Quick Cryptic 1092 by Hawthorn

A distinctly chewy offering from Hawthorn today which I suspect will have some of our newer solvers struggling (but hopefully not complaining – the whole point is to be pushed beyond your comfort zone as that is the only way to improve your skills: end of brief homily).

No real obscurities apart from the Japanese sash at 1d, but with the rest of the wordplay and a couple of cross checkers the unknown (to me) bit of the answer could be written in with a high degree of confidence. The difficulty of the puzzle (at least to me) came with the cryptic definitions at 4a and 10a (both very good – but it took me some time to see what was going on) and the tricky / well disguised definitions at 5d and 20a.

A couple of impressive anagrams at 2d and 6d – although they were some of the easier clues I thought – but my COD goes to 4a for reasons I suspect only my shrink could explain.

Well, playmates, that’s me over and out as a blogger of the QC I’m afraid. For those of you who did not look at my last Sunday Times blog, I’ve decided to pass on the baton due to pressure of work and generally being time poor at the moment. I was privileged to be in at the beginning of the QC and blogged QC number 3 back in March 2014. Since then I have done around 108 all up (not that I’ve been counting – but that’s roughly what the sums suggest) so it’s time to give someone else a crack.

It only remains for me to say a big thank you to all the setters and editors of the QC. It was a bold experiment when first launched (which attracted criticism from some of the more conservative quarters) but has, I believe, encouraged a new generation of solvers to get into the Times crossword scene. Some will go on to become top flight solvers of the 15×15, some will stay comfortably enjoying the QC but will venture no further, and some will say the whole thing is just too damn hard. But at least everyone will have had a crack and decided whether the investment of time and intellectual energy associated with being eventually able to solve The Times 15×15 is worth it. And that’s great.

So toodle pip and thanks for the (generally) positive feedback you have provided to my efforts over the last 4 years.

Definitions underlined: DD = double definition: anagrams indicated by *(–): omitted letters indicated by {-}

1 Put back part of wall on Kentish hill (5)
KNOLL – Reverse hidden (put back part of) waLL ON Kentish hill
4 Result of getting teeth stuck into Hawthorn, perhaps
SAWDUST – Cryptic definition revolving around the teeth of a saw – and the strangely pleasing notion of sinking our teeth into a setter from time to time
8 Playing lute etc in Cos? (7)
LETTUCE – *(LUTE ETC) with “playing” signalling the anagram
9 Affectedly sing end of witty poem by Pound (5)
YODEL – Y (end of wittY) + ODE (poem) + L (abbrev. for pound sterling). Was it only me that found this a slightly odd definition?
10 A sound defence aiding nightwatchman? (7,5)
BURGLAR ALARM – Cryptic definition steering us down a cricketing line of thinking – straight bat and all that – when in fact the key is in the noisy kind of “sound” and the nightwatchman is of the traditional variety rather than the tail end batsman promoted to take the last few overs to save a leading batsman from exposure at the end of the day’s play.
12 To step backwards in part of shoe (6)
TOECAP – TO + reversal of PACE (step backwards)
13 A naturalist primarily twitches for larks (6)
ANTICS – A N (A Naturalist primarily) + TICS (twitches)
16 The very best peach biscuit (5,7)
CREAM CRACKER – CREAM (the very best) + CRACKER (peach – terminology employed by one’s grandfather with regard to a particularly attractive gal)
18 Cautious statement fellow had withdrawn for example (5)
HEDGE – HE’D (fellow had) + EG reversed (withdrawn for example)
20 Engineer ran good railroad (7)
DRAGOON – *(RAN GOOD) with “engineer” signposting the anagram
21 There’s tons in cigars that’s bad for the stomach (7)
GASTRIC – T (tons) ‘in’ *(CIGARS) with “that’s bad” indicating the anagram
22 Avoid old magistrate after pocketing diamonds (5)
DODGE – D (abbrev. diamonds in Bridge notation) ‘pocketed’ by DOGE (old magistrate)
1 Some memory of Scottish garment bearing Japanese sash (7)
KILOBIT – KILT (Scottish garment) is ‘bearing’ (i.e. carrying inside) OBI (Japanese sash). Did not know the OBI, but once the K hove into view the garment had to be a kilt, which (with the definition) inevitably meant that OBI must be some kind of Japanese sash – which apparently it is. And that, I might say for the benefit of new solvers, is a good example of having to make educated guesses sometimes as words which are completely unknown to you will inevitably crop up from time to time.
2 Craft sure to be hired for remote islands (5,8)
OUTER HEBRIDES – *(SURE TO BE HIRED) with “craft” signalling the anagram
3 Liberal judge restyled Banjul a capital (9)
LJUBLJANA – L J (liberal judge) + *(BANJUL) – with “restyled” signposting the anagram – + A giving us the capital of Slovenia. I visited it some years ago, and I couldn’t spell it correctly then, either… thank goodness the cross checkers didn’t leave much room for getting it wrong!
4 Son tries gardening tool (6)
SHEARS – S (son) + HEARS (tries – as in a judge trying / hearing a case)
5 Biting cereal noisily (3)
WRY – Sounds like RYE (cereal noisily). The wry / bitter equation surprised me somewhat, as I’d always associated it with sardonic humour rather than real bitterness. But the dictionaries (of course) support the setter…
6 Loud workmen I’d recast in radio play (5,4,4)
UNDER MILK WOOD – *(LOUD WORKMEN I’D) with “recast” pointing to the anagram. How many other radio plays does anyone know?
7 Conversation arising in Greek/Latin (4)
TALK – Reverse hidden (arising in) greeK LATin
11 Help close a hotel in the country (4,1,4)
LEND A HAND – END (close) + A + H (hotel – as in the phonetic alphabet) ‘in’ LAND (the country)
14 Crazed singer swallowing unknown medical item (7)
SYRINGE – *(SINGER) – with “crazed” indicating the anagram – and Y also in the mix (swallowing unknown)
15 Sharp American spies returned to protect detectives (6)
ACIDIC – CIA reversed (American spies returned) wrap around (to protect) CID (detectives)
17 Time to embrace ruffian (4)
THUG – T (time) + HUG (to embrace)
19 Blunder as US hospital department shortened radius (3)
ERR – ER (US hospital department ) + R (shortened R{adius}

