Quick Cryptic 505 by Orpheus

Posted on Categories Quick Cryptic
An offering of average difficulty from this setter, with a few gimmes (e.g. 21A) and the lesser known words (e.g. 11A) all with clear wordplay. A pleasant start to the week – thanks Orpheus.

The crossword can be found here if the usual channels are unavailable: http://feeds.thetimes.co.uk/puzzles/crossword/20160215/13489/

Today’s main cryptic is also worth a try – a couple of odd words but nothing particularly complicated about the wordplay.

Definitions are underlined.

1 Union leader leaving well-liked part of London (6)
POPLAR POP{u}LAR (Union leader leaving well-liked, i.e. “popular” (well-liked) without the letter u (Union leader, i.e. the first letter of “Union”)). Perhaps not the most famous part of London, and I say that as someone who lived in the capital for a few years, but it appeared in Quicky 267 and no-one seemed to have problems with it. Would love for Northerners to be thrown a bone just once with, say, a part of Middlesbrough referenced in a Times cryptic …
4 Old vicar returning deliveries (4)
OVER O (Old) + reversal (returning) of REV (vicar), for the cricketing term for a set of (usually) six balls bowled
9 Dance club held annually at first, three times (3-3-3)
CHA-CHA-CHA – initial letters (at first) of Club Held Annually, three times
10 Young chap in Vladivostok (3)
LAD – hidden in VLADivostok
11 Boot I set by a big tree (12)
WELLINGTONIA WELLINGTON (Boot) + I + A. Aka the giant redwood, named after the Duke of Wellington. I’m not 100% sure I knew this but it seemed reasonable once the WELLINGTON part had jumped out.
13 One who stops to get item of equestrian tack (6)
HALTER – double definition
15 Band going to wall in very cold weather, say? (6)
FRIEZE – homophone (say?) of FREEZE (very cold weather). Chambers: “A decorated band along the wall of a room”. With the third letter unchecked, a trap exists for unwary solvers to enter FREEZE. A similar homophone has cropped up a couple of times before.
17 Drink with girl creating puppet show (5,3,4)
PUNCH AND JUDY PUNCH (Drink) AND (with) JUDY (girl). Not sure I can think of any other puppet shows.
20 Ambassador carrying round garden tool (3)
HOE HE (Ambassador, i.e. His/Her Excellency) around (carrying) O (round). I think we have to consider “round” as a noun in this case – Chambers: “A ring, circumference, circle or globe”.
21 I weed less clumsily, seeing Alpine plant (9)
EDELWEISS – anagram (clumsily) of I WEED LESS. I’m not much of a gardener, so EDELWEISS springs immediately to mind when I see “Alpine plant”. Depending on how you interpret “weed”, this could have a surface reading probably not intended by the setter.
22 Way to caress husband (4)
PATH PAT (to caress) + H (husband)
23 Stick poster, for example, in this place (6)
ADHERE AD (poster, for example) + HERE (in this place)
1 Film ultimately about ancient person in northern Britain (4)
PICT PIC (Film) + T (ultimately about, i.e. the last letter of “about”)
2 Position of soft, delicate fabric (5)
PLACE P (soft, i.e. piano) + LACE (delicate fabric)
3 Weak point of a cool fish she consumed (8,4)
ACHILLES HEEL A + CHILL (cool) + EEL (fish) around (consumed) SHE. Note the ambiguity of “fish she consumed” – it could arguably also mean that she is consuming the fish rather than (as in this case) the other way around.
5 Curtain belonging to primeval ancestors? (7)
VALANCE – hidden in (belonging to) primeVAL ANCEstors
6 Embarrassed leftie looked in direction of … (3-5)
RED-FACED RED (leftie) + FACED (looked in direction of)
7 bouquet delivered by post, do we hear? (5)
SCENT – homophone (do we hear?) of SENT (delivered by post)
8 Oddly want learned judge initially having hollow look (7-5)
LANTERN-JAWED – anagram (Oddly) of (WANT LEARNED J (judge initially, i.e. the first letter of “judge”)). John Kerry occupies two of the first three results in Google Images for this term.
12 Two portions of meat – and be quick about it! (4-4)
CHOP-CHOP – two lots of CHOP (portion of meat)
14 Merciful Russian revolutionary receiving English on time (7)
LENIENT LENIN (Russian revolutionary) around E (English), + T (time)
16 Financial backer a new member put up (5)
ANGEL A + N (new) + reversal (put up) of LEG (member). Experienced solvers will immediately see the answer from “Financial backer”.
18 Direct vehicle right into seedy bar (5)
DRIVE R (right) into DIVE (seedy bar)
19 Man, possibly, lives on borders of lake (4)
ISLE IS (lives) + LE (borders of lake, i.e. the first and last letters of “lake”). Referring to the Isle of Man.

