Quick Cryptic No 2610 by Hurley

One at the easier end of the spectrum from Hurley today. At least, that’s how I found it, but I have a sample size of one.

I finished in 13:13, inside my target, which always makes me happy on a blogging day. I started with PEP and ended with STAMP, correcting it from the SHARP that I had first entered with some qualms.

For some reason, I couldn’t get the script that generates the shell of this post from the completed crossword to work, so I’ve had to retype all the clues, numbers and answers as well as the explanations below. Please let me know if you spot any typos or mistakes (or, God forbid, leftover clues from the page I copied!).

Definitions underlined, synonyms in round brackets, wordplay in square brackets and deletions in strikethrough.

1 Refusal to accept as true bids I feel flawed (9)
DISBELIEF – anagram [flawed] of BIDS I FEEL.
6 Upkeep oddly absent – energy found (3)
PEP – Just the even-numbered letters [oddly absent] of uPkEeP.
8 Frank  character (5)
STAMP – Double definition, the first being in the sense of franking a letter, the second as in “the stamp of the man”.

This was my LOI: I had almost convinced myself that SHARP worked, but reconsidered before submitting: glad I did!

9 Dog’s range that is large (7)
SPANIEL – SPAN (range), I.E. (that is), L (large).
10 Bombastic speech, extremely rich, recalled rote initially is cringeworthy (8)
RHETORIC – first and last letters [extremely] of RicH + ETOR [recalled ROTE, i.e., reversed] + initial letters of Is Cringeworthy.

A MER at “Bombastic”: rhetoric can also be the study of effective writing and speechmaking.

11 50 percent with time for female in end (4)
HALT – HALF (50%) with a T replacing the F [time for female].
13 Trickery is fashionable – yearn for reform (9)
CHICANERY – CHIC (fashionable) + an anagram [for reform] of YEARN.
16 What about showing more friendliness? (4)
THAW – anagram [about] of WHAT.
17 Member of clergy one’s seen in church (8)
MINISTER – MINSTER (church, as in York Minster) with I (one) inserted [one’s seen in].

I cannot get this one to stick in my mind. I’ve probably seen variants on this half a dozen times or more and it always takes me ages.

20 Medic, one with distinctive quality, describing some cinemas (5-2)
DRIVE-IN – DR (medic), I (one), VEIN (distinctive quality or manner, as in “a humorous vein”).
21 Trouble in Wag group (5)
AGGRO – Hidden in [in] wAG GROup.

British slang for trouble, as in a fight. The surface reading refers to Wives And Girlfriends, an acronym apparently first used by a Dubai hotel when the England football team were staying in 2002.

22 Revealed to be inaccurate (3)
OUT – double definition.
23 Friend initially mocking one’s attempt to supply fortune telling (9)
PALMISTRY – PAL (friend), M [initially Mocking], I’S (one’s), TRY (attempt).
1 Abandon  unproductive area (6)
DESERT – Double definition
2 Pack member‘s place to live in Home Counties (5)
SPADE – PAD (place to live) in SE (the Home Counties are in the south-east of England).

Ohh, THAT sort of pack.

3 High spirits in Brussels over four we hear – no case for bias (8)
EUPHORIA – EU (Brussels, headquarters of the European Union), PHOR (homonym [we hear] of “four”), plus bIAs, [no case for bias, where the case is the first and last letters].

Most of the examples I could come up with where you can substitute “EU” for “Brussels” sound like Daily Mail headlines, so I’ll spare you.

4 Very encouraging to see home piano trials arranged (13)
INSPIRATIONAL – IN (home) + anagram [arranged] of PIANO TRIALS.

I biffed this one with about 4 of the crossers in place.

5 Female prisoner to tire (4)
FLAG – F for female + LAG (prisoner).
6 Most important to be proper, cautious, when wife away? (7)
PRIMARY – PRIM (proper) + wARY (cautious) [wife away – W for wife removed].
7 Taste dish including hint of avocado (6)
PALATE – PLATE (dish) including A [hint of avocado].

I’m a bit dubious about “hint of” to mean the first letter. Unless Hurley is thinking of sandwich names where an A can stand for avocado, as in the BLAST from my local sandwich shop, which is Bacon, Lettuce, Avocado, Swiss cheese and Tomato and highly recommended.

12 Food that epicure recommends if you are kept indoors at first (8)
TERIYAKI – First letters [at first] of That Epicure Recommends If You Are Kept Indoors.

