – I have only heard NEB used in Scotland.

  41. Slow today at 31:58, but still not nearly as bad as yesterday’s which took nearly four times as long, albeit with a period where I nodded off. Not going to say any more since hardly anyone will see this anyway, but thanks Hurley and Merlin.


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