Quick Cryptic 820 by Hawthorn

Solving time: 17:32

This is just about my worst time ever on a Quickie. Are they getting harder, or was I completely off the wavelength? I started out finishing between 6 and 10 minutes, but the last week has been a different story. The wordplay seems to have gotten more complex, and it is no longer a matter of drawing on old chestnuts and stock cryptic components. They’re beginning to look a lot like a smaller version of the regular puzzle on the easier days.

This is all very well for those who started doing the Quickie when it was really easy, since they are probably up for a little more of a challenge by now. However, I would suggest sending them to the regular puzzle rather than making the Quickie harder, since otherwise new solvers coming along might get a bit discouraged.

Of course, it is also possible that these puzzles are not that difficult, and I am losing my touch. Last week’s Mephisto was certainly quite dispressing, although I seem to be doing somewhat better on this week’s. Anyway, here is the blog.

1 HEEL, sounds like HEAL, an easy enough starter clue.
3 SALINGER, anagram of REALIGNS.
8 ALBUMEN, ALBUM + E[nglish] N[aturalists].
11 INDEX FINGER, jocular cryptic definition.
13 TRENCH, T(R)ENCH. I found this one rather elusive. I understood the crytpic well enough, and desperately tried various 5-letter fish without success.
15 PSYCHE, hidden in [ti]PSY CHE[f].
17 CONSOLIDATE, CON + anagram of TOILED AS, with a somewhat distant literal.
20 PLAZA, P(LAZ[y])A.
21 SUNTRAP, anagram of RUN PAST.
22 LUMBERED, double definition, where I wasted a lot of time with ‘limp’ before seeing it.
1 HYACINTH, H + anagram of IN YACHT. I wasted a lot of time trying to think of a boat where you could switch around the inner letters and get either a flower or a river.
2 EMBED, E(MBE)D, where the enclosing letters come from E[xalte]D.
4 AUNTIE, A + UNTIE, a chestnut, but a very cleverly disguised one.
6 GENERIC, GEN + ERIC. I had biffed ‘general’, but then I looked at the cryptic.
7 REEF, FEE + R upside-down.
9 MEXICAN WAVE, double definition.
12 PETER PAN, anagram of N[o]TEPAPER, a tricky cryptic with a tricky literal.
18 AGREE, A + GREE[k], where I had to go through the map instead of the alphabet.
19 OPAL, O + PAL.

22 comments on “Quick Cryptic 820 by Hawthorn”

  1. I was moving along fairly smoothly, I thought, but a couple of clues proved truly recalcitrant. 9d: I got the MEXICAN part all right, but took forever to remember the WAVE (I’ve only seen the term once, a while back in a 15×15). 2d: I stalled at ‘member’=arm or leg, which of course got me nowhere; I think that was my LOI. 17ac and 22ac also took time. Wound up at 8:54.
  2. Relatively easy but with a few tricky clues to slow me up at the end, viz. 3, 15, 22 ac and 7, 12 and 18 dn. COD MOUSSE
  3. I tackled a couple of QCs last week during my enforced absence and they were disastrous for me but I put that down to my own circumstances, so if they really were harder for others too it comes as some relief to hear that. This one however I found quite straightforward and recorded a respectable 9 minute solve which would have been 8 if I hadn’t been slow in spotting that 1dn, my LOI, was an anagram.

    I’m not actually convinced by arguments that the QCs are getting harder overall although it’s certainly true they vary in difficulty (and always have done) and occasionally there may be a run of harder or easier ones, though it’s rarely there’s a consensus on what is hard or easy.

    Today’s QC was set by the Puzzles Editor, David Parfitt.

    1. We were bound to get Hawthorn in May ……
      ….. and 4 years of May in June.
  4. 49mins.

    I would agree this was a tricky puzzle, especially peter pan, psyche, auntie, and reef. The hidden psyche was my LOI and held me up for ages.

    lots of nice clues, I liked mousse and reef and COD auntie.

    btw, the blog has trench and psyche at 12a and 13a rather than 13a and 15a.

  5. Decided to do this given Jonathan’s comments. I have to say, I thought it was an excellent Quickie, providing excellent preparation for the Main Event – which I have always taken to be the main purpose of the thing – with ALBUMEN for example pushing a bit in terms of vocab and AUNTIE providing the humour and my COD. PETER PAN was mind-extending too, which is how it ought to be. 9’30”.

    Those who like a bit of mind-bending might like to have a go at today’s Cryptic.

