QC 2516 by Wurm

Happy Halloween if you celebrate it, not much to be afraid of in this offering from Wurm.

14:32 for me, with the bottom left being the holdout.

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

1 Unexpected blow son received in belly (4)
GUST – GUT (belly) contains S{on}
3 The Saint strangely indecisive (8)
9 In pieces like subordinate? (7)
ASUNDER – AS (like) + UNDER (subordinate)
10 Ultimately elegant Irish language crisply brief (5)
TERSE – {elegan}T + ERSE (Irish language)

ERSE is another name for Irish Gaelic, apparently.

11 Jog back for one horse (5)
NUDGE – E.G. (for one) + DUN (horse), all reversed

DUN, like ROAN in a puzzle I blogged recently is a colour which can stand on its own for a horse. Also GREY.

12 Polly run over in neighbourhood (6)
PARROT – PART (neighbourhood) contains R{un} and O{ver}

Both Run and Over are abbreviated this way in cricket (specifically in bowling analyses). A neighbourhood is a PART of a town, I guess.

14 Riled bears with disconcerting show of aggression (5-8)
SABRE-RATTLING – (BEARS)* + RATTLING (disconcerting)

“Riled” is one of the less common anagram indicators. The OED says this usage of RATTLING is colloquial  and originally U.S., but I think it is pretty standard now.

17 Japanese island hard on footwear we hear (6)
HONSHU – H{ard} + ON + SHU [sounds like SHOE(footwear)]

Tough one, HONSHU is the largest one of the Big Four, where Tokyo is. The others are: Hokkaido, Kyushu and Shikoku. At least 200 others are inhabited.

19 Teacher‘s pet, last to be expelled (5)
RABBI – RABBI{t} (pet)

RABBI/RABBIT is a real chestnut.

22 Best supplied with ball on both United wings? (5)
OUTDO – UTD (United) has an O (ball) on both sides

“Best” is a verb here, not the more common adjective or adverb. This is a great clue. I kept trying to get something with “optimum”, and even thought that OPTIO (centurion’s deputy) might work. As several bloggers confirmed, Best here in the surface refers to George Best.

23 See silver found in island excavation (7)
IMAGINE – AG (sliver) in I{sland} + MINE (excavation)
24 Tennis shot from pro: European worker (8)
FOREHAND – FOR (pro) + E{uropean} + HAND(worker)

Not ACE(tennis shot) or ANT(worker).

25 Stops  goals (4)
ENDS – Double def
1 Rewritten slogan on way for Russian policy (8)

Very good surface, as Glasnost was really just a slogan, it turned out.

2 Shilling — another twenty needed for calamari? (5)
SQUID – S{hilling} + QUID (=twenty shillings)

Clever. In Old Money, a pound (QUID) was worth 20 shillings.

4 Continental marriage? We’re no longer in it (8,5)
EUROPEAN UNION – Cryptic Definition

First clue I’ve seen that brings up the painful Brexit issue.

5 Playwright’s quietly leaving Bury (5)
INTER – P(quietly) is removed from PINTER (playwright)

With a five letter playwright, starting with I had banged in Ibsen before having a rethink.

6 A leading monk, upstanding character in theory (1,6)
A PRIORI – A + PRIOR (leading monk) + I (upstanding character)

If you jump from cause to effect without “showing your working”, this is said to be reasoning a priori. This is complex stuff, and its meaning seems to have changed to something simpler, as in just a previous assumption.

7 Precious little time — almost seven days! (4)
TWEE -T{ime} + WEE{k} (seven days)

Originally: ‘sweet’, dainty, chic. Now only in depreciatory use: affectedly dainty or quaint; over-nice, over-refined, precious, mawkish. (OED)

8 Stick lands regularly at this spot (6)
ADHERE – {l}A{n}D{s} + HERE (at this spot)
13 Is this what can make us single? (8)

I think this is what experts call an &lit, where the whole clue is also the definition. Very clever.

15 Fish from lake carried in straw hat (7)
BLOATER – BOATER (straw hat) contains L{ake}

I though this was a dead fish floating at the surface. But apparently it is a type of Herring. I found this quote in the OED:

Real Yarmouth BLOATERS are herrings very slightly salted, and smoked for three or four hours only.

16 Sailor Brown checked Scottish cloth (6)
TARTAN – TAR (sailor) + TAN(brown)

I was a bit dense here, trying Scottish=MAC for TARMAC.

18 Keep quiet about fate and sin (5)
SLOTH – SH (keep quiet) around LOT(fate)

This is definition by example, as SLOTH is one of the seven deadly sins.

