Quick Cryptic 2431 by Oink

After last week’s tribulations, I was hoping for something a bit gentler to blog. In part my wish was granted but there were also some difficult ones here, in particular the long anagram at 3d which gave an answer I wasn’t expecting. Time just over 14 1/2 minutes, so I didn’t exactly zoom through this.

Apart from 22a and perhaps 1a I couldn’t see any specific USA references but I hope our US contributors are enjoying their national day today.

Thanks to Oink

Definitions underlined in bold, deletions by strikethrough

1 A musical country by the sound of it (6)
GREASE – Homophone (‘by the sound of it’) of GREECE (‘country’)
4 Card player a brute, knocking bishop out (4)
EASTBEAST (‘a brute, knocking bishop out’= BEAST with B deleted)
9 Set aside one’s reticence? (7)
RESERVE – Double definition

First definition as verb, second as a noun

10 Current charge making you very angry (5)
IRATEI (‘Current’) RATE (‘charge’)

Exactly how I was beginning to feel as I sat staring at 3d!

11 Voting to recall delegate, ultimately corrupt (9)
ELECTORAL – Anagram (‘corrupt’) of TO RECALL and E (‘delegate, ultimately’=last letter of ‘delegatE’)

I found this anagram hard to spot and I only saw it after entering the answer. The def and answer mean the same thing, but I’m having trouble substituting one for the other. Maybe electoral college = voting college?

12 Pass on advice occasionally (3)
DIE – Alternate letters of ‘aDvIcE
13 Office worker tucking into salty pistachios (6)
TYPIST – Hidden (‘tucking into’) in ‘salTY PISTachios’
15 A loo for CIA employees? (6)
AGENTSA (‘A’) GENTS (‘loo’)
17 Perhaps a setter to follow? (3)
DOG – Double definition

Again different parts of speech for the two definitions, the first definition being one of our canine friends.

18 Top of the Pops? English going wild about it (3,6)
HIT SINGLE – Anagram (‘going wild’) of ENGLISH containing (‘about’) IT (‘it’)
21 Acquit Charlie, a tragic figure (5)
CLEARC (‘Charlie’ in NATO alphabet) LEAR (‘a tragic figure’ = King Lear)
22 On reflection I think no American is threatening (7)
OMINOUSOMI (‘On reflection I think’=reversal of IMO (in my opinion)) NO (‘no’) US (‘American’)

One exception?

23 Father an enchantress with no name (4)
SIRESIREN (‘enchantress with no name’=SIREN with N (‘name’) deleted)
24 Chemist at inquest concealing a drug (6)
STATIN – Hidden in (‘concealing’) in ChemiST AT INquest
1 Chap carrying weapon in his jacket? (7)
GARMENTGENT (‘Chap’) containing (‘carrying’) ARM (‘weapon’)

As in 15a, the question mark to indicate the definition is an example of the answer

2 Follow and make certain Republican is booted out (5)
ENSUEENSURE (‘make certain’) with deletion of R (‘Republican is booted out’)
3 Hear protests erupting somewhere far away (12)
STRATOSPHERE – Anagram (‘erupting’) of HEAR PROTESTS

Last one in. Wikipedia tells me the lower edge of the stratosphere is between 7 km (at the poles) and 20 km (at the equator) above the earth’s surface; for no good reason, I always thought it was further out in space than this.

5 Leave a Spanish gentleman outside bar (7)
ABANDONA (‘a’) DON (‘Spanish gentleman’) containing (‘outside’) BAN (‘bar’)
6 Subject of article written by yours truly (5)
THEMETHE (‘article’) ME (‘yours truly’)
7 Alcohol and drugs consumed by banker on vacation (4)
BEEREE (‘drugs’=Ecstasy + Ecstasy) contained in (‘consumed by’) BANKER (‘banker on vacation’=only first and last letters of BankeR)
8 The fool in Hamlet? (7,5)
VILLAGE IDIOT – Cryptic definition

‘Hamlet?’ as in a village of course, nothing to do with the play. Nice misdirection and my COD

14 Cockney announcing glutton’s arrival? It’s a mess (4,3)
PIGS EAR – A ‘Cockney announcing glutton’s arrival’ would drop his aitches and say PIG’S ‘ERE, with ‘announcing’ also indicating a homophone.

