QC 2615 by Izetti


My time was 13:08. I think Izetti has given us one of his easier offerings today.

In this cryptic crossword, Izetti’s style shines through a selection of clues that vary in complexity and wordplay techniques. The crossword presents a balance between straightforward clues and more intricate ones, catering to solvers of different skill levels.  The crossword’s thematic coherence and clever word associations reflect Izetti’s expertise in crafting engaging and challenging puzzles that captivate crossword enthusiasts.

At least that’s what ChatGPT said when I pasted in my completed blog and asked for an opening paragraph. Fortunately ChatGPT is terrible at actually solving the things. We still have the edge.

A couple of NEDs causing trouble today, one smashing up looms, and one getting himself killed in a bar fight.

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

1 A bishop among drunken actors and circus performers? (8)
ACROBATS – A + B{ishop} inside (ACTORS)*

An easy-ish one to start us off.

5 Map book has bit of Texas torn out unfortunately (4)
ALAS – ATLAS (Map Book) – T{exas} .

The minus sign indicates a takeaway clue. Not really convinced that “bit of” should indicate just the initial letter.

9 Greek  house’s storage space? (5)
ATTIC – Double def

Attica is the part of Greece around Athens, and since the Athenians wrote most of the classical texts, scholars usually referred to their version of Greek as ATTIC.

10 Edge of country accommodating a pupil in dormitory? (7)
BOARDER – BORDER (edge of country) contains A

This is from Boarding School. See 7d.

11 Rower initially on a river (3)
OAR – initial letters of “on a river”

I think OAR is often indicated by initial letters in crosswords. eg Quick Cryptic 2608 by Mara, just last week. (Object assisting rowers, primarily? )

12 Ex-PM in wrongdoing, needing good protection (9)
SHEATHING – HEATH (Ex-PM) inside SIN (wrongdoing) + G{ood}

My LOI. We’ve had ATLEE a lot recently, but not him. Major and Blair are both 5-letter PMs but they don’t work. After studying the word, I decided the letter between T-ING had to be an H, then it was easy.

Never called Ned Heath, though. That sounds so wrong.

This was ChatGPT’s COD.

13 Capture parent going wild (6)

Can a simple word such as parent really have a straight anagram? Yes, it can. This was my COD.

15 Trendy act certainly (6)
INDEED – In (trendy) + DEED (act)
17 British individual keeps a role for French ruler (9)
BONAPARTE – B{ritish} + ONE (individual) contains A + PART (role)
19 Last of tents etc., blown away in river (3)
CAM – CAM{P} (tents etc) missing final letter [last of, blown away]
20 Erudite King Edmund (7)
LEARNED – LEAR (King) + NED (Edmund)

Edmund is the only English king to have been killed in a pub brawl. I couldn’t find any evidence that anyone ever called Edmund NED. Perhaps that’s what started the fight.

21 Old footballer yet to be paid (5)
OWING – O{ld} + WING (footballer)

Is WING still used to describe a footballer? It’s usually a Winger, or someone plays “on the wing”. I just read Arsenal need a new Winger (or a new Wenger). If the article said they needed a new WING, it sound like a redevelopment of the Emirates stadium. WING sounds very 1960s, like Half Back. Maybe that “Old” is doing double duty.

22 Adam’s partner right always (4)
EVER – EVE (Adam’s partner) + R{ight}
23 Country folk — workers hiding behind vegetables? (8)
PEASANTS – PEAS (vegetables) + ANTS (workers)
1 A male do, crazy and fashionable (1,2,4)

If you visit a restaurant in the US you can get in trouble with this word. You ask for apple pie, and the server says “A LA MODE,  or just vanilla?” which means with ice cream or without anything at all. If you then say, I don’t want any Vanilla with it then things go downhill quickly.

2 Reversible component of machine (5)
ROTOR – Just a palindrome

I guess a RADAR is a component of an aeroplane. I couldn’t think of any others that fit. [Waits for counter-example from a Canadian blogger that has a Kayak-powered turbine]

3 Supports drinking and excessive cordiality? (12)
BACKSLAPPING – BACKS (supports) + LAPPING (drinking)

I was sure this was “Bacchanalian” after the first three checkers. Just the kind of word I expected from Izetti. “I’ll come back and parse that later”. Or not.