20 Scots child I housed in farm building (5)
BAIRN – BARN (farm building) contains I

I learned this distinction when checking in the dictionary: BAIRN is used in expressing relationship, rather than age; “child” can’t be used this way, but “offspring” can.

21 Bolt to glide smoothly when lifted (4)
WOLF – FLOW (slide smoothly) reversed

Bolt as to eat rapidly, hence WOLF. Both usually followed by “down”.

73 comments on “QC 2516 by Wurm”

  1. 11:38. Really liked OUTDO, NUDGE, and IMAGINE. Didn’t see PART for neighbourhood for a while, but thought of “in these parts”maybe. I needed the blog to understand the parsing of A PRIORI. I guess 22across refers to George Best. The puzzle has a lot of fauna- WOLF and SLOTH on land, BLOATER and SQUID in the water, and PARROT in the air. (Hints at SABRE-toothed tiger and RABBIt too!)

  2. This was a lovely blog, Merlin, I loved all of your extra explanations and examples

    I DNF this one, but it was very close. I didn’t know GLASNOST. My huge lack of historical or political knowledge strikes again.

    I biffed but couldn’t parse NUDGE (didn’t know ‘dun’, thanks Merlin), nor A PRIORI (didn’t know ‘prior’ was a monk – I only knew the Latin phrase from a kpop song by Jungkook so go figure) and I also just chucked in ISBEN once I had an I! But yeah took that one out pronto

    Loi: would have been GLASNOST I understood I had to anagram Goals over a way but had no clue

    This one was a lot of fun

    1. 👏🏻👏🏻I wonder how many other QCers get clue hints from K-pop in general, or Jungkook in particular? I think that merits some sort of award.

  3. I thought of Ibsen too, went so far as to type it in, but immediately thought better of it. I biffed OUTDO, then inferred that UTD was an abbreviation of ‘United’. 18d isn’t definition by example (DBE); it would be if ‘sloth’ was cluing SIN. 6:18.

  4. 13 minutes. Slowed in the lower half. Looked twice at at PART for ‘neighbourhood’ and am still not completely convinced although I would never have queried ‘parts’.

    13dn tells a rather sad tale.

  5. It all went swimmingly until I hit the SW corner. SLOTH slowed me down (very good clue though) and OUTDO and WOLF foxed me completely, so I threw in the towel after around 30 minutes. That said it was fair clueing throughout so thank you to Wurm and to Merlin.
    I would wish you all a Happy Halloween but the curmudgeon in me prevents my doing so.

    1. or should it be unhappy halloween since there’s lots of death (skeletons), gore and scary things??

  6. Ground to a halt in the SW after a very fast start. Same problems as ITTT only I took an age over FOREHAND too – that clue looked like utter gibberish for quite a while, I tried EANT at the end for European worker, than’s how lost I was. That, WOLF and SLOTH were penny dropping highlights. HONSHU was just relief that the clue led me to a word I recognised because unaided by GK was lacking.
    Needed Merlin’s reminders to understand NUDGE too. Good one. All green in a hard fought 18.

  7. Ah! After a 10-hour drive (with stops) from Melbourne to the south coast of NSW I am settled on my deck in the warm, sunny late afternoon with the sound of waves breaking in the bay, a nice glass of red and a relaxing crossword by Wurm…can’t say I regret being retired. 9.20 for me, all present and correct, held up mainly in the SW by OUTDO and WOLF (a chestnut, there’s another horse defined by colour). BLOATER known only from the song in When the Boat Comes In. Nice blog Merlin, thank you.

  8. Top quality puzzle from Wurm with lots of contenders for COD but for me OUTDO just takes it from GLASNOST.
    Started with GUST and worked from top to bottom finishing with UGLINESS where I had to resort to pen and paper to untangle the anagram.
    Fact of the day (thanks Merlin) was that 20 shillings were known as a quid – always vaguely wondered why pounds were referred to as quid.
    Finished in 7.48

      1. I’m old at heart, but born in ’72 which I believe is around the time that the ‘new’ currency came in!

    1. I don’t think that “quid” has anything to do with the fact that a pound was twenty shillings – that was the case centuries before the word “quid” came in, because we were using the Carolingian system.

  9. Enjoyed this. Almost all complete after 20m, so carried on and completed in 24m. Needed the blog to parse a few though. Thanks Merlin.

  10. Interrupted solve but certainly in the SCC. OUTDO, UGLINESS and IMAGINE taking far too long although I think I was distracted by then after quite a speedy top half. OUTDO was very obvious once solved so a clever clue to a short word in plain sight, and the Georgie Best reference as the cherry on the cake.
    If you have a shilling, don’t you only need 19 more for a quid? 21 shillings is, if I remember correctly, a guinea.