Oink’s trademark porcine reference.

16 Don’t change this boy’s hat (7)
STETSONSTET (‘Don’t change’) SON (‘boy(‘s)’)

STET is the 3rd person singular present tense subjunctive form of stare =to stand, so means “let it stand”. Yes, I’ve just looked up the Latin conjugation.

17 Avoids low scores (5)
DUCKS – Double definition

Duck = a score of no runs by a batter in cricket. I see that this sense of DUCK is in the Oxford US English dictionary but I’m not sure if DUCK is used in relation to any sport in N. America, in the same way that “hat-trick” is.

19 Maybe saw Rob coming back (4)
TOOL – Reversal of LOOT (‘Rob coming back’)
20 Alarming appearance of head of Greek army (5)
GHOSTG (‘Head of Greek’) HOST (‘army’)

74 comments on “Quick Cryptic 2431 by Oink”

  1. Another tough one for me. Instead of STRATOSPHERE I bunged in troposphere which doesn’t have enough letters but I compensated by accidentally starting it with two Ts and not noticing. Completely mucked up the north-west and pushed me out to 21.31. I mean it just seemed right, until I looked at it closely and then analysed the anagrist. And it took a long alphabet trawl to get LOI TOOL. Like BR I queried ELECTORAL = voting but I suppose if you follow each with a word like ‘issues’ they equate. The construction of the IRATE clue, with ‘you’ in it, was annoying, but there were some terrific clues in here such as HIT SINGLE and VILLAGE IDIOT. Good to see two of Shakespeare’s best getting a gallop in the one puzzle.

  2. 10:22. .I had trouble figuring out which letters made up ELECTORAL. Also stared at OMINOUS for a while before seeing IMO for “in my opinion”. Another hold-up was thinking the weapon needed for GARMENT was gat. Other than those three the others went quickly by my standards. Quite a few clues could refer to Hamlet- GHOST, SIRE, DIE, OMINOUS among them, plus some others that are more of a stretch.

  3. 10 minutes, so I recorded my target was achieved by a whisker, however honesty requires me to mention that I parsed OMI in OMINOUS after I had stopped the clock so I stretched my own rules just a little today as I’ve had too many QC failures recently. GARNET and GREASE were my last two in and between them occupied me for the last 2 minutes of solving time.

    No problem with voting / ELECTORAL, as well as following each of them with ‘college’ one could substitute ‘law’ or any number of words associated with electoral / voting procedures.

    I’ve never been sure exactly what constitutes the STRATOSPHERE but I’ve known it seemingly for ever as a general term for high in the sky, very much as a far away place on the earth might be represented by Timbuctoo.

    On DUCKS I ask myself can a no-score be classified as a low score?

  4. Too difficult for me today and I was defeated. For the first time in ages my grid was littered with pinkies. Oh well, there’s always tomorrow……

  5. Absolutely flew out the blocks, too many acrosses to count but then stalled. Badly. Totally fell for the misdirection of both ‘Hamlet’ and ‘saw’ and ended up submitting with 19.55 on the clock. All green though so that last bit of parsing of OMINOUS wasn’t totally necessary – I wasn’t remotely close to thinking IMO reversed having already dismissed ‘I mo’ as gibberish! ELECTORAL had to wait for all the checkers but VILLAGE IDIOT and TOOL were excellent.

  6. I enjoyed this – a genuine QC with mostly fairly straightforward clues but with a few with a bit of a twist to keep one on one’s toes. Stratosphere was an early entry which opened up the grid (I like the idea of it being “far away”), and a good PDM on seeing how Ominous worked.

    LOI was Electoral, a tricky anagram to identify the letters and a tricky synonym to equate it with Voting – like BR I had my doubts, but Jack’s explanation suggests it is just about OK.

    COD Village idiot, very clever and I was well misled into wondering which character in the play I was meant to be thinking of.

    11 minutes in all. Many thanks to BR for the blog.