I gazed at this one in utter bewilderment, until I spotted “at first” at the end & thought “ah ha”. That’s quite an achievement to make a comprehensible sentence with those first letters. Bravo.

13 Drink leading to disturbance in vehicle (7)
CHARIOT – CHA (slang for tea) + RIOT (disturbance).

Ancient slang gives us an ancient vehicle.

14 Hard-working, but missing us in workplace (6)
STUDIO – STUDIOus (hard-working) without US [missing us].
15 Cross, stopping by, introspective (6)
BROODY – ROOD (cross) inside [stopping, like a cork] BY.
18 Difficult being merry (5)
TIGHT – double definition, the first as in a tight spot, the second being another of the million words that can mean drunk.

Thanks to Jackkt for the “tight spot” usage, which is better than the “tight fit” I originally had.

19 Bound to be referring to year of particular type (4)
LEAP – Double definition.

75 comments on “Quick Cryptic No 2610 by Hurley”

  1. I’m having a super bad run of it lately.

    I didn’t know a rood is a crucifix, I didn’t know what to do with Brussels and I still don’t understand how tight = difficult. I also didn’t know that tight means drunk either. Luckily I biffed Minister (never heard of Minster)

    I’ve been told many times about these home counties being in the SE and I can’t remember it, but even with all the crossers I couldn’t get SPADE.

  2. 13:00. BROODY was my favourite( I had to read The Dream of the Rood while studying Old English) and I enjoyed realizing what the pack member was. I was almost tripped up by HALT as I threw HAFT in without thinking it through. Luckily I distrusted that haft meant end so looked closer just in time.

  3. I am currently occupying a heady place in the leaderboard, even though I only just snuck in under ten minutes. Quite a number of swift solvers have got one wrong, which makes me wonder if there is one clue that is tripping them up.

    A stiff challenge, anyway. I finished with the cunning SPADE.

    ‘Hint of’ to indicate the initial letter is quite common, and fair enough in my book.

  4. Having been out of the crossword loop for a few days I am surprised by how quickly my level of match-fitness has declined. I struggled home in 17.46 with a lot of back-end time spent on BROODY, HALT and DISBELIEF. The long down anagram also took an age. Thanks to Hurley and the Doof.

  5. I had CABRIOT instead of CHARIOT (thinking CAB = drink), forgetting the actual word is cabriolet. I couldn’t solve THAT and assumed since I had T.B. and the clue for 16a started with “What about showing” that it was a hidden and the answer was TABO (which I did strongly doubt). What a mess!
    SPADE took me a very long time to see as well, but the rest was quite enjoyable.

  6. I’ve no idea why, but I had a bad time with this one, especially in the lower half where I found the answers stopped flowing almost completely and I had to fight a number of individual battles. Having said that, the only answer I wasn’t completely sure of was towards the top of the grid where I thought long and hard about ‘character / STAMP’ before coming up with the same justification that’s in the blog.

    CHICANERY and THAW were my last two in. MINISTER should have been a write-in considering the number of times I have seen it before, but for some reason it only came to me when most of its checkers were in place.

    19 minutes, equalling my worst time since Felix’s Peaky Blinders special on 16th January.

  7. DNF beaten by BROODY, SPADE (good one) and TIGHT.

    I thought there were more than a couple of clues here worthy of the biggie including those plus RHETORIC and EUPHORIA.

    Thanks Hurley and Doof

  8. I found today’s hard. Two wrong at 20 mins. One a typo, but SPADE defeated me even when I read the blog, until I finally realised we were talking about cards. Doh!

  9. 10:54

    Unlike our blogger, I felt this was harder than usual, the SW corner taking the longest to finish. SPADE (very good) and PALATE had both taken a while to see, but needed STUDIO to break the deadlock – had been thinking around INDUSTRY and removing US from that, but the D was in the wrong place. Slightly underwhelmed by THAW.

    Thanks Hurley and Doofenschmirtz

    1. I agree; I found it very hard and thought I would DNF for a long time. Some of them were more like 15*15. Took ages on SPADE, thought it was sHUTe; couldn’t think of PAD.
      MINISTER was my last in; yes I have seen it before, yes I remember now, but it would not come.
      Thought THAW was clever… perhaps too clever.

  10. Pretty fast until STAMP – NHO ‘the stamp of a man’ – thought it might not have been heard since 1865 but the top search is from a football match report from 2021, so it’s me. Also slow on LEAP and BROODY. I reckon those three doubled my time and I still didn’t submit with any confidence. All green in 17.

