QC 2546 by Myles

Several chewy clues slowed me down. I’d not come across this setter before.

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

7 Tragic opera has Indian appearing regularly (4)
AIDA – {a}A{s}I{n}D{i}A{n}

I did not think this to be a particularly tragic opera, I mean in Tosca both she and Scarpia die, lots of deaths in Turandot, and Madame Butterfly also dies: in La Traviata and La Boheme the heroine dies of consumption.

8 Owning  nothing paid for? (8)
ALLOWING – If one is ALL OWING, then one has nothing paid for.

Owning=ALLOWING, in the sense of confessing or admitting. I’ll own/allow that curryowen and vinyl got the parsing, which I just edited.

9 Back a certain amount of power with zero capital (6)
OTTAWA – A + WATT (certain amount of power) + O(zero); all reversed [Back]
10 Property in European country (6)
ESTATE – E{uropean} + STATE (country)
11 Substance is held between ends of gadget (4)
GIST – IS between G{adge}T
12 Present in audition with encore? Absolutely! (4,4)
HEAR HEAR – Homonym [in audition] for HERE, repeated [with encore]

I can never remember whether it is “hear hear” or “here here” for when one signals agreement, since both make sense, so for this clue I needed the checkers

15 Something highly desirable containing a metal or another (8)
PLATINUM – PLUM(something desirable) contains A + TIN (a metal)

The whole clue is another metal. This is an interesting clue, in that the definition has to be “metal” or “another metal”, but that breaks the convention that the definition should start or end the clue.

17 American author holding page for English poet (4)
POPE – POE (American author) contains P{age}
18 Hide from view or display for all to see (6)
SCREEN – Double def
21 Look for male bird (6)
GANDER – Double def

Have a Gander, means have a look.

22 Instantly published? Correct (8)
OUTRIGHT – OUT (published) + RIGHT (Correct)
23 Female, unmarried or married, adding support (4)
MAID – M{arried} + AID (support)
1 Trim sail at sea: a bad case (8)
MISTRIAL – (TRIM SAIL)* [at sea]
2 Rock sailor overturned, then another (6)
BASALT – AB (Able Seaman = sailor) reversed then SALT (another sailor)
3 Revolutionary darling, in the long run (8)
MARATHON – MARAT (Revolutionary) + HON (darling)

A guessable definition, but the parsing was tough, with “revolutionary” not being a reversal indicator but referencing Jean-Paul Marat, I only knew of him from Madame Tussaud’s, depicted murdered in his bath.

HON (honey) is dated, and normally I rant on about old usage, but my parents called each other this their whole lives. So it gets a pass from me.

4 Actor’s signal about line — such as this (4)
CLUE – CUE (actors signal) contains L{ine}

Neat: with “such as this” being CLUE.

5 Small enchantress that may light up a room (6)
SWITCH – S{mall} + WITCH (enchantress)
6 Feeling of tension in body, not in ears (4)
KNOT – Sounds like [in ears] “not”
13 Huge male splitting land with you initially (8)
ALMIGHTY – ALIGHT (land) contains M{ale} then Y{ou}
14 Sweet kind of bed one can’t get into (5-3)
APPLE-PIE – Double def. An Apple Pie bed, is a bed which, as a practical joke, has been made with one of the sheets folded back on itself so that a person can’t get into it.

Beloved of school camps, is it still a thing? And why is it called Apple Pie, to which it bears little resemblance. Apparently, one explanation is that the bed is compared to an apple turnover, a kind of APPLE PIE made by folding a piece of pastry over on itself to enclose the filling.

16 Conjecture from man interrupting person in party (6)
THEORY – TORY (person in party) contains HE(man)
17 State head may have it on (6)
PANAMA – Cryptic hint, Panama hat (head may have it on)
19 Arsenal provides example of this weapon (4)
CLUB – Cryptic hint, Arsenal is an example of a football CLUB
20 Almost time to sleep, but not quite (4)
NIGH – NIGH{T} (time to sleep)

At Infant School we all proudly ended ended “Away in a Manger” with “until morning is night”, which I think works better anyway.


