Quick Cryptic 2434 by Breadman

Today’s theme seems to be incomplete words, with the strikethrough getting a big workout in the blog. Average difficulty and dead-on par 6 minutes for me. There might be some sort of Nina going on, too  –  A to F down the first column, then GOLF which of course is NATO-ese for G. Can’t see anything else, though.

1 Vigorously active husband permitted one to enter Air Training Corps (8)
6 Try new driver — fine at first for this game? (4)
GOLF – GO + L (learner) + F
8 Ventilator black, inferior (6)
9 Stress Bill associated with money (6)
10 Beware rocky hollow (4)
CAVE – double definition
11 Mel, also abroad with daughter, did some skiing? (8)
SLALOMED – anagram (‘abroad’) of MEL ALSO + D for daughter
12 Release brick-building toy around end of August (3,2)
LET GO – LEGO around T
13 Australian native sought vacant sleeping-place (5)
ROOST – ROO + S[ough]T
15 Flipping hat off, notice flower (8)
DAFFODIL – LID OFF AD all backwards
17 Portable light for shortening necklace (4)
TORC – TORC[H]. A rigid metal neck ring
19 Some citizens ignored flag (6)
ENSIGN – hidden word: citizENS IGNored
20 Young reporter embraces woman’s angelic child (6)
CHERUB – CUB (reporter) round HER
21 Worry about breaking foot (4)
FRET – RE inside FT
22 Snake study in vast country not starting (8)
ANACONDA – CON (study) inside [C]ANADA
2 Last seen wandering around university in US city (5)
TULSA – anagram (‘wandering’) of LAST around U. Second-largest city in Oklahoma.
3 See wife split pants (3-4)
LOW-RENT -LO (see) W (wife) RENT (split). ‘Pants’ meaning ‘low-quality’ was an in-phrase with the young people for about ten minutes in 1990, but has somehow acquired crossword immortality.
4 Seaman‘s waterproof coat (3)
TAR – double definition
5 Bloke on Scottish isle briefly left thicket of brushwood (9)
CHAPARRAL -CHAP + ARRA[N] + L. Probably an obscure word to anyone who hasn’t heard of the High Chaparral starring Leif Erickson
6 Lizard George found around rock half-hidden (5)
GECKO – GEO around [RO]CK
7 Liberal invited occasionally during religious season (7)
LENIENT – alternate letters of iNvItEd inside LENT
11 Aristocratic photographer on main road up mountainous area (9)
SNOWDONIA – (Lord) SNOWDON on AI backwards (up)
12 Novice English composer in middle of Palermo (7)
LEARNER – ARNE inside [pa]LER[mo]. Thomas Arne, best known for ‘Rule Britannia’
14 Very busy period of year without Mike and I (2,3,2)
16 Female is not dim (5)
18 A Parisian in bar gets serving of drinks (5)
ROUND – UN inside ROD
20 Tea household worker left unfinished (3)

90 comments on “Quick Cryptic 2434 by Breadman”

  1. Thank you Excurarist for explaining ‘pants’ in my LOI LOW RENT, had NHO that expression. I thought this was a clever crossword and I clocked in at 10.42 after a couple of minutes spent on the CAVE/LOW RENT intersection. But there was a lot of intricate wordplay and specialist knowledge required which makes me question whether the Q part of QC has been honoured here. For instance, I suspect someone who never saw High Chaparral or remembered that long-dead snapper would be in deep trouble, and TORC is a totally obscure word which I only got because it was in the 15×15 recently and caused considerable consternation there. The wordplay for DAFFODIL, CHAPARRAL and ON THE GO, to cite just three, required considerable effort to unravel and to my mind challenges the whole concept of ‘quick’. Mind you I biffed all three so maybe it doesn’t matter…

    1. You beat me to it re ABCDTF (bottom to top RH), Lou. The query now is if Breadman was intending to reflect the ABCDEF pattern (top to bottom LH) why didn’t he use ARCANE at 9ac instead of ACCENT? It’s hardly an arcane word like TORC!

      I wonder if HOVE (column 3) has any significance.

      As for the puzzle, I stormed through it in 8 minutes. As has been mentioned by LyndsayO, ‘necklace / TORC’ came up recently in a 15×15, and in fact it was only last Monday in a clue I failed to solve.