    1. Yes, good point. But you need the S as well as the QUID, so it’ll cost, as you say, a guinea.

      1. No, I think Wurm is being sly here. Chambers tells us that the derivation of QUID is ‘obscure’, but is quite clear that the term was originally applied to a guinea (i.e. 21s) rather than a pound (20s). So Wurm’s maths does add up, if you go back a century or so. I suspect the question mark in the clue denotes this deviation from the more modern definition, although addition of “once” would probably have been a bit clearer.

  11. 7.58

    Struggled a bit to get going. OUTDO and UGLINESS were excellent. EUROPEAN UNION though maybe a bit weak?

    Thanks Wurm and Merlin

  12. Enjoyable puzzle but a dnf thanks to UNDO which just would not come and UGLINESS which I considered but missed the anagram indicator. No complaints though.
    Thanks for the blog Merlin. I would only use ‘bairn’ when referring to a child never an adult. Calling a grown up son ‘a bairn’ for example would be a derogatory or joking reference.

  13. I appear to be in the minority so far in finding this tough, and not entirely satisfactory. 14 minutes in all, with the main hold-out being the SW corner, but before then I was far from convinced by Neighbourhood = Part, and unimpressed by Upstanding character = I. What next, the letter S clued by “squiggly character”?

    SW corner on the other hand slowed me for quite the other reason – really excellent clues which took some thinking. Outdo the pick of the bunch and my COD, not least for the George Best reference (those of us who saw him play live must now be in the minority – what he would have done with the modern lighter ball and better pitches!)

    Many thanks Merlin for the blog

    1. From the Jumbo I blogged last Saturday:

      Upright character must stop malign duo, criminal element (10)

      ‘I’ (upright character) came easily to mind as I remember Sir Humphrey in Yes, Prime Minister in one of his grandiloquent circumlocutions referring to ‘I’ as ‘the perpendicular pronoun’.

      1. It was when he was rumbled as being responsible for a major cock-up earlier in his career:
        The identity of the official whose alleged responsibility for this hypothetical oversight has been the subject of recent discussion is not shrouded in quite such impenetrable obscurity as certain previous disclosures may have led you to assume, but, not to put too fine a point on it, the individual in question is, it may surprise you to learn, one whom your present interlocutor is in the habit of defining by means of the perpendicular pronoun.

        1. We’ve been rewatching Yes Minster recently and saw the relevant episode just a couple of weeks ago. Even though I knew what was coming, I still laughed like a drain! The scary thing is just how relevant so much of the whole series still is.

  14. 14:28 (birth of Warwick the Kingmaker)

    I expect John will like 5d.

    Held up for a while at the end on 22a, struggling to find words that fitted. Finally spotted that OUTDO would fit, and could mean best, so bunged it in without parsing. Thanks Merlin for explaining what an excellent clue it is.

  15. Two interconnecting clues did it for me. I took ages to work out (both NHO) A PRIORI and finally SABRE RATTLING. 12:43 for a poor start to the week.

  16. 13 minutes with 3 of those spent unravelling OUTDO and WOLF. Merlin, in 16d I think ‘checked’ should be underlined as a part of the definition, but excellent blog. Good crossword. Thanks.

  17. [Did anyone else have issues with the Club this morning? Took forever to load even though I had 5G signal. I was stabbing away at my phone like a demented heron trying to spear a particularly slippery eel.]

    I found that tough, with 7 of the acrosses unsolved on first pass. The downs were more co-operative but the bottom half acrosses resisted bitterly. I didn’t know HONSHU and had to piece it together; I was trying to work a bishopric for “see” into 23a; and OUTDO and UGLINESS (my COD – what a brilliant clue) were way above my paygrade.

    Limped home in 11:03 for an Uninspired Day, but that’s my fault not Wurm’s – top puzzle.

    Many thanks Wurm and Merlin.


    1. I’ve had issues getting into the club for the past couple of days, so cleared cache this morning which seemed to do the trick – then just had to remember my password🤦‍♂️

  18. Failed on OUTDO and WOLF. Pity, as I managed HONSHU.
    FOI GLASNOST. EUROPEAN UNION was a help, as was SABRE RATTLING. Liked ASUNDER, HESITANT, SQUID. RABBI is crossword favourite, of course.
    Did not like UGLINESS. Kind of cruel?
    I didn’t find this an easy peasy puzzle, but thanks vm, Merlin.

