Quick Cryptic 2511 by Orpheus


Maybe just me, but I found this one hard and I was granted permission to enter the hallowed portals of the SCC by a full 14 seconds to complete it.

Even on review, I still found it difficult to parse some of the answers and there were a few unfamiliar words eg 2d, 14d and the colloquialisms at 9a and 10a.

Thanks to Orpheus for a toughie, but possibly others’ experience was different (with a nod to 6d).

Definitions underlined in bold, deletions marked by strikethrough

1 Wanderer’s tie with Virginia and Georgia (8)
VAGABONDBOND (‘tie’) with VA (‘Virginia’) and GA (‘Georgia’)
5 Father after Oscar (4)
PAPA – Follows Oscar in the Nato alphabet
9 Prison officer’s wage (5)
SCREW – Double definition

To me the second definition, slang for salary or wages, is less familiar

10 Meal we hope not to have on the motorway! (7)
BLOWOUT – Double definition, the second a cryptic hint

This was my last in and only courtesy of the second definition and crossers. On reflection, I suppose I had heard of a blowout (or blow-out) for a lavish meal, but it didn’t occur to me when solving

11 US city man introducing article on London theatre (12)
PHILADELPHIAPHIL (‘man’) preceding (‘introducing’) A (‘article’) on ADELPHI (‘London theatre’)

Not your usual LA or NY for the ‘US city’ and a not common random man’s name so another one I found hard. Using brackets to further explain the parsing, it’s PHIL preceding (A on, or following, ADELPHI). This obeys the X on Y = X follows Y convention for an across clue

13 Motorist’s club (6)
DRIVER – Double definition
15 French street with upper-class books? Not so (6)
UNTRUERUE (‘French street’) with U (‘upper-class’) NT (‘books?’)
17 Concluded successfully, being proficient (12)
ACCOMPLISHED – Double definition
20 The Case of the Government Ministers? (7)
CABINET – Double definition or could be seen as a cryptic definition. ‘Government ministers’ may not be members of CABINET (at least where I come from), hence the question mark
21 Evergreen tree — old, as it happens (5)
OLIVEO (‘old’) LIVE (‘as it happens’)

As in a “live” TV broadcast

22 Record held by greyhound is challenged (4)
DISC – Hidden (‘held by’) ‘greyhounD IS Challenged’
23 Study of weapons finally kept in garden (8)
ROCKETRYT (‘finally kept’=last letter of ‘kepT‘) contained in (‘in’) ROCKERY (‘garden’)
1 Pass very agilely at first around island (4)
VISAV (‘very’) A (‘agilely at first’=first letter of ‘Agilely’) containing (‘around’) IS (‘island’)
2 Engraver and painter leaving house for court (5)
GARTHHOGARTH (‘Engraver and painter’) with HO deleted (‘leaving house’)

William Hogarth, painter and satirist, A Rake’s Progress etc.

My second last in. I’d forgotten this word for a courtyard surrounded by a cloister

3 Perplexity shown by less civilised chaps involved in wager (12)
BEWILDERMENTWILDER (‘less civilised’) MEN (‘chaps’) contained in (‘involved in’) BET (‘wager’)

Described my experience with lots of today’s clues very well!

4 Nonentity’s complaint about inferior wine? (6)
NOBODY – Definition with cryptic hint. If you were making a criticism about an ‘inferior wine’ you might say it had NO BODY
6 A different article — by him, presumably? (7)
ANOTHERA (‘Article’) followed by (‘by’) NOT HER (‘him presumably?’)

I initially parsed this unconfidently as a cryptic definition.