      1. Oh, I don’t know if torc is that old – I feel like I’ve seen it somewhere recently…

  2. A typical tricky Friday, imho. I could not see CAVE (like the vast majority of the population I didn’t do Latin at school) but to be fair should’ve got it from the clue. CHAPARRAL was, I thought, a little obscure. I’ve never heard of a TORC and neither has Mrs ITTT, whose hobby is jewellery, so that must be very obscure. And LOW RENT? I guessed it but had no idea how it worked. ATHLETIC just took forever. No time given therefore, but well over 30 minutes so I’m still some way off joining the top table.
    No real complaints as I’ve had a good week and only got the two pinkies today.
    Have great weekends all. A welcome burst of summer heat today might even see me take my first plunge of the year into the briny. (If you read in tomorrow’s papers about a hapless pensioner having to be rescued off Kimmeridge Bay you’ll know it didn’t go well.)

    1. Good morning, ITTT. Go for it tomorrow. The sea is a comfortable temperature at the moment … assuming you keep moving and apart from the getting in process, that is.

  3. No problem with LOW RENT but I have heard of High CHAPPAREL so I think I’m in the demographic sweetspot for this one. Youtube confirms the theme tune is familiar – not that I ever watched an episode, the theme will have got me to to go and do something less boring instead even even quicker than Bonanza’s. The last series was aired before I was born so it must have been repeats.

    Passed over the first four before getting eight of the ten remaining acrosses, so the bottom then filled fast but the top delayed me, especially CHAPPAREL – I had no idea about it meaning thicket – and ATHLETIC. Needed the blog to get DAFFODIL and ON THE GO. Not all green in 13 – managed to type Oo THE GO. I’m blaming the keyboard.

    1. Like you, I can only have seen The High Chaparral in repeats. I seem to recall it was early 1980s on ITV – mid-to-late afternoon at the weekend. Probably Sunday, as Saturday tended to be World of Sport with wrestling at 4 and my grandparents used to love watching that!

      PS Typos allowed – this ain’t the world championships 👍

  4. Exactly the same time as yesterday as I made fairly quick progress through the grid.
    CHAPARRAL would have been a lot more tricky if it hadn’t caused me so many headaches when it previously appeared but I still needed most of the checkers before it sprang to mind.
    No problem with TORC, having read lots of historical novels around various Roman invasions of ‘barbarian’ lands when the native warriors seem to be bedecked with them.
    Started with ATHLETIC and finished with ACCENT in 7.00.
    Thanks to Excurarist

  5. Almost none on the first pass so quite surprised that I completed this in 12 minutes. LOI Chaparral (NHO but got from checkers and wordplay) and several doubts about Low rent = pants, but otherwise I was (eventually) on Breadman’s wavelength.

    Nice to see Snowdonia in the grid; the Welsh would rather we didn’t use the word (they want everyone to use the Welsh term Eryri instead), but I have never understood why people should try to dictate what someone else’s language calls something. The irony is that if the Welsh want to ban any English geographical term, they should ban the word Wales, which is derived from the Anglo Saxon word wealas, which means slaves. Not exactly complimentary to our Cambrian neighbours!

    Many thanks to Excurarist for the blog and a good weekend to all.

    1. I always thought the Germanic word from which “Welsh” is derived means something more like “romanised foreigners living near us”, and has been used all over Europe to describe Celtic and Latin speakers. The Dutch speakers of Flanders called the French “Walsch” (Walloon), Romanians were called “Vlachs” by their Germanic neighbours , whilst in Switzerland the German speakers called the Romance speakers “Welsch”.

      1. I think you are right in general, and perhaps that was the original meaning of the word in old Germanic (though the etymology is not clear to me), but by the time of the Mercians, relationships across Offa’s Dyke (raiding both ways for cattle rustling and slaves) gave the Anglo-Saxon word its derogatory taint.

  6. 13.26 – how could I not pop in with the GOLF clue?! Reckon I would have taken the better part of an hour on this a year ago.

    Off to run up some hills on a bright, sunny day 👟

    1. Well played, LP! Also, which hills?
      P.S. I am expecting to be back in Christchurch sometime the week after next, if you still fancy that coffee.

