Quick Cryptic 2551 by Jalna


A very pleasant offering from Jalna to help us get into the holiday spirit. I didn’t find this too difficult and unlike some puzzles at the start of last week I don’t think there was anything which strayed too far into 15×15 territory; this was reflected in my time of 6:56.

Best wishes for the festive season to all our TfTT posters, bloggers and of course our Times QC setters.

Definitions underlined in bold, deletions indicated by strikethrough

1 Agent — with assistance — settled debts (6)
REPAIDREP (‘Agent’) AID (‘assistance’)
4 It’s a nasty, concerning, scornful piece of work (6)
SATIRE – Anagram (‘nasty’) of ITS A followed by RE (‘concerning’)
8 Try physical training, taking in university field event (4,3)
SHOT PUTSHOT (‘Try’) PT (‘physical training’) containing (‘taking in’) U (‘university’)
10 After courageously observing at first, we run and cringe in fear (5)
COWERCO (‘courageously observing at first’=first letters of ‘Courageously Observing’) WE (‘we’) R (‘run’)
11 In cooking, he employed clarified butter (4)
GHEE – Hidden (‘In’) in ‘cookinG, HE Employed’

In my all too rare forays into cookery books or recipes generally, GHEE usually seems to be mentioned in association with Indian cooking. Butter with water and milk proteins removed, leaving almost pure fat.

12 Every husband-to-be initially ignored marriage? (8)
ALLIANCEALL (‘Every’) FIANCE (‘husband-to-be initially ignored’=first letter deleted)

Those hyphens were a help here. A ‘marriage’ is an example of an alliance, hence the question mark.

14 Buglers struggling to grasp a singular style of country music (9)
BLUEGRASS – Anagram (‘struggling’) of BUGLERS containing (‘to grasp’) A (‘a’) followed by S (‘singular’)

I guessed that the name of the music might come from Kentucky, as indeed it does – Bill Monroe (from Kentucky) and the Blue Grass Boys, a band from the 1940’s, are regarded as having been the pioneers who helped to popularise the genre.

18 West African left from Portugal, perhaps (8)
LIBERIANL (‘left’) IBERIAN (‘from Portugal, perhaps’)
20 Introduction to rondeau penned by terrible poet (4)
BARDR (‘Introduction to rondeau’=first letter of ‘Rondeau’) contained in (‘penned by’) BAD (‘terrible’)
22 A face covering said to be of use (5)
AVAILA (‘A’) VAIL homophone (‘said’) of (‘face covering’=VEIL)
23 Refurbished hotel featuring one new means of direct access (7)
HOTLINE – Anagram (‘refurbished’) of HOTEL containing (‘featuring’) I (‘one’) N (‘new’)
24 Rupees invested in a fake religious retreat (6)
ASHRAMR (‘Rupees’) contained in (‘invested in’) A (‘a’) SHAM (‘fake’)
25 Bird sitting next to black dog (6)
BEAGLEEAGLE (‘Bird’) B (‘black’)
1 Hand in your notice, or agree to an updated contract? (6)
RESIGN – Double definition

Or at least a double definition of sorts as the second definition is usually spelt with a hyphen as RE-SIGN; Collins, Chambers and the ODE apps all have the “sign again” sense as a separate entry with a hyphen and not under the senses of the single word. Maybe that’s what the question mark is doing here.

2 Saw traveller entering pubs regularly (7)
PROVERBROVER (‘traveller’) contained in (‘entering’) PB (‘pubs regularly’=’PuBs’)
3 Children’s game is pretty devoid of content (1-3)
I-SPYIS (‘is’) PY (‘pretty devoid of content’=first and last letters of ‘PrettY‘)
5 Cunning adversary removing header from public record (8)
ARCHIVALARCH (‘Cunning’) RIVAL (‘adversary removing header’=first letter deleted)
6 Midwesterner one performing around Washington (5)
IOWANI (‘one’) ON (‘performing’) containing (‘around’) WA (‘Washington’)
7 Trainee dismissing the first profitable venture (6)
EARNERLEARNER (‘Trainee dismissing the first’=first letter deleted)

As in “A nice little…”.