7 Toothless type that may take in the workers (8)
ANTEATER – Cryptic definition

My COD. I don’t think you could describe this as a “barely cryptic” cryptic definition. Pangolin, echidna and others

8 Very rich plant producing railway carriages, etc (7,5)
ROLLING STOCKROLLING (‘Very rich’) STOCK (‘plant’)

A stock is one of several types of plant or the plant or stem from which cuttings are taken

12 Made progress, being precocious (8)
ADVANCED – Double definition
14 One youngster in Students’ Union — a nightmare! (7)
INCUBUSI (‘One’) CUB (‘youngster’) contained in (‘in’) NUS (‘Students’ Union’)

NUS as abbreviation for National Union of Students

16 Pie-eyed bachelor’s first game (6)
BLOTTOB (‘Bachelor’s first’=first letter of ‘Bachelor’) LOTTO (‘game’)

One of many colloquialisms for “drunk” so beloved of our setters

18 Woman in City area originally teaching law (5)
EDICTDI (‘Woman’) contained in (‘in’) EC (‘City area’) T (‘originally teaching’=first letter of ‘Teaching’)

A more common random woman’s name than PHIL for ‘man’ in 11a anyway. EC as postcode for ‘City’ of London

19 Tax the French extremely viciously (4)
LEVYLE (‘the French’) VY (‘extremely viciously’=first and last letters of ‘ViciouslY‘)

95 comments on “Quick Cryptic 2511 by Orpheus”

  1. Tough going from Orpheus today, or maybe I was still feeling the effects of bashing my head against the brick wall that was the final 15×15 competition puzzle (DNF). 12.03, rather befuddled by BLOWOUT and ANTEATER and not sure about ANOTHER. BR I suspect you are unfamiliar with SCREW for wages because the last person to use it in that sense died in 1967 and ‘a good screw’ started to mean something else. Re the NUS: when an equivalent body was established in Australia they were going to call it the Australian National Union of Students but on reflection dropped ‘National.’

  2. Curious, my online version of 5a was something like ‘Father following Oscar’ (i.e. in the sequence OSCAR PAPA QUEBEC).
    Two examples of ‘with’ for a word placed AFTER the fodder (VAGABOND and UNTRUE), which delayed me a bit.
    A somewhat challenging puzzle

    1. 5ac is Father after Oscar when I look online and in the facsimile e-newspaper so I have amended the clue in the blog to reflect this.

  3. 12:05. ANTEATER and ROCKETRY both took a long time. Needed blog to learn in what sense GARTH meant court and the role of NOT HER in ANOTHER. BEWILDERMENT and ROLLING STOCK were favourites.

  4. I only knew the word GARTH as the name of Wayne’s friend on Saturday Night Live, but maybe it’s only obscure to us Yanks?

  5. 13 minutes for this one with BEWILDERMENT as my LOI, perhaps suitably reflecting my state of mind whilst tackling the Championship Final puzzle yesterday!

  6. Wot no anagrams?
    Almost completed but tripped up at the end on ROCKETRY. Never heard of SCREW for wages but bunged it in with fingers crossed.
    I was probably comfortably towards the back of the class this morning but now I have turned off the timer, for a more relaxing experience, I don’t know the exact time.
    Thanks to Orpheus and Bletch 👍

  7. Heavy going today. Adelphi for theatre was never going to come and once it wasn’t Globe or Old Vic I just had to wait for a city for the penny to drop. Heard of Hogarth but didn’t know he engraved and didn’t know GARTH but bunged it in after 26 minutes to finish all green. Enjoyed ANTEATER, also bunged in SCREW from prison officer and checkers. Glad that’s over.

      1. That would have been a much easier one for me than the theatre. I biffed the city but couldn’t parse it. Not at all familiar with London theatres.

    1. With the D of NOBODY in there, I was suddenly inspired by the Strand theatre 🙄 Blocked bewilderment for a while, especially as I’d also put STIRS as prison officers.

  8. Some tricky stuff today and I had several un or semi-parsed when I stopped the clock. Had no idea what was going on with GARTH but it seemed the most likely option with those checkers, NHO of that type of STOCK in 8d and the second definition of SCREW was new to me.
    Finished in 8.03 with LOI GARTH and I particularly enjoyed VAGABOND and ANOTHER.
    Thanks to BR

  9. Trickyish, but turned out too tricky for this biffer. Proper fail today rather than a fat finger. Bunged in OPINE having seen “old” and “evergreen tree” in the wordplay, not necessarily in that order. No doubt a deliberate trap for the hard of thinking! Well done Orpheus, the rest of the puzzle was quite lovely I thought. LOI was ANTEATER.


