Quick Cryptic 2174 by Hawthorn

Posted on Categories Quick Cryptic

This didn’t put up a great deal of resistance, coming in well under target at 4 and a bit minutes. Some nice surfaces, and a good range of clue types but no gremlins.

1 Ponder gearwheel — it corroded (8)
5 I have contracts after hours in busy workplace (4)
HIVE – I’VE after H
9 Simple map including India (5)
PLAIN – PLAN with I for India inside
10 Train’s erratic temperature in carriage (7)
TRANSIT – anagram (‘erratic’) of TRAINS with T for temperature added
11 Unusual focaccia pie initially needs a lot of water (7,5)
PACIFIC OCEAN -anagram (‘unusual’) of FOCCACIA PIE + N[eeds]
13 A “B road” bearing us westwards is ludicrous (6)
ABSURD – A + B + RD  with backwards US inserted
15 Petals represented in crayon (6) 
PASTEL – anagram (‘represented’) of PETALS
17 Charges brought by a new spouse? (12)
STEPCHILDREN – cryptic definition
20 French playwright needing more to pen story (7)
MOLIERE – MORE with LIE inside
21 Some icebergs around water bird (5)
GREBE – reverse hidden word: icEBERGs. Whenever you see the word ‘some’, look for a hidden word.
22 Small boat making for island (4)
23 Almost collapse before argument in shrill voice (8)
1 Manage company with power and energy (4)
COPE – CO + P + E
2 State within Afghan area (5)
GHANA – hidden word: AfGHAN Area
3 Service provider that comes with strings attached? (6,6)
TENNIS RACKET – cryptic definition
4 Garden bird nibbled morsel (6)
6 Bookworm, say, taking in page in study (7)
INSPECT – INSECT with P inside
7 Star losing head: “get knotted!” (8)
ENTANGLE – the star is a PENTANGLE, minus first letter
8 Francis the artist snagged bananas for breakfast? (5,3,4)
BACON AND EGGS – Francis BACON, followed by anagram (‘bananas’) of  SNAGGED
12 Exams, incorporating problem and answer, bearing fruit (8)
SATSUMAS – SATS (Standard Attainment Tests) with SUM and A inside.
14 Dubiously sell art connected to top celebrities … (7)
STELLAR – anagram (‘dubiously’) of SELL ART
16 … Criminal came in for the pictures (6)
CINEMA – anagram (‘criminal’) of CAME IN
18 Incident involving woman from Old Testament and New Testament (5)
19 The setter goes before second reminder (4)

56 comments on “Quick Cryptic 2174 by Hawthorn”

  1. 20 minutes of enjoyment from FOI: COGITATE quickly followed by COPE.
    LOI: MOLIERE helped by the simple wordplay and good surface.

  2. DNF for me because I never heard of a Grebe. Also I couldn’t pull Stepchildren out of my head.

    The rest was straightforward and fun! I did try and spell it as Tennis Raquet though.

    Sum = problem came up recently and I’m glad for it.

    I think this is my first Hawthorn puzzle. Have a lovely weekend everyone.

    1. SUM was last Wednesday – someone helpfully suggested I memorise it as it comes up regularly. Without that, I wasn’t getting SATSUMAS.

      Have a good weekend Tina … and don’t forget the Aerogard !!

  3. 7 minutes suggests this was easier than than most puzzles over the past couple of weeks, although yesterday’s was on the easier side too as borne out by many commentators here.

    The only clue I looked twice at was 15ac as I’d forgotten (if ever I knew) that PASTEL is another word for a crayon. I recall it only as a shade or colour.

    ‘Hawthorn’ is the pseudonym of David Parfitt who until very recently was the Puzzles Editor at The Times. I don’t know whether his departure from that role involved leaving the newspaper or perhaps he has just moved to another position. I wonder if his appearance today means that he will continue to set QCs for us, but I was amazed to find this morning that his last outing as Hawthorn was four years ago next month. It really is frightening how time flies!

  4. 3:56
    Haven’t seen Hawthorn since the 15th of August 2018 – I assumed this setter had gone to doggy heaven

  5. Would like to see more puzzles from Hawthorn as I thoroughly enjoyed this one.

    Started with COGITATE and made smooth progress down the grid. Had an inexplicable brainfreeze over biblical women with 3 letter names and needed the checker from STEPCHILDREN before the penny dropped 🤦‍♂️.
    Finished in 8.22 with LOI CINEMA with my favourite being TENNIS RACKET
    Thanks to Curarist

  6. About 10 mins (excluding unplanned break) and held up only by STEPCHILDREN which I think is a terrific clue and a misplaced G in EGGG that threw me for FALSETTO until spotted with a ‘Doh!’

