Quick Cryptic 2194 by Alfie

Posted on Categories Quick Cryptic

This was deceptively difficult. I managed to get in a right tangle in the SE corner, couldn’t spell the Turkish port, and evidently woke up this morning with severe anagram blindness. I hesitated on some obvious answers e.g 16ac and 4dn because I couldn’t see the parsing. So, a way over par 10 minutes for me. I’ll be interested to see how everyone else gets on

1 Fateful day with teams lacking leader (4)
7 Air cargo from Poland: ale, surprisingly (9)
PLANELOAD – anagram (‘surprisingly’) of POLAND ALE
9 Island’s just ancient villages apparently at first (4)
JAVA – first letters of Just Ancient Villages Apparently
10 Entertainer’s invitation to eat outside in French (10)
11 Joint missing odd bits of skin here (4)
KNEE – alternate letters of sKiN hErE
12 I’m endorsed, having been reformed and rejuvenated (10)
MODERNISED – anagram (‘having been reformed’) of  I’M ENDORSED
16 Delay including half of underpants in washing (10)
19 Spectacular electronic illustration? (4)
21 Still lacking a proposal (10)
MOTIONLESS – double definition
23 Grave bishop pursuing cat (4)
24 What to pay to get a single school meal? (5,4)
TRAIN FARE – obvious once you realise the meaning of ‘single’ as a kind of ticket.
25 Girl, a Pole, coming to the west (4)
DORA – A ROD reversed
2 Inspired, like a sketch? (5)
DRAWN – double definition
3 Second fast bowler to become an astronaut (8)
SPACEMAN – S + PACEMAN (a type of bowler in cricket)
4 Injured fellow had to clutch limb (6)
HARMED – HE’D outside of ARM
5 German article with information on sex (6)
6 Warning from quartet that’s audible (4)
FORE – sounds like FOUR
8 Risk of garden growing wild (6)
DANGER – anagram (‘growing wild’) of GARDEN
13 Organ a vital part of the arteries (3)
EAR – hidden word: thE ARteries
14 Absorbed teen’s dig, wounded (8)
INGESTED – anagram (‘wounded’) of TEENS DIG
15 Unconventional exit (3-3)
WAY-OUT – double definition
17 Meteorological effect of moving online (2,4)
EL NINO – anagram (‘moving’) of  ONLINE
18 One church head needed for White Mass? (6)
20 Turkish port is unadulterated, they say (5)
IZMIR – sounds like ‘IS MERE’, I suppose.
22 Russian, perhaps, one with leading position (4)

64 comments on “Quick Cryptic 2194 by Alfie”

  1. I finished this all bar one answer in 9 minutes. I didn’t know the Turkish port and given that others are sure not to, I thought the wordplay deduced after I’d looked up the answer, was decidedly unhelpful. With no context to go on, “unadulterated” = “mere” would not be out of place in a Mephisto.

    Alfie doesn’t appear as setter very often (this is only his 10th in 6 years) but I know to expect something to be going on in the grid and today’s puzzle was no exception. The hidden element was not hard to spot – assuming I haven’t missed something more.

    We know for sure that Alfie is the same setter as Noel and some of us have suspicions that both are pseudonyms of Richard Rogan the Crossword Editor, who also sets for us under many names, principally Felix. In January this year Felix gave us a puzzle celebrating his 200th QC ‘not all under that name’ of which we were able to account for only 101 so we concluded there must be several other less common pseudonyms that we don’t know about as all the other major setters’ identities have been established.

  2. Failed on this one today. I didn’t know the Turkish port, and after several minutes staring at it after doing the rest I finally thought that “mere” might be “unadulterated” and put in ISMIR. Oh well. At least I managed the 15×15…

  3. Enjoyed this puzzle, IGOR held me up alongside trying to put ETON/NOTE at 24A- only spotted the ‘hidden’ elements after coming on here! Thanks to both Alfie and curarist.

  4. I looked up IZMIR. Turns out 3 million people live there. The wider region looks well worth a visit. A bit beyond my general knowledge though. Struggled on DORA at the end – I was thinking north and south even with the checking D and R. MODERNISED was tricky to untangle. All green in 14 but with a trip to the ‘Turkish Ports’ page of the internet.