    1. Pity our poor setters – when they use a word last used in the 16th century and marked “archaic, now obsolete” they face a barrage of grumbling (in my view with some justification), but when they try to keep up with modern idioms and textspeak, they get it from the other side!

    2. I’ve always used IMHO. Missing the H out sounds too authoritative, unless you’re a cricket umpire of course.

      1. Doesn’t “missing the H out” indicate that you may well have been born within hearing distance of the bells of Bow?

        1. Had to stop reading the blog out while Mr SR had a good laugh at that.
          Nicely done, SRC

          Edit: Bother! I see my avatar has gone missing again.

          1. Sorry to stop your flow, Mme SR, although a good laugh helps make the world go round (in my ‘umble opinion).

  7. Well, I don’t have any criticisms and simply enjoyed this. A good QC with a nice mix of easy and clever clues. Such a change from many recent offerings – welcome back, Oink. Don’t wait too long before your next visit.
    I started quickly and thought I was on for a record. Too many interruptions in the waiting area for an early morning air-con service for my car but I still finished a couple of minutes under target.
    LI were TOOL and OMINOUS and I needed a crosser for the second part of the piggy answer (I said I was distracted!).
    Thanks to Oink and to BR for fully parsing OMINOUS for me and for pointing out a couple of subtleties that I missed in my rush to finish. John M.

  8. No zooming through this for me either, being delayed for ages by misreading 1A as “A musical county”. Only when I had 1D did I read the clue more carefully and see the answer immediately. Also held up by parsing OMI in ominous… I MO? A slap on the forehead ensued. COD to VILLAGE IDIOT. 6:46.

  9. Felt like I was wading through treacle on this one which, having completed the puzzle, I put down to my doziness rather than any particularly difficult clues.
    I never did parse the first part of OMINOUS, needed all the checkers and pen and paper for STRATOSPHERE and the NW in general proved stubborn.
    All the struggles were worth it though for VILLAGE IDIOT which is my favourite clue for a long time, with the added bonus that it went in very quickly.
    Finished in 14.01 with LOI TOOL.
    Thanks to BR

  10. Super puzzle. VILLAGE IDIOT a really excellent clue.

    Confidently put GREECE at 1a and only realised it must be wrong when noticing that there was no C in the anagrist for LOI STRATOSPHERE. Durr.

    Once that was sorted, all green in reggo 08:44 for an estimated 1.5K and a Good Day.

    Many thanks Oink and Bletchers.


  11. Also banged in GREECE first up. And forgot that I had the “show word breaks” option turned off, so didn’t spot the enumeration of VILLAGE IDIOT, so was looking for a long word. Good clue, though.

    I generally made a mess of other clues too, really struggling with the ending of ELECT(ORAL). At 1d I had the clue backwards and thought I was trying to get something inside “gilet” (=jacket).

    STET sounds obscure, is it one of those manuscript mark-ups that authors use for their editors?

    Couldn’t see AGENTS either, went through loads of synonyms/slang that I could think of. I thought perhaps “going to the spook” might be one I’d missed.

    DNF, although I did the 15×15 in about the same time.

    1. When people used to sub-edit on paper, as opposed to onscreen, ‘stet’ was an instruction to the typesetter that a section of text erroneously crossed out was to be retained. It could get confusing…

  12. I am pleased to say I did not make a PIGS EAR of this one.

    I agree with Cedric, fair with enough twist to be interesting and challenging. I was pleased to finish another one. Maybe it’s time I moved on to the 15 x 15. I tried it once but then came back….

    Brilliant surfaces especially misdirection with the anagrams.

    COD 8D I always shudder when I see Shakespearean references – too many bad school memories so chuckled when I realised what was going on.

    10A – haven’t I seen this somewhere before today? WORDLErs beware.

    LOI ENSUE why was that so hard?

    Thanks to Oink and Bletchley Reject.

  13. DNF. Gave up after 23 minutes, unable to see AGENTS or VILLAGE IDIOT. The latter is an excellent clue.

  14. I enjoy Oink’s puzzles and this was true to form.
    As above, I failed to parse OMI and as ever the blog is a welcome source of enlightenment.
    Some nice misdirection and the principle that when buzzing around in creative mental circles, follow the straight line clue to a solution applied.
    COD STATIN for its camouflage. A gentle ambles to my usual chair.
    Thanks all.

