Quick Cryptic 2554 by Hurley

Nothing to scare the horses from Hurley this morning. A nice compact puzzle that I solved in just over 5 minutes. There’s a cross-reference at 5dn which I know some think shouldn’t be in the QC, but it’s quite a simple one. It occurs to me that cross-references always seem to refer forwards, i.e. to clues you haven’t done yet, which makes them chewier than they need be. Am I imagining it?

1 Collection of beach pebbles, not hard — one only (6)
SINGLE – SHINGLE minus H for hard
4 Reportedly become aware of American count (6)
CENSUS – sounds like ‘sense’ + US
8 A French proviso a learner finds categorical (13)
UNCONDITIONAL – UN (a, French) + CONDITION (proviso) + A + L
10 Be in great need of Conservative party? (5)
11 Is feeling cold in small area of activity by river, sunless initially (7)
SHIVERS – S + HIVE (area of activity) + R (river)+ S[unless]
13 Lack of knowledge of racing — one at sea (9)
IGNORANCE – anagram (‘at sea’) of RACING ONE
17 Past love, Tim, originally called around (3-4)
ONE-TIME – O (love) + TIM with NÉE (originally called) outside
18 Regularly missing usual uncle’s piquancy (5)
SAUCE – alternate letters
19 One seeking very best refit pics — note resort needed (13)
PERFECTIONIST – anagram (‘resort needed’) of REFIT PICS NOTE
21 Sword charge? That is right (6)
RAPIER – RAP (charge, as in rap sheet) + IE + R
22 Some intervene — erasing superficial display (6)
VENEER – hidden word
1 Bitter, extremely credible, informant (6)
SOURCE – SOUR + C[redibl]E
2 Fruit, fine (not half!) — certain to be reordered (9)
NECTARINE – NE (half of ‘fine’) + anagram (‘to be reordered’) of CERTAIN
3 Move suddenly forward in swim? Not at first (5)
LUNGE – PLUNGE minus first letter
5 Issue of 6 maybe, ode in it surprisingly? (7)
EDITION – Cross reference from 6dn – i.e ‘issue of The Sun maybe’. anagram (‘surprisingly’) of ODE IN IT
6 Tabloid relative mentioned (3)
SUN – Sounds like SON
7 Ostentatious display cut — power intervenes (6)
SPLASH – SLASH with P for power inserted
9 Rising in South calling for immediate action (9)
12 Senior worker no longer — energy reduction I’ve seen finally (9)
EXECUTIVE – EX + E + CUT + IVE. Not sure what the ‘seen finally’ is doing, though I suppose it needs something to finish off the sentence.
14 Want of sophistication in arena I ‘ve tested (7)
NAÏVETÉ – hidden French word
15 Police officer’s helicopter losing height (6)
COPPER – CHOPPER minus H for height
16 Society girl at first turns on Romeo — one owing money (6)
DEBTOR – DEB + T[urns] + O[n] + R
18 Ray said something (5)
SPOKE – double definition
20 Move fast for rent (3)
RIP – Double definition

63 comments on “Quick Cryptic 2554 by Hurley”

  1. I didn’t think anything at the time, but ‘finally’ in 12d seems unnecessary; we need the ‘seen’ (or something else) to complete the phrase. The whole clue is not that easy to make sense of. I had a brief MER at RIP, thinking ‘but “rent” is past tense”; but of course it’s a noun here, as is RIP. I did have, and do, a more major MER at 10ac: my craving for chocolate, or Scotch, while great, is not a need. 5:34

    1. But if the craving develops into a addiction I suppose the person or his doctor might call the craving a need( i.e. he can’t function without it).

      1. Even in that extreme case, the craving is not itself a need. (I agree with you, by the way, on bitter/sour.)

  2. 10:17. Some interesting definitions – bitter for SOUR, ray for SPOKE, past for ONE-TIME, and swim for pLUNGE. The others I can accept, but bitter = SOUR seems to cross the line!