40 comments on “Quick Cryptic 1092 by Hawthorn”

  1. It took me a frustrating amount of time–well, I suppose it was 30 seconds, but it felt like forever–to remember CREAM for the CRACKER. Also some time to make sure of the spelling of LJUBetc. I also thought YODEL was a bit odd. Being ignorant of cricket, I was in no danger of being misled by ‘nightwatchman’. An obi is the sash for a kimono; it appears every other Thursday in the NY Times puzzle. 7:28. Thanks again, Nick. Stay in touch.

    Edited at 2018-05-16 12:42 am (UTC)

  2. 12 minutes here, delayed by the shoe part, the CREAM on my CRACKER, and not being confident about how to spell the capital of Slovenia until I had all its checkers in place.

    Sorry to see you leaving, Nick, as noted above you were one of the 10 original QC bloggers leaving only three remaining (Will and Chris being the other two). I hope you will still drop by to comment and keep in touch. Don’t work too hard!

    I don’t keep records for individual bloggers but I reckon today was your 110th QC. Not a bad score by any standards! Thanks again.

    Edited at 2018-05-16 09:30 am (UTC)

    1. Thanks Jack. 110 is a significantly higher score than anything I ever achieved on the cricket pitch!
  3. Didn’t like sawdust or wry (was looking for a triple definition).

    Dnk under milk wood, although it sounds amusing reading wiki.
    COD thug.

    Good luck and thanks Nick, enjoy the craic!

    1. Under Milk Wood is well worth checking out – best listened to rather than read, I suggest.
  4. Thank you Nick. As a relative newbie I can say I have benefited greatly from the QC blogs….today being no exception given the unknown obi in 1dn. Also DNK the capital of Slovenia so had to use trial and error to complete in 20:06.
  5. Thank you so much for your blogs over the years. I exactly fit the profile you identify of the QC solver aspiring (and still hopelessly failing) to solve the 15×15. One day I race through the QC in under 10 minutes. The next – like today – I can’t even finish. Your encouragement and help – and that of all the other bloggers – keeps me still hoping as a triumph of hope over experience. Do enjoy the extra time you will now have and thanks again.