  15. I managed to make a PIG’S EAR out of this one. Took forever to see VILLAGE IDIOT, STRATOSPHERE and ELECTORAL. HIT SINGLE didn’t jump out at me either. I failed to parse OMINOUS. AGENT didn’t spring into view, although I was temporarily amused by ACANUS. Time to draw a veil over the proceedings. 18:39. Thanks Oink and BR.

  16. Another one in that target zone, which incidentally seems to be less than my average and median this year, so maybe I need to revise that target upwards.

    Lovely realisation that I wasn’t having to test my non-existent Shakespeare – a genuine chuckle at COD VILLAGE IDIOT.

    LOI was GREASE after I finally understood GARMENT.


  17. 6:39

    Only the long 3d gave me pause, while OMINOUS was bunged in from seeing the __INOUS (though should have been ___NOUS) – parsed post-completion. Enjoyed VILLAGE IDIOT and PIG’S EAR.

    Thanks Oink and BR

  18. Another struggle – got STRATOSPHERE, AGENTS and ELECTORAL ok, also GREASE (remembering “definition at the beginning, not in the middle”), familiar with STET, and liked COD VILLAGE IDIOT, so thought I was doing well, but not well enough, and failed six including BEER; why does “on vacation” mean “first and last letters”, please? NHO STATIN (tried “drug = E” there – doh!) but agree it should have been obvious. Wouldn’t have got IMO in a million years even though I had – – INOUS (tried HEINOUS but clearly wrong).

    1. If you vacate a place, you leave it, so if the middle letters vacate a word, you’re left with the first and last letters.

    2. If you only use the first and last letters, then you have “vacated” the word in the sense of it being emptied. Nothing whatsoever to do with holidays…..

      1. Thank you. But then surely, nothing whatsoever to do with vacation? If you vacate a property, has there been a “vacation”? I submit that “vacation” is never used in the context of “to vacate” – but tell me I’m wrong……

        1. “On vacation of the property please ensure….” Often seen on holiday rental instructions.

          1. Oh. NHO it – we take our holidays in sunnier climes. In that case I’m wrong – apologies. Another lesson to learn…

  19. IMO an excellent challenge. The NE. Orner went in fast, there were afew easy ones, but also tricky ones to take me well over average time, all parsed except the obvious IMO in 22a, and plenty of PDMs to compensate. I have never found Oink so difficult, but it was partly me being off colour; why else would I spend so long thinking a hat is a STENSON?! FOI EAST, LOI STATIN, COD PIGS EAR or VILLAGE IDIOT. Thanks Oink and BR.

  20. Thank you Oink for an on-target solve at 14 minutes. I loved VILLAGE IDIOT and saw it quite quickly, before I started to work through characters in the play. Similarly, STRATOSPHERE jumped out of the anagrist, although knowing how thin our atmosphere actually is, I did have an eyebrow flutter at the definition of ‘somewhere far away’. These days, 50 clicks is about as far away as I am willing to drive just to find a supermarket or restaurant where children are well-behaved! Thanks also BR, particularly for spotting IMO which I missed.

  21. After a brief, and fairly narrow, escape from the SCC yesterday, I am firmly back in my place at 33:07. Some excellent clues, particularly VILLAGE IDIOT, and some that took me far longer than they should, like GREASE, which should have slid in in seconds! Didn’t fully parse OMINOUS but it couldn’t have been anything else. To avoid “this” being an extraneous word in 16d, should STET be parsed as “Don’t delete this”, or is son “this boy” – not that it really matters. A disappointing time but a good puzzle and workout. Thanks Oink and br.

  22. I thought I was in for a quick time with this one with probably two thirds of the answers coming pretty rapidly. I then got bogged down and slowed to a crawl. As I started so well, it did at least enable me to finish inside target at 9.40. The only clue I was unable to parse was the OMI part of OMINOUS. I know ‘in my opinion’ has been used here as an abbreviation a number of times before, but I seem unable to store it in the memory bank. LOI for me was STRATOSPHERE which appears to have been a write in for just about everyone else apparently. I join others in making VILLAGE IDIOT my COD.

