Quick Cryptic 2264 by Alconiere

A neat puzzle of medium difficulty. I am told Alconiere likes a Nina , and there is a fairly straightforward one here which I will reveal later in the comments if no-one else gets there first. 6 minutes for me.

1 Get back on the subject of judge (6)
REDEEM – RE (on the subject of) + DEEM  (judge)
4 After strike, he provides bandage (6)
9 Scenery from Christmas month, centrepiece for stores (5)
DECOR – DEC + stORes
10 Some in danger: edgy and irate (7)
ANGERED – ‘SOME’ in the clue? Hidden word until proven otherwise: dANGER EDgy
11 Pigment from welly: a modicum scattered (7,6)
CADMIUM YELLOW – anagram (‘scattered’) of WELLY A MODICUM. Never heard of it, not big on pigments.
13 Measure of Gallic avarice, endless (6)
DEGREE – ‘of’ gallic, ie french ‘of’, ie DE, plus GREEd
15 Fractions of this mixed with two lots of nitrogen (6)
NINTHS – anagram (‘mixed’) of THIS with 2 Ns for nitrogen
17 Like Edvard Munch, say, unhappy to find dead parrot in sketch (9,4)
NORWEGIAN BLUE – Munch was NORWEGIAN, sad is BLUE, refers to the famous Monty Python sketch. Of course, there is no such breed of parrot.
20 After climb, fancy a wild party (7)
SHINDIG – SHIN (climb) DIG (fancy)
21 Welshman maybe missing first musical instrument (5)
ORGAN – MORGAN minus his first letter
22 A pot initially concealed small garden pests (6)
APHIDS – A + P for pot + HID + S
23 Bloomer from animal doctor, if only periodically visiting (6)
VIOLET – VET with alternate letters of If OnLy inserted
1 Cut grass contains what cow chews up (7)
REDUCED – REED with CUD backwards inside
2 Risked being chopped up (5)
DICED – double definition
3 One might pick up Cockney’s present? (3)
EAR – so an EAR might pick up a Cockney saying ‘ere. Bit of double duty going on in this clue.
5 Fan of German composer working near Wigan (9)
WAGNERIAN – anagram (‘working’) of NEAR WIGAN
6 Streetwalker maybe allowed a little pastry (7)
7 Provide a conclusion that’s painful! (5)
8 Collected tropical medicine bottles (4)
CALM – Hidden word tropiCAL Medicine. ‘Bottles’ here being a verb. My best bit of advice to anyone new to cryptics is always check whether any word in the clue could be a different part of speech than it first appears.
12 Expression of disbelief that’s not my doing! (1,5,3)
I NEVER DID – double definition
14 Sharing out decoration (7)
GARNISH – anagram (‘out’) of sharing
16 Seed from African tree EU hasn’t regulated (4,3)
SHEA NUT – anagram (‘regulated’) of EU HASN’T
17 Home bird builds above a girl (5)
18 Shakespearean villain, one in the past (4)
19 Allowed actor initially to enter stage left (5)
LEGAL -A for actor inside LEG (stage) + L
21 Old boy: one imparting charm (3)
OBI – OB (old boy) + I

66 comments on “Quick Cryptic 2264 by Alconiere”

  1. 10:18 here, well inside my notional target 15 minutes. NHO SHEA NUT, but knew of shea butter, and there weren’t many options for the anagram. Haven’t spotted the theme, but I think I’ve only ever spotted one, so no surprise there. Biggest smile came from seeing NORWEGIAN BLUE, although “(9,4)” combined with “dead parrot” made it a very easy clue.

    I think you’re missing a “one” in your intro, Curarist. Thanks for the blog and thanks to the setter.

  2. NHO SHEA NUT, but nothing else seemed possible from (EU hasn’t)*. I biffed CADMIUM YELLOW from some checkers without bothering to look at the clue. 7:25.

  3. 10 minutes with SHEA NUT unknown (also the butter, since that has been mentioned).

