Quick Cryptic 2693 by Hurley


A good mid-level difficulty offering from Hurley today.

I say mid-level but I was taken out to over 10 minutes by just one clue – 20a, you’re the guilty party. The other five double definitions weren’t too hard and for the rest there was nothing that I found too obscure or difficult. Finished, with a sigh of relief at eventually getting 20a, on a not very speedy 13:39.

My favourite today was the surface for 21a, including the necessary question mark for me anyway, although some people in colder climes are a bit more resilient in the face of such discomfort.

Thanks to Hurley

Definitions underlined in bold, deletions indicated by strikethrough.

1 IT device firm silent about parking by right (8)
COMPUTERCO (‘firm’) MUTE (‘silent’) containing (‘about’) P (‘parking’) followed by (‘by’) R (‘right’)
6 National with magnetism? (4)
POLE – Double definition

I initially parsed this as a cryptic def as that the second ‘with magnetism?’ def is pretty vague for POLE. Overall though I think it works better as a double, rather than a cryptic def.

8 Religious Education most important, don’t leave (6)
REMAINRE (‘Religious Education’) MAIN (‘most important’)
9 Member of clergy welcoming time in Swiss region (6)
CANTONCANON (‘Member of clergy’) containing (‘welcoming’) T (‘time’)
10 Formerly of note primarily associated with Church (4)
ONCEOf Note (‘of note primarily’) CE (‘Church’)
11 Sudden and surprising act, raid, many initially upset (8)
DRAMATIC – Anagram (‘upset’) of ACT RAID and Many (‘many initially’)
12 Personal belongings fill up (5)
STUFF – Double definition
13 Pleasing quality, allowing extra time to pay (5)
GRACE – Double definition again

“A period officially allowed for payment of a sum due or for compliance with a law or condition, especially an extended period granted as a special favour” (Oxford Dictionaries (online)).

15 Holiday area, cold, with unusual pastime (8)
CAMPSITEC (‘cold’) and anagram (‘unusual’) of PASTIME
17 Stolen items in goods wagon (4)
SWAG – Hidden (‘in’) in ‘goodS WAGon’
19 Establish ascendancy over naval vessel, expected to arrive (6)
SUBDUESUB (‘naval vessel’) DUE (‘expected to arrive’)
20 Sandy’s liveliness (6)
GINGER – Double definition

As mentioned in the introduction, I had trouble with this which was my LOI by some margin. I think of GINGER as more of a reddish colour, and GINGER for ‘liveliness’ didn’t occur to me. Both senses are in the usual places with GINGER as “yellowish-brown” in Collins.

21 Enthusiastically greet cold weather? (4)
HAIL – Double definition

The question mark indicates that HAIL is often associated with ‘cold weather’ although it can hail in summer.

22 Model agency worker departed (8)
TEMPLATETEMP (‘agency worker’) LATE (‘departed’)
2 Regularly on cue, rain in Pacific maybe (5)
OCEAN – Every second letter (‘Regularly’) of ‘On CuE rAiN
3 Flat metal piece, gold, to remain at stable price (7)
PLATEAUPLATE (‘Flat metal piece’) AU (‘gold’)

I presume ‘price’ was included in the def for the surface reading, as PLATEAU as a verb can be applied to more than just ‘price’.

4 Brown belt (3)
TAN -Double definition

Ginger’s close relative; maybe subconsciously this helped with 20a.

5 Playground quarrel — four sides in it? (9)
RECTANGLEREC (‘Playground’) TANGLE (‘quarrel’)
6 Pundit’s first with answer describing police car (5)
PANDAPundit (‘Pundit’s first’) AND (‘with’) A (‘answer’)
7 Stars, not quite ten, referring to pride maybe? (7)
LEONINELEO (‘Stars’=the constellation Leo) NINE (‘not quite ten’)

The ‘pride’ in the clue was a bit of a giveaway and appeared in the same sense in a very recent QC. We also had LEONINE as an answer only a few days ago.