  19. Most relieved to get home today in 30 minutes, which is a respectable time for me. HESITANT got the ball rolling and I jumped around the grid, using new checkers as they arose, at an increasingly rapid pace. Solving the two long clues, EUROPEAN UNION and SABRE RATTLING, quite early on in proceedings proved very helpful, of course. And so, I arrived at my last two clues (or so I thought) just a minute before SCC opening time.

    OUTDO (what a great clue!) took about three minutes to unravel, but A _R_s_I proved impossible until I went back and checked each of the intersecting across clues. I remembered I had biffed PARish (neighbourhood) for 12a and a second look revealed PARROT as the correct answer. A PRIORI still took another couple of minutes, but at least I had avoided a mental block along the lines of yesterday’s stationary half-hour.

    Many thanks to Wurm and Merlin.

    P.S. I was on the lookout for Oink’s customary piggy reference throughout. What a plonker!

      1. Nice clue, Merlin.
        It reminds me of that game in I’m Sorry I Haven’t A Clue.
        Although now, after your inspired effort, they have!

  20. I found this very straightforward and only paused briefly for UGLINESS (agree with Countrywoman’s assessment of this clue) and IMAGINE. Didn’t know HONSHU but the wordplay was clear. Pleased to remember ‘Erse’ known only from crosswords. Liked surface for GLASNOST. Great blog. Thanks all.

    1. It’s one to get confused with ERNE (Sea Eagle) and ARNE (some composer). Do we have a word for words only ever encountered in crosswords?

      1. Crosswordese is the usual term. That said, I have encountered Arne, ernes, and Erse in real life, despite not being particularly into British composers, birds, or languages, so to me they seem relatively mild crosswordese compared to, say, an etui or inro.

  21. 7:50

    Improved my average against Wurm with this one – though some parsing I missed in transit. Not seen the ‘Upright character’ = I before, so that’s a useful one to store away; didn’t know DUN as a horse; SABRE-RATTLING went in from the checkers of the first word; didn’t know what A PRIORI means; HONSHU – pleased to remember the correct Japanese island. Liked OUTDO the most.

    Thanks to Wurm and to Merlin for the blog

  22. Like Templar I had trouble loading the puzzle, and then it wouldn’t close once I’d completed it – I probably spent more time faffing about than I did in actually solving.

    TIME 3:50

  23. I happen to disagree with the setter and the blogger. I don’t think WOLF = BOLT is correct. IMO WOLF DOWN = BOLT but in fairness the results on google seem to be split.

    I also personally think the intersection of NUDGE which I couldn’t parse and some Russian word from the 90s was a bit of a stretch for a QC, but again I appear to be in the minority.

    1. I agree that WOLF is very often used with the following word DOWN but I don’t think it mandatory. My parents would often tell us not to WOLF our food.

      1. I tend to use “bolt/wolf one’s meal” (or, rather, “Don’t! etc) rather than bolt/wolf *down*, but both sound fine to me.
        Has anyone come across “woof/woofing down one’s food”?
        I heard it a lot from nurses when I was at work.

      2. Having two brothers, WOLFing one’s food was a necessary skill if one wanted to make it to adulthood.

  24. 10.10 A really nice puzzle. ASUNDER, ADHERE and OUTDO were the last few in. Thanks to Merlin and Wurm.

  25. Whizzed through this, coming back post submission to parse. Very good puzzle – great surfaces.

    The potentially bleak UGLINESS was my LOI, and despite its apparent harshness, it’s a well crafted clue.


  26. Not as straightforward as yesterdays, but it didn’t cause me too many problems even if I was a bit slow to build up a head of steam. I crossed the line in 8.19, so comfortably under target. As has been pointed out, PART for neighbourhood was a bit puzzling, and I was delayed in trying to find an alternative just in case. As a Man Utd supporter of many years (second only to Newport County of course), I particularly liked OUTDO as a clue, with its reference to one of the all time greats.

    1. Dear Mr Pandy,
      Have any of the “all-time greats” ever played for Newport County?

      1. Not sure if any have, but Newport County took part in one of the great European fixtures against the East German team Carl Zeiss Jena (think I’ve spelt that correctly) in the early 1981. An absolute classic. Mr Pandy will doubtless recall it. I listened to it on my radio under the bedclothes as an 11-year old, hoping my parents wouldn’t hear. 🤣🤣