    Who doesn’t like a FOCCACIA PIE (+N) anagram?

    Enjoyable puzzle thanks Hawthorn and Curarist.

  7. Some speedy times today! Not from me, though – I got stuck on TENNIS RACKET (since in my head it’s RACQUET, which was too long, so I abandoned the idea for a bit), SARK (kept trying to make Skye work) and STEPCHILDREN, where I barked up a lot of wrong trees before the PDM!

    Lovely, elegant puzzle.

    FOI COPE, LOI & COD STEPCHILDREN, time 08:32 for an estimated 2K and a Decent Day.

    Many thanks Hawthorn and curarist.


  8. A very good Friday puzzle from Hawthorn. He has the ability to suck you in and make you feel you are really motoring but then throws in the odd anagram that needs pen and paper (for me at least) like PACIFIC OCEAN plus a couple of bouncers (STEPCHILDREN and my LOI SATSUMAS) that took far too long. I thought I would be within target but ended up at 4 mins over.
    Enjoyable, though. My appreciation to both. John M.

  9. A most enjoyable puzzle – my first time doing one from Hawthorn and I hope he sets more! 10 minutes in all, all parsed, with slight hesitations over titbit (where have more often seen the spelling tidbit) and Tennis racket (ditto with racquet). LOI was Cinema, where I took an age to see it was a relatively simple anagram – I tried all sorts of other ways to read the clue first.

    Classic “lift and separate” with “Small boat” in the clue for 22A Sark. One thing the Ark was not is small! Only one minor quibble, as to whether a bookworm is an insect. Most bookworms I know have got two legs not six …

    Many thanks to Curarist for the blog, and a good weekend to all

  10. No accurate time, as I had to disturb myself halfway through to move my car to let Mrs R out for her regular (but increasingly infrequent) day out in Knightsbridge. I was inside 15 minutes though. I too was put off by racquet for a while – didn’t even think of an alternative spelling until the checkers (chequers!) made it inevitable. Otherwise, a nicely targeted puzzle. Now off to the local greasy spoon for my regular (but increasingly infrequent) full English treat. Thanks both.

  11. I only missed 3 of the across clues on the first pass, and then picked off all of the downs, so it was easy enough. Beautifully constructed though !

    TIME 3:10 (1:25 slower than Mohn, but only 17 seconds behind Verlaine)

  12. SE was hardest part. All done in 11 with only 17a remaining, had a break and saw stepchildren.

    COD Satsumas

  13. 1.45 for Mohn! Wow what a time. It makes my 8.35 look totally pedestrian. Besides getting the answers instantly, he must be a 200 words a minute keyboard operator!
    I thought todays offering by Hawthorn was excellent, certainly tougher than yesterdays but not too tough. A middle of the road puzzle which I would imagine will satisfy most.
    LOI for me was 17ac where ‘charges’ had me considering indictments and fees rather than sprogs (thought I’d use this word from an earlier reference this week, as I hadn’t heard it used for about 50 years!)

    1. I’m at about 95 wpm now – my speed has dropped in recent years due to “retirement” involving much less typing. It certainly helps to be a faster typist when solving online, as well as knowing useful shortcuts to navigate the grid (tabbing between answer spaces, wrapping around the ends of rows/columns, etc). But I think the most important skill is to be able to correctly identify where the definitions are in the clues, which helps to make the puzzle more like a concise one than a cryptic one, and then to have a decent mental thesaurus of synonyms to suggest possible answers. That process gets much easier the more answers (and hence checking letters) you have in the grid.

  14. Argh, failed on STEPCHILDREN and looked up SATSUMA. I should have allowed myself a pause for PDMs.
    Witty puzzle. Liked FALSETTO, PACIFIC OCEAN, COGITATE (FOI), MOLIERE, among others.
    Thanks vm, Curarist.

  15. It took me 10:34 to get to my LOI. But I really struggled to get STEPCHILDREN; just wouldn’t come to mind. I had a collection of letters that led nowhere; like this morning’s Wordle.
    It took me at least over 5 minutes to find it.
    But a very good QC overall. My COD was INSPECT which I thought had clever misdirection -at least for me!

  16. A full minute to get my LOI STEPCHILDREN – totally misdirected and forced into an alphabet trawl.

    Otherwise – as per others – a good crossword on the easier end of things, but for me – a little over target because of one clue.


  17. I have enjoyed all puzzles this week except Tuesday’s DNF, where on seeing the blog, decided it was fair but very difficult. On today’s, if Hawthorn, alias DP, is to become a regular QC setter, WELCOME. They can be just a little more tricky than this, but please forget your WORDWATCH vocabulary! Though I once played basminton and squash, I have never before seen RACQUET spelt as in this puzzle, but guessed it was an alternative, confirmed after completion. FOI COGITATE, LOI MEMO, COD EVENT, i just loved the nonsense surface. Thanks Curarist and Hawthorn.