  3. There are five tastes: bitter, salty, sour, sweet and umami. Bitter and sour are not the same!

  4. I hardly ever work the clues “in order.” Each puzzle seems t0 evoke a different strategy.
    In some figurative senses, “bitter” and “sour” are equivalent, as in speaking of an experience that left a _____ taste in your mouth.
    NAÏVETÉ has been part of the English language for yonks now.
    You’ve a typo in your title.

  5. But for a couple of lazy typos, and getting SON instead of SUN (I’ve never been able to fully grasp the wordplay in those ‘sounds like’ clues) I finished in under 14 minutes so I’m taking this as a win. So, after a couple of poor showings I end the week on 3/5.
    I liked this puzzle and adjudge it a fine QC.
    Thank you Hurley and Curarist for a pleasant end to the week’s solving.
    I am hoping to be let out on my own to travel to Gloucester tomorrow to start my Christmas shopping and, more importantly, to watch the rugby – the perfect prelude to the festive long weekend.
    Happy Christmas all! 🎄

    1. You’re STARTING your Christmas shopping TOMORROW? Bravo! Enjoy the rugby and, of course, all that follows.

  6. I now feel greatly more informed about bitter/sour. Too many seasonal distractions to concentrate properly and 14.46 seems too long but an enjoyable puzzle. Took several unjustifiable minutes to get SPOKE and dopily put insurrect (?) for INSURGENT which took some tracking down. Some clever clues here like ONE-TIME and SHIVERS. Thanks to Hurley, thanks to Curarist and merry Christmas to all.

  7. 13:00. Seemed to be hard going at the time, but not looking at it now. Still, I needed to do a bit of biffing eg for ONE-TIME and spent a while working out why INSURGENCY was incorrect. The ‘Bitter’/SOUR controversy passed me by, but I think Guy’s example above gives the setter an out. SPOKE was a tricky one to finish with.

    Thanks to Hurley and Curarist

  8. 9 minutes with 18dn as my LOI by some way – I seem to recall that ‘ray/SPOKE’ gave me trouble on a previous occasion and triggered something of a debate here. It’s perfectly fine but perhaps not a synonym that’s familiar to all.

    I’ve no problem with ‘bitter/SOUR’ because as Guy has pointed out it can be justified figuratively. But leaving that aside, in general usage when referring to taste there is little if any distinction to be drawn between adjectives such as bitter, sour, sharp pungent, tart, acid etc – their overriding shared characteristic being that they are all antonyms of ‘sweet’.

  9. Beaten by inserting SHIVERY and, not budging on it, having to create SPLAYN.

    I was unsettled neither by the bitter/sour issue, thinking of them more as feelings than tastes/flavours in this instance, nor crave/need.

    Thanks Hurley for the puzzle and Curarist for this ‘qucikie’ blog.

  10. 8:17

    Mildly irked by more cat shenanighans leaving me forgetting to pause while attending to the beasts – only a minute or so, but irksome nevertheless. No real difficulties though needed all of the checkers for both L2I INSURGENT and CRAVE.

    Thanks Hurley and Curarist

  11. An enjoyable puzzle to end the QC week. Started with SINGLE and finished with the tricky SPOKE with only the parsing of ONE TIME causing much of a delay.
    The bitter/sour issue passed me by which is probably one of the benefits of not thinking too hard about things – if it fits the definition and wordplay looks about right then I’m happy to go with it. On the downside it may also explain why I so rarely finish the 15×15 where greater accuracy is needed.
    Crossed the line in 6.39 with COD to INSURGENT.
    Thanks to Curarist

  12. 21:21. Tempted to throw the towel in before knocking on the door of the empty SCC, the three that sent me there were CENSUS, SPLASH and LOI SOURCE. We also had the homophonic SAUCE, at least for us non-rhotics.


  13. Happy enough to finish this in just under 10 minutes after a few toughies earlier in the week, but some clunky surfaces and some rather forced “IKEA” type clues led to rather more “biff then try to work out parsing” than is wholly enjoyable. Throw in a few “stretched” synonyms (eg bitter/sour and ray/spoke, both no doubt legit but both feeling unnatural) and I felt that this was not Hurley’s finest.