  10. DNF. Found this difficult and ran out of time. NHO GARTH. Tried to find a word ending or containing ANTS and didn’t see ANTEATER. Altogether a joyless puzzle. Will withdraw my application for next year’s championship.
    Thanks Bletchleyreject and Orpheus.

  11. Tricky for an Orpheus. I didn’t recall SCREW for wages so held off putting that in until I had the checkers. I was also slowed down by the two clues aphis99 noted where A with B meant B then A. They always get me! Thanks Orpheus and BR. 6:10.

    1. Great write-up and photo on The Times Championship John.

      Today seems a good day to ask whether you managed to ask the Editor about the fluctuating level of difficulty of the QC. If so, is there anything you can share with us that wouldn’t break any confidences?

      1. Alas Richard didn’t mingle with the competitors during the competition and didn’t make it to The George afterwards, so I didn’t get a chance to speak to him. Mick Hodgkin may be at the “Sloggers & Betters” event in York this weekend – he was there last year. If so, I’ll see what he has to say.

        1. Thanks for the update John. Understandable on his part, as he probably has a significant workload on the day.

  12. Second DNF in two days. NHO of GARTH, and thought “engraver and painter” were two separate instructions. Thought about GARTH, but decided it was a made up word, even though there is a street near me called “The Garth”. I went with GIRTH in the end, as “it fitted”, along with BIOLOGY for BLOWOUT. I think both senses of BLOWOUT are primarily American. The “barely cryptic” clues like ANTEATER are hard, I thought workers=ants, but couldn’t make it fit.

    Not happy with SCREW, as have never heard of the slang for wages. It has so many other slang usages now. It is as dated as BLOTTO and “pie-eyed”. As I noted in my bio, my kids have 100s of words for drunk, and these are not on their list.

    Great reference on the etymology of screw in this article. Warning, this Stack Exchange on the English Language is highly addictive.

  13. A stock is a flower in its own right. Sweet scented biennial. Enjoyed this but found it harder than average. Many thanks to Orpheus and Bletchley Reject

  14. A hard 17:34.
    Didn’t know screw/wages, stock/plant or garth. Blowout was also quite tricky.

    Liked anteater but COD to papa.

  15. Old Orpheus sat by his hearth
    Thinking “Wonder if I can use ‘garth’?
    It’s rather obscure
    And I’m pretty damn sure
    That the outcome will be Templar barfs.”

    GARTH in the QC. Give me strength.

    Anyway. All done in 08:04, a large chunk of which was trying to nerve myself up to go nap on GARTH. I did, for a Party On Day.

    Many thanks Orpheus and Bletchers.


  16. DNF. Beaten by GARTH and ANTEATERS. In 2d I was looking for an engraver whose name could be made by taking the name of a painter and replacing an H with CT, and drew a blank. In 7d I was trying to fit ANTS into variations of EDENTATE.

    Thanks BR and Orpheus

  17. Tricky, so very slow. NHO GARTH and had to use CCD for BLOWOUT – not a phrase I would use for a meal or a puncture.
    FOI ROLLING STOCK, then plodded through the bottom half, and crawled through the top. I did remember SCREW for wages, maybe Dickensian?
    Thanks vm, BR.

  18. There was some tough stuff in here. Took me 19 minutes with LOI BLOWOUT. I had been working on B Road and then tried to justify Brocoli [!] in desperation before 7d emerged. I can imagine the tension of the final three at the Crossword Championships trying to finish off.
    Other hold-ups were ANTEATER and EDICT (rejected on first pass as I couldn’t parse it). Edith, Erica and Eliza all held up ROCKETRY. Again, pausing to parse pays dividends.
    Enjoyed the challenge.