    Edited at 2017-05-01 06:32 am (UTC)

  6. I’m by no means a pro at these quick ones, generally taking 20-30 mins to complete, but I actually found this one of the easiest in a long time. Quite a lot of manageable anagrams and hiddens. The only one that took me a while was 12dn, and I still don’t fully understand how it works. I’ve never heard of ALBUMEN, but the clueing was generous. I find I seem to struggle with the four-letter ones like FERN. 20 minutes in all for this gentle start to the week. Gribb.
    1. Wendy Darling was Peter Pan’s friend in Barrie’s play, so the literal is ‘Darling friend’, with ‘folded’ indicating the anagram of NOTEPAPER minus the O (‘circular letter’).
  7. 5:41, so quicker than average for me… maybe I was just more on the wavelength after finding most of last week’s harder than usual. I agree there were one or two tricky clues, but the easier ones such as 9d gave some helpful checkers.
  8. I also thought this had a few tricky ones and some not so obvious associations – cheese lover for mouse and Darling friend for example. I had to switch off autopilot half way through to get it finished in 8.41. After the X and Z I started looking for a Q to no avail and now I see we are a J and K short of a pangram too.
  9. I am a fairly experienced Quickie solver but found this difficult. DNF


  10. I found this pretty tricky (3 months in to my Cryptic initiation). I set off well, chuffed that I got ALBUMEN straight away, got tangled in HYACINTHS as I tried to use “hearts” as the anagram and came up with heathers (but I knew it wasn’t right). Can’t really see CONSOLIDATE in the straight, but that’s probably just me. PETER PAN was my LOI – I knew how the clue worked, but kept trying something-PEN. Doh!
    And I’ve got my nephew coming for tea tonight – he’d be the first to agree with 4D. Made me smile 🙂
  11. I made hard work of this one (particularly in the SE) by missing indicators that I should recognise by now. E.g. The anagram in 17a and the hidden in 15a. I thought 12a, LOI, was just a tricky but excellent clue that got me looking in the wrong place for ages – couldn’t get round robin out of my head and was trying to think of other terms for those newsletters some people send out with Xmas cards.
    Overall a very enjoyable puzzle with plenty of ‘aha’ moments to keep me entertained. Completed in 22 minutes
  12. Didn’t find it excessively difficult, but it was highly enjoyable.

    Thought SALINGER, HYACINTH, PETER PAN and INDEX FINGER were all very good.

    Thanks Hawthorn and Vinyl.

  13. Crashed and burned. Never thought of a Greek, although I plodded my way round most of Europe. Was convinced that the friend in 12d was a PAL and never associated Fen and marsh – that one I shall remember. Ah well, tomorrow is another day.
  14. Three clues held me up at the end: 15a, 12d and 4d (LOI). Could not parse Peter Pan so thanks as always to our blogger.
    Had to solve final clues after long interval so no exact time. A good challenge.
    Favourite – Mexican Wave. David
  15. Three clues held me up at the end: 15a, 12d and 4d (LOI). Could not parse Peter Pan so thanks as always to our blogger.
    Had to solve final clues after long interval so no exact time. A good challenge.
    Favourite – Mexican Wave. David
  16. A late post – all went very easily until the lowest third of the puzzle. Took me ages to twig 13d and still didn’t spot the anagram until reading the blog. I was sure of 23a and that eventually gave me the inspiration to see ‘Darling’ in the right context. 19d was a gimme but I still laboured with 20a and 22a. I should have remembered 16d cheese lover but again took ages to see it. FOI 1a. LOI 12d. COd 4d for an amusing clue. Timing – too long to remember!
  17. Strangely enough I found this one more straightforward, but I agree there are some tricky cryptics in there like 16ac and 12dn

    Presuming Albumen relates to egg white in reference to someone else’s comment. For 10ac I was convinced it was Plank until I spotted the hidden word – nice deception if meant.

    I’ve never heard of consolidate for cement and would also not associate Fen with Marsh straight away. In fact I went through swamp, bog and every combination you can think of until it finally clicked.

    Is “novel” the anagram indicator for 3ac?

    FOI 1ac, LOI 23ac, COD 12dn


  18. A busy weekend meant I didn’t get to this puzzle until this morning, but I found it slightly trickier than most, taking 12:04. The SE held me up longest. I saw the anagram for PETER PAN but had forgotten the Darling bit. Liked MEXICAN WAVE and AUNTIE. Nice puzzle Thanks Hawthorne and Vinyl.
  19. Just getting to grips with these, I guess some people are correct you have to be on the same wavelength, I found this one fun, and not too hard…..will never get under the hour though

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