4 Story about second-rate item of furniture (5)
TABLE – TALE (Stort) about B (second-rate)

As in B-road, B-Lister. Both of which are words in their own right, and  setters have been known to make use of this.

6 Opponent of modernisation did wrong breaking into instrument (7)

Sadly, Ned Ludd, who is supposed to have broken two weaving machines in Leicester in 1779 seems to be fictitious. But smashing looms as a sign of protest was real, and they called themselves LUDDITES.

Maybe people will rise up against ChatGPT in a fit of neo-luddism.

7 Child participating in adventurous programme (5)
SPROG – Hidden in adventurous programme

And at my school this appellation was so ubiquitous for Year 7 (or First Year, as was called then) I thought it was the only meaning. Any Friday 13th was designated Sprog-Bashing day. And February 29th (last week!) was supposedly even worse.

8 A cur’s taken on manoeuvres, bad-tempered (12)
CANTANKEROUS – (A CURS TAKEN ON)* [manoeuvres as anagrind]

With “on manoeuvres” this gives a nice surface. Tory ministers are said to be “on manoeuvres” when they are jostling to defenestrate the leader, basically all of them, all the time, at the moment.

14 Duty to get horse into physical condition (7)
TONNAGE – NAG(horse) inside TONE (physical condition)

Not H for horse, today. There are a load of words that used to indicate fees to be paid: tonnage, cartage, millage, cellarage, drayage. Just about any word can have -age after it, and it represents a way for the lord to make money from his peasants.

16 It’s crazy, going up over a long time for Mars (7)
DAMAGES – MAD (crazy) [going up=reversed, in a down clue] + AGES (a long time)

The capital M there was a bit sneaky.

17 Beautiful female sounding gong? (5)
BELLE – Sounds like “bell”

Even Rhotic Scots can’t complain about this one.

18 Journey round grand location high up? (5)
RIDGE – RIDE (journey) around G{rand}

I decided to look this up G=Grand, I thought it might be in places like the G. Canyon, or the G. Canal. But it’s just Grand=thousand, which dates from early 20C USA, and has etymology unknown. Shortly afterwards it was cut down to G.

A G in 1915 is worth about 30Gs today. Thanks, inflation.

19 One in vehicle going over any number of stones in a heap (5)
CAIRN – CAR (vehicle) contains I (one) + N{umber}

72 comments on “QC 2615 by Izetti”

  1. This was really easy for me, until it wasn’t. I didn’t know Cairn or Tonnage and I remembered Atlee this time, except he wasn’t required. Just my luck.

    I will take solace in the fact that I also put in ‘Bacchanalian’ after the first three checkers and seeing the word ‘drinking’ but yeah, it didn’t work.

  2. I didn’t know it was Izetti, but it was definitely gentle, which I gather from solvers’ comments he generally is not. 4:54.

  3. Very swift transit thru this, and it seems only maybe marginally easier than today’s 15×15. Some regulars here might want to try that out.

    CANTANKEROUS is such a great word.

  4. 5:03. Perhaps an easier puzzle, but nice words, in particular: CAIRN, CANTAKEROUS, LUDDITE.

  5. 9:31. BACK SLAPPING was my COD. Fun blog, Merlin, thanks. By the way I wondered if there was a machine somewhere that might have a “level” as one of its components. Alas, my research couldn’t unearth anything useful.

  6. I agree that this was on the easier side, 6.42 with more time spent in the bottom half than the top. Didn’t know what was going on with CAM for a while and was not at all sure about TONNAGE meaning duty so thank you Merlin for explaining that. LEARNED was elusive as well. A now dead neighbour of mine (full name Edward, not Edmund) was known as Ted but said back in Ireland he was always Ned, Ted was for Brits and Aussies. And in the US it’s just Ed. I liked PEASANTS, it reminded me of John Lennon: But you’re still [country folk] as far as I can see…

  7. A not too difficult Izetti which I finished in just over 8 minutes. I saw BACKSLAPPING straight away but took a while to get TONNAGE, with the other possible sense of ‘Duty’ the one I first thought of.