  19. Like others I found this tough, and I was relieved to finish in 11.35 as it seemed longer. My LOI was GARTH, even though I’ve designed a few in my time, I forgot the definition of the word! I hesitated before putting it in for about 30 seconds before the penny dropped with the parsing. Having had a BLOWOUT on the M1 near Nottingham about 40 years ago to the drivers side front tyre, I decided to change the tyre on the hard shoulder (not allowed now I would imagine). Not an experience I would ever like to repeat, with lorries thundering past feet away from me!

  20. Well, it’s been fun, but I think honestly that puts the lid on it. I’ve been doing these QCs for a whole year now, and I just don’t think I’ve got any better over time. This one today: well I stare and stare at it – and I can’t do a single clue. So I won’t detain and bore you kind people any further, but thank you for indulging me (and maybe even accepting my CNP! that was fun, thank you Penny and Invariant) thus far, and wish you all very well in the future.

    1. I for one will miss you Martinů. I may not post often here but I do read most days and yours is one of only two posters I actively look for. You may not think you are getting better but it has one of my little joys to see you improving steadily. You have finished several QCs in the past few weeks whereas a year ago you would post that you only got 4 or 5 answers.

      Today’s QC was hard and it took me almost twice my usual time to complete so please don’t give in just because of it. There will be days when the QC is a stinker (just as is the case for the main crossword) and sometimes a hard QC can be harder than an easy main crossword., which is what makes them such a good learning path.

      But if you do give up then I wish you all the best in whatever you turn your attention to next.

      1. That’s very sweet and I’m most touched – thank you. Never say never, perhaps; but we are in Italy for the next 5-6 days so I’ll be absent for a while in any case. I’ve felt for some time that I hardly deserve your company – I’ve been at the back of the class for too long! Warmest best wishes to you –

    2. Martinů, having just lost Blighter, it would simply be beyond belief if you departed as well. We all go through rough patches, but please sleep on it and hopefully reconsider. Your comments are much enjoyed and always interesting. Invariant

      1. I really wonder why this was classed as appropriate for a QC. It seems another designed to kill off the weak. We need a random man’s name, a random theatre and a lesser known historic engraver/painter. And that’s just to name a few. Not even any anagrams to encourage us and cheer us on our way. DNF (presumably as intended)

    3. This was a toughie – the Quitch is running at 124 at the moment. Never quit on a toughie! Hang in there.

      1. Thank you both for your kind support, but……….
        You see: for you all, “a toughie” means you might take 20-30 minutes to complete it; but there’s a world of difference between that and not being able (after an hour) to do a single clue. Either you have the right brain, and belong, or (perhaps) you just don’t………..
        But it’s been fun – no, really great fun – to pretend to belong for a while. Thank you for your hospitality.
        And P.S. my clue of the year was:
        I’m possibly 50cc, two wheels – try me! Answer: MOTORCYCLE.
        Completely brilliant; congratulations to Felix.

    4. I hope you can maybe take a break and come back refreshed. I certainly was never bored by your comments, far from it!

    5. I think that your resignation, whilst sad to me, will bring joy to some setters. I reckon that that the impenetrable QCs they produce from time to time are designed to put learners off, and they have succeeded today. Turkeys voting for Xmas!

    6. Definitely don’t go on today’s account as was really tricky.
      We are a very diverse bunch on the blog and you definitely are a welcome part of it – and like Jonathan I usually pause to see what you have to say.
      So after a lovely break in Italy do come back

      1. Thank you so much. Sorry for the confusion: no, like Blighter used to do “- John”, I thought I’d sign myself out for a change. Jonathan is me! So I’ve deleted it now.

    7. Dear Martinu,

      I’ve been doing the QC for 3 years or so and I’ve called stumps more than once. I really do know just how you feel, as you will have seen from many of my comments. I am still drawn back to it and I hope you will be too.

      There is no doubt in my mind that, for anyone who falls outside the ‘solve in under 15 minutes’ group, the QC has become much, much tougher recently. I have had solves/DNFs that have taken me well beyond the hour mark, something I thought I had left behind.