      1. Just a local road round the corner for some 8x10sec hill sprints + 2x25sec

        Well done on your 5-0, sub2. Despite commentaries I don’t think it’s been an easy week – just no particular stinkers.

        Yes, I’m still on for coffee somewhere in week beginning 17th – if I haven’t posted, I will check in with you on one of yours about the wheres and when. Happy to come over to Christchurch if that helps 👍

    2. Well done.

      I took the better part of an hour today! Feel like I’m wading through treacle at present.

  7. DNF, as NHO eiither LOW-RENT or PANTS in the sense suggested in the blog. Otherwise a fair, enjoyable challenge, completed in below average time. Thanks, Breadman and Excurarist.

  8. “Third rate romance, LOW-RENT rendezvous”(The Amazing Rhythm Aces). A brilliant song about a couple enjoying an illicit hook-up in a cheap motel.

    As usual, the NINA, such as it is, escaped me.

    FOI GOLF (my radio call sign in the taxi, before I changed to Romeo)
    LOI LOW-RENT (earworm guaranteed)
    COD DAFFODIL (only parsed afterwards)
    TIME 4:22

  9. DNF, was unsure LOW-RENT was a thing, so left it blank, but now I see it is in Wiktionary, so it must be OK. Couldn’t parse ON THE GO so you win there Breadman.

  10. A good QC to end the week. I managed to squeak under my 15 minute target but I took the time to parse them all. No problem with TORC but I held back on GOLF until I had both crossers and then parsed it. I constructed CHAPARRAL but hadn’t seen the series.
    CAVE clicked late (I knew what I was searching for but the word took a while to surface) and my LOI was LOW RENT. I noticed 4 appearances of ‘GO’ (or G…O) in answers today.
    Thanks to this week’s setters who seem to have a much better idea of what a QC should be.
    Thanks, also to Breadman and Excurarist. John M.

  11. At prep school in the late 1950s we used to shout ‘cave’, pronounced ‘cavey’, whenever a master hove into view.

    1. Aha! All is clear to me now. If PANTS was slang for ‘poor quality’ for 10 minutes in the 1990s, LOW-RENT must have meant the same thing for 5 minutes in the 1960s and CAVE meant ‘beware’ for one term at Eton in 1951. Thanks Andrew!

      1. Excellent comment, made my day. I am fed up with the public school nonsense words that frequent the QCs and which nobody ever uses (and which most people never used). I cringe every time we get OB for old boy, IT for trendy, U for upper class, etc and all the latin words.

  12. So close to a sub-5. Aaarrgh. The devil damn thee black, LOW-RENT.

    I found that generously clued and was on wave-length. All done in 05:08 for an Excellent Day.

    Many thanks Breaders and TAFKA curarist.


  13. 13:15 (1315 The Great Famine)

    Very slow start, with all-blank after an excruciating amount of time before staggering in with FOI CAVE. I did Latin, but didn’t go to the kind of school were kids said “cave” or “pax” (see discussion on Truce words from last week)

    With the A I figured TULSA or maybe OMAHA, but tried to get last=ULT to work, while moaning about more archaic Latinisms, in the end it was a simpler anagram of “last”.

    6d (GEKKO) uses GEO. Those longer abbreviations like Geo. for George, Wm (William) and my own name Jas( James) seem well out of favour, but were used on gravestones where stonemasons charged by the letter — or census takers who seem to be always short on time, space or indeed ink. This is why the King is sometimes called Chas, though not to his face, I should imagine. For the pedantic, Geo takes a dot after it, as it is a pure truncation, but Jas and Chas don’t because they’re not.

    — Jas

    1. King Chas has a certain ring to it, don’t you think?
      P.S. I’d half-hoped you really were called Merlin. Actually, one of my younger son’s old schoolfriend’s name is Merlin.

      1. It is perhaps more common as a woman’s name these days. UK banknotes of around 20 years ago all bore the signature of the Chief Cashier of the time, Merlyn Lowther – she preferred the -y- spelling.