    I spotted a few colours in the grid including one in Italian which may be just a coincidence. This didn’t seem seem quite enough considering the more complex Ninas and themes we have had from this setter in his various guises, so I wondered it the colours were of particular significance but was unable to come up with anything.

    1. I think that they are the colours of the rainbow in sequence in the across answers: RED, ORANGE, YELLOW, GREEN, BLUE, INDIGO and VIOLET.

      1. Ah , so they are! Thanks for that. I had let myself be distracted by the additional REDs at 1dn and at the end of 10ac. Also the Italian for ‘green’ in 12dn.

      2. I was so excited to have spotted a NINA and hoped to be the first to post it – foiled again! As my boys say – you snooze, you lose.

  4. A very nicely constructed puzzle and very enjoyable. Good to see DEEM being used in the sense of “judge”. Judges on the Isle of Man are called Deemsters. A lot to like about this.

  5. 10.52

    Rather struggled with this for some reason and well outside my target time

    The type of yellow needed a careful look and I even hesitated over 1a, my LOI partly because I wasn’t sure EAR was right for the same double duty reasons as Curarist points out.

    And are we still using words like TART?

    Liked DECOR

    Thanks Curarist and Alconiere

  6. Took me 25 minutes to carefully work my way through this parsing as I went.
    LOI: IAGO. I waited until I had SHINDIG.
    I didn’t spot the Nina/Theme.
    Favourites: SWATHE and NINTHS.

  7. I found this tricky in places. LEGAL and ORGAN proved stubborn, and I initially discounted ‘this + nn’ as anagram fodder for only having one vowel. On revisiting it as my LOI the checkers pointed me in the right direction.
    I had a slight MER at the use of tart in this day and age and learnt some new GK with the nut and the pigment.
    An enjoyable challenge, finished just under target in 9.35 with WOD to SHINDIG.
    Thanks to curarist

  8. We’ve had “tart” before and it attracted opprobrium then too. I guess the setters play “if it’s in the dictionary it’s fair game”. I don’t like it, though. (At this point Horryd normally pops up and says “It’s just a word, dear”. Where is Horryd?)

    Nor did I like REDEEM, which was my LOI and a weak clue in my view. In fact I think this puzzle generally suffers a bit from Cedric’s theory of Ninas leading to strained setting. At least I spotted it!

    All done in 08:38 for 1.2K and a Pretty Good Day.

    Many thanks Al and Curarist.


    1. All the usual dictionaries have prominent definitions of ‘redeem’ involving getting things back one way or another.

  9. I initially struggled to get going on this one and was fearing a very slow time – I often find Alconiere (who I think is the same setter as Felix?) a challenge. To my surprise the pace picked up once a few clues were in, and I end up happy to have come home in 12 minutes. Quite a few words I did not know though, such as Cadmium yellow, the Shea nut, and Obi meaning charm (as opposed to the Star Wars persona), but all put in from checkers and trusting the wordplay.

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

      1. One of my first in – there was a time when I could recite the whole sketch verbatim (and frequently did, to the annoyance of all around me). Which does give away my age a bit!

  10. 14 minutes, and colour theme spotted, but not completely – I missed the rainbow order, and like Jackkt, wondered at the simplicity until coming here. Nicely done Alconiere. I wouldn’t want ‘tart’ to be ‘cancelled’ – it’s quite a good euphemism that is well understood. My LOI was SHINDIG, which is a strange word for what it is. Thanks both.

    1. Tart is part of one of my favourite clues: “Plan to set large prostitutes back (9)” – answer Stratagem. But it was some time ago and clearly there are those who would now disapprove.

      1. There are those who disapprove of practically anything ! They’re welcome to do so as long as they don’t attempt to foist their views on me !

      2. Thank-you … I have had “Trick turning over gigantic pastries? (9)” staring out of my book since last Saturday. Wasn’t getting that!