      Please stay with the QC. I find your comments enjoyable and erudite, and I will miss them if you go.


    8. I’m sure you have improved and you seem to come to the QC with a big general knowledge deficit. I don’t mean that disparagingly of you, only to say it seems to have made it much harder for you.

      It’s taken me about 2 years to get decent at the QC (not today) and I started with good wordpower, GK and problem-solving ability. But it needed a familiarity with what setters will/won’t include to get to where I am. I’m sure with continued practice you could continue to improve.

      Hope you’ll be back. Take a few days away and then restart. They’re enjoyable when there’s no frustration in your system.

    9. Don’t go Martinû (my iPad won’t out an o over the u), your contributions are always entertaining and welcome.

      1. Bless you both – and sorry about my awkward “name” (no worries about that!). Who knows, maybe it’ll draw me back in again – or I’ll miss the camaraderie of you all. But I do feel I’m not really a worthy participant. Thank you for your warm and solicitous remarks.

        1. You are most certainly a worthy participant! It is frustrating on a day like this and yes, I’m aware that I speak as one who usually finishes in the 10 – 15 minute range, but honestly it took me years to get to this stage. BTW it was a DNF for me today – I thought 9a must be SCREW but didn’t know the second definition, and although I vaguely knew GARTH as an old word for a garden, the court aspect completely passed me by. Definitely veering towards 15×15 territory I’d say.
          Enjoy your well-deserved break, come back refreshed and maybe even come up with a new abbreviation / TLA! Chin up 😊

          1. Very sweet of you, thank you … I’m scratching my head to think what TLA is – maybe I’ll get it overnight? And one day I’ll work out how to find those emojis!

            1. If you use an Android tablet or phone, somewhere on your keyboard there will be a little icon (on mine it’s a smiley face to the left of the space bar) which takes you to the emojis. If you use Word on a laptop, press the Windows button and the full stop together and you’ll get a menu of emojis. If you use an Apple device, I can’t advise 😅
              And following on from Steakcity’s comments, if you get pleasure from cracking even just a few clues, that’s what should count. Times (despite the name of this blog) aren’t everything!
              One last thing, if you’re a Times online subscriber, you can access all the old crosswords through the crossword club – great for practice. I’m off to bed now – and the Big Smoke tomorrow.
              Have a wonderful holiday!

              1. Thank you, Penny – that’s most helpful. I’ll give it a very first try now! I’m on a Word laptop, so here goes:😊 Ha – it works! My life has a new beginning thanks to you.
                No, I’m not an online subscriber, but no worries, I’ll continue tickling but without contributing. I think it was the pressure that got to me!

                warmest best wishes and thanks, Jonathan

        2. I can sympathise with your frustration. I found the Times Quick Cryptic collection series (available from Amazon for £5-6) and containing 100 puzzles ( with answers!) very helpful to building up question solving. When you can’t figure out an answer there is always the historic blog here to shed enlightenment.
          Many of us here have halved their solving times (from 40 minutes upwards!) with a fair number of DNFs and in the end some are motivated by competitive break neck speeds while others just the challenge and mental exercise. There are often new words or usage to raise an eyebrow or a smile and a supportive community here to encourage or commiserate with those of us left with half empty grids, fat fingers and comraderie in the slow coach club.
          So, my advice, with respect, is, if you get satisfaction from getting a clue right, and a kick from completing a grid or part, then maybe it is worth setting aside some time to give a go to the QCC.
          You will complete more with practice. But if you don’t, then I hope you find time in your day to indulge in some mental exercise.
          But do come back if the mood takes you. Remember, times are just a number!

          1. Thank you, Steakcity (just reading in today’s paper about wagyu steaks costing upwards of £750) – yes, satisfaction and kick certainly. As long as they aren’t outweighed by the pressure! We will see…..