11 Lacking confidence, I’d end tiff somehow (9)
DIFFIDENT – Anagram (‘somehow’) of ID END TIFF

I’ve always thought of DIFFIDENT more as “shy” or “modest” but lack of (self-) confidence is given as the first sense in Collins and Chambers. I think the ODE def, combining the two, is best: “modest or shy because of a lack of self-confidence”.

12 Something for kitchen — pasta, extremely useful when stirred (7)
SPATULA – Anagram (‘when stirred’) of PASTA and UsefuL (‘extremely useful’)
14 London players are captivating south: north also? Not so! (7)
ARSENALARE (‘are’) containing (‘captivating’) S (‘south’) N (‘north’) ALso (‘also? Not so!’)

Is there an Arsenal supporters club in Liverpool or Manchester? Maybe someone knows.

16 Sound of laughter about daughter’s foot-operated device? (5)
PEDALPEAL (‘Sound of laughter’) containing (‘about’) D (‘daughter’)

Last week it was TREADLE, this week the less exotic (?) PEDAL.

18 Some dealer, thorough, shows warning (5)
ALERT – Hidden (‘Some’) in ‘deALER Thorough’
20 Heard fellow exercising here (3)
GYM – Aural wordplay (‘Heard’) of ‘fellow’ JIM

Hope he doesn’t mind, but I’ve pinched “Aural wordplay” from Jack, our Monday blogger; I think it’s a good term.

96 comments on “Quick Cryptic 2693 by Hurley”

  1. Biffed COMPUTER, ARSENAL (not knowing whether the club is in London). [On edit:] I didn’t think of GINGER until I had gone through the downs; I wouldn’t have thought sandy=ginger, but the checkers made it clear. I had trouble coming up with LOI GRACE, and needed the checkers. 6:05.

  2. I roo was held up at the end with GINGER. I even tested whether 20D was JIM, even though the clue was clear which way around the homophone worked. In the end I put it in and submitted, ready for a pink square, since I didn’t know the liveliness meaning so I was not confident. Sometimes the quickie turns out to be trickier than the 15×15!

  3. 8:32
    Again, thank goodness for LEONINE appearing recently

    I spent a good while on GINGER. it was my LOI, and on the app as soon as you fill all the squares it tells you whether you got them all right or it’s not correct yet (but not which squares are incorrect)

    So I typed in GINGER because it fit the checkers but not because I think it means Sandy or liveliness and it gave me a congratulations!

    Still unsure about it

    1. If you use the crossword club on the app, you have to actually submit.
      That message used to annoy me if I was just trialing an answer.

  4. GINGER was my LOI too. My friends call me “Sandy,” y’know, but no one has ever called me GINGER. Always thought that meant red-headed only.

  5. Found this pretty straightforward except for GINGER, ARSENAL, and GRACE, none of which I got. I guess GRACE was gettable but GINGER and ARSENAL are very tough. GINGER in particular is just not a great clue IMO, I’m sure the dictionary backs the definitions up, but I wouldn’t consider either as being actually synonymous with ginger.

  6. 9:12 and all previous comments cover everything I wanted to say, especially that sandy/GINGER works for me but lively/GINGER is news to me.

    Thanks Hurley and BR

    1. ‘Liveliness’ rather than ‘lively’. I’ve heard people say ‘put a bit of ginger into it’ meaning ‘liven it up’.

      1. You’re right, but liveliness/GINGER was still news to me. It won’t be from now on – one of the major joys of these puzzles. No doubt I shall now hear the phrase you refer to over the next few days, in real life.

        1. Yes, in my case if something is new in a Times puzzle it usually turns up soon after in The Guardian – or vice versa.

    2. Anecdotally, and this may be complete nonsense, in ye olden days an unscrupulous horse trader would “insert” a piece of ginger into a clapped out old nag. I will leave you to contemplate the nature of said insertion, but the horse would become markedly more spirited and hence valuable as a result.

  7. The intersecting answers GINGER and ARSENAL look me over the 10 minutes line, but at 12 minutes I still achieved my revised target of 15.