9 Type of communication requiring great help, possibly (9)
TELEGRAPH – Anagram (‘possibly’) of GREAT HELP
13 Argue violently about evil fighter (8)
GUERILLA – Anagram (‘violently’) of ARGUE containing (‘about’) ILL (‘evil’)

I think the double R spelling is more common (from “guerra”), but either is OK according to the sources above.

15 Small dining stools, for example (7)
SEATINGS (‘Small’) EATING (‘dining’)

Thank goodness the other sense of ‘stools’ didn’t have to be considered for too long.

16 Animal in a large herd, mostly close to sea (6)
ALPACAPACK (‘large herd, mostly’=last letter deleted) contained in (‘in’) A (‘a’) L (‘large’) A (‘close to sea’=final letter of ‘seA‘)
17 Stick publicity notice on this spot (6)
ADHEREAD (‘publicity notice’) above in a down clue (‘on’) HERE (‘this spot’)
19 Bachelor, far from prudent and impetuous (5)
BRASHB (‘Bachelor’) RASH (‘far from prudent’)
21 Inflammation ends in callous: almost unbearably sore (4)
STYE – Final letters (‘ends in’) ‘callouS: almosT unbearablY sorE

74 comments on “Quick Cryptic 2551 by Jalna”

  1. I DNF on ARCHIVAL but the rest was v quick!

    I didn’t know arch meant cunning. That would have helped.

  2. I biffed SHOT PUT and ARCHIVAL. I did wonder about GUERILLA, but there was no room for another R (I see it’s not getting a red underline). I took HERE to be ‘on this spot’ (so that the clue could have been an across), since ‘here’ is not a noun. 4:49, under my target time of 6:00 for the first time in a long time.
    [on edit]: At 21d, I was going to say that the setter had misspelled ‘callus’; but I see that ODE and Collins (Webster’s) give it as a variant spelling. I learn something new, and unwanted, every day.

  3. 7:30 which is a PB. I found this went in very nicely, without feeling trivial or unsatisfying. I was able to biff a lot more than usual and just use the wordplay to verify, which is much faster than having to unwrap the wordplay to get the answer!
    This feels like the type of puzzle you could show someone who has never solved a cryptic before to get them interested, there’s a wide range of clue types without anything too arcane.

    1. Astonishing, the range of reactions and perceptions. Couldn’t do more than half – and those I did get I was jolly pleased to get – only three were easy. NHO BLUEGRASS or cunning = ARCH. Surely AVAIL is to make use of, not “be of use”? (Thank you, Cedric, below.) So no, this one would definitely put me off rather than the reverse.

      1. Cedric and Jack had similar comments about AVAIL. Hope you don’t mind, but rather than repeat myself, I’ve replied to them below. Sorry again for the late reply.

  4. 13:55. Great to be reminded of BLUEGRASS. Orange Blossom Special, Foggy Mountain Breakdown, Duelling Banjos, Uncle Pen, Fox on the Run all competing for airplay in my brain!

  5. 7:25 for me, so close to a PB I think. I have never beaten 7 minutes that I can remember. Only minor holdout was on ALPACA, not the first animal that came to mind looking at the checkers.

  6. I didn’t find this as easy as others did, getting home in 8.34 but with no particular problems. Last two were ARCHIVAL, where I didn’t know the cunning sense of arch, and SATIRE. I thought ‘scornful piece of work’ was overdoing it a bit but never mind. Thanks BR and Jalna.

  7. 9 minutes. I wasn’t sure of how 19dn worked until I revisited it after the event and checked definitions of BRASH to confirm it can mean ‘impetuous’. Whilst solving I thought we had alternative wordplay B (bachelor), RASH (far from prudent / impetuous) and no discernible definition. I’ve only known BRASH as meaning its first definition in Collins: tastelessly or offensively loud, showy, or bold.