    10. Hi Martinů, i too find these hard going and would very much miss you. I don’t find the discussions of timings help those of us who try hard and completing at all is a success. I don’t know if you’ve come across the Cracking the Cryptic YouTube channel but every Friday they do the Times Cryptic. This has proved really helpful for me solving the QC, albeit still slowly. Strangely I found yesterday’s a complete nightmare and struggled Less today. Sometimes I find I’m just not ‘not in the zone’. Hope you enjoy your break and reconsider.

    11. Ah don’t go Martinü (can’t do the little o on my phone!) I have been trying to learn the crossword language for a few years now and am definitely better but by no means brill at it. Sometimes it depends on the setter and whether you are on the same wavelength. I don’t always finish them but if I look them up and understand them then that’s a win and helps with the next time. So I don’t mind if I don’t get them all. Sometimes I am surprised at GK that others don’t know but then I am lost when it comes to sporting things which there often are as I think the setters are men who like cricket and stuff like that of which I know nothing!!
      I quite liked this one as it had jokey clues – I like the piggy setter and Joker too. Also it had no anagrams – bliss!
      Don’t be discouraged have a holiday and try again. I like to read your comments. It’s good to share with others who don’t rattle it off in minutes but who work at it. Hopefully it’s mostly enjoyable – it’s only a hobby after all. It’s not a competition except perhaps with yourself. Which you will win. Xx

  21. Finished just as the clock was hitting 30 minutes, which is my give-up point, by putting in GARTH. I was sure how to get to it but NHO the definition. It’s always a good day to learn a new word so thanks to Orpheus for that. I also spent far too long on ROCKETRY before the PDM and exclamation (which had Mrs Prof running in wondering what had happened). Like others, NHO the use of SCREW for wages but I am not putting that in the ‘words learned’ category as I know I will never use it.

    Overall a very enjoyable puzzle and helpful blog. Thanks BletchleyReject.

  22. Managed to complete with help from the cat, but I have to say that I really didn’t enjoy this one. Can’t quite put my finger on it, but I just didn’t like it.

    10a BLOWOUT. I think this clue could have been constructed better. It really should have suggested large meal or similar to get the blowout part of it. I wouldn’t call any meal a blowout.

    I’ve never heard of wage being “screw”. I only assumed it was as it is a well-known term for prison guard.

      1. I could certainly ask him. He only helps me if I give him a Tesco Cat Stick, and I restrict him to one per day, or he’ll get fat!

  23. Very hard and ended up hitting the reveal button on quite a few as pushed for time today. Completely stumped by UNTRUE – does ‘with’ follow the same rule as ‘on’ in terms of order? Lots of doh moments on reading blog. GARTH was a new word for me. Wish I’d had more time to persevere with this one as there were some great clues and I love a right old workout, whether ultimately successful or not. Thanks BR and Orpheus.

  24. Very hard and needed checkers to get ROCKETRY, PHILADELPHIA and ANTEATER. GARTH & EDICT & were guesses, remembered SCREW = wage from a long time ago. Phew!!

  25. DNF. Defeated by ANTEATER where I spent some time trying to fit either ants or bees into the body of a word to mean toothless. Eventually used aids to get to it. By that time I had stopped the clock at around 27 minutes. Couldn’t parse GARTH (Hogarth not having occurred to me) but it was a word I knew, although I wouldn’t have been able to give a precise definition. Likewise didn’t manage to parse PAPA until afterwards – slaps forehead, quite obvious in hindsight. Am I the only one who confidently entered attache at 20ac? Luckily BEWILDERMENT soon showed me the error of my ways.

    FOI – 1ac VAGABOND
    LOI – DNF but would have been 5ac PAPA
    COD – 4dn NOBODY

    Thanks to Orpheus and BR

  26. Well into the SCC today at 24 minutes. Thanks for all the kind messages yesterday, much appreciated, and I am feeling a little better this morning, at least until I tackled this poser from Orpheus. I was glad to see when I came here that I wasn’t the only struggler. GARTH was a mystery to me and bunged in as a bif without seeing either part of the clue, but as soon as I saw HOGARTH in the blog, that part at least made sense.