    ‘London Players’ distracted me because my first thought was LSO (London Symphony Orchestra) which we have had several times in the past, so I wasted time trying to fit that in somewhere. For GINGER I was thinking of sandy beaches rather than sandy hair, but eventually it came. ‘GINGER / sandy’ is in Chambers and SOED and is an American English entry in Collins Online. GINGER / liveliness’ is in Collins.

    You’re most welcome to use ‘aural wordplay’, Bletchers, although I can’t lay claim to inventing the expression which I pinched from someone at Fifteensquared when the new Guardian Quick Cryptic was introduced. I’ve suggested it might go in the TfTT Glossary but it hasn’t made it yet. I’m actually wondering if ‘aural pun’ might be a better term as it suggests, without the need for further explanation, that the ‘soundalike’ is not intended to be taken too literally and indeed in some cases it may be outrageous enough to raise a smile.

    1. But a pun IS aural, no? I’d stick with ‘aural wordplay’, which is a definite improvement on ‘homophone’.

  8. One pink square. I had LIONESS when I saw Pride, but later changed to LEONINE, but didn’t change the second letter, and that was that.

    GINGER/GRACE took a while. Also, it turns out I don’t know what DIFFIDENT means.


  9. 9 minutes, and back on track after a few disappointing efforts recently, but not without a struggle over (you’ve guessed it) GINGER. My LOI and needed a long word search; I can see now that both definitions work (ish), but neither came to mind quickly and Sandy = Ginger is certainly not a link I would naturally make.

    And LEONINE again! It is almost as if the QC Setters Club had issued two new edicts: “Whatever else you include in the puzzle, you must have one clue referring to lions and one slightly dubious clue to give the TfTT people something to comment on”.

    I did also briefly wonder what “Enthusiastically” is adding to the clue for HAIL – but I suppose one seldom hails anyone in a subdued or sotto voce way.

    Many thanks BR for the blog

  10. Stalled in the SE with both GRACE and GINGER taking time. Sandy as either ‘grainy’ or short for Alexander were the only things in my mind for too long. Don’t really have sandy and ginger as the same thing on hair colour but seemed clear enough once I’d spotted it. LEONINE went in just fine now I know how to spell it. Wanted London players to be LSO which looked like it could work until the Arsenal appeared. Not all green in 14 – managed to type ARSENsL.

  11. I found this fairly gentle and thought I was on for a sub 5 minute solve until being breezeblocked at the end. My only other hold up was caused by looking at the wrong end of the clue for the definition at 19a, SUBDUE.
    Started with COMPUTER and finished with GINGER in 5.32.
    Thanks to BR

    1. Dear Busman,
      I’m totally flummoxed by you being “totally flummoxed” earlier today. Better luck tomorrow!

  12. Unlike others here I wasn’t held up by GINGER but I did make a mess of the SW corner when I bunged in HAle. CAMPSITE took a while but then I no longer think of camping as a holiday. My LOI was SUBDUE. 7:25

      1. The last time I went camping for a proper holiday (as opposed to the occasional one-nighter) the rain was continuous, heavy and horizontal, the campsite was on sand which got everywhere and we had a major smash in the rental car which meant the second leg of the holiday was on buses, laboriously lugging a sodden tent with us. That was nearly 50 years ago and I have not seriously camped since.

        1. As a nipper camping seemed exciting but now…..well I’ve been to Glastonbury a couple of times in the past decade. Each time I hired a motorhome (at great cost) and parked up just outside the festival and took the free bus in.

    1. Even in our somewhat drier climate camping has gotten a bit old at the same time I did :).

      I can’t imagine chancing it where there’s so much rain.

  13. Steady solve, and before I reached the door of the SCC. A good level of difficulty for me, enough to engage my little grey cells, not so much as to overstrain them.
    Liked SUBDUE; always an event when you see them silently gliding out of Devonport through Plymouth Sound with their escort of busy protection vessels. Very menacing looking.

  14. Subs aren’t necessarily “naval”, as the recent Titanic event illustrated. So I thought 19a was a bit lax.

    I’m another LSOer, that was a real blind alley. Finally got there and very satisfying it was, so COD to ARSENAL from me.