  23. An excellent puzzle from our Porcine Pal. The obvious COD has reminded me of my old taxi driving colleague Bryan Habisreuter, whose nickname it was. A lovely guy, but not the sharpest knife in the box – in fact the box may well have been sharper than him!

    I biffed OMINOUS, as well as my LOI. Thank you to Bletchley Reject for the parsings (I’m another IMHO), and of course to Oink.

    TIME 3:49

  24. I took the scenic route heading towards the SCC today and finishing at 18:15. I enjoyed the view, even though it was the trickiest trip through quickie crosswordland for a while. Several PDMs really made me smile and I then wondered why on earth I didn’t get them more quickly, especially GREASE, AGENTS, CLEAR and DUCKS!
    It’s an Oink, so smiles and ticks all over the place – especially HIT SINGLE, TOOL and THEME, which although a chestnut was so neatly done. IMO, using a bit of text speak in OMINOUS was nifty. We’ve seen LOL before I think, but how are setters going to get TBH in, I wonder?
    I pencilled in ELECTORAL but didn’t really understand it, so although 8d was officially my LOI, I needed it to confirm 11a. Thanks to BR for sorting that one out!
    FOI Irate LOI and COD Village idiot
    Thanks Oink and BR

      1. I have certainly eaten goat curry – it is a staple in some parts of Africa, though whether bhuna or not I could not say. But I will marvel if anyone manages to set a coherent clue for Goat Bhuna. Neither the wordplay nor a way to signal the definition spring instantly to mind!

          1. Sehr beeindruckend! I think it works – you probably just escape the German doing double duty as G and indicator for the nationality of the road. But maybe “Good German motorway …” might also work and be less open to the accusation?

              1. But alas, and (as it were) TBH, we still haven’t really met your challenge of getting the aforementioned TBH into the wordplay!

                1. How about:

                  Game woman eats a really spicy dish (4,5)

                  GO (Game) + UNA (woman), around (eats) A + TBH (really), with “spicy dish” as the definition, though sadly I don’t see GOAT BHUNA in any of the usual dictionaries …

  25. Slow progress throughout, especially on the left hand side. Finished in 31 minutes (well over target) with all parsed except the first part of OMINOUS. Held up a lot by not seeing that 11ac and 18ac were anagrams. Realised that 3dn was an anagram but it still took quite a while to crack it, especially as I originally had Greece at 1ac before realising there was no c in the anagrist. Also very slow to see the hidden at 24ac. Just a slow day all round.

    FOI – 4ac EAST
    LOI – 22ac OMINOUS

    Thanks to Oink and to BR

  26. 7.41

    Struggled to get a lot of traction but then they all flew in

    Another first rate QC from Oink. HIT SINGLE STRATOSPHERE VILLGE IDIOT and PIG’S EAR all excellent imo

    Thanks BR and Oink

  27. Didn’t like or enjoy this one at all. Too many difficult clues for me.

  28. Despite not finishing I enjoyed this one so thank you Oink.
    Beaten by ELECTORATE (quite tough) and BEER (must remember the use of ‘vacation’]
    Held up by 19d TOOL as I did not realise that proper names such as Rob can be mean ordinary words but I see that it was needed for the clue surface and will remember this in future too.
    Thanks BR for the much needed solution.

  29. FOI was 10ac, Irate, so I guessed this wasn’t going to be totally straightforward, and wasn’t disappointed. A few rabbit holes here and there were fully explored, and a generally sluggish solve saw me join the SCC queue with a couple of clues extant. 4ac East (!) was a head slap pdm, but loi 19d Tool called for serious self-flagellation: good clue and it did me like a kipper. CoD just has to be Village Idiot, and yes, I burrowed down there as well. Invariant

  30. Yet another difficult one. Struggled through, needing a break or two to let the brain work. NW corner last in, having taken ages to biff ELECTORAL, not having seen which words formed the anagram. COD VILLAGE IDIOT.