    Thanks to Merlin for the very entertaining blog (ChatGPT can’t yet solve or do a full blog thank goodness) and to Izetti

  8. 9 minutes for this easier offering from Izetti. Nothing unknown to me here.

    ‘Bit of…’, ‘taste of…’ etc are routine indicators for ‘take the first letter of…’ at least in the 15×15 puzzle, but perhaps QC solvers are more used to more explicit instructions such as ‘initially’ in 11ac.

    I see no problem with WING as footballer. Setters go by dictionary definitions.

    BTW, the former PM who has come up a lot recently is spelt ATTLEE.

  9. My run of terrible typing continues. The only consolation is that PEASnaTS is fun to say. That earned me two errors from two pink squares. I knew it was fastish so pressed submit as soon as I’d stuck the missing A in CAM. Not all green in a still very pleasing 8.11 – my fastest for quite a while.

  10. Lovely puzzle and our first sub 20 minutes in a long time at 19.15

    Actually typed in bacchanalian, delighted to see it fitted, then couldn’t parse but thankfully saw the right answer quickly. LOI cantankerous as couldn’t be bothered to get some paper to work it out.

    NHO Attic meaning Greek so thanks for that Merlin and the other fun stuff.
    COD to damages for that capital M- grrr!

    Thanks Izetti

  11. Gentle going with this top to bottom solve. A couple brief pauses to wonder when PM Hield governed the country and how TONNAGE could mean duty.
    Started with ALAS, finished with DAMAGES 5.46 in with WOD to CANTANKEROUS.
    Thanks to Merlin

  12. Not feeling well this morning so happy to plod along and come in all green in about 30 minutes. A nice puzzle.

  13. A most enjoyable 14.03, beating my target of 15.00, which I’ve not achieved for ages due to chemo brain. It took 3 passes of the grid, parsing as I went, and no recourse to aids, no guesses or errors, no fat fingers. A lovely mix of clues from a setter who is usually challenging and who could be said to be so in this puzzle too. An ideal QC. It’s made my day.

  14. 6.13 with a typo

    An excellent effort from the Don this time. Gentle but not a gimme.

    Amusing blog from Mr Merlin as well – thankee

    Ps Probably in a minority of one (and not a problem if so) but it’s just that I prefer to do the biggie not knowing the difficulty so I always try to close my eyes quickly if there’s a comment on it. But I appreciate it may well be a help to a good few folk so fair enough. I can always do both before coming here of course

    Thanks all

  15. 10:53 (death of Godwin. Harold Godwinson succeeds as Earl of Wessex)

    A fast start, then held up at 3d by falling into the BACCHANALIA trap. LOI SHEATHING, having first tried Attlee, May, Truss and almost every PM except Heath.

    Thanks Merlin and Izetti.

  16. 4:49. Nice one. Around here the Edmund that is remembered is Edmund the Martyr 841-869, the earlier King of East Anglia and the original (and some say still rightful) patron saint of England. My avatar features his statue. Anyway back to the puzzle… nothing too tricky, I thought. COD to EVER for the matrimonial politically correct surface. Thanks Izetti and Merlin.

  17. A good 8′ for me, which, tied to a quick 15×15, makes for a good day. Much more to do with the puzzles being straightforward than any increased acuity on my part… SHEATHING and TONNAGE probably took up most time once I’d put Bacchanalian away… Thanks Merlin/Izzetti.

  18. Excellent blog, Merlin. Thanks for doing that in such an informative and amusing way.
    Very enjoyable QC but a slower one for me at 23 mins. I put ‘ridge’ for 18d and then got stuck on 20a ending in letter n. It took me far too long to check 18d and realise RIDGE was a better solution. Even then I had to ask the learned Mrs Prof what ‘erudite’ means before realising the king was our old friend Lear and that Edmund was not a king but our pal Ned.