    For LOI GINGER, I knew the liveliness meaning and took the colour on trust (thinking of the root ginger with which Mrs T fills our fridge, it’s definitely sandy in colour!).

    Really good puzzle and blog, many thanks Hurley and Bletchers. All done in 08:07 for a Decent Day.


  15. Fairly straightforward. Got Arsenal immediately. Roll on the day that “players” refers to a non London team!

    1. Agreed, but setters may struggle to fit Brighton and Hove Albion, Nottingham Forest, Manchester United or Wolverhampton Wanderers into the 13 x 13 grid. Even my team, AFC Bournemouth, misses out by one letter.

        1. … but CP are (is?) a London team and so fail Philip Richardson’s main criterion.
          Come to think about it, it could be argued that one of my suggestions – Brighton (London-by-sea) – also fail the same criterion.

      1. However Leicester City fits the bill perfectly! Now they’re back in the premiership, I wonder if we’ll see a bit more of them here?

        1. If you want to avoid London try “Footballers employ British weapons” (6). They also avoid the Premiership (and indeed Championship and League 1 …)

          1. Mr Ed46’s local team?

            On edit: Actually, I think I’m wrong. The clue would have referred to weapon in the singular.

            1. The very same! And privileged I was to be watching them a couple of months ago.

              Your edit is right and just shows (again) why I would be a useless setter …

  16. Quite quick, but put Pull instead of POLE. Shd have gone back to check that biff. LOI GINGER, like others. FOI PANDA. Liked SUBDUE, TEMPLATE, CANTON.
    Thanks vm, BR.

  17. I immediately thought of ‘gingering’ things up and only hesitated because sandy is more yellow to me.
    Panda was fairly obvious but they go back to the 60’s don’t they? We’ve had ‘jam sandwiches’ since then and my middle aged sons won’t have heard of them either. Enjoyed it overall – thanks all!

  18. A quick start in the NW, and steady progress thereafter, meant I was looking at a sub-20 before Arsenal (another LSO rabbit hole here) and the quaint 2G double act, Grace and Ginger, intervened. Still early enough for a window seat, so no real problems with this nicely pitched QC. CoD, albeit through gritted teeth, to Arsenal. And to answer BR’s question, I think I saw them out in their car once. . . Invariant

  19. No problem with ginger, as in ‘I’m feeling a bit ginger today’ for lively. I can’t say that is appropriate today after a very late return from London last night on the slowest of trains. At least I had today’s QCC to occupy the journey. Managed to DNF due to carelessly putting PULL instead of POLE.
    LOI SUBDUE which I liked a lot.
    Thanks Hurley and Bletch. RIP Richard Rogan

  20. Pretty sure I heard a certain frog-faced grifting politician refer to his actions as “gingering” up the general election yesterday, so I had no problem there.

    SUBDUE was LOI.


  21. Slightly delayed by GINGER at the end, but otherwise pleased by a 28 minute completion. Spent time wrestling with quad-rant and quad-(w)rangle before RECTANGLE appeared in my slow brain.

    Many thanks to Hurley and BR.

    P.S. Last Friday’s QC marked the end of my 4th year of tackling these infernal puzzles. The following metrics indicate a significant, but rather slow improvement over that time.

    Success Ratio: Yr 1 = 60%, Yr 4 = 92%
    Median Outcome: Yr 1 = 55, Yr 4 = 31 (mins)

    N.B. I use the median (instead of the mean) as my average, because it enables all of my many DNFs to be taken into account.

    It’s clear that I won’t be challenging for honours any time soon and that I will remain a stalwart of the SCC. It’s very comfortable there.

    1. Random – your persistence definitely enables your success rate – at a cost to your median time I’m guessing. Out of interest, what do you put as your time for any dnf’s that you can’t complete? Is it just the time you give up?

      My success rate hovers around 67% to 70% – however, I tend to throw in the towel after 30 mins.

      1. Hello Mr Ed46 and thankyou for being sufficiently interested to ask a question.

        All of my DNFs, irrespective of the reason (one or more ‘Faulty Solution’ or simply just ‘Gave Up’), are allocated a time of 1,000 minutes. Excel treats these as valid completion times, but they all sit way above my longest successful finish time (96 minutes, I think) and the MEDIAN function is just looking for the middle time of the sequence.