  8. Another very doable QC, for me, successfully completed in a rapid, for me, 17 minutes. That is 2/2 successes this week so far. Nothing seemed overly difficult, although ARCHIVAL took a while, and my COD was ALLIANCE. LOI was PROVERB.
    Thanks to Jalna and Bletchers.

  9. DNF beaten by BRASH – which I’d never have identified as impetuous – and ASHRAM. Fair enough though.

    Enjoyed and knew BLUEGRASS as the middle part of the CBGB acronym in the club on NYCs lower east side, one of the original homes of punk (a long, long way from Kentucky bluegrass!) where Blondie cut their teeth along with The Ramones and Talking Heads. (Country and Blues being the outside letters of the acronym)

    With thanks to Jalna and BR.

    1. I did not know what CBGB stood for, every day’s a school day. Thanks, will need to use that sometime!

      1. Haha! And under the main CBGB sign it had OMFUG ‘Other music for uplifting Gourmandizers’.

        If that doesn’t get you a brownie point (or win you a pub quiz point) at some time I don’t know what will?!?!

    2. This ain’t no party, this ain’t disco,
      This ain’t no fooling around
      This ain’t no Mud Club, or CBGB,
      I ain’t got time for that now!

      Always wondered what CBGB stood for …

  10. Gentle going today with only minor hold ups for COD ARCHIVAL and LOI SATIRE.
    Finished in 6.35.
    Thanks to BR

  11. 6:30

    A comfortable solve today, slowed a little only by the last few SATIRE and ARCHIVAL. I too thought that GUERILLA might be missing something but I’ll take your word for it that it can be spelt more than one way. PROVERB not parsed in flight but pretty sure I’ve seen a clue similar to this before?

    Thanks BR and Jalna

  12. Not as easy as some have implied, and apart from my LOI, SATIRE still remained when I’d completed two passes.

    TIME 4:26

  13. Enjoyable and not too difficult. Only hold up was the crossing pair ALLIANCE/ARCHIVAL, which I found hard and added a couple of minutes. Classic breezeblock!

    All done in 07:05 for 1.5K and a Good Day. COD to ASHRAM, very neat.

    Many thanks Jalna and Bletchers.


  14. 11:18 (death of Baldwin, crusader King of Jerusalem)

    LOI was ALPACA.
    Agree about the unusual definition of BRASH, although I mainly use the word in its other meaning of “branches too small to keep as firewood, likely to end up being turned into woodchips”.

    Thanks BR and Jalna

  15. A nicely pitched QC I thought.
    The SW held out for a while until the NHO, but wrong, ASHARM broke the dam and the rest followed.
    LOI GEURILLA which fortuitously corrected ASHARM to the VHO (Vaguely Heard Of) ASHRAM
    36 minutes.
    Thanks Jalna and BR.

  16. 5:17. Taken over my target 5 minutes by 4A where i had a biffed MALICE until I came back to parse it at the end. Nice one. Thank-you Jalna and BR

  17. QCish and enjoyable. Had to write out the letters for LOI BLUEGRASS which held me up just a little at the end there.


  18. I’m surprised to see there are so many questioning BRASH as a definition of impetuous. I’ve used the word many a time to define someone who you may refer to as hothead.
    Pretty straightforward solve today although briefly held up by putting in ARCHIVES, before BLUEGRASS alerted me that it was incorrect. My LOI was ALPACA which held me up longer than it should, but I eventually crossed the line in 7.55.

  19. I agree with BUSMAN, not that easy.
    I needed 10 minutes for all but two, then a further six to get SATIRE and LOI ARCHIVAL- both difficult clues I thought.
    A good enjoyable puzzle overall.
    COD to SATIRE.