  14. As predicted, after yesterday’s brief excursion into the sunlight, I’m back in the Club, my chair still warm. I found today’s QCC somewhat tricky. NHO TORC, and LOW RENT was a struggle. Amazingly, I solved CHAPARRAL from parsing the clue, but I needed the blog to parse GOLF – I got the answer when I saw “game” and “driver” together, and assumed GOLF. Right answer, wrong reason. 35ish minutes is a reversion to the mean, +/- a standard deviation or two…
    Thanks Breadman and Excurarist

    1. Nice to have your company in the SCC. We seem to have had a few escapees of late.

  15. Thought I was on for under 4, but LOI CHAPARRAL put paid to that, especially paying attention to the wordplay for correct spelling. Still a brisk end to the week though. Only the week commencing 9th Jan has been quicker. This week was done in 27 mins and 36 seconds cf last week’s 43 mins and 1 second, so these puzzles must be getting easier!

    ON THE GO biffed, parsed post submission, as was ANACONDA. I rather liked the simple ROUND.


  16. This felt like it ought to be an escape from the SCC sort of day. FOI ATHLETIC was followed swiftly by most of the top half and a lot of the bottom half. I remember the High Chaparral TV show but had no idea of the meaning – fortunately the wordplay made the answer clear. Got ON THE GO fairly quickly but took an age to see why. TORC was familiar (but held me up a bit because I was misreading the clue somehow) and then the final delay (several minutes) was LOI FAINT, despite all the crossers! Aaargh! Oh well, at least all green in 22:01. COD DAFFODIL. Thanks Breadman and Excurarist.

  17. Humph. Considering how many NHO, did remarkably well, biffing or guessing all except SLALOMED (NHO) and TORC (NHO). So also NHO CON (= study???), TAR (= coat???), CHA (= tea??? shouldn’t that be CHAR? thus in my Collins which has nothing under CHA), LOW-RENT (still can’t see connexion between “low-quality” and LOW-RENT) and CHAPARRAL, but all had to be. Otherwise, thank you, Excurarist, for all your good explanations.

    1. In Ontario poor urban areas are often termed LOW-RENT districts. I guess it comes from the idea you get what you pay for, so streets where the buildings can only command low rental fees are the opposite of well off.

    2. Re Con/Study, I asked the same question a few years back and Vinyl pointed out a couple of lines in a poem by Swift (1667-1745): A poet starving in a garret, Conning all topics like a parrot. . .

      How could I have forgotten 😉

    3. CON for study comes up regularly and CHA for tea comes up from time to time – worth making a (mental) note of them

      SLALOMED – I gather winter sports aren’t your thing but a Ski Slalom is probably what you would see if you ever watch professional ski racing. A series of poles planted down the mountains which the skier has to slalom around (sort of zigzag) to reach the bottom of the hill in quickest time.

    4. You make a good point with SLALOMED. Technically it must be a word, being the past tense of Slalom, but I can’t imagine anyone has ever used the word.
      ‘Char’means a hired cleaning person. The word for tea is CHA which comes from India.
      Torc is used in the context of bronze age, celtic, viking twisted metal (bronze, gold etc) rings made to adorn an upper arm or neck and usually a display of wealth or power. It absolutely is NOT a necklace which was how it was defined in the QC.

      1. Thank you all for your thoughts on these four words. After some further cogitation, investigation and canvassing, I would only offer the following tentative observations, starting with the most marginal:
        SLALOMED: now that you all give it in context, I concede that I must have heard of SLALOM, in which case -ED can hardly be rated far-fetched. OK.
        TORC: well Mrs M had heard of it but a Cambridge archaeology student hadn’t; clearly this is simply one that has to be learnt even though it might be rated slightly on the obscure side. OK. How intriguing, however, that it is sufficiently obscure that our experts disagree as to its meaning.
        CON: if this can only be found in an 18th-century poem, I submit that it is decidedly archaic / obscure. However, it’s apparently a regular presence in crossword-land, so no arguments; it has nonetheless to be learnt.
        CHA: I note what you all say, but still beg to plead that according to my Collins, the original Indian word is (was) CHA but the anglicised version is CHAR. You have a cup o’char, not a cup o’cha. It’s a bit like trying to insist the word is Autobahn, not motorway. Or to come closer to home, that it’s Genova, not Genoa. You can find better examples but the principle is clear.
        TAR: no one has yet commented on this; do you all deem it obvious why this is a “coat”? If we mean a “coating” covering a road, is the equality coat = coating allowable, is that it?