88 comments on “QC 2546 by Myles”

  1. Re 8 across: I think owning is the definition and nothing paid for is the wordplay. Own or allow in the sense of admit. I own or I allow that you are a better ice skater than me.

  2. I didn’t recognize the setter either, but it seems they come around every 1 or two months, so I must have seen them before. Toughie I thought – took me well to the back of the SCC – but very enjoyable none the less. I never managed to parse MARATHON (LOI) – despite much head scratching, but it couldn’t be anything else – thanks for explaining that Merlin. So many great clues, hard to pick COD, but ALLOWING was one of them for me (OTTAWA too). I took it the other way round: owning (definition – ALLOWING)) nothing paid for (ALL OWING). Thanks to Myles for a challenging quickie (??) and Merlin for the blog.

    1. Myles gave us two early puzzles way back in 2014 and then disappeared, reemerging in June 2023. There have been only 6 in all.

      I thought of MARATHON for 3dn early on but was unable to parse it so it didn’t go in until the checkers made it inevitable. Then I spotted the wordplay. BASALT was my LOI several minutes after I had completed the rest of the grid. My solving time of 14 minutes might have been a disappointment on another day, but after three consecutive disasters I’ll take anything I can get that falls within my target quarter-of-an-hour.

  3. I DNF – I didn’t know Marat and I couldn’t get PLATINUM nor SCREEN

    I enjoyed all the surfaces!

  4. 20:36. I took a long time on MARATHON, ALMIGHTY, and PLATINUM( had trouble seeing MARAT, ALIGHT, and PLUM respectively). I was a victim of the bedmaking prank several times at Boy Scout summer camps but never heard it called APPLE PIE!

  5. I can’t make any sense out of “Here, here,” Merlin.
    And “Until morning is nigh” means until nearly dawn, while “Until morning is night” would be either never or, maybe, after you sleep through a whole day…?!

    1. When in a crowd, people draw attention to their approval by saying “here,here!”, as in parliament.

      1. DNF
        It’s (what Guy said, and) “Present in AUdition” not addition: i.e. sounds like ‘here’ (present) i.e.’hear’; “with encore” gives us another.
        For David’s famous painting of Marat in the bath, see e.g.
        As I’ve pointed out here several times, there is no convention or rule that says where a definition should go; it’s simply hard (but not impossible) to put the def elsewhere than the beginning or end of the clue. (Here it’s at the end.)

  6. A couple of interruptions so no time but I think I would have just snuck into the SCC. Slow all round, but there were some hard ones like MARATHON and ALMIGHTY and I spent a few minutes staring at the auto-antonym SCREEN at the end. OTTAWA and PLATINUM were my favourites today.

    I missed yesterday’s Teazel, so spurred on by vinyl’s encouraging words, I think I’ll give it a go.

    Thanks to Merlin and Myles

  7. Two DNFs in a row, very unusual. I found this very hard. I biffed MARATHON and APPLE PIE, but never got the wordplay (and never would). The SE corner defeated me with none of PANAMA, MAID, GANDER or ALMIGHTY going in.
    Interestingly the QSNITCH is running quite a bit higher today than yesterdays was at this time, I wonder if the trend will continue.

  8. Far too difficult for me and I threw in the towel after 30 minutes with about half the grid completed, a very rare occurrence. Not a QC in my opinion and very disappointing.
    I will adjourn to the DT 15×15 (£3.99 per month for their excellent online puzzle section) which should be more at my level.
    I hope others had more success.

    1. Thank you, ITTT; it’s a relief to read that I’m not the only one! Managed just under half today.

  9. I thought this was really hard while I was doing it (and it took me way past past my usual 10-15 minutes) but looking back, it is hard to see why. The sign of a great crossword for me.

    Definitely ar the top end of the ‘Times lite’ for me. Harder than some of the easier main crosswords but at least I could finish it.