  20. I didn’t find this as quick as others – taking 13 minutes. BLUEGRASS, ARCHIVAL and ALPACA all caused delays. No complaints – I enjoyed how well the clues were constructed (after I got them).

  21. At 35mins, I am surprised to find so many people saying this was easy and posting such fast times! Perhaps it is self-selecting today with the fast solvers coming earlier to the blog. I found this more difficult than normal, held up in the NE and SW. The crossing BRASH and ASHRAM took at least 5 minutes to solve, as did the trio of SATIRE, IOWAN and ARCHIVAL. All fair clues, just clever misdirection (or perhaps me not reading the clues properly). In 5d I did not associate the ‘from’ with the solution. In 6d I was trying to make an anagram of ‘one’ fit around the ‘wa’. Not sure why I was so slow on the others.
    Thanks Jalna for a stiff test and BR for the blog.

  22. 11:57
    1157 — birth of Richard the Lionheart

    Very approachable although LOI EARNER took a bit of time, but that’s why it’s the last one in.

    WOD ARCH(R)IVAL, what a great prefix ARCH is in front of Enemy, Villain and (um?) Deacon.

    COD LIBERIAN, I was sure it was going to be Nigerian.

    1. I’ve met a few Archdeacons in my time and to anyone trying to run a small parish they often combine elements of both Enemy and Villain!

  23. DNF after 28 mins. Couldn’t get ALPACA, ALLIANCE, ARCHIVAL, STYE or BEAGLE. Kicking myself over the last two. Not a good day. 😢

  24. Well, this was going really well until suddenly it wasn’t. Thought about Guerrilla, but rejected it when it didn’t fit, and then struggled woefully in the SW. Just couldn’t remember the name for an Indian retreat (and Arhoax certainly wasn’t helping 🙄), so had to look that one up. To cap it off, I then had a classic wrong end of clue problem with Archival, so pulled stumps at that point to underline the DNF. Did enjoy Proverb though. Invariant

  25. very fast until ALLIANCE and the ARCHIVAL. Being out and about without paper didn’t help but the typo in ADHERE was all mine. Not all green in 19.

  26. I found a few of the clues really tricky (ALPACA, SATIRE, ARCHIVAL, BRASH). NHO ASHRAM and had to look it up, so really a DNF. We had almost the same 1d clue a few weeks ago. Why does PROVERB = SAW?

  27. 6.03

    Nice offering from Jalna as always and ditto blog from BR. . Is TELEGRAPH = GREAT HELP a chestnut? Nice spot if not.

  28. I slowed myself down by using the arrow keys to navigate the grid instead of the mouse as I’ve been having trouble with pain in my elbow which mouse usgae seems to aggravate, but I was still quite sluggish on this one. No particular sticking points though. FOI REPAID, which went into 1d instead of 1a and then had to be corrected. LOI ALPACA. 10:46. Thanks Jalna and BR.

  29. 12 mins…

    Thought this was a nice, straightforward QC. Nothing stood out as particularly difficult, and even stalwarts such as 24ac “Ashram”, 18ac “Liberian” and 2dn “Proverb” came relatively quickly.

    FOI – 1ac “Repaid”
    LOI – 5dn “Archival”
    COD – 2dn “Proverb”

    Thanks as usual!

  30. I felt I had finished this quicker than my time reflects. I do remember struggling with the ending of ARCHIVAL (I had archives initially) which meant I had to wait until my penultimate solve BLUEGRASS before I could see the parsing. Having just returned from a yoga session ASHRAM came to mind very quickly. 7:55

  31. Enjoyable but needed help with ALPACA (COD), LIBERIAN, and BARD, annoyingly. So another DNF. Must be lingering Covid-foggy brain.
    Biffed BLUEGRASS. (NHO Country music style but there used to be a scent of the same name. ) Found the top half easier than the bottom. Liked SHOT PUT, ALLIANCE, PROVERB.
    Thanks vm, BR. Later: I see Elizabeth Arden Blue Grass still exists.