  18. 6 minutes for all except 17a which eventually deposited me into the SCC. Just couldn’t see it until I suddenly did! 20:37. Thanks Hawthorn and Curarist.

  19. DNF today with ENTANGLE unsolved. Kicking myself having read the blog (thanks Curarist). Will try to remember pentangle for star… Much to enjoy here as others have said. Liked BACON AND EGGS and SATSUMAS. Many thanks Hawthorn.

  20. 3:36 here. A nice puzzle. More enjoyable than the main one ( cos I found that hard!!).

  21. My 550th QC, but my first Hawthorn – and I enjoyed it very much. Most clues made me pause for thought and I had to move on and return on several occasions, but none stumped me for too long. Only STEPCHILDREN caused any real delay (4 minutes), but once I got it I decided it should be my CoD. Total time = 23 minutes, which is jolly fast for me. A true QC.

    Mrs Random has decided to leave her attempt until this evening, as we’re just about to set off on a visit to Great Dixter (Northiam, E Sussex). It’s our favourite garden in the world and it’s a lovely day, so what’s not to like?

    Many thanks to Hawthorn and Curarist.

  22. DNF can’t remember not being able to get a clue which had 6 checkers, but just could not see STEPCHILDREN. Not helped by have RAQUET, as I had never seen RACKET used in this way.

    COD MOLIERE, though he is the only French playwright I know.

    1. Oddly, I had to look up the spelling of racquet/raquet/racket the other day. It seems “racket” is the more American spelling, but like most things they are increasingly interchangeable nowadays.

    2. My list of French playwrights was short too. Not specifically plays but I could only think of Jules Verne and Alexander Dumas.

      When I finally got the M checker from SATSUMAS, I was reminded of Molly Ringwald’s character in The Breakfast Club correcting Judd Nelson’s … perhaps my youth wasn’t completely misspent … https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s1EeSRKdgVc

      1. FOI a confident 3 DN PUPPET MASTER. After that I never really recovered! Pleased to spot GREBE and loved 12AC. Thanks!

  23. Dnf…

    Frustrating, as this was generally an enjoyable puzzle. All of them were complete after 15 mins apart from 12dn “Satsumas” and 17ac “Stepchildren”. After a fruit trawl in my head (couldn’t see “Sats” as exams) it eventually came, but 17ac just wouldn’t appear. Forgot about “charges” as kids.

    FOI – 1dn “Cope”
    LOI – dnf
    COD – 23ac “Falsetto”

    Thanks as usual!

  24. I echo most of the comments above. A nicely judged puzzle with a couple of headscratchers in STEPCHILDREN and SATSUMAS that prolonged the solving time.

  25. Came to this late but worth the wait. First four flew in and I thought I was on for a fast one but the bottom held showed tougher resistance. SATSUMAS held out to the end with STEPCHILDREN giving the moment of the day when I switched from bafflement to amusement via a huge PDM. Don’t think I could have named the French playwright before sitting down but he came to mind pretty easily – I must mix with intellectuals. All green in a shade under 10 – fast for me.

  26. Scraped in to the sub-40 club over two sittings. Had most of it done in first 25mins with the SW (and TENNIS-RACKET) left when I took a break at 30-mins.

    Don’t understand what LIE means in the middle of MOLIERE but fortunately managed to dredge that spelling up.

    Even though COGITATE was FOI, it took some time to be sure that ATE=corroded which is classic example of why I struggle. These more unusual defs hold me up.

    Four solves in a row this week is my best and three of those occurred without too much struggle. Also finished an old Tracy in the QC6 book yesterday in under 20-mins and finished off three others from earlier in the week that had clues outstanding. It all came so easy that it really suggests my brain wasn’t working on from Mon to Weds.

    Thanks to Hawthorn and Curarist

        1. Worth knowing, clearly a crosswordland thing as it I needed to put it in the context of “tell a lie” / “tell a story” to make the connection.

          Thank you both

  27. Just under 14 minutes. I had difficulty parsing ENTANGLE as I thought it looked close enough to ” get knotted” but didn’t see the pentangle as star. I’ll have to consult astro_nowt but when I gaze at the night sky I see six not five points on all the stars. Always thought the word was tidbit but the bird in the clue set me right. I had tatsumas(?) for a while till I remembered Sats were tests in US. Not really familiar with the term SATSUMAS as I think in my neck of the woods they’re mandarins, clementines or tangerines. Thanks for entertaining blog!

    1. I think they have SAT’s now in the UK as well (at Primary level at least). For a while I did have the non word ELEBRITY for some kind of elaborate knot.