  19. 10 mins…

    Definitely at the easier end, although I nearly spelt “Bonaparte” wrong. Never really thought about this before, but I presume “a la mode” is an accepted expression in English, therefore doesn’t have to have any specific indicator as a foreign language?

    Anyway, liked 3dn “Backslapping”, 12ac “Sheathing” and 23 ac “Peasants” – with the only hesitation around my LOI “Tonnage”.

    FOI – 1ac “Acrobats”
    LOI – 14dn “Tonnage”
    COD – 20ac “Learned”

    Thanks as usual!

  20. So close. I was sailing along nicely, until I hit a couple of submerged rocks in the form of LEARNED (I should’ve got that one, but didn’t) and SHEATHING which I stared at forever.

    So it’s a DNF from me after 25 mins.

    Happy Tuesday! Pi

    @Merlin: In your lovely blog, you omitted the most painful duty of them all…Corkage!

  21. Too much stuff happening, albeit in a good way, to have commented here much recently, but I read each day to make sure that you are all keeping the brain cells busy and the learned ( nice clue) comments flowing.
    I thought Mr I had left out his usual religious reference, but then Eve appeared, so all is well. A bishop in a clue earlier didn’t really seem to tick the box.
    An entertaining amble through the grid, no attempt at speed but all done in a pleasantly door-of-the-SCC timescale, so now off to oversee (get in the way of and annoy) the builders. And it’s stopped raining! For now…

  22. A very pleasant 10 minute solve, though I too tried Bacchanalian (just the sort of lovely word Izetti might try) at first before other checkers corrected me. As for King Edmund, it’s true that there is no evidence that he was called Ned – he’s much more likely to have had a descriptive nickname like “Edmund the far-sighted” – and the clue is merely referring to a generic Edmund (the “King” being there to give us the Shakespearean monarch), but Merlin’s comment on how he died set me on a delightful internet search reading about him. He was actually quite a successful king, and one of the seven Saxon kings crowned in my home town of Kingston upon Thames. The Coronation Stone, which is believed to have played a central role in the ceremony, is still visible in the courtyard of the Guildhall.

    As for Tonnage, cartage, millage, cellarage, drayage etc, I am sure to the poor afflicted peasants they all mostly felt like pillage.

    Many thanks Merlin for the entertaining blog

    1. And Edmund being a key character in the play, King Lear, was a source of misdirection for me.

  23. Sound a gong for a friendly Izetti! The last five took time, but a great PDM for BONAPARTE unlocked them. CNP LEARNED (forgot about LEAR, no excuse), otherwise all good.

  24. Agreed on the relative straightforwardness – I would have been better if Ted HEATH had not taken so long to come to mind for my LOI.


  25. Love your opening paragraph Merlin. This was a Breezeblock solve for me with the culprit being TONNAGE as I was looking to include a H. 6:21 for an excellent day.

  26. 9 minutes and no dramas apart from bunging in CAM at the end, unparsed. It was my first thought and I was no wiser at the end; thanks Merlin for enlightenment.
    I too liked EVER.

  27. Definitely in the zone today, or was it just that easy. Finished in 10 minutes, which is quite a fast time for me, and with interruptions too, although I did stop the clock for those. All parsed except LEARNED which I didn’t understand at all until I came here.

    FOI – 1ac ACROBATS
    LOI – 19ac CAM

    Thanks to Izetti and Merlin

  28. I agree with the general consensus that this was fairly straightforward as my time of 7.00 attests. The only thing I hesitated briefly on was the definition of TONNAGE, and for some strange reason ALAS which was my LOI. Two quick times to start the week, so I’m expecting a toughie is not too far away.

  29. Did not find this too difficult so was surprised to learn in hindsight that it was an Izetti. I DNF with their work more often than not

    Currently listening to the The Rest is History podcast on the elections of 1974, so poor old Ted came to mind quickly. Very entertaining listening for those who like their history

  30. Definitely doable. COD CANTANKEROUS. An inevitable accompaniment to the aging process.
    Longer than 20 but less than 30. Usual chair in the club for me.
    Thanks all.