  10. This is now the 3rd DNF in a row for me and the one I found by far the hardest. Usually there are 1/2 clues at the end that my brain wont engage with but this time it was over half the grid. Cant say I enjoyed this one but thats my fault not the setters!

  11. Yikes, that was tricky and not helped by confidently chucking in ‘here here’ at 12a which completely gummed up the SE corner.
    Fortunately AIDA falls into my very limited knowledge of opera so that went in first and I finished with PANAMA in 12.44 but with ALLOWING unparsed.
    Thanks to Merlin for the blog and Myles for an enjoyable challenge.

    P.S. Does anyone else feel that we’ve had an excess of portcullis style grids recently?

    1. Portcullis grids – yes I am also getting more than a little frustrated by them! Not helped by chewy puzzles to start with, either.

        1. Well I’ve been bitching on the grids for a few days now 😡. DNF again. I thought sailor was ABS not AB. An accountant can be able bodied. There appears to be as many words in crosswordland for seaman as there are in the playground for semen. And as Arsenal got a mention today I should point out that theirs and Englands goalkeeper David Seaman was known as spunky. By his own fans. Will I get a touchline ban for this comment ? 😵‍💫J

  12. I have only just read the blog so I missed Merlin’s comment about Aida not being a ‘particularly tragic opera’…

    Hmm, in the final act, Ramadès and Aïda are buried alive in a vault and Aïda dies in Ramadès arms. Sounds pretty tragic to me!

  13. 24:20 I found this even harder than yesterday’s. Nearly defeated by the SE corner, although in hindsight GANDER, PANAMA and MAID were not particularly hard clues – I got stuck into looking for words beginning with F for the latter.

    Thanks Merlin and Myles

  14. I flew through until I came to a shuddering halt in the SE with the interlocking PANAMA/GANDER/MAID. All perfectly fair but I had sudden clue-blindness.

    I got there in the end through the undignified route of putting in “gannet” (well it fitted and how many birds can there be that go G—E- anyway?); then reasoning that the “state” must be Pennsylvania = PA, so it was a piece of clothing starting PAN … oh I see!; then MAID was easy with the M; then going back to try to understand the parsing of “gannet” and seeing the light. Basically the crossword equivalent of playing a cover drive and getting four to fine leg past your leg stump.

    Anyway, by such unorthodox means I came home in 08:11 for a Very Good Day. I remain inconsolable, however, for the fact that a typo yesterday cost me my first ever (and probably last ever) chance to be faster than Phil. WOE indeed.

    Many thanks MyloMylobinder and Merlin.


    1. I notice over the last year Templar that your times are getting consistently faster and faster. I know for quite some time you’ve been assessing your finishing time as a measurement of K (Kevin). If you continue to improve at this rate, will you be assessing your time as a measurement of V (Verlaine)? 😀

      1. Ha ha, if only! I do seem to have broken the 10 minute mark but I think I’ve plateaued at around 8 mins +/- 60 seconds. That’s my slot and I’m not getting any better, not consistently anyway. There’s no way I’m catching Kevin, let alone the Lord Verlaine. The QUITCH shows my average as 08:19 and the stats don’t lie!

  15. I think the most enjoyable are the ones where you struggle for an answer maybe but when you find it you realise it was there all along. Too many of these were more suited to the main puzzle in my opinion. To say a switch lights a room is a bit like saying a key runs a car.

    1. It occurred to me that someone would make that point about ‘switch’. Conversely one might argue that without the switch the room remains unlit and without a key (or other such device) the car doesn’t run.

  16. I thought this was on a par with yesterdays in terms of difficulty, although my completion time of 10.54 was nearly two minutes quicker. I was surprised my time was as quick as it was, and I was expecting the clock to indicate a much slower time as I dwelt for some time on solving some clues. MARATHON went in after I gave up trying to parse it, although Marat perhaps should have come to mind even though I know little about him.