  11. I enjoyed the rainbow with the colours in order. Nice one. I didn’t find this as tricky our setter today’s QCs can be. COD to REDUCED. Thank-you Alconiere and Curarist. 4:38.

  12. Point taken about TART.

    Collins says it’s “old fashioned” word for a prostitute. Derogatory term for a “promiscuous woman”
    Going by that, I think it is acceptable if the definition is another word for “prostitute”.
    On the other hand, the Oxford dictionary classes both terms as “derogatory” (the editor’s policy is to be cautious with words termed “derogatory”, but always put a red pen through anything termed “offensive” in any of the three main dictionaries.
    So then we come to Chambers, which classes it “offensive slang” (perfectly reasonably) for “girl” and also “derogatory slang” for prostitute.
    My own view remains it’s ok if used as per my remarks on Collins: on the other hand, it can certainly be classed as an “unpleasant term” and so therefore maybe worth another look.

    Relieved this puzzle (so far) seems less tricky than I had feared. A variety of coloured pens may have been used to edit it (!)

    1. Thanks for the interaction with us. A very full setting out of the arguments. I feel uncomfortable with some derogatory terms, but not others. It’s a personal thing. It was nevertheless a very good puzzle.

    2. Appreciate your consideration re: the word tart and people’s feelings on the matter. Sometimes people’s enjoyment matters more than whether it is ‘correct’ and sometimes I feel like people forget that lots of women do crosswords too/you don’t end up with women in the editor roles who might pick up on discomfort around words like this

      I’m not mad the word was there or anything, I was just very glad to see it worth a discussion

      Also as a relative newbie I finished this one in 20 minutes one of the quickest times I’ve ever had, so thank you

  13. Solid 36min21 !! Pleased to get it all done. For me, one of those where the defs were often 4th or 5th level e.g. stage=leg, judge=deem so really had to think and double-check many answers. Very little came biffably.

    Laughed out very loud at NORWEGIAN-BLUE as completely unexpected for a QC. Nobody expects … 😀

  14. A good puzzle with many quirky moments. Sadly, I have no completion time. Another demanding phone call when I was nearly done and I had completely lost the plot and my concentration by the time I was able to resume. I must admit to a couple of biffs along the way but I parsed everything in the end.
    The Dylan Thomas reference ‘Organ Morgan’ raised a smile. I have always shared his love for ‘Bach Fach’ (dear Bach) since my teenage days working through all of the (AB)RSM Organ exams on some of Manchester’s finest church organs.
    Thanks to both. John M.

  15. Easiest puzzle for me in a loooong while

    Turns out I know every colour in my prized Derwent 72 pencils tin that was the envy of every kid around me at school

    I know of the obi charm now because of the crosswords as I knew it before as both a Jedi and a Japanese sash.

    I’ve been drunk twice in my life and the second time my husband used my lowered inhibitions to make me sit through all the Monty Python he could find

    And as a woman I definitely know what a Shea nut is, being bombarded with skin care products and ads since I was young

    I liked the simplicity and the easy surface reading of CALM best

  16. Quite difficult in parts. Admit I had to look up Judge to get Deem. Biffed LOI CALM, dim not to see hidden. Did not see the rainbow either!. Biffed SHEA, as others did.
    Liked the parrot, DEGREE, SWATHE, ENDOW, and esp SHINDIG. FOI WAGNERIAN.
    Thanks vm, Curarist.

  17. 17 minutes of hard work for me; and I did not spot the Nina when solving. Congrats to Alconiere.
    I started quite quickly but several clues held me up, including CADMIUM and SHEA NUT.
    I had forgotten both the parrot’s and Munch’s country of origin and NESTA (not a common name) was LOI so the N wasn’t sitting there. SHINDIG POI.
    COD to NORWEGIAN BLUE and well done everyone who sped through this.

  18. Saw there was something going on with colours but missed the rainbow. Nothing unusual there then! Enjoyable puzzle. From EAR to VIOLET in 7:43. Thanks Alconiere and Curarist.