  27. Dnf…

    Definitely a toughie I think. After 30 mins, I still didn’t have 2dn “Garth” (Dnk), 7dn “Anteater” nor 23ac “Rocketry”. No real excuse for the latter two, but I do tend to equate rockets more with space exploration than arms, and whilst the “k” should have given me a massive hint, it just wouldn’t come.

    Saying that, it’s not often I get half way down a grid and don’t get a single clue on the first pass.

    FOI – 12dn “Advanced”
    LOI – dnf
    COD – 5ac “Papa” – once it actually twigged.

    Thanks as usual!

  28. I was just entering the shade of the refined portals of the SCC when I decided to plump for GARTH. 19 minutes so I didn’t quite get inside but it was good to see the old place again. Screw and incubus were others which took a long time. Thanks to our blogger for unravelling it all.

  29. Parts of this definitely had a 15×15 feel about them, so I was very surprised to squeak a sub-20 finish, albeit with a ‘looks like a word’ guess for loi 2d, Garth. And I see that Orpheus has joined forces with another setter in trying to restore Incubus to common usage. . . Apart from those two clues, there was a lot to enjoy, with 20ac Cabinet pipping Rolling Stock and Another for my CoD vote. Invariant

  30. Definitely tricky in places, and I was relieved to creep inside my target once I realized the “engraver and painter” wasn’t Durer. My aunt used to live on Hall GARTH, off the Bradford ring road, but I didn’t have a clue to the meaning – there was a Daily Mirror cartoon strip of that name some years ago too.

    FOI (incorrectly) VAGRANTS
    FOI (correctly) PAPA
    TIME 4:48

  31. Definitely a toughie, took me 17 minutes with the wages meaning of screw not known and several others taking extended time too.

    OTOH Garth was one I knew. It is from the Old Norse Garðr, meaning enclosure, and is the second part of Asgard, the home of the Norse gods (Odin et al). (It is also part of the name of the Icelandic town of Garðabær, a suburb of Reykjavík). And IMO that level of obscurity tells you all you need to know about the suitability of the clue for a QC!

    Many thanks BR for the blog

  32. Gave up on what I considered a tough offering with just GARTH to solve. After not really understanding how BLOWOUT and SCREW worked I decided to stop doing an alphabet trawl as it was probably a word I had never heard of and I was right! At that point I already had 11 minutes on the clock.

  33. Finished in just under the hour, which is good for me! Garth and Papa were just wild guess’s that were correct. That does take the edge off my success – but I will take it as a win. NHO Garth – stuck Musketry in 23a before Blotto made me think again. Disappointed with myself not getting Papa. I learned the phonetic alphabet 68 years ago in the RAF.

  34. Brief comments from me today.
    I found this very tough, particularly in the NE. Some NHOs (e.g. GARTH, INCUBUS). Last three in were PAPA (very good!), ANTEATER and BLOWOUT. My favourite clue was NOBODY.

    Time = 47 minutes.

    Many thanks to Orpheus and BR.

  35. I had to do this during breaks at work as I am on a 14-hour day (!!). Not possible to fully concentrate with background noise and other interruptions. Time was 36 mins.

    I found SCREW and GARTH straightforward. I have only heard of one engraver and saw the rest of the clue immediately.

    Struggled with many others and spent a long time on ANTEATER, my LOI.

    Thanks for the blog BR and enjoy your time with us in the SCC.

  36. Screw as wages comes in a Larkin poem. There is an organ piece by Herbert Brewer called Cloister Garth. I’ve always thought of Garth as a northern word, and Cedric has explained why. Thanks.

    1. Ah, very good Mike, thank you. I knew I knew it from somewhere!

      “And however you bank your screw, the money you save
      Won’t in the end buy you more than a shave.”

  37. DNF. This seemed relatively straightforward. I didn’t know GARTH but got it from HOGARTH and had everything done except ANTEATER in about twelve minutes. And then nothing. A complete blank. I gave up after half an hour with ANTEATER still unsolved. It was a fair clue though and an enjoyable puzzle.