      2. It is, nowadays, Prof.
        A torc is now a necklace, or bracelet, made, usually, from one precious metal, shaped so that the circle, or oval, is incomplete, ie, does not require fastening, at the back of the neck, or, on the inside of the wrist.

        1. Yes, that is what a torc has always been. It is certainly not, therefore, a ‘necklace’ which is a chain or string of beads etc worn around the neck. A torc is solid. They are not the same.

  18. 11:42 (Empress Matilda avoids capture by King Stephen in siege of Oxford)

    Doing fine until my LOI of LOW-RENT, which required an alphabet trawl to come up with anything vaguely plausible.

    CAVE was fine, but I am one of the dwindling number who did Latin O level.

    Thanks Excurarist and Breadman

  19. Fortunately I’m old enough to have watched the High Chapparal and passed O Level Latin. Finished in 54 minutes.
    Biffed quite a few e.g. DAFFODIL, ON THE GO, ACCENT and ANACONDA but enjoyed parsing them all afterwards.
    Didn’t know CON for study or AC for bill
    Many COD contenders but liked FAINT and FRET.
    Thanks Breadman and Excurarist.

  20. I must be slowing down. I struggled with this one and only escaped the SCC by 40 seconds, despite knowing TORC (from archeology programmes on TV), CHAPARRAL (I’m old enough to have watched before the repeats started, and from reading shitkicker novels in my teens). The only never heard of in that sense was LOW RENT, but it had to be. Well beaten today byBreadman. Thanks Excurarist.

  21. Pretty fast today finishing in 8.10. When I saw the SNOWDONIA and DAFFODIL crossers I thought there might be a Welsh theme, but seemingly not. Like others, I remember watching and enjoying The High Chaparral in my youth, which was similar in nature to one of its predecessors Bonanza.
    Back on target this week taking a total of 45.56 minutes for a daily average of 9.11.

  22. DNF – LOW-RENT not in my vocabulary. Had to look up Chaparral, having forgotten the TV programme. Took me a while to get the rest.

  23. Very pleased to cross the line safely in 22 minutes today, particularly as I had NHO TORC, had completely forgotten about the High CHAPPARAL, have never studied Latin (CAVE) and was quite unsure about LOW RENT. I also had to wait until SLALOMED for my FOI, so I thought at that point that I would be in for a struggle. Fortunately, however, once I got a foothold I was able to keep the pace going.

    Weekly summary: 5-0 in a total time of 116 minutes which, after 162 weeks of trying, is my first time under 2 hours. That warrants a nice beer later on.

    many thanks to Breadman and Excurarist.

    1. Congratulations Mr Random! A feat well worth celebrating 👍 I’ll think of you swigging your beer while I bob around like a baluga in Kimmeridge Bay.

    2. Well done Mr R, great achievement! That is my goal but I’ve only achieved it once. Your recent times suggest you have turned the corner with these wretched puzzles👏👏👏

  24. Hadn’t heard of LOW RENT for PANTS before, but shrugged and moved on. ATHLETIC was FOI. Familiar with Big John Cannon and Victoria, plus we’ve had CHAPARRAL not too long ago. Took a moment to get my head round LENIENT. SNOWDONIA was LOI. 8:17. Thanks Breadman and Excurarist.

  25. Tricky in places, so I was pleased to finish in 17 minutes. Couldn’t parse everything though (GOLF, DAFFODIL), so thanks to Excurarist for the requisite explanations. No problems with the vocabulary except LOW RENT which meant nothing to me.

    FOI – 8ac BLOWER
    LOI – 3dn LOW RENT
    COD – 16dn FAINT

    Thanks to Breadman

  26. 8 mins with telephone call so decent day.
    Didn’t parse on the go. Dnk torc.
    COD to chaparral as it was kindly clued.

  27. DNF due to LOW-RENT I cannot see how Low Rent means pants. Yes, I’ve heard of the term “pants” meaning low quality, but I still do not see how Low Pants -RENT. Not impressed with that clue at all!