  19. Slow at 17m. Redeem was a bit of a guess.
    Didn’t really like ear, but think the definition is just one might.

    Sharing is good but COD wagnerian

  20. Actually spotted the rainbow theme before it was confirmed, a rarity for me. Our blogger has suggested a puzzle of medium difficulty, and I would agree with that. A steady solve for me finishing in 9.15, so just 45 seconds under schedule. Never heard of a SHEA NUT, but the Monty Python sketch of the ex parrot, one that has gone to meet its maker, was a classic.

  21. Struggled a bit with the SE corner, guessing SHEA NUT (NHO) and also NHO CADMIUM YELLOW, although easily worked from anagram. Loved NORWEGIAN BLUE!

  22. Not as difficult as I feared when I saw the setter’s name, but still a close run thing to secure a sub-20, with loi Redeem needing a (short) alphabet trawl. Lots to enjoy, not least the deceased parrot, but CoD to 19d, Legal, for its carefully constructed surface. Invariant

  23. Home in exactly 20 minutes.
    Yes tricky but they just kept falling into place after thought.
    Having got garnish and Iago early I was all for Screaming for first part of 17a – clever trap..but Nesta put me straight.
    Obi, Shea Nut, Ninths all a bit obscure for me (I wanted to spell it Nineths) but some lovely clueing!
    Thanks all

  24. Most of you know my thoughts on themes and Ninas, and this was technically both. However the puzzle didn’t come across to me as being in any way spoiled (I’d guessed it was colours, but the full spectrum came on completion and checking) and I’ll take my hat off to the man from Coleraine on this occasion. Solved without delay or query.

    TIME 4:05

  25. Must stop going to the gym and then immediately doing the crossword – not scientific, but my tiredness seems to induce a brain fog that impairs performance 😂

    Anyway, stumbled in at 30 mins…

    As someone who paints, Cadmium Yellow is one of my staple colours, along with Yellow Ochre, Burnt Umber and Ultramarine Blue to give a range of landscape greens and various other hues for capturing the hills and mountains up here in the North West. Always worth knowing, as a few do crop up in crosswords from time to time.

    Have to admit, I did raise an eyebrow at the “tart/streetwalker” clue – obviously valid, but you don’t often find derogatory terminology in these puzzles. As to the rest of the grid, didn’t know “Shea Nut” and whilst I got 17ac “Norwegian Blue” and knew it had something to do with Monty Python, I forgot the actual parrot was the non-existent species as described.

    FOI – 9ac “Decor”
    LOI – 17dn “Nesta”
    COD – 8dn “Calm” – succinct and clever and took me a while to spot.

    Thanks as usual!

  26. When I saw Alconiere’s name , I thought: ‘Oh no, Northern Irish football!’ I didn’t bother looking for the theme until I’d completed the grid, but actually, for once, I saw it pretty quickly and I thought it was very nice.
    Another 8:30 solve, which seems to be about average at the moment. Nothing stood out for COD today, tbh, but memories of the NORWEGIAN BLUE made me chuckle.
    FOI Reduced LOI Redeem (I get stuck on this meaning of deem every time!)

    I do want to raise a point about the cluing for 6d. We still see terms like pro, tart and streetwalker quite often, and I, for one, really don’t like them. There was a clue a couple of weeks ago (I don’t remember if it was here or in the biggie) which really jarred – I can’t find it in the search function, but it related to old women / old bags or something similar, and it really made my hackles rise. I can’t think of any occasions where we see equivalent clues relating to men.
    I’d rather have archaic slang than these sort of clues! Perhaps our team of setters (all male I believe) could come up with more appropriate alternatives these days, please?

    I always draft my comments before reading everyone else’s, but read them through before posting, so I was gratified to see other comments about this issue as I scrolled down. I also appreciate RR’s contribution, but my views on the subject still stand.