  17. 28:05
    Another toughie, though unlike yesterday’s QC, I never considered throwing in the towel. (However, it did take me 02:09 longer?)
    I found some of the clues easier than yesterday’s providing more helpful crossing letters.
    That said, I biffed a few – AIDA, MARATHON, APPLE PIE and MAID (after a letter trawl). Thanks for the explanations Merlin.
    Oh, and for some reason, CLUB caused me to groan.
    FOI: 11ac GIST
    LOI: 23ac MAID
    COD: 15ac PLATINUM (and, of course BASALT)
    Thanks to Merlin and Myles

  18. Allowing for owning, constructing Ottawa and plum for something desirable all stretched my brain so far I wasn’t able to see some of the less tricky ones. DNF. Thanks for blog. Invaluable today!

  19. 10:05

    To me, this was harder than yesterday’s but maybe just because of a rarely-seen setter’s different style. Certainly a grid where developing the checkers helped a lot. Never heard of the APPLE-PIE bed though.

    Thanks Myles and Merlin

  20. What an odd puzzle – some quite simple clues and some really tough ones that would certainly have been more at home in the 15×15. So if only for the inconsistency I would not rate this as a good QC – and that is before we get onto portcullis grids (again).

    11½ minutes, which given others’ comments I am not disappointed by, but it was a biff-fest, with Marathon not parsed (this is simply not a QC clue full stop), Allowing not parsed (even though I now see that owning can equal allowing, it is not one that came to mind at all while I was solving), and Outright parsed with a shrug of the shoulders (instantly is not IMO a close synonym for outright). Even a slight query while solving over Huge = Almighty, but in retrospect I suppose one can have a huge mess / almighty mess.

    Many thanks to Merlyn, but another day when the blog was more enjoyable than the puzzle.

    1. Personally, not even a remote synonym! To me outright means complete, and has no temporal component – I was getting worried that it was just me after getting this far down the blog without anyone else commenting on it.

  21. Wow. Had to stop after 20mins or so, with over half the grid empty. Came back after a coffee and made (slightly) better progress, but then had to stop several more times to help distressed mathematicians who were still reeling from the Conjecture/Theory clue. Basalt was my loi by a long way, as by that time I had lost all sense of how to do these things and was fixated on getting Rat in somewhere. I was impressed by Nigh and Ottawa, probably because I could see what was going on straight away, but nho Apple Pie bed and Marat/revolutionary were quite a stretch for a QC. I can’t say that I enjoyed this. Invariant

    1. Yes, a conjecture is not a theorem until it has been proven beyond doubt. It’s a bit like saying 1,000,000,000,000 is a large number. Not compared to 10 to the power 1,000,000,000,000 it isn’t.

      1. Yes, I think it goes something like Assertion, Hypothesis, Conjecture, Theorem, Proof/Law, but it’s been a long time. Speaking as a physicist, it was torturous enough working with engineers who thought correlations were the bees knees

    2. So glad to hear I’m not the only one who got fixated on getting “Rat” in. Ah, the seafaring nation, so many words like tar, AB, salt, and (yikes) jolly. Was so exhausted/impressed with myself for finally remembering dimly that Arsenal is a “soccer” “team” i.e. a football club that I was unable to finish, lol. I did enjoy it though, particularly Marathon, which I only parsed after filling it in.

  22. I found this quite a mixture of clues starting with the write ins e.g. AIDA and HEAR HEAR, some tricky construction e.g. OTTAWA, MARATHON and PLATINUM and then there were the duh clues which took me the longest time to solve and my LOsI i.e KNOT and CLUB. For me, harder than yesterday but finished in an acceptable 9:39.

  23. Very, very hard.
    For some reason I remember the Marat painting (thanks Kevin for the link), so was able to parse 3d MARATHON. I agree Hon is dated.
    Never parsed 15a PLATINUM, I was just so pleased I could find a metal in another, although Aluminum fits if you take that spelling, fortunately eliminated by M for T in the 4th letter.
    18a SCREEN was very clever. The opposing defs remind me of the “antiphone” raze / raise.