    However, the rest of the QC was nice, with some pause for thought needed.

    1. Low pants doesn’t equal low rent.

      The phrase is “low rent” which is used to indicate something substandard. E.g. you might see “it was a low rent joint” in a seedy detective novel talking about a hotel or bar that’s a dive.

  28. 4:46

    At 58, I’m perhaps a shade too young to have enjoyed High Chapparal but was aware of it being on tv. I noted the semi nina as well – think I saw similar in one of the QCs that I blogged a while back, where the end column/row had the same alphabeticals as the first column/row with one exception – wonder what it means…

    Given Breadman’s pseudonym isn’t a stretch from Bradman, and we have Henry ‘Blowers’ Blofeld’s plummy tones nearly immortalised here in row 3, should we really jump the shark and assume that Breadman is a cricket lover?

    Thanks Breadman and Excurarist

  29. 9:27. Didn’t see LOW-RENT as pants for quite a while but then made the executive decision that they must be synonyms and moved on. Blog confirmed my somewhat arbitrary action! Also needed the blog to see mONTH was the time of year required for ON THE GO.

  30. Hmm, 16mins and then another couple trying to think of an alternative to loi Low-rent before bunging it in. It just about works, but a really poor clue in comparison to what was going on in the rest of the grid. Golf, On The Go and CoD 21ac, Fret, were a delight to parse and kept a smile on my face long after the grimace at 3d. Invariant

  31. 16 mins…

    A couple I didn’t know here (5dn “Chaparral” and 17ac “Torc”), but they were clued generously. Had to resist not putting “Mac” for 4dn. Is “Geo” acceptable for George?

    FOI – 6dn “Gecko”
    LOI – 3dn “Low Rent”
    COD – 14dn “On the go”

    Thanks as usual!

    I promised earlier in the week to put down my 6 month stats (from Mon 2nd Jan 2023 to Fri 30th Jun 2023 – 130 QC’s I believe). They were originally going to be 3 months, but I never got around to it. So here they are:

    Overall completion rate (CR): 69% (where non completion is getting some wrong or not finishing after 30 mins – my usual cut off time)

    Mean completion time: 19.4 mins
    Median completion time: 19 mins

    Of the above, 58% of my completion times were above the mythical 20 min mark.

    Best solving time: 7 mins – Monday 17th April set by Trelawney, which was part of 4 sub 10 min finishes during the 6 month period

    Setters with longest completion times: Jalna (50% CR, 27 min average), Izetti (58% CR, 24 min average)
    Setters with shortest completion times: Trelawney (71% CR, 12 min average), Orpheus (50% CR, 17 min average).

    Interestingly, if you split my completion rate between Q1 and Q2 of this year, it is 78% and 60% respectively, which I think is indicative of some of the harder puzzles we’ve had lately or my overall mental decline.

    Anyway, just for a bit of fun.

    1. Interesting to see how you fared against each setter – not sure there is any pattern as to how the setters distribute themselves over the weeks/months – I wondered if Q2 showed that you had a higher proportion of tougher setters than in Q1?

      1. I do have a table showing more detail by setter – but couldn’t format it for this blog, and didn’t want to take up a ton of space. It wouldn’t surprise me, if I look at the distribution of setters, that Q2 is made up more proportionately of the setters I find difficult.

    2. Thankyou for the stats, Mr Ed46. Very interesting. Some very fast best times there. I wonder what your success rate would be if you allowed yourself a 40-minutes cut-off.

    3. I’m only here for the stats!

      I would have guessed at your averages as being a bit quicker as you frequently seem to get some around 13-14mins. As I recall you had a really bad run of DNFs at one stage circa mid-June which surely dragged your numbers down.

      Those sub10s are a thing of glory though ⚡

      I think it’s useful to track these things as while you can get ups and downs, (hopefully) the overall trend is upwards.

      1. To be honest, I always thought I averaged around 15 mins as well – but I’m obviously not as good as I thought I was – the completion numbers don’t lie.