    Many thanks to Curarist for the blog, and as this is the last QC before the festivities, a Merry Christmas to all

  14. After making THREE typos on Wednesday, I gave yesterday a swerve. The break seemed to work, and this morning I stopped trying a top to bottom solve, and reverted to working through the clues where I had crossers in place. This seemed to work and I’ll stick with it, albeit it’s a tad slower.

    TIME 4:20

  15. While (most of) the answers may have been horse friendly, some of the parsings had them jumping around. I had to visit One-time more than the suggested once before I realised that the definition was just the first word, and that the nho Onee was in fact O + née. Getting CoD 4ac, Census, finally unlocked Splash and explained why Shrivery wasn’t sunless, but by then I had edged into the SCC, so sat next to the jovial Merlin. Invariant

  16. Averageishly difficult puzzle and time, borne out by QUITCH. I agree with Cedric re the IKEAN nature of some of the clues today.

    Nevertheless, I liked my LOI CENSUS, which did cause some head scratching, and a 13 letter anagram is always impressive. Didn’t think of the difference between bitter and sour, that kind of thing passes me by if I get the answer quickly.


  17. 12:29 (treaty of Jaffa consolidates Crusaders gains in the Middle East)

    Pleasantly challenging. The two long across clues took a while to work out, which held things up a bit. LOI was RIP.

    Thanks Hurley and Curarist

  18. 4:59. LOI CENSUS took all the checkers and still some thinking to come. I’m another who doesn’t equate bitter and sour. It always irks me when clues equate bitter and acid, but it is done so commonly I’ve stopped moaning about it. Incidently bitter and sour are two different styles of beer that you wouldn’t fail to recognise were different. Thanks Hurley and Curarist

  19. Finished and enjoyed. What a relief after recent dud performances. Must admit I biffed the long ones without checking the parsing too closely. LOI, after head-scratching, SPOKE.
    Liked RAPIER, CENSUS, INSURGENT, LUNGE, among others.
    Thanks vm, Curarist.
    Happy Christmas to all!

  20. Tricky today but unlike yesterday, in my opinion , fair enough. Spoke seemed to work but my Oxford dictionary didn’t reassure. Similarly ‘one time’ had to be otherwise the clue would have been a bit stretched for a quickie. Enjoyed it, though, so thanks Hurley and Curarist!

  21. Try telling a pregnant woman that her cravings aren’t needs!

    I submitted off leaderboard because I just couldn’t understand how CENSUS (which fitted the wordplay) could mean “court” (the definition, according to my tired old eyes). Searched immediately for the explanation on the blog … oh dear. First time I’ve fallen for the “n”/”r” similarity!

    Oh well, I’d spent at least 2 mins trying to think of an alternative before submitting so my 09:11 wouldn’t have been that great anyway.

    Liked CHOPPER, CRAVE and INSURGENT very much. Terribly clunky surface for EXECUTIVE though.

    Many thanks Hurley and curarist.


  22. Managed to complete this one with the help of my cat on 12d. We both felt this was a poor clue, and agree that “finally” was unnecessary.

    Other than that I didn’t find anything to touch and found it to be an enjoyable QC.

  23. LOI SPLASH, but the clue that held me up was CENSUS. My time of 12 minutes was not helped by an unparsed LURCH at 3d.
    I also frowned at SPOKE.
    No big issues. Enjoyed it.

  24. Nine minutes had elapsed with just 7dn to do. It took me a further three minutes of staring gormlessly at it before the penny dropped. I had put SHIVERY in for 11ac, and not returned to parse it. With an S in place instead of a Y, the correct answer came quickly and I finally stumbled over the line in 11.58.
    This gave me a total weekly time of 52.18 and a daily average of 10.28. Not a million miles away from my ten minute target, so bearing in mind there were some chewy puzzles this week, I am relatively happy with that.

  25. An unexpectedly pleasant Friday solve after a equally remarkably trouble-free trip to Sainsbury’s. Bring it on. Happy Christmas to all.

  26. 10.53 A pretty good time for me but it felt like it should have been quicker. ONE-TIME was LOI. 63 minutes in total and no visits to the SCC is also a pretty good week. Thanks Curarist and Hurley.