  24. 18:06
    Found this tough and needed to complete in 2 parts.
    Held up by unknowns apple pie and basalt. And also mistrial, gander, maid, marathon.
    LOI knot gave me the most difficulty and even my alpha trawl didn’t have a K.

    COD mistrial.

  25. Dnf…

    Had about 5 to go after way past my cut off time. 9ac “Ottawa” and a few in the SW corner left me head scratching. Upon reflection, they weren’t that difficult, but the way the clues were worded made them seem more difficult. Whilst I did think of Arsenal football club for 19ac, I couldn’t get “Cannon” out of my head.

    With regards to carols, as kids in primary school we often misquoted the classic Good King Wences last looked out…

    FOI – 7ac “Aida”
    LOI – Dnf
    COD – 13dn “Almighty”

    Thanks as usual!

  26. Another toughie, although I found it slightly easier than yesterday’s. Needed the blog to explain parsing of ALLOWING and MARATHON (NHO MARAT). Liked OTTOWA when the penny finally dropped, ditto PLATINUM. NIGH seems to come up a lot in crossword land so I was pleased to spot it early on. COD ALMIGHTY. Many thanks all.

  27. DNF with four left unanswered.

    Really did not like this QC at all. Some clues too tricky in my opinion, making it rather laborious and not at all enjoyable.

  28. V unhelpful grid, lack of GK (Marat, Apple pie), and failure to understand the clues (SCREEN, ALLOWING, PANAMA) all led to a slow time for me.


  29. DNF – way too difficult for me, submitted at 51:15 with 7 empty and 1 incorrect (guessed at ALUMINUM for 15a as a final throw of the dice). Could have done better but was getting frustrated towards the end and didn’t see things like CLUB or THEORY. Oh well, try again tomorrow.

  30. 17.05 The Quitch rates this harder than yesterday’s but I took half the time so I’m quite pleased. APPLE PIE seems ridiculously archaic. I only know it from reading Enid Blyton books in the 70s and they were very dated then. But it went straight in, unlike most of the puzzle. LOI MARATHON took a minute at the end. I knew MARAT from A Place of Greater Safety, but it didn’t help until I’d thought of the answer. Thanks Merlin and Myles.

  31. 9.30

    Also found this hard but no complaints at all.

    Always slightly surprised if I know something others don’t and APPLE-PIE in its bed related meaning falls into that category. But there you go. Know MARAT (A Place of Greater Safety by Hilary Mantel one of my top five books) and HON but the race went in unparsed from checkers

    Thanks Myles and Merlin

  32. I found this one tougher than yesterday’s and missed my target. AIDA went straight in along iwth most of the NW, but then I had to work at it. ALLOWING took a while. MARATHON wasn’t a problem as it was the first thing I thought of for the definition and I was familiar with Marat from one of my favourite Judy Collins songs, Marat/Sade. Last 3 in, ALMIGHTY, GANDER and PANAMA took an age. 13:56. Thanks Myles and Merlin.

  33. When a town crier shouts “Oyez, oyez” they are using the imperative of the French verb ouïr, to hear, so “hear, hear”. I can’t see a justification for “here, here”, though.

  34. That’s five trellis grids in a row … so far! Who said they might be being phased out?

    An almost identical start to yesterday’s debacle – 10 minutes in, first pass completed, only four clues solved. Unlike yesterday however, I did at least speed up a little. Line crossed in 49 minutes in the end.

    MARATHON today was the BADINAGE of yesterday. Simply unsolvable without a huge slice of luck. My last four in were CLUB/OUTRIGHT and OTTAWA/BASALT, where I wasted time before noticing I’d inadvertently written OTToWA.

    Owning = ALLOWING? Not round here, it doesn’t! Also, conjecture does not = THEORY. In mathematics, the two are like chalk and cheese.

    Good to see APPLE PIE bed making an appearance.

    Many thank to Merlin.

    1. At least being on strike suggests you will resume once conditions improve. I’m seeing out my contract then leaving. I don’t think any improved offer will change my mood as I’m spent.