  5. An entertaining solve in which there seemed to be a lot of anagrams providing plenty of checkers to ease the way. Relieved to be familiar with the spelling of IZMIR or I’d have been very tempted by the ‘s’ option. Also glad I waited to understand the parsing before biffing FAR OUT at 15d.
    Finished with MOTIONLESS in 8.08 having even spotted, what I assume is, part of the nina during my proof read.
    Thanks to Curarist

  6. Enjoyed this and helpfully knew the port. Seeing the Nina actually helped today while solving.

  7. Enjoyed this puzzle. Top half went in quickly but bottom half took much longer. Particularly liked TRAIN FARE clued as school meal. I knew the Turkish port but thought the homophone a little weak.


    PS: for once I did spot the nina, albeit well after finishing the crossword.

  8. Character development is apparently me loving anagrams now. I still have to write them down, but they’re always straightforward.

    I finished this all except the unknown Turkish port in 16:25. I couldn’t even work it out with the wordplay, so I had to look it up. Even then I didn’t really get it. I was so disappointed to DNF!

    Thanks curarist and Jack for the extra info re: the setter!

  9. 18 minutes but with LAUNDERING BIFD and I couldn’t see the homophone at 20dn.
    FOI: IDES.
    LOI: The clever TRAIN FARE.
    Favourites: EPIC, MOTIONLESS and TOMB.

  10. 1205 Fourth Crusade collapses into Venetian-Byzantine conflict

    12:05, one of my better times for the week. IZMIR was well known to me but I could not parse it. As Smyrna it changed hands in the Fourth Crusade, and I’m going on holiday there in September.

    COMIDIENNE is probably a no-no like the recent Oratress in the 15×15.

    At 13d HEART is also a hidden organ in “the arteries”.

    Hesitated over DRAWN=inspired, what’s that about? And what’s this Nina everyone is talking about?


  11. I have little to add to the comments and experiences above (which I shared).
    Much tougher than I thought after a quick fill in the top half (apart from KNEE which I missed at first). I wasted time on IZMIR (got the IZM but thought it was a very weak clue).
    I thought LAUNDERING, MOTIONLESS, and TRAIN FARE (my COD) were very clever but tough -perhaps too hard for a QC?
    A good Friday workout, though. Thanks to both. John M.
    P.s. I now see there are mentions of another NINA (which I only found after the comments above). That explains why it seemed unnatural in parts and didn’t ‘flow’ in the way I would expect from an experienced setter. I wish there could be some way of warning me off a QC which has been constructed with a NINA in mind. I wouldn’t bother with it.

    1. You need a list of Richard Rogan’s setter names, but unfortunately we don’t have an exhaustive one.

    2. Absolutely agree – seems like an implicit admission that if he just used one name people would avoid the puzzles. Yet to see a Nina that wasn’t a dreadful puzzle.

  12. I whizzed through the top half but struggled thereafter. Fortunately, I’d heard of the Turkish port but, as usual, failed to spot the Nina. Even knowing there is one, I still can’t get it. Would someone help me?

      1. Thanks. I can usually spot a Nina, but I wouldn’t have spotted that one in a million years

  13. Oops – I decided to leave the Turkish port until I had all the checkers, then forgot I’d left it and hit “submit”. Two pink squares. Since I wouldn’t have worked that out in the month of Sundays, I don’t think it made any difference!

    Needed the blog to parse LAUNDERING (was thinking LAING might be a Scottish word for “delay”) and spent some time pondering the parsing for HARMED (clever).

    FOI IDES, LOI ICECAP, COD EL-NINO (such a neat anagram and surface), time 08:35/1.6K but.

    Many thanks curarist and Alfie.


  14. Grid completed in 10 minutes but with a pink square for Ismir with an S. I couldn’t parse it (not a fan of unadulterated = mere, which seems pretty tenuous) and was unsure about the spelling – in the end I plumped for an S because of its alter ego of Smyrna. Not in my view a QC clue really – a mixture of obscure GK and obscure wordplay, with little chance to work the answer out if not known.