  38. 12:37

    Tricky, but was encouraged when completing this shortly after midnight, to see that Verlaine had taken a minute longer than his average. I’ve found in the past, that completing last thing at night and typing one-fingered on the moby is not usually conducive to a quick and clear round, and it was no surprise to post a score of double my own average for the second day running. That’s two days running I’ve posted my worst time against the setter of the day – enjoyed the challenge though!

    Didn’t know the wage meaning of SCREW; not sure I’ve come across that meaning of GARTH either, nor STOCK as a plant. BLOWOUT and ANTEATER were my last two in.

    Thanks Orpheus and Bletch

  39. 57min for the DNF on GARTH. Considered it but as HOGARTH didn’t pop into my head, I went for something more interest GO-RA-H for painter leaves house. Lots of other complaints around the grid.

    29mins yesterday for a DNF on a grind and worse today. Last week I’d got all 5 done in just over an hour. Tells a story. Whether the story is “I’m too crap” or “The setting is terrible” – I’ll leave people to figure out.

    I could make threats about leaving but I know I won’t. But I’ll probably set it to the side for the next few days. Am enjoying doing the Daily Express Crusader (free online) – 15mins yesterday, 20mins today. Rarely over 30mins. Always a 10min biffest on Saturday’s. Often a 2hr struggle on Sunday which as there is no promise of it being Quick and I have come to know it will be difficult, I’m willing to persevere at.

    1. One of those weeks!

      I could easily have been in the hour plus club on both days. Getting the key clue at the right time made the difference, but it was a close run thing.

      I hope you come back refreshed for battle. You’ve had some great times recently and I have been hugely impressed by many of your performances.

      Today was just a stinker and yesterday was no picnic.

      1. Not too worried – but a couple of days of stinkers across the QC and some other papers I do was a bit disheartening. Brain isn’t quite firing on all cylinders. So just trying to recognise when I begin to feel worn down so I can take a break to rebuild my energy levels.

  40. 12.16

    Plenty of staring here. GARTH..really? LOI ANTEATER which I just couldn’t see, possibly as it was a pretty ropey clue with both definition and w/p far too vague for the Quickie. With reference to earlier comments, I like a harder puzzle, and don’t think these should be overly straightforward. But they have to be a bit easier than this one

    Thanks all

  41. Finished well over my target and submitted with fingers crossed as couldn’t parse garth.

    Thanks Orpheus and Bletchley Reject.

  42. Finished it just before it would have finished me. No unknowns but several barely remembered. Crowded here in the SCC but good to welcome some rare visitors!

    1. I did overhear the barman at the SCC comment that his patrons are like London buses – none at all a week or so ago and rushed off his feet the last two days!

  43. 10:24. I seem to be an outlier today: I knew both GARTH and SCREW, although I’ve no idea where I learned them. My only holdup was entering PANCAKE for 10a, with a faint memory of there being a sense in which it meant ‘crash’. The B from NOBODY killed that theory, and I later remembered that the ‘crash’ meaning of pancake is from aviation, not motoring.

    Here’s hoping for a more universally acceptable puzzle tomorrow, particularly as I’m on blog duty!

    Thanks to BR and Orpheus.

  44. Thanks to everyone for their comments. I’m reassured to see that I wasn’t the only one who found it hard. Still, with all the discussion about the ‘wage’ colloquialism for SCREW and GARTH, they should be easier next time. I join others in hoping to see Martinu back soon.

  45. This one was so tough I nearly gave up but then girded up my loins and to my surprise filled in the bottom half. Nearly gave up again but looked up PHILADELPHIA and the rest fell into place, apart that is from GARTH which I only remember as Ivanhoe’s sidekick in an old TV series. So a dnf on two counts.
    I find it’s worth using aids for one clue just to get going again as you learn from solving further clues
    Thanks BR and Orpheus.

  46. 27:25

    Really tough! Didn’t know SCREW meant wage and NHO GARTH but guessed the engraver must be Hogarth. Well over target time.

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