    1. My mother has been wearing Blue Grass all my life (and no doubt before). Not a fan of the smell myself but it’s a lot cheaper as a signature scent than, say, Chanel No. 5.

  32. DNF Gave up after 35 mins. The SW corner defeated me. All very fair (once you have seen the answers)
    This week crashed early.

  33. I’m astonished that so many found this straightforward or even easy today. Definitely not round here, it wasn’t!

    The NW corner got me started (with SATIRE and IOWAN), but it also added 15 minutes to my time at the end – courtesy of ARCHIVAL and ALLIANCE. Plenty of other hold-ups, including several in the SW corner (ASHRAM, AVAIL and ALPACA).

    Time = 41 minutes. It’s all been hard graft recently.

    Thanks to Jalna and BR.

  34. 20 mins

    I thought I had done very well until I came here and found that I hadn’t. If this was straightforward, I really am at the back of the class. I thought it was tricky and was (initially) very happy with my time.

    I was all set to be positive today but now it appears that I should have done better, given the nature of most comments. Looks like I wasn’t that good, after all.

    So another bad day for me, and I didn’t even escape the SCC as I was held up at the end for 2 mins by ALLIANCE.

    47 mins for week, but not optimistic about achieving target.


    Thanks for the blog.

    PS Only 84 on Snitch. I really am nowhere if it was that straightforward. I was expecting a moderate rating given how hard I found it. Feeling crushed now and confidence has disappeared (again).

    1. No – I’m back of the class! (But perhaps I’m not even admitted to the class – more likely that.)

    2. 20 mins is a good time. And it beats your target time of 30 mins?
      No point comparing yourself to others, with times from mohn today (01:43) and Verlaine (01:58) you will always be disappointed!

      1. Thanks flashman. Those times are truly stunning, but one can always dream of joining them 🤣

  35. 12 minutes for this enjoyable offering from Jalna, with (for once) not even a twitch of the eyebrows, let alone a raise. LOI Avail, where I was unsure that the word really means “to be of use” as opposed to “take advantage of ” (eg “he availed himself of the free buffet”) and spent a few minutes trying to construct a sentence where it was used with that meaning.

    To add to the discussion above on Brash, it can also be a type of sea ice. Brash ice is a very loose form of sea ice, one stage before little icebergs and two before pack ice. And no I don’t know how one gets to that meaning from its more usual meanings either.

    Many thanks BR for the blog

    1. Not sure if you’re saying you resolved your query about ‘avail’, but if not this entry from SOED may help where the word ‘use’ can be substituted in the examples:

      avail beneficial effect, advantage; assistance; value, estimation.
      – of little avail, of no avail.

      1. Sorry, late reply. I wondered if ‘to be of’ may be linking words with just ‘use’ as the def as a noun, but thought ‘to be of use’ was the more likely def. An example may be: “In the end, the doctors’ treatment availed little; the patient died soon after” = “In the end, the doctors’ treatment was of little use;…”, or in the OED entry for AVAIL in the intransitive sense of “… to be effectual, serviceable, or of use”, a quotation from Rob Roy by Sir Walter Scott: “‘Words avail very little with me, young man’, said my father.” (That Sir Walter Scott knew who was boss; quite right too).

  36. 9.14 The top half flew in but I slowed down in the SW. My brain meandered between NIGERIAN and SIBERIAN before I stopped trying to biff and thought about the clue properly. Then the rest fell into place. Thanks BR and Jalna.

  37. Enjoyed it very much though blundered around in my usual beginner way and took over 40 minutes. I’ve had two sub-20 times since taking up this amusing pastime but 40 is still my par. So many moments of oh, it was so obvious, except it wasn’t.

    Favorite was ASHRAM. Totally defeated by STYE and just put it in because nothing else fit. Got a lot to learn!

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