        In terms of actual completion rate, you’re right – that week long run of bad DNF’s definitely didn’t help – especially for Q2. I guess I could improve that by extending my cut off time – but, unfortunately, I don’t have the time. Usually, I find if I haven’t done it in 30 mins – another 15 isn’t going to help, unless I put it down and come back to it fresh later (which, as noted above, I don’t always have time for 😀)

        1. The trouble with time averages is that it’s easier to skew them negatively. That’s certainly true with the mean. For example, given your best time is 7mins – even when you solve one in 15mins – anything worse than 23mins will pull you down. A 29min solve drastically so and not even Verlaine can offset that with a 1-minuter.

          But notably your median is about the same as mean (not sure whether 19.4 = 19.04 or 19.24) so maybe not too skewed.

          1. The mean is 19.4 mins – but to be honest, I would ignore the 0.4 – as the majority of my times are rounded to the nearest minute anyway, so it’s kind of pointless (as my A-Level Maths teacher used to say)

            The median is probably the better statistic to remove outliers, but as I tend to cut off at 30 mins, it doesn’t surprise me that the two are quite close together.

  32. Steady solve today; knew CHAPARRAL from TV series (although didn’t know exactly what it meant) and no problem with LOW RENT or TORC. Needed blog to parse ON THE GO – very tricky – and TULSA. Took Latin (and a degree of stick) in my lunch break at my comprehensive school so no problems with CAVE. Liked DAFFODIL once I’d worked it out. Hesitated over TAR before realising it was that kind of coat…
    Many thanks Breadman and excurarist.

  33. 10.46 WOE. I put CHAPARREL. Then I thought, doesn’t Arran have a second a? And shrugged. Gah. 73 minutes for the week compared to my target of an hour isn’t great but better than expected this week.

  34. Found this difficult. 28 minutes with some help with chapparel. Nho torc.

  35. Back from windy Amsterdam.
    Quite fast around the grid then very slow in NW. PDM with ATHLETIC helped but why didn’t I see it sooner? LOsI LOW RENT and CHAPARRAL (another PDM).
    We have had CAVE before. I did A-level Latin (smug girly swot) but I remember the word from Just William who shouted the warning when he saw a beak. Or was it Billie Bunter??
    Thanks vm, Excurarist.

    1. Welcome back to the sunny UK. ‘Smug Girly Swot’ – what a great handle that’d be! 🤣

      1. Thank you. Twas very rainy too! By the way, I see Jessie Burton’s second novel set in 18th Century Amsterdam is only 99p for the e-book today.

  36. Paused before entering LOI LOW-RENT not knowing the term, but after CAVE appeared it had to be. Thanks Breadmen and Excurarist. 4:44.

  37. No issue with CHAPARRAL here, as we have lots of that vegetation type in a nearby state park. RENT for SPLIT was fair enough, and I faintly recalled the “pants”=“rubbish” slang, so LOW RENT seemed ok to me. The one I didn’t parse was my LOI, ANACONDA. Even with CON taken out, I never spotted cANADA! All done in 12:50.

    Thanks to Breadman and Excurarist.

  38. 3:46. I couldn’t imagine putting the answers in any faster, so I am fairly certain I will never get a sub-3 (let alone sub-2!) time in my life.

  39. Oh dear, I see that I am wearing the dunces cap again.

    I was going so well but then hit a brick wall with CAVE and LOW RENT to finish in an awful 43 minutes.

    I have fallen so far behind solvers who I used to be on a par with and I can’t figure out why. I got a huge number on the first pass and then struggled. How is it that some solvers get little on the first pass and then return such great times?

    I can’t work out where I go wrong or how to improve. My best time this week was 26 mins. I was hoping after 3 years that such a time would be my worst for the week.

    I spend ages going back through the QC, writing down the wordplay and trying to learn the abbreviations, but I just get worse.

    Thanks for the blog. Have a good weekend everyone. I’ll be back for more humiliation on Monday. ☹️

    PS Trying to be constructive, is there a book anyone can recommend that might help me to improve? I seem to recall that Izetti (?) has written a book which might help.