    Other small hold-ups were equating inspired with drawn in 2D (another pretty tenuous link IMO), and I could not parse either Harmed or Laundering. And naturally I didn’t spot the Nina, in fact still don’t!

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

  15. DNFed in 23+ mins with ICECAP and IZMIR (NHO). Couldn’t see what to do with ICE-A- for the former despite an alphabet trawl – maybe if I’d come back to it later I would have got it and I said yesterday geography is my 2nd area of weakness, although it now appears others don’t know it either and it wasn’t easily figured out.

    Had five left at 12-mins so generally a good outing. The bottom half held me up with IVAN, MOTIONLESS and DORA being the other issues. The latter I was trying to do something with North or South poles.

    Helped by having WAY-OUT and SPACEMAN in the last month or so. LAUNDERING went in quickly and COD to TRAIN-FARE where school=train was now my first thought but then had to reread the clue to get the parsing!

    Thanks to Curarist and Alfie 🙂

  16. Straightforward, except for LAUNDERING, which I didn’t understand, as I ignored ‘in’, so I had UNDER in ?LAING. Didn’t realize–or as I prefer to say, forgot–that IZMIR is the former Smyrna. Not a great clue for a QC. 5:42.

  17. I found this one straight forward….perhaps because I have flown to Izmir on more than one occasion. My only hesitations were in the parsing of HARMED and LAUNDERING where I assumed that ‘Laing’ was an unknown, to me, synonym of delay. 6:53 for an excellent Friday.

    Now it has been pointed out I can see the NINA!

  18. I completed this one without too much difficulty, but did need to look up Turkish ports to get Izmir. I thought it was a particularly poor clue if I’m honest.

    However, it was an enjoyable and easy puzzle to end the week on.

  19. DNF in SE corner, despite looking up IZMIR. Was also puzzled by unadulterated = mere.
    Liked IDES, TRAIN FARE, COMEDIENNE and FORE (COD) but there were too many anagrams for my taste.
    What was the Nina?
    Thanks vm, Jack.

    1. Me too. Never would have got it. Just can’t see ‘mere’ as ‘unadulterated’ no matter how hard I squint.

      1. It’s the first given meaning of the adjective ‘mere’ in SOED: †1 Pure, unmixed; undiluted. OE–M19. But Collins has it as ‘obsolete’.

        1. Fair enough although quietly reassured that at least one references ‘obsolete’!

  20. 7:24, but having got as far as IZM_R, and not knowing the port, looked it up. Unadulterated – mere, definitely a bit iffy for a QC. Thanks Alfie and Curarist.

  21. Nightowls shouldn’t do crosswords first thing in the morning – into SCC territory with this one, but got there. FOI was IDES and liked TRAIN FARE and MOTIONLESS. Biffed HARMED as couldn’t see what HED had to do with it; slow but steady progress until log-jammed in SE, broken (after second cup of heart-starter) by TOMB and then completed OK. Mer on inspired = DRAWN. LOI EPIC. Minor glitch as had ICEMAN and didn’t spot error until review of entries (couldn’t see what an ICEMAN had to do with the occult) – my newspaper doesn’t show up wrong entries in red.
    Thanks Alfie and Curarist, an entertaining and encouraging start to the end of the week.

  22. Failed on two..

    It wasn’t FAR OUT…I wasn’t happy with it, but forgot about it, and I had ISMIR rather than IZMIR.

    It took me a relatively long time to fail as well! 9:02.

    EL NINO was a vg clue I thought.


  23. I am clearly not thinking well this morning even having completed the puzzle in about 10 minutes. I still cannot see the Nina despite Sawbill’s cryptic hint. Please put me and probably others out of misery.
    Barry J

    1. Begin with the letter A in the bottom right corner. Going upwards and counterclockwise you will see around the outside ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOP

  24. What is a Nina and am I the only one who can’t see the hidden element even though I finished in under 10 minutes

    1. A Nina is a hidden element in the grid, and is named after an artist (I can’t remember his name, but look at the glossary and it will be revealed) who hid his daughter’s or granddaughter’s name in his paintings. In this case, the Nina is the letters A to P in the unchecked letters around the edge of the grid starting bottom right and moving anti-clockwise.