      1. Indeed, SATS at the end of Key Stage 2 which is age 11 if I recall correctly from my school governor days.

        Schools put lots of pressure on, kids get stressed, parents hold their kids out of them in protest. Hasn’t been too much around this with the pandemic decimating school for the past 2-3 years.

  28. After almost four years of trying, I have yet to finish a QC – will it ever happen?! No problem with tennis racket and bacon & eggs, but no chance with stepchildren. I’ll try again on Monday. Many thanks for the guidance and tips from all the bloggers.

    1. Ten out of ten for perseverance! Keep going – imagine the celebrations when you do get a finish – we’ll all be cheering 🍾🙌

    2. Keep going Ian. You will get there. Can I suggest you make a note each day of any abbreviations or word play which have caught you out? I do this and have gone from no-hoper to respectable solver (i.e. not fast but I get there) in about a year.

  29. Total train wreck today with at least 6 left after 30 minutes. I then resorted to aids and managed to complete but for some reason I found this hard. It must just be me or I could blame the mysterious “wavelength” because my experience does not seem to chime with that of others. Couldn’t get TENNIS RACKET (however spelt), STEPCHILDREN or FALSETTO amongst others. Oh well, there’s always Monday.

    FOI – 5ac HIVE
    LOI – DNF
    COD – 23ac FALSETTO

    1. TENNIS RACKET and STEPCHILDREN were in my last five which took me past the 30-min mark, so I understand where you’re coming from.

      They’re both clues which you either figure out the ‘pun’ or you sit and stare at – there’s not a lot to help you there – although I believe CHARGES=children is a well known to the experienced solvers.

      For me, the TENNIS and CHILDREN part just appeared out of the checkers available and then I was able to connect them to the clues.

  30. On wavelength. FOI COPE and LOI CINEMA in a rare sub 6 mins. 5:49 An all round excellent day after cycling up Sa Batalla (a few metres short of a mountain) in Mallorca this morning despite the heat and humidity.

    1. I’m guessing it’s a little less steep than the La Planche des Belles Filles that I just watched on the Tour de France.

      1. Only averages 5% for 4.8 miles but I have to climb another 2.2 miles from my house to get to the start point.

  31. I knew we hadn’t seen Hawthorn for a while, and I remembered he was one of the editors, but not which one. DP is still setting the word search every day, probably others too!
    It was a very user-friendly puzzle on the whole, and for a while I thought I was on for a clean sweep of the acrosses, but STEPCHILDREN put paid to that. It did add a couple of minutes to my solve, but was a terrific clue.
    FOI Cogitate LOI and COD Stepchildren
    Thanks to Hawthorn and Curarist

  32. DNF

    Gave up at 21 minutes. Couldn’t see STEPCHILDREN. Not helped because I couldn’t decide if racket was spelt with a Q or a C.

  33. An enjoyable DNF (!). STEPCHILDREN got me, though after getting TENNIS RACKET maybe I should have thought of something subtle . . . At least I now know charges = children in crosswordland.

  34. Like others, I was doing well until the brilliant 17ac and the tricky 12dn brought me to a shuddering halt. I’m too old to have sat SATS! Got there in the end but firmly in the SCC.

    Great puzzle and blog, which I needed for done parsing.

  35. A fairly rapid solve for me today, though I was slowed at the end by INSPECT and LOI ENTANGLE, which brought me to 15:03. Plenty to enjoy, so good to see Hawthorn back.

  36. Lovely puzzle, so another vote for more from Hawthorn. Started well over a charging break on the M42, stuttered somewhat during another on the way home on the M40, and completed in the beautiful cool and aromatic evening at home. FOI 1a cogitate. LOI 12d satsumas (my favourite type) but needed the blog to recognise SATS. COD 8d bacon & eggs with a close challenge from 16a stepchildren (we’ve pretty well identical clue before methinks).

  37. Enjoyable puzzle, no real difficulties until LOI STEPCHILDREN which I couldn’t see, despite alphabet trawls. But la redoutable Mme L cracked it after a few minutes, as usual. Very witty clue.

  38. I enjoyed many of the clues in this puzzle but couldn’t get stepchildren or satsumas which I should have. I can’t really accept tennis RACKET as I think in British spelling it is racquet. Racket is American and this is the Times of London in Wimbledon fortnight after all. We tennis fans have to put up with rugby and football and cricket references so please can we have our tennis properly represented? C’mon Tim!
    Nice puzzle though. How do you people know who the setters are in real life and their names? Is there some secret information source?

  39. PS so sad for Rafa 😞
    Not sure Kyrgios should still be playing considering his behaviour and the charges he faces in Australia. Not a supporter of Novak though so it’s a tricky final to come.

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