  31. Another SCC escape opportunity fumbled, I’m afraid. 18 minutes on the clock and only 19d to solve, or so I thought. Unfortunately, I had biffed heINOUS for 22a during my first pass through the clues, so trying to complete T_H_ was never going to happen. Eventually, a further 10 minutes had elapsed before I sorted out the confusion and was able to put down my pencil. Total time = 28 minutes – frustrating, but still quite fast for this VILLAGE IDIOT who has a knack of making a PIG’S EAR of things.

    Mrs Random now has more than a month’s worth of QC’s to catch up on, but she did do this one. 25 minutes for her, so my troubles at the end also lost me today’s family point.

    Many thanks to Oink and BR.

    P.S. Any sympathy I felt for England and Jonny Bairstow after his controversial stumping on Sunday disappeared in an instant yesterday evening, when a friend told me that Bairstow himself had tried the same ploy (unsuccessfully) on one of the Aussie batsmen earlier in the match. Is that true? What a wazzock!

    1. No, it’s not true. The difference is that Labuschagne was batting well out of his crease, trying to put the bowler off his length/make it easier to run a single. In those circumstances the keeper trying to stump the batsman immediately on getting hold of the ball is well-established and not at all controversial . It’s just a risk of batting outside your crease. Bairstow was not batting outside his crease; he only left his crease in the belief that the ball was dead.

      1. Ah! Thankyou for clarifying, Templar. In that case I am happy to withdraw my “wazzock” accusation. I will also have another conversation with my friend.

        1. To be fair Bairstow is still a wazzock, because he trusted the Australians to play in a gentlemanly fashion! Very naive.

          1. Where would the Australians have ever learned to play in a gentlemanly fashion? Most of their early cricket was against England.

            Quick question. Had the ball skewed wildly out of Carey’s glove when he attempted the stumping, do you think Stokes and Bairstow would have taken a single?

    2. Amusing Random…I haven’t heard the word “Wazzock” for quite a long time.

  32. Slow but I’m tired from work. Nice puzzle. Really liked electoral, village idiot, agents, hit single, pigs ear, and tool.

    1. I don’t play (don’t have the required memory) but I do know that North, South, East, West are used to designate the four hands in contract bridge.

    2. 4 bridge players are called NSEW. Strictly, I believe, it refers to the players’ positions at the table, as teams move from table to table, the same cards being dealt each time at each table

  33. Perhaps it’s just me, but this was another QC that offered little encouragement to newcomers and those of us with little ability.

    Took 28 unenjoyable minutes. As usual, struggled with across clues and FOI was DIE (which I felt like doing). Many hard clues and really didn’t like STETSON or OMINOUS for reasons mentioned by other posters. I don’t think ELECTORAL was fair for a QC.

    There was a time when I made progress and was beginning to avoid the SCC not infrequently. Now I struggle to break 30 mins. These puzzles are getting harder and harder and my self confidence is getting lower and lower.

    Thanks for the blog, although I disagree with the suggestion that any part of this was gentle.

    1. Hey, 28 is pretty good for probably Oink’s hardest puzzle for ages! FWIW I took a lot longer….not that anyone should measure themselves against this QC ambler

  34. 16:18 A nice puzzle. VILLAGE IDIOT was very good and the P_G in 14d immediately made me think is this an Oink? Thanks to Oink and BletchleyReject.

  35. Enjoyable puzzle, failed to get 19d tool, missed double meaning of saw. Some clever clues as mentioned above.

  36. I didn’t parse IMO as in my opinion and toyed with heinous for ominous until I solved TOOL. My LOI and COD in 8:56 was VILLAGE IDIOT.

  37. I have never seen ‘arm’ in the singular to mean ‘weapon’, but only in the plural form. Do the reference dictionaries say otherwise?

    1. Both Chambers and SOED have ‘arm = a weapon’ but add ‘usually plural’. Collins has it only in the plural. The singular is more usually ‘firearm’.

  38. 19 mins…4 mins of which were spent staring at 4ac “East”.

    I found this on the trickier side, and nearly got waylaid by putting “Pigs Sty” for 14dn.

    FOI – 1ac “Grease”
    LOI – 4ac “East”
    COD – 22ac “Ominous”

    Thanks as usual!

Comments are closed.