      1. I’m keeping going until I reach my 1,000th QC at the end of March. After that my spreadsheet will close, my clock will stop and I will not hesitate to throw in the towel if the going gets tough.

    2. I have been sneaking in here in disguise the last couple of days so you won’t recognize me as I slip through the picket line.

  35. Well that was tough, and I thought I was heading for two DNFs in a row having given up after about an hour yesterday, but today after walking from one room to the other after 25 minutes or so I managed to finish the last few at 30:45, so on my reckoning it was a bit easier than yesterday although I couldn’t parse MARATHON, not having heard of the revolutionary until reading it here, and I had also never heard of an APPLE PIE bed before so that was also a pure biff.

    Thanks to Myles and to Merlin for the explanations.

  36. When coming across hon in American novels I always pronounced it as in marathon until I realised it was an abbreviation of honey so should be pronounced hun.

  37. Like yesterday; probably harder for me as I did consider giving up.
    After 19 minutes I needed three. After 26 minutes I needed the same three so stopped.
    Coming back to it some hours later, the last three fell quickly: KNOT, MAID and PANAMA.
    I got the wrong end of the stick on several; wanted TAUT at 6d; tried to justify PUNJAB for the state after Pa dismissed. Did not see the definition for 23a until the end.
    Another very hard QC.

  38. On a par with yesterday’s but at least I finished that one. This one was a DNF with 5 outstanding at my self-imposed cut off time of 30 minutes. The 5 were SCREEN, GANDER, ALMIGHTY, THEORY and CLUB. Also I couldn’t parse MARATHON (being well and truly sent off down the wrong track by the word ‘revolutionary’ in the clue).

    FOI – 7ac AIDA
    LOI – DNF
    COD (of those I solved) – 8ac ALLOWING

  39. DNF after 58mins. Just couldn’t alphabet trawl to KNOT, completely overlooked the KN- beginning even though I thought of PN-, GNs.

    I think that seals it for me.

    There’s 13 QCs left this year and then I’m done. I get no enjoyment out of it these days.

    It’s been a slow descent from enjoying the cut and thrust to staring in bewilderment at surfaces that don’t mean anything. I get there eventually but my idea of Quick is not this paper’s idea of Quick.

    1. I feel your discouragement L-Plates. I’m the same. If this is meant to encourage relative newcomers then it’s a million miles off the mark. I’m happy to be in the SCC and slowly work through but today’s . . .

    2. It’s well known that experts are useless at writing idiot proof guides, because they have long forgotten what it was like to be a beginner. I suspect that our setters find it similarly difficult to adjust to a suitable QC standard. Having said that, we do seem to be in a bit of a run of ‘more challenging’ puzzles of late.

  40. Far too hard for a QC. DNF by a mile and couldn’t parse 3 of those I got right! Can’t remember another so difficult.

  41. DNF. Did not enjoy. Last week we in the SCC were encouraged. This week we are being trodden into the mire

  42. A total failure
    I hope it is a long time before I meet this setter again. More 15 x 15 level than qc

  43. No-one is forcing you to read my daily horror story….

    I feel miserable and worthless. A DNF in 70 mins.

    I struggled my way to having just one clue left, 6dn, the easiest clue on the grid. I STILL COULDN’T GET IT!!! How could I miss such a simple homophone and with only two letters to insert? I entered UNIT as the only word I could think of. I can’t describe how gutting it is to struggle and almost finish, only to fall at the final hurdle.

    I am demoralised and depressed at my sheer inability to do something so simple. It’s only Tuesday and I’m almost up to 2 hours. Nothing will convince me that I can ever make a decent fist of this. I simply lack the brain power required. However, I’ll no doubt be back tomorrow out of some ridiculous belief that one day I might actually be a proper solver.

    Thanks for the blog.

    PS Only 2 on Quintagram. I was mentally shot by the time I got to it, but that’s a pathetic excuse.

  44. Tried again this morning with a clear head but still could not finish 10 clues which is my worst performance this year.

Comments are closed.