  27. Didn’t enjoy this much today, finding it rather obscure in places and taking 2 goes to fill in the blanks. LOI was CRAVE, not seeing that craving was a need and not thinking of RAVE as a party – it’s normally a DO. CENSUS, SPLASH and INSURGENT didn’t come readily to mind, either.

  28. DNF. Fell at the last hurdle. I couldn’t get CENSUS but with 10 minutes already on the clock I really wasn’t on wavelength today.

  29. I’m not convinced that spoke is a synonym for ray, but apart from that a nice straightforward puzzle. Thanks to Curarist and Hurley.
    Merry Christmas

  30. Nice finish to the week. All done in 32m.
    LOI: INSURGENT after removing Insurrect. I’ve heard of an insurgent but never seen it used as a rising. However it was a nice clue.
    Thanks Hurley and Curarist.
    Happy Christmas to one and all.

  31. After yesterday’s struggles, I thought this was a reasonable end to the week at 12:36 – against my handicap that is birdie territory. Might be the first time I remembered a flower can also be a river. I didn’t notice the various MERs raised whilst solving but that is probably a reflection on my poor vocabulary.
    Happy Christmas to all and thanks to Curarist and Hurley.

  32. I didn’t have any qualms about SOURCE, justifying it as Guy did. Only SPOKE gave me pause at the end, although I had to use all available neurons to work my way through the other clues to get under my target time. SINGLE was FOI. 9:04. Thanks Hurley and Curarist.

  33. You may wish to avoid what follows as it has no Christmas cheer whatsoever.

    I am in despair (again) at my total, unforgivable idiocy and inability to get the most simple clues. I’ve made some daft mistakes in my time here, but this one will take some beating.

    Needless to say, I failed once more to make my weekly target (5 solves in under 2 hours). I put RUN for RIP and had RANIER for RAPIER as a result. I knew the latter was wrong and meant to go back and check at the end. However I was so obsessed with my time that I forgot to do this and so recorded a DNF, with two incorrect answers.

    When I looked at the clock, I had ‘finished’ in 25 mins, so had more than enough time remaining (13 mins) to check and still meet my target for the week. I felt under so much time pressure today that I didn’t enjoy it at all, regardless of not finishing.

    Another day of failure, incompetence and stupidity. I had 38 mins to play with to meet my target and I still messed it up. I am desperately unhappy at today’s result as I thought that I might meet my target for only the second time this year. The fact that I should have done this easily makes it even worse. If I hadn’t put so much pressure on myself, I would have had no problem meeting my goal as I would very quickly have spotted and corrected my error. A self-inflicted wound that will take some time to recover from.

    I will spend yet another weekend berating myself and feeling wretched, when only yesterday I felt so positive. I have had a rotten last six months on the QC, and, just when I thought there was a bit of light at the end of the tunnel, I have another disastrous day. How can I achieve a 16 min solve yesterday and then have such a nightmare today? I fear that I will never get the hang of this.

    To compound my misery, I had a horror show on the Quintagram today, getting only one answer and not even understanding two of the clues. I really am useless at times.

    Thanks for the blog today, and thank you to all of the bloggers for the great work they do throughout the year.

    I hope you all have an enjoyable Christmas.

    1. Dear Mr A,
      Five fully-correct solves in under two hours is an aspirational goal that I have achieved only once in 186 attempts. This week I somehow managed to avoid any DNF’s, but my aggregate time of 2 hrs 17 mins (which I’m very pleased with) was still some way off the mark.
      My advice is: Don’t beat yourself up. Forget the clock. Concentrate on solving and parsing every clue correctly. Enjoy the journey.

      1. Thanks Mr R. I have been trying to relax and just concentrate on solving the puzzle, but I find the time very hard to put to one side. I should certainly have forgotten the clock today as thinking about it did me no favours at all.

        Well done this week. There were some tough ones and that is a good time considering the overall difficulty level of the last five QCs.

        PS. Like you, I have achieved five fully correct solves in under two hours just the once!

        1. Actually, my weekly total was 2 hrs 27 mins. A little slower, but I’m still quite happy with it.
          My unofficial target each day is 40 minutes. This week’s score was 4-1, so not bad at all.