  27. I would not class this puzzle as “medium” difficulty, but one rather higher than that. I found it to be very tough indeed. I really did not think I would finish this one. But over the course of three hours I kept coming back to it and eventually got there. I did, however, have to use Chambers Crossword Dictionary to help me get 13a and 14d.

    When I got “tart” for streetwalker I thought to myself “I say!” Is tart still heard today? Yes, absolutely.

    Completed but with difficulty.

  28. Worked an extra E into WAGNEReAN. Not sure how – too distant to be a typo. That made ‘tenths’ too hard to resist for where NINTHS should have gone. I knew I needed two nitrogen too. A straight D for S in garnish rounded off a shocker. All my fault. I’d been having a nice time until I pressed submit. 17m, 3 pink squares, 3 errors. Roll on the weekend.

  29. 15:40. Although I remember seeing Dead Parrot sketch more than once I failed to connect NORWEGIAN BLUE with it. I wondered if it was another painting pigment like CADMIUM YELLOW (along the lines of PRUSSIAN BLUE).

  30. Very pleased to come through unscathed today, and in a decent time for me – 34 minutes. I found it tricky throughout, but momentum was maintained from beginning to end.

    OBI and the shade of yellow were new to me and, being culturally illiterate, I initially had aiGO, instead of IAGO.

    It was good to see NORWEGIAN BLUE make an appearance, but I always preferred MP’s cheese shop (emporium?) sketch. John Cleese mentions Norwegian Jarlsberger at one point in his list of 40+ cheeses.

    Many thanks to Alconiere and Curarist.

  31. Enjoyable puzzle. People seem far more touchy nowadays, than when we were young, or perhaps we have forgotten!

  32. I reckon tart is okay in the sense used. I actually think of it as more cheeky these days than derogatory, though that obviously would depend on how it’s been used. And it’s barely ever heard. Reminds me though of a friend at school who got into a lot of trouble at home for calling his sister a trollop during an argument, thinking it was some sort of troll or goblin.

  33. I’m clearly the odd one out today with a DNF. Actually delighted to get within 2 clues of finishing (1a and 3d) since the first pass yielded only one answer. Lots of perseverance got us close!

  34. so … OBI is a Japanese sash / waistband … how does it translate from CHARM?!
    Still struggling out here … never once finished a Quickie yet in 3 yrs of trying! Never giving up!

    1. It’s an alternative spelling of obeah, which can refer to a charm used in magic as part of the obeah belief system in the Caribbean. As to finishing the QC or even the main puzzle, I always think that the enjoyment is in the journey rather than the destination. You must be enjoying it!

    2. Also a kind of witchcraft originating in Africa and practised by some people in the Caribbean; or a charm or amulet used in this (Collins)
      Good luck – keeping our fingers crossed for you!

  35. Well. This shows our age. Firstly tart went straight in without any worry. Secondly, we were completely flummoxed by the parrot. A bit of research shows it came out in 1969 when we’d just started producing children, and moreover, we didn’t succumb to a TV set until at least 1976!! Pathetic, I know. Good crossword though.

  36. I very much enjoyed this QC and came home in around 25 mins. Some tricky ones and not many write ins for me. Needless to say, failed to spot the nina.

    Good to see the setter responding to some comments. Very much appreciated and always interesting to see their thought process.

    Many contenders for COD, but the laurels go to 19dn, which I thought was a beautifully crafted clue.

    My LOI was 3dn. I thought ear initially but wasn’t sure until I had 1ac (which was another clever clue).

    Considering that I am still suffering the after effects of my combined covid and flu jabs, this has been a decent week on the QC front.

    Thank you for the great blog.

    I hope everyone has a good weekend.

  37. It’s taken me till now but pleased to have finished a QC.
    LOI was a lucky guess at CALM and I only understand the clue now thanks to Curaist. Another one to tuck away.
    As others have said after taking time away from the puzzle, even an overnight sleep, the brain seems to work away in the background and solutions can suddenly pop up.

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