    1. It hadn’t occurred to me before but I can’t help wondering if having CANTANKEROUS and a reference to Ted HEATH in the same puzzle was entirely coincidental.

  31. My earlier comment has disappeared, but anyway I thought the top easier than the bottom. Did not know TONNAGE meant tax but biffed anyway. Was thrown by capital M for mars. Finished but looked up PMs for Heath.
    Thanks, Merlin.

  32. Nothing too taxing for me today, though I needed the orange one’s help with 14d, which I didn’t really like.

    Other than that an enjoyable QC.

    My verdict: 😀
    Pumpa’s verdict: 😸


  33. Fairly gentle Izetti as others have suggested. Last two in were LEARNED closely followed by TONNAGE. Took a while to think of Heath. Liked DAMAGES, not for the very busy surface, but for the capital M which misdirected me for quite some time. Haven’t heard CANTANKEROUS for a while. Great word. Thanks for the entertaining blog Merlin.

  34. 4:59

    Pretty gentle on the whole – only pauses were for writing out the letters of CANTANKEROUS and thinking about what 14d TONNAGE might be – didn’t realise it was a tax, but the wordplay was clear.

    Thanks Izetti and Merlin

  35. Gentle for an Izetti, but very enjoyable. I got off to an ACROBATic start and continued to make good progress. Took a while (and some crossers) to see the hidden SPROG. TONNAGE took some thought and CAM needed both crossers. SPROG was LOI. SHEATHING didn’t take long after I constructed S-ING aroung the outside of it. 6:52. Thanks Izetti and Merlin. Nice blog bye the way!

  36. Started quickly and then slowed down for 15 mins or so. Biffed Cam (so obvious now) and damages (the M got me) and spent far too long going through ex PMs as I wanted shielding. Overall enjoyed it though.

    And Belle sounds exactly the same to this Scot 😂

  37. With seven of the first eight clues I tried going in at the first attempt I wondered if a PB might be on the cards. ALAS, the bottom half of the grid ensured it was not to be but I am still very happy with my time of 22 minutes.

    I hit the buffers with about seven clues to go and made no progress at all for 5-6 minutes. Fortunately, BELLE came to the rescue, which led me to LEARNED, RIDGE, PEASANTS, DAMAGES, CANTANKEROUS and (my LOI) SHEATHING.

    MY favourite solutions were SPROG, LUDDITE and PEASANTS.

    Many thanks to Izetti and Merlin.

  38. Nearly a personal best time today and only one second behind our esteemed blogger. Though I’m sure when ChatGPT gets around to doing these, its time will be in the microseconds. But will it be having fun? (When I got about halfway through that paragraph, I thought, what’s come over Merlin? why this deadly prose? That feeling is a sure sign of the hand of the bot.)

    Many amusing clues but for some reason PEASANT tickled me the most. Thanks Izetti and bravo to Merlin for the entertaining blog.

  39. Top half nice ‘n easy, bottom half not so much. Add me to the bacchanalian group – such a great word but didn’t fit with the lower crossers.

  40. 8.05 With over a minute spent on LOI SHEATHING. Definitely an easier one though I didn’t parse LEARNED. Thanks Merlin and Izetti.

  41. I also immediately thought ‘Bacchanalian’ then realised I already had a ‘P’ so had to take time and parse properly.

  42. A fun puzzle, liked the variety. Est 25 mins. Checkers made life much easier

    LOI Sheathing
    COD Damages (took a while to parse)

  43. Wot Jackkt said about the big one today – ‘Enjoyable and not particularly difficult’. Thanks.

  44. At first sight I’d thought that ‘wrongdoing’ in 12a was going to be an anagrind but fortunately didn’t waste too much time on anagrams of Thatcher + G. It ended up being our LOI, unlocked by seeing SIN, having got the S at that stage which made it much easier to see Heath as the PM. Hadn’t come across the ‘Greek’ sense of ATTIC but it helped that I had heard of Attica without knowing exactly where it was. All done in 12:03 and a QC which was almost as enjoyable as the blog. Thanks to you both!


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