        Clearly, if my Success Ratio dropped below 50% (which was the case in the early weeks/months) Excel would return a median outcome of 1,000 minutes and I would know to interpret that as a DNF.

  22. I had the same trouble as just about everyone else with my LOI GINGER, and it took me a full two minutes to think of it. It turned a quickish time into an average time at 9.50.
    Even then I fully expected it to be wrong as I’ve always considered sandy to be a description of someone with fair hair.

  23. 12:07 (King John invents income tax).

    Add me to the list of those delayed by the GRACE/ARSENAL/GINGER trio. I fell into the LSO trap. I should have been quicker with ginger=liveliness, since I am currently reading one of Bernard Cornwell’s Sharpe novels, where ginger seems frequently to be used to make a horse more lively.

    Thanks BR and Hurley

  24. DNF.
    Did not like this one at all. Yesterday’s was not too bad (missed 4 clues) , but this was a disaster.

    6 Across: National with magnetism? (4) POLE – Double definition.
    As was said – very vague. Many things have magnetism.

    4 Down: Brown belt (3) TAN -Double definition.
    Tan = Belt ? I don’t think so.

    20 Across: Sandy’s liveliness (6) GINGER – Double definition.
    A really bad clue, in my opinion.

    Just hope for an easier one on Wednesday.

    1. Well, re 6a, there is such a thing as a magnetic pole. Well two actually, N & S. The magnetic pole is some way adrift usually from the geographical one, but hovers in the general area.
      4d Belt as in hit, assault or punish, sometimes literally with a belt?
      OK Ginger is a bit vague but I tend to cut the setter some slack, and ginger-up is a thing; Wiktionary:
      “ginger up (third-person singular simple present gingers up, present participle gingering up, simple past and past participle gingered up)
      (idiomatic, transitive) To make something more interesting, fun, lively, etc.”
      Anyway, I hope it doesn’t put you off coming here, Andyf

  25. Add me to the ginger doubters. I did finally remember Bertie Wooster describing a particular young lady as being ‘full of fizz and ginger’. I don’t think he meant she had been drinking ginger beer!

  26. The term ‘gingering up’ appears on the front page of The Times today (iPad version). I’d never come across this usage before so looked it up; the topical GINGER went in straight away. Overall I found this much more gentle than yesterday and managed it with only one cup of coffee. Only hold-up was POLE (first thought had been pull but didn’t parse). Liked HAIL. Many thanks BR.

  27. I started very slowly with the across clues, although I did think of COMPUTER at 1ac but couldn’t initially parse it, so left it until the checkers confirmed it. The downs were more tractable, especially in the south, and I speedily mopped up most of the remainder until I was left with 13ac and 20ac. These both took some time and took me out to 20 minutes, all parsed.

    FOI – 17ac SWAG
    LOI – 20ac GINGER (not one of Hurley’s best imo)

    Thanks to Hurley and BR

  28. This one never really flowed. I had to dodge around the grid and drag the answers out kicking and screaming. TAN was FOI, and like lots of you I had GINGER as LOI after an alpha trawl. Scraped under my target at 9:54. Thanks Hurley and BR.

  29. 6:02

    Plenty of useful across fodder made the downs that much smoother – ARSENAL in from the S+L checkers. GRACE and GINGER my last two in – same thoughts about the latter as several others. I liked RECTANGLE.

    Thanks Bletch and Hurley

  30. 9:43. Pretty steady solve today- no holdups. I think when HAIL does occur in summer it’s because a cold front collides with a warm one . After all, coldness has to be involved to turn the water into ice!

  31. 20 mins…

    Wasn’t sure I was going to finish this, as like many above I was struggling with 20ac “Ginger”. At one point, I even thought the “Sandy” reference was something to do with the musical Grease. Then for some reason the word “Ginger” popped into my head and I saw the loose connection with the colour and an equation with liveliness, only because a certain individual used it in his “emergency press conference” yesterday. Funny how slightly obscure things come up in real life only to appear in a crossword the day after.