      My time was a DNF (IZMIR) 14 minutes.

  25. Struggled in the South. COD TRAIN FARE. Didn’t notice the Nina but didn’t look and anyway too difficult to see the whole grid on phone App.
    Can’t parse VAN=leading position. VANtage? What’s it all about?
    Thanks Alfie and Curarist

    1. The VAN or, more fully, the VANGUARD is the leading element in a military formation and, in days of old when knights were bold, it was usually the cavalry.

  26. What’s it all about Alfie? as Cilla once sang. Didn’t much like the clue at 20dn IZMIR which I got only because I’d flown into Izmir Airport. I certainly wouldn’t have got it from deciphering the cryptic element.
    Other than that minor gripe, I enjoyed the crossword and crossed the line in 8.45

  27. I really don’t seem to follow the crowd… The consensus was that yesterday’s QC was easy, yet I found it very very tricky indeed. Today I finished all parsed in 16:36 which is very fast (for me), and only really struggled with MOTIONLESS – what’s going on?! 🤣 Didn’t spot the Nina, but then of course I never do. Liked TRAIN FARE and EL NINO. Many thanks for the blog.

  28. Thanks sawbill. I was trying to read words rather than just looking at letters!
    How stupid!
    Barry J

  29. About 20mins for most of this, followed by a mercifully short alphabet trawl for the first part of Motionless following yesterday’s ‘start with M’ tip. So, just the Turkish port left. My knowledge of Turkey is distinctly limited, and of Turkish ports even more so. I could make no sense of the cryptic, so guessed at Ismor, resulting in a DNF. A poor show by one of us. Invariant

  30. Top half went in swiftly, but the rest took a little more time: IZMIR not really parsed, but the only Turkish port possible when I had I-M–! LOI was TRAIN FARE.

  31. 18 minutes but had ISMIR. Knew the port but thought that was the correct spelling. Had everything parsed except LAUNDERING as I was another that wondered what “laing” had to do with delay. Several delightful clues so thanks to Alfie for that, although I agree with the above comments about DRAWN and IZMIR being a little tenuous.

    FOI – 1ac IDES
    LOI – 18dn ICECAP
    COD – several contenders. Liked COMEDIENNE, LAUNDERING and EL NINO in particular

  32. Not commented here for a while. DNF with Izmir beyond me. Otherwise a good puzzle. Surprised no one has mentioned the near pangram.

  33. Hm, though Ninas display the cleverness of the setter, they often involve super-contorted obscure clues/answers, thus detracting from the enjoyment of the solvers, especially the SCC. (Sulks now and then)

    1. Thanks. I’m so glad someone else agrees with me about Ninas and the distortion they bring. I had my second rant this week today on this topic. John

  34. 12:41. A puzzle where most of my first thoughts were wrong ,but luckily I resisted the urge to just go with them and said no you have to explain them properly before going on to next clue. I must be growing up! First thought for HARMED was maimed, I was interested in ness instead of cap for ICECAP (iciness somehow?), comedian for COMEDIENNE,rate for fare in TRAINFARE,etc. Drawn as inspired and mere as unadulterated were stretches for me but realize they do work. EL NINO was my COD. Thanks for useful and entertaining blog!

  35. So near, yet so far!

    I found myself in the highly unusual situation of having only four clues to solve after just 14 minutes. I was about to smash my way out of the SCC – or perhaps not. The four remaining clues were all interlinked in the SW corner, and I couldn’t parse any of them. I was faced with I___A_ (18d), ____ (22d), T___N ___E (24a) and _O___N___S (21a). Not much to work with from an alphabet trawling perspective. I did get there in the end, but those four clues took me fully half an hour, so instead of a sub-SCC I eventually crossed the line in 44 minutes. A common experience for me.

    Many thanks to Alfie and Curarist.