    1. Don’t despair GaryA – I didn’t finish today while usually I would complete in 15-20 mins. I recommend you also ignore the other solvers times and do your thing your way. Lots of solvers bung in the answers without understanding why the answer is correct until afterwards. You have to do it that way to get a fast time. Others take theit time to enjoy the clue and roll the cleverness of the surface around their head and make sure they fully parse it before moving on. I enjoy the puzzle that way but will never get a good time.
      I also find it makes a huge difference what is going on around me. In a quiet place in the morning with no distractions is always better. Sitting in the sun listening to the cricket with Mrs Prof whittering is not inducive to a good solve. Chin up and keep trying but most of all enjoy it!

      1. Thanks Prof. Your advice is very much appreciated. Thankfully I’ve got a quiet spot to use, which I agree is a big help. I need total peace and quiet to tackle the QC.

        I’ll see what next week brings.

        1. Good advice from Prof, but also consider enjoying the puzzles on your own terms and not worrying too much about the time taken.

          When I started here maybe 15+ years ago on the 15×15 I was determined to try to compete with the speedsters, but after a year or so I realised it was never going to happen so I relaxed and decided to enjoy myself. I have a vague expectation that I should be able to finish the main puzzle in 30 minutes, but that’s just for general interest and I don’t race against the clock.

          1. Couldn’t agree more. Worrying about time can spoil the enjoyment and it’s meant to be a pleasurable activity!

    2. Oh GA – what is going on?!?!

      Book recommendation to help you improve The Joy of Sex … or do you mean for the QC? 😂

      I hope you’re not including me in your list of solvers you used to be on a par with. As detailed in reply yesterday you were significantly quicker than me on Monday and Tuesday; and I have the ignominy of DNFing yesterday.

      There’s a lot of blogs on The Guardian website … https://www.theguardian.com/crosswords/series/cryptic-crosswords-for-beginners … ignore that title.

      In all honesty, I don’t think any book or blog will be of much use, you are already able to solve them – you know all the tricks of the trade.

      You are a decent solver who just needs to get out of his own way and lower expectations to rebuild confidence. Or have no expectations at all – just to experience it for what it is. Easily said, of course.

      Hang in there mate 👍

      1. Thanks L-Plates. You gave me a much needed 🤣🤣 with your book suggestion. I suspect you’re correct in what you say about the book, although I may get one just to have a look. There’s one on Amazon by Don Manley that seems to be the best one out there (I think he’s our old sparring partner, Izetti).

        I’ll also have a look at the blogs.

        Strangely I’m doing quite well on the Quintagram. I usually attempt it post-QC, but I may try it as a warm up next week. It might get the brain fog to clear.

        Today would have been close to an SCC escape but for the last two. As an ex-solicitor, I should have remembered CAVE from caveat emptor. LOW RENT was a cinch once I had that.

        I will try to approach next week in a more positive frame of mind.

        Well done on your time today and have a great weekend.

        1. Many around here seem to think Izetti is one of the best in the business, so I’m sure he will have something good to say. Can’t harm to read what he has to offer

          I hadn’t realised how difficult the CAVE/LOW-RENT crossing pair were. I’ve seen CAVE before so it went straight in on first pass, but I recall when I first saw it I had no idea. Think I would have been very stuck and whingy if I’d been left with those two after an otherwise fast solve.

            1. 🤣🤣🤣

              Not surprised it was an Izetti.

              CAVE is now firmly lodged in the memory bank!

  40. PANTS! DNF.

    Never mind, as said CHAPARRAL and TORC were nicely clued for those of us who have FRETted over these for a while.

    I wanted to put MAC for TAR, and BELLOW for BLOWER even though logic told me they did not ROOST there.

    Oh well, I have to say it was enjoyable even though a DNF. I have always disagreed with folks who say education should be fun. Facing up to challenges is hard, but intrinsic motivation is the key by my book.

    Off now to fire up the first barbie of the season….

    Have a lovely weekend everyone and thanks to all of you above and Breadman and Excurarist.

  41. DNF today. ‘Pants’ is a stupid clue for ‘low rent’ in my opinion, the former meaning nonsense and the latter meaning inferior. Not synonyms at all.

    Can someone help me with why Cave meaning beware is allowed? Is it in a relevant dictionary? Isn’t it latin?

    Other than that I was enjoying this one until those two clues. Hey ho, they can’t all be good crosswords.

    1. “Keep cave, old man, and whistle if a beak or a pre shows up.”. Admittedly old-fashioned quote from Bunter.

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