    FOI – 4dn “Tan”
    LOI – 20ac “Ginger”
    COD – 5dn “Rectangle”

    Thanks as usual!

  32. Slightly disappointed to romp through this more-or-less top to bottom in double-quick speed (‘tho untimed as usual) to find my afternoon & evening is now empty! I did try to slow down to at least get my usual Costa swopped for a SCC coffee but no luck. I suppose I’ll have to tackle some of those jobs (my pesky tax return among them) that have been burning holes in the corner of my desktop… No problem with Ginger or any of the rest for that matter. Just seemed to fly, eg Arsenal was my first option for 14d – now how did that happen!
    FOI 1a Computer
    LOI 13a Grace
    COD 10a Stuff – if only as that what my lifetime of precious belongings are disparagingly referred to as being by my better half who is not sentimental about such.

  33. Held up in the same places as others though did get Arsenal eventually having supported them for 50 years. 🙄
    Grace and Ginger eluded me. My red hair is now very grey.
    Ginger was rhyming slang. Ginger beer= queer. As in homosexual. Still heard in old films when still illegal. So obscure that there’s probably no woke warning. J

  34. A speedy 10:46 for me. Most of the acrosses in the top half went in on the first pass, as did most of the downs in the bottom half, which meant that the second pass filled in most of the rest. GINGER was LOI, needed to get past the “grainy” sense, as others have said.

    Thanks to Hurley and BR.

  35. 9.05

    Almost 3 minutes on GINGER here. Even accepting that for many folks sandy and ginger are not the same (wrongly it seems according to the dictionaries) it’s still remarkable so many of us struggled to find a suitable word even with all the checkers. Probably something to do with hard and soft gs

  36. I had a very smooth solve for a new PB of 10:59. Kind of exciting to see the big 1-0 if only by one second.

    I put in TAN right away with some trepidation and a mental note to check before finishing, but of course I forgot. Lucky. GINGER was my last but not really a hold-up. In my American English the primary association is to the spice, not red hair, so it made sense easily, though “sandy” was a little remote. COD to ARSENAL for the wordplay. I’m just aware enough of life in Britain to think of Arsenal, but not aware enough to fall into the LSO trap.

    I can’t see “leonine” without thinking of Christabel now, thanks to I forget which of you other commenters.

    Sir Leoline, the Baron rich,
    Hath a toothless mastiff bitch;

    Sixteen short howls, not over loud;
    Some say, she sees my lady’s shroud.


    Thanks to Hurley and Bletch!

    1. Well done on the PB! Next target for you is to break the ten minute barrier which will be a great milestone. Not too far away I’m sure!

          1. Yeah, a smarter goal to adopt might be solving the QC and enjoying it no matter how long it takes. That’s certainly attainable.

  37. 11.20 Mostly straightforward but I had the usual difficulties with LOI GINGER. The sand here in Birmingham is quite a dark red but I still think of sandy as having a pale colour. Thanks BR and Hurley.

  38. Loved how so many (apprently) complicated clues gave rise to very ordinary words as the answers, e.g

    I get easily frightened, worrying that the answer will be yet another NHO. So this was a nice change.

  39. I found this reasonable but did not get ginger which I think was a terrible clue. Sandy is not ginger. Still all in all nice to have puzzle on the gentler side

  40. 11:13 is on the faster side for us but a minute and a half was spent on LOI GRACE. Enjoyable puzzle though. Thanks to all.

  41. DNF

    Oh so careless! All done in 15 but with P_L_ meaning with magnetism biffed PULL.

    A slight struggle with GINGER and LOI GRACE.

  42. I was on Hurley wavelength today. 15 min finish with almost the perfect sweep of crosses and then downs in order. It was ruined by …. Ginger, of course. Needed the full suit of checkers for that.

    Thanks Hurley and Bletchley

  43. Up to 72 mins for the week. Still hopeless.

    Congratulations to Tina, Steel City, Andrew and anyone else with a great time today. Don’t know how you do it.

    My woes continue.


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