  36. A nice crossword from Alfie. I was quick to see the expected Nina develop as my first 3 in were IDES, JAVA and KNEE. I had to write out the letters for a couple of the anagrams which held me up a little. COD to COMEDIENNE for the lovely surface, it being the sort of weather for picnics still, at least in Suffolk where the sun continues to shine… and the clouds that there are continue to fail to provide any raindrops. A rather slow , by may standards, 7:30 for me. Thanks Alfie and Curarist.

  37. Just back from Turkey, so no problem with Izmir, but struggling with brain fog. Think izmir has come up before but can’t remember if it was the quickie.

    Struggled with laundering, train fare and icecap.

    COD el nino which took too long even with the anagrist.

  38. DNF.
    Just could not start this puzzle today – I was totally thrown by:
    1 Across : “Fateful day with teams lacking leader (4)”
    IDES – [S]IDES

    Of course, I know the quote from the play Julius Ceasar : “Beware the Ides Of March” but I have always assumed that the Ides were a group of days (like a weekend) and NOT just one day – as in the clue “…fateful DAY…”. So I have learned something even if I failed miserably at the puzzle.

    According to Wikipedia :
    “The Ides of March is the 74th day in the Roman calendar, corresponding to 15 March”.

  39. My tablet froze earlier, and it looks to be terminal. I shall just bin it and get another I suppose. Solved on paper in 2:55 (I knew IZMIR, though only by repute), but obviously I managed a typo while converting it on my phone. I knew there’d be a Nina, but didn’t spot it and couldn’t be bothered looking for it. Fed up. Fed up of being fed up…….

  40. 4:36 this afternoon, after another morning visiting gardens and taking photographs which is pretty relaxing, apart from when the capricious Edinburgh winds pick up just after you’ve composed a flowery shot. But basically happy to be outside.
    A mostly straightforward QC with one or two clues to give one pause. Biffed 16 ac “laundering” but with “under” and all the crossers in place it had to be.
    Liked 10 ac “comedienne” and 7 ac “planeload”. Not entirely happy with 2 d “drawn” but will check Chambers.
    No problem with 20 d “Izmir”, probably from having seen it on Airport departure boards from time to time. Never flown there itself but have been to Istanbul a couple of times which Mrs P and I enjoyed (apart from the importunate carpet salesmen) and to Antalya several times, en route to the Turkish Riviera Golf Courses (excellent by the way)
    Thanks to Alfie and to Curarist for the blog and the heads up on the Nina which I eventually spotted

  41. I was going for a speedy straight top-down solve until I was needed elsewhere when only halfway through. On my return I rapidly began to seize up. At first I put it down to a loss of momentum, but NHO 20D Izmir put paid to that theory. Had to look it up and still think it very iffy – along with many other people it seems! I wasn’t too bothered by 2D Drawn as I quickly found a substitute test. Quick to ‘see’ 16A and 21A – which were a great help. Liked 24A Train fare and 10A Comedienne. Lots of nice clues, so just a shame about 20D.
    FOI 1a Ides
    LOI 18d Icecap – simply because I got there last of all
    COD 24a Train Fare.

  42. As a fairly newbie who has sort of learnt some of the conventions, I expected the “is” in the clue for 20d to give me ISMIR (And not IZMIR). In any case NHO the Turkish port so technically DNF.

    1. Hi, Dave, that’s exactly why several contributors (myself included) consider it to be a poor clue. Unless you know the port there’s nothing in the wordplay to get you to the answer by other means. Also as I mentioned above, ‘mere’ meaning ‘unadulterated’ in the second part of the wordplay is listed as ‘obsolete’ in more than one of the usual source dictionaries. It’s a clue that would have caused comment in a 15×15 puzzle and should never have have found its way into a Quick Cryptic in my view. It’s a shame because apart from that I thought the puzzle was excellent.

  43. 13 minutes but with ISMIR so a DNF. Saw the NINA once I was aware of it. LOI MOTIONLESS

  44. To draw breath is to inspire. I thought that was rather clever. We had to look up the Turkish port though and didn’t see the NINA
    Enjoyed the puzzle

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