19 comments on “Quick Cryptic 505 by Orpheus”

  1. A nice straightforward start to the week with a couple of more difficult words which may need wordplay to arrive at. 6.5 minutes.

    With regard to concerns about perceived increasing levels of difficulty expressed here last week I am pasting below the query I raised in the Club Forum and the Crossword Editor’s response to it. There’s a link back to TftT discussion too if anyone wants to see what was was said here:


    RE: Quick Cryptic

    12/02/16 14:03

    I’m not sure if Times crossword management monitor comments in TftT, but in case not I thought I’d pass on some contributions with reference to QC 504 and the perceived level of difficulty over recent days or weeks.

    I’m out of the argument myself for the moment as I understand the need to push the level on occasions, but on the other hand I don’t want to see newbies giving up because they find the puzzle too challenging too often.


    Times Crossword editor posting as “bannman”

    RE: Quick Cryptic

    13/02/16 19:32

    As we often stress, there is never a deliberate intention to make these puzzles more difficult, even as a one-off.

    We always monitor any available feedback to detect any consensus that the puzzles might be getting trickier. The idea is always to keep things as straightforward as possible, while still “cryptic” of course


    Edited at 2016-02-15 12:44 am (UTC)

    1. I did notice that the last week of Jan/first week of Feb puzzles seemed harder than average, with 8 out of 10 taking me significantly longer than usual, but with a new job and prolonged nasty cold I put it down to lack of sharpness and doing them all in catch-up mode at least a day late. But it does seem that others found them more difficult too.

      I appreciate it is a difficult balance to get right, but I think it is really important that people who are learning the ropes are not put off. “Let the dog see the rabbit”, I say.

      1. Some of us (me!) may never progress to the main cryptic, and hope that the quick cryptic doesn’t get harder. I understood that was the point of producing it in the first place.

        This was a good one, thanks.

        If you punch a tall fir tree and don’t bruise your fist, it’s a Wellingtonia, which is why, when you come across one, it usually has indents all round it at about shoulder height. Diana.

      2. Some of us (me!) may never progress to the main cryptic, and hope that the quick cryptic doesn’t get harder. I understood that was the point of producing it in the first place.

        This was a good one, thanks.

        If you punch a tall fir tree and don’t bruise your fist, it’s a Wellingtonia, which is why, when you come across one, it usually has indents all round it at about shoulder height. Diana.

  2. Never heard of POPLAR, and had to wait for some checkers before I could get anywhere with it (I suppose in retrospect that ‘well-liked’ instead of ‘popular’ could have been a hint). I knew WELLINGTONIA, didn’t know it was a big tree, but ‘boot’ was enough. The enumeration was enough for 9ac and 12d. ‘ambassador’=HE is worth remembering (also helium, high explosive); and I’m sure we’ve had ’round’ as cluing O in the big cryptics, if not here. 5′.
    1. You obviously don’t get Call the Midwife where you are , Kevin.; not sure you will , in Japan! It’s a very popular Sunday night series based in Poplar in the ’60’s!
  3. I sometimes struggle with Orpheus, but this was a record for me – 10 mins. Although nothing too taxing…
  4. Gentle start to the week. 11a and 8d were unknown but clearly clued. Last in SCENT with favourite VALENCE.
  5. A bit of a rarity – a gentle Orpheus QC. I didn’t know angel could be a financial backer, but the wordplay and checkers made it clear enough. Invariant
    1. Yes, and it’s used very widely in theatrical circles for people willing to put money into a new show.
  6. Having almost given up after the last two weeks, nice to see service resumed as normal today. Just the one mistake, fell into the trap of putting freeze rather than frieze. Did not know wellingtonia, but got it from the word play. Self confidence restored!
  7. as our blogger notes, the main cryptic is well worth a go today!

    Edited at 2016-02-15 01:39 pm (UTC)

  8. A nice change of pace today and no major hold ups.
    16d is turning into a personal bug bear for me. Although it’s appeared before and appears in all the relevant dictionaries and relates to the theatre industry etc something about ‘angel’ for financial backer really annoys me. I guess I just need to get over it!
  9. It was good to be back with a lenient QC after attempting another,for me, impossible Saturday Times Crossword at the weekend.
    My LOI today was Wellingtonia -never heard of it but clearly indicated. An enjoyable crossword.
    Saturday must have toughened me up as I am 90% through today’s 15×15; four clues left! David
  10. All we needed was a choo-choo to make this a real chuffer of a puzzle. Thanks to Orpheus and mohn for a fun start to the week.
  11. Made faster progress today and feeling good until LOI 15a and then fell for freeze. DOH. But fun to start the week with a cracking pace – no idea on time as had to break off more than once, but it was fast for me!

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