    1. Thanks very much for your kind words NB – good to know that us bloggers make a difference.
      1. I second that! Nick, your blogs have helped me enormously. I’ve been doing cryptics for about a year, and have really benefited from all the bloggers’ posts. Some days I can almost finish the 15 x 15; others, I struggle with the Quick! But considering last February I just stared blankly at every clue before giving up, I’m not doing bad.
        Enjoy your “retirement” — hope we see you here as a commenter on a regular basis!
        Lucy x
  6. Thanks, Nick for all of your helpful and always unfailingly polite and generous blogs.

    I began with the QC about 14 months ago and am def. an aspiring 15x15er.
    Managed my 4th finish on Monday. They’ve only ever happened on universally acclaimed ‘easy’ days but what the heck, a win’s a win and great for morale.

    Wouldn’t have happened without the QC and help from you and all other bloggers.
    Good luck with the new job, hope it’s as rewarding as it’s demanding.

    Re today: I’m another who wasted minutes sighing ‘Oh no, not cricket’ at 10a until PDM. 4a was my LOI, bunged in in desperation – still don’t quite geddit but thanks to Hawthorn too.

    1. Thanks for the kind comments.

      Edited at 2018-05-16 01:18 pm (UTC)

  7. Yes, definitely chewy Nick, taking this (less experienced) blogger over the 25 minute mark – first time I have ever not quite finished on my rattler commute into town.

    Sorry to see you go, but I totally understand why you are going, so good luck in the future. In my limited experience, solving the QC may take as little as 10 minutes (or as much as 25 for todays!), but writing the blog invariably takes a couple of hours out of ones day, and is a significant commitment to keep up for an extended period. I take my hat off to those of you who have been doing it since the beginning.

  8. 10 min: holdups were trying to see how to fit ‘I’ or ‘me’ into 4ac, and to dismiss ‘custard cream’ as immediately brought to mind by ‘biscuit’.
    I’ll miss you too, and hope you’ll be able to find time to drop in here occasionally.
  9. Thanks again for all the blogs Nick. I also found this one on the tricky end of the spectrum, with the NW yielding nothing on first pass. WRY went in first followed by TALK and YODEL. I came back to the NW, after completing the rest of the puzzle, only to find that my first thoughts of trying to mix KILT with OBI(crossword staple) were correct. I’d just been thinking of the wrong sort of memory. Doh! Slovenian capital was LOI making sure I had all the checkers. 14:44. Thanks Hawthorn and Nick.
    On edit: I forgot to say I really liked SAWDUST too.

    Edited at 2018-05-16 12:17 pm (UTC)

  10. Combination of a few DNKs, some rather obtuse normal and cryptic definitions, and a few brain-failures led to a very frustrating DNF with a lot of spaces left to fill. A stark contrast to yesterday’s efforts!
  11. Thanks – as others have said – to the bloggers. A great help. I now finish about 3 in 5 QCs but never really in less than 20 minutes. But I can see how my brain is slowly being wired to make more sense of the clues. I have now attempted circa 200 QCs,
    Today was a dnf due to being put off by the capital H in Hawthorn – although I knew 4d had to start with S I just didn’t get Shears and so managed to convince myself that 4a was Lawsuit thinking that there was some greater thing in Hawthorn that I just didn’t know about. But this was a pity because I chuckled at the answer and was annoyed because I am a keen gardener.
    Another lesson learnt – expect misdirection.
    I will never be a 15×15 contender – so please keep the QC going. Perfect entertainment. Thanks Nick.
    John George
    1. For those who may not be aware, under current Times crossword conventions it’s permissable for deceptive puposes to use a capital letter when the context doesn’t require it, but not to omit one where the context demands it.
  12. Who patiently tutored the thick.
    By careful explaining
    And high-level training
    He’s helped us to conquer the Quick.

    So long Nick, and thanks for all the blogs!

    I found Hawthorn tough today but managed it in 2.5 Kevins; LOI was SAWDUST. Thanks for explaining why “peach” = “cracker”, I just couldn’t see it.


    1. Templar, the brave, never gave in
      As he thought that a sin
      He hadn’t a clock
      So thought – tick tock!
      I’ll judge my times by Kevin.

      Nick – thank goodness your blogs are/were so much better than my limericks! All the best, mate.