          1. That’s a decent scoreline given the difficulty of some of the QCs this week. It’s always satisfying to avoid too many of those very long solves that feel like they will never end.

    2. I think I’ll take your advice and in future avoid reading your ‘contributions’. Self-immolation isn’t pretty, nor needed. The advice you’ve been given, on numerous occasions, is to forget your aspirational times and just enjoy the puzzles. Speed will, perhaps, come over time. No-one here really cares how long you take, and measuring yourself against the long-experienced is futile. Just relax and enjoy life.

  34. 18:31
    An unusual mixture of clues with quite a few biffed, but mostly enjoyable.
    Pleased to be under my 20min target time as I was solving for the first time on my laptop and suffering as King Charles apparently does from sausage fingers!
    LOI: 18ac SAUCE
    COD: 4ac CENSUS
    Thanks to Curarist and Hurley and wishing all here a wonderful Christmas.

  35. 11:36, but with one typo 🙁 COD probably INSURGENT. All my other thoughts re SOUR and SPOKE have already been made. If we have a puzzle on Monday, I’ll see you all then. If not, happy Christmas to all.

    Thanks to Hurley and Curarist.

  36. Solved in two sessions. Started off ok in the first one but the second session was marred by a lack of concentration caused by a loud telephone conversation going on nearby. Still, eventually finished with everything correct in a rather sluggish 27 minutes. Couldn’t parse ONE TIME and had a few MERs at some of the definitions, as already mentioned by others.

    FOI – 1ac SINGLE
    LOI – 10ac CRAVE
    COD – nothing really stood out. Liked EXECUTIVE but that’s more a function of having successfully assembled the various parts of the clue – the surface is very clunky.

    Thanks to Hurley and Curarist and a Happy Christmas to all.

  37. A slow start again. FOI was IGNORANCE and relatively few others solved during my first pass. However, one by one they did eventually fall and I crossed the finishing line in 31 minutes. My last few in were CENSUS, SPLASH and SPOKE.

    Overall, I found this quite tricky and I didn’t really like some of the overly wordy clues. A minor quibble really.

    Thanks to Hurley and Curarist.

  38. Got all except SPOKE which I still don’t understand – it’s not in my Collins 2000 (except the etymological origin, from Latin radius = spoke). Nor was S-O-E very helpful; could have been SHONE or SWORE. Curious that you all seem fine with it.

    1. Think of a bicycle wheel.

      any of several lines radiating from a centre; radius
      Word origin
      C14: from Old French rai, from Latin radius spoke, radius

      I mentioned in my early comment that it was not likely to be known to all, so I’d agree it’s a bit much for a Quick Cryptic.

      1. Thank you, but it doesn’t help: I “think of a bicycle wheel” and immediately what comes to mind is spokes. But never rays. In what context is ray = spoke? The sun gives forth rays of light, but never spokes; a wheel has spokes, but never rays. What can be said to have either?

        1. From Collins,
          SPOKE: 1. a radial member of a wheel, joining the hub to the rim
          2. a radial projection from the rim of a wheel, as in a ship’s wheel
          RADIAL: (of lines, bars, beams of light, etc) emanating from a common central point; arranged like the radii of a circle

          1. I completely agree! The two definitions are incontrovertible. But nowhere does Collins equate spoke with ray.
            Just realised: it’s Friday! Happy Christmas, all.

  39. For me, hard but fair and happily finished in just over 30 mins. Good QC for this SCC member.

  40. 15d..police officer = DI. Then helicopter = ving (a type of helicopter). Losing height therefore = diving.

    Top half was lovely and quick. Bottom half saw sauce, spoke and debtor then ground to a half and unable to finish.

    Rent for Rip?!
    One time was terribly clued I thought and I didn’t have the right workforce to build executive.
    But I should have spotted the hidden.

    Thanks for QC and blog.

  41. 13 mins…

    A little late with this, but a fairly reasonable puzzle from Hurley to lead us into the festive period. Nothing specific stood out, although I did wonder about “spoke” = “ray” for a while.

    FOI – 1ac “Single”
    LOI – 19ac “Perfectionist”
    COD – 14dn “Naïveté”

    Thanks as usual, and best wishes to everyone for Christmas.

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