        1. Quite right Gary it was a classic. Newport County qualified for the European Cup Winners Cup by winning the Welsh Cup in 1980 I think it was. After winning early rounds of the competition, they qualified to play Carl Zeiss Jena in the quarter finals. Carl Zeiss were regular winners of the East German top league and part of the European elite at that time.
          In the first leg in Germany, County played brilliantly apparently and drew 2-2. The second home leg (yes I was there), was thrilling and Newport pretty much outplayed them from start to finish hitting the woodwork on various occasions, but lost the tie 1-0 to break our hearts. Carl Zeiss went on to lose the final to Benfica.
          Newports forwards were led by John Aldridge (of later Liverpool fame) and Tommy Tynan another Newport ‘legend’ in answer to SomeRandomChap’s comment above.
          Newport discovered John Aldridge playing in non-league football and took a chance on him. He was with us for about four years and scored countless goals, plainly a brilliant talent. In 1983, the then Newport Chairman decided to sell him for a fraction of his worth to Oxford. I knew the Chairman personally, and he told me at the time “he will never make a top player as long as he has a hole in his backside”.
          Less than two years later Oxford sold him to Liverpool where he enjoyed a stellar career at the very top level!

          1. Fascinating stuff and what a game to be at!

            I’d forgotten that John Aldridge played for Newport County. I remember him in his Oxford days. The Chairman was perhaps not the best judge of a player?

  27. No time. Between dentist and hairdresser. That counts as a hectic morning.
    LOI NUDGE looking for the horse. POI RABBI, fooled yet again by the teacher clue.
    COD to OUTDO -very nice; and a good puzzle overall I thought.
    Now to fitness class; a very hectic morning.

  28. Got stuck on SW corner – just didn’t see OUTDO or WOLF at all, even after eventually geting SLOTH and FOREHAND, which took ages. I see now, thanks to the blog!!

  29. Went through this quite fast until I got to the last 4 or 5 clues which pushed my time out to 16 minutes. No problems with the general knowledge, HONSHU or GLASNOST going in fairly rapidly. There are some fine clues here but I didn’t really like NUDGE or PARROT, although I seem to be in the minority on the former.

    FOI – 3ac HESITANT
    LOI – 11ac NUDGE
    COD – 22ac OUTDO
    WOD – 1dn GLASNOST

    Thanks to Wurm and Merlin

  30. This all seemed reasonably straightforward, but, like others found, my hopes of a sub-20 were to be dashed on the Cornish rocks. Wolf, Outdo and even Forehand (yes, I dabbled with -ant as well) had to be teased out with the trusty crowbar. And to cap it all, loi and (eventual) CoD Nudge ensured that all the good window seats had been nabbed. Still enjoyed it though, so thank you Wurm, and Merlin. Invariant

  31. I enjoyed this until I didn’t! DNF – could not see A Priori …. NHO and didn’t think of prior..
    So undone at the last. Surprised to not read of other DNF as a result of this – presumably something that has come up many times before in the 15×15…
    As other(s) not so keen on nudge and parrot but forgiven based on the stretching of grey matter.
    Thanks all
    (About 25 minutes until gave up)

  32. Like some others DNF because of the SW corner. Didn’t get OUTDO or WOLF. Old enough to know GLASNOST. But quite a bit of happiness along the way. Thanks all.

  33. Dnf…

    I struggled with this, particularly 12ac “Parrot”, 6dn “A Priori” (NHO), 22ac “Outdo” and 21dn “Wolf”. After 18 mins, I couldn’t see a way out so threw in the towel. In the end, I got 20dn “Bairn” wrong anyway, and put “Brian”.

    FOI – 1ac “Gust”
    LOI – dnf
    COD – 1ac “Gust”

    Thanks as usual!

      1. Apart from thinking it was Scottish (which it plainly isn’t), I couldn’t get “Brian” (aka King Charles) out of my head – and, with his Scottish links, just slotted it in.

  34. Just over 8 1/2 minutes. I agree UGLINESS seems a bit harsh but at least it makes no reference to gender and the clue is a question, leaving room for doubt, rather than a statement. BTW, I’m probably talking through my hat, but to me the clue would qualify as a semi-&lit as ‘Is this’ doesn’t contribute to the wordplay.

    A PRIORI is one of those many terms I think I understand but really don’t. I did understand the ‘Best’ bit of the surface reading for OUTDO though and it was my COD.

    Thanks to Wurm and Merlin

  35. I didn’t find this as wriggly as some of Wurm’s puzzles and finished in 10:51.
    I didn’t really get to grips with OUTDO – it was a biff but I really like it now I understand it!
    Does anyone eat BLOATERs any more? I’m not sure I ever did 😅 I’m another who thought 13d UGLINESS, although clever, was rather unkind, and 4d EUROPEAN UNION was just depressing. But I liked HESITANT and ASUNDER.
    FOI Hesitant LOI Sloth COD Wolf
    Thanks Wiggly Woo and Merlin too

  36. Just made the SCC cut off today. Very enjoyable from Wurm, who I normally find extremely difficult.

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