      Btw – I was deceived all over the grid today so really enjoyed chewing my way out of the mental messes I’d got myself in. Cod to 1dn which I’d convinced myself was some sort of psychological memory thing and could hardly believe it when the word shaped itself into something really obvious. Cryptic crosswords heh – who’d have them?

      Edited at 2018-05-16 02:26 pm (UTC)

      1. Thanks Chris – best wishes to you too. Your limerick reminded me of the old one:
        There was a young fellow called Dan
        Whose poetry never would scan
        When asked to say why
        He replied with a sigh
        “Because I always try to fit as many words in the last line as I possibly can!”
        Except in your case it would appear to be the first line…
        Cheers mate
  13. I solved this whilst having lunch and the new Private Eye had just arrived,so I had lots of distractions. However had I set the clock running,this would not have been quick.
    There are lots of knolls around here but having the K did not make 1d that simple. Lots of clues required very careful thought.
    I ended up needing 4a and 5d. At 5d I put ICY (= biting) with a question mark admittedly. That did make 4a tough and only after a major alphabet trawl when Sawdust emerged did I go back to 5d. Even then WRY took awhile -COD to that I think.
    Thanks again Nick. I hope your new employers allow you to wear your pictured outfit. David
    1. Great idea re. the work outfit. Sadly I don’t think my new place of work (in Her Majesty’s Government) yet recognises International Talk Like a Pirate Day in the way my previous employers (an Aussie IT company) did! Bit of a cultural adjustment required…
  14. Thank you for your blogs – not only the solutions but also the insights and the fun! I have definitely improved on the main puzzles thanks to the QC, having completed all puzzles this week in under 30 mins (each, not total!). Today’s puzzle in the newspaper is a competition entry and is very fairly clued. Once again huge thanks for your contributions and time
    1. Thanks for that – much appreciated. By the way, great handle!
  15. You could always come back when time allows… as nick not the novice.
    Toodle Pip indeed!
  16. Many thanks, Nick for your informative and often amusing blog. It has always helped while we struggle. Not easy today and we pondered for some minutes over 4a and 5d before entering the right answers while not fully understanding why. Elin and Ian.
  17. Thanks Nick, as others have said I’ve always enjoyed your blogs. I remember discovering this site around 3 months after the QC started and being blown away by how helpful the blogs were and noticing an almost immediate improvement in my solving abilities (although it still took me a long time to complete my first).
    Today’s was definitely tough, taking me 26.08 with a typo at the end of 7d. My last two in were 5d and 4a.
  18. Sorry to see you go Nick. Always enjoy your blogs and the insights have helped me along. This was a toughie for me. FOI 6d. LOI 1d. COD? Too many! Possibly 8a. A real workout that took well over an hour. However, great to complete it.
  19. …which is good for me on a QC that everyone regards as quite tough. I really enjoy getting there in the end! Without all the helpful blogs in the past, I would never have been able to even attempt today’s offering. Thank you all. Very sorry to see you go, Nick, and good luck in your new job.

    So many great clues today, but I am always impressed by the way the setters come up with the long anagrams, so favourite is probably 2d. LOI 4a. MM

  20. Thanks, Nick. Sorry to see you go. As a fellow (albeit relative newbie) QC blogger, it was encouraging to see the number of grateful comments your last blog has elicited. Good luck with the Government Department IT. I wonder which one? I had nearly 10 years working in IT for a big one.
    As for today’s crossword, this delayed me nearly a couple of minutes more than average, but all was fair. A big thumbs up to SAWDUST, where our setter managed to get his pseudonym into the clue at a time when the blossom is at its best. Thanks Hawthorn and Nick.

    Edited at 2018-05-16 08:53 pm (UTC)

  21. Thanks indeed for the blog, Nick. I have got into doing the QC over the past few years and have found your friendly, helpful approach invaluable. The little asides have also added to the enjoyment and altogether the blog makes what could be a solitary pursuit into a bit more of a community endeavour. One of the better uses of the internet.
  22. I generally expect to complete the QC while I eat my breakfast. This one took much longer (I’m too embarrassed to say how long), and needed reference books (for the spelling of Ljubliana and to confirm the Japanese sash that I’d guessed at.) LOI but also COD, 4a. Very devious.

    I disagree with ‘biting’ as a synonym for ‘wry’. Wry is surely more gentle.

    Thanks to blogger. A lot of work for our benefit.

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