  11. Yes we found this a toughie. Still had 5 left after 38 minutes and was tossing up between a DNF and a return over lunch. Had one last look and saw halt then brains clicked into another place and finished in 43.37 finishing with chariot and out.

    NHO rood but biffed from rest of clue, liked teriyaki

    Thanks Hurley and Mr D

  12. I was cruising along nicely for a decent time (for me), but SPADE, STAMP and BROODY took me over 10 mins to get, leaving me crossing the SCC threshold at 26 mins. Biffed SOPHISTRY, but was nervous about it so I decided to parse it, thankfully correcting it to PALMISTRY.

    Still, I’m happy I avoided a DNF.

    Happy Wednesday, all. Pi

  13. Got off to a flier in the NW but found things much harder going further down the grid. I had major battles with BROODY (NHO the cross bit), LEAP, HALT and LOI STAMP which required an alpha trawl followed by a nice PDM.
    Finished in over target in 10.22, which I’m not too unhappy about considering the QUITCH is currently running at 119.
    Thanks to Doofers for the blog and Hurley for the entertaining work out.

  14. I tend to side more with those who found this somewhat hard going, and initially very little came. Inspirational came eventually, and that opened the grid up, but even so there were several decidedly sticky moments before I realised that “hint of” meant “first letter of” (not seen that before, but will store it away) and a major PDM (“Pound drop moment”?) when I worked out how Teriyaki was constructed. As Doofers says, a great achievement to make a sentence out of those letters!

    I never did parse my LOI Spade – LOI as I knew it would need a long alphabet trawl, and I eventually put it in solely on wordplay without a clue as to why it might be right. Fingers were tightly crossed but the Congratulations screen came up, for a 13 minute completion – somewhat to my surprise only slightly slower than my par.

    Many thanks Doofers for the blog

  15. 16:16 (investiture of Charles Stuart as Prince of Wales and Earl of Chester)

    I found this quite tricky. LOI was THAW. MINISTER needed all the crossers, after I had tried out all clerical offices to see if any would fit inside CH or CE.

    I share the MER about the “bombastic ” in RHETORIC.

    Thanks Hurley and Doofers

  16. Strange, I used to think Hurley was one of the gentler setters but either Hurley or I have switched wavelength. Like others here I found the top half of the grid filled quickly but the bottom was more of a plod. I wasn’t keen on THAW and the two double definitions OUT and STAMP didn’t fill me with great confidence. I wanted CHICANERY to begin with IN so I got stuck on the CHICANERY/CHARIOT crossing. My LOI, with a doh moment, was HALT. 9:37 which I’m calling a win on what was, for me, a difficult QC.

  17. The clue for LEAP might have been better saved up for tomorrow!

    As for many others, that was a game of two halves Brian. Top half strolling in the park, bottom half grimly inching up the Eiger, jamming fingernails into tiny cracks. I wonder if Hurley composed it on two separate days?! The Quitch is still up at around 120 …

    Lots to enjoy, COD to SPADE for the deception, all done in 09:05 for a Pretty Good Day.

    Many thanks Hurley and El Dooferino.


    1. Quitch at 123 at this moment. Looking back through there’s been very few over 120* since mid-December which was the last outbreak of “Are these getting harder?”.

      I’d like to think that’s testament to the Editor reigning in the setters or them realising it for themselves. Either way, long may it continue.

      In my opinion there’s only been 3-4 this year which have been poorly pitched QCs. Today’s is one of them but once in a while is not disastrous.

      * Sadly no Saturday data

  18. 15:44
    Pretty steady until spade, broody, and LOI stamp.
    I don’t think stamp is a great clue. I prefer something like frank tramp.
    COD spade

  19. Maybe it was easy for a Hurley but it definitely wasn’t easy in my opinion – maybe it’s a wavelength thing but i wasn’t convinced by quite a few of these. Thanks though!

  20. And I thought yesterday’s QC was hard. . . Nearly fell off my seat when I read this was at the ‘easier end of the spectrum’. Granted there were a few easy clues, and I still can’t offer any valid explanation for why Desert was my loi, but there were plenty of budding 15×15 clues knocking around. Broody was a stiff challenge for anyone not familiar with church architecture (rood screens), Stamp, Palate, Chicanery and Chariot(!) all caused problems, and Inspirational was anything but, needing nearly every crosser. I staggered over the line, just north of 30mins, very grateful to avoid a DNF. CoD to 14d Studio, for the (far from simple) parsing. Invariant

      1. I’m sure Spock would have quoted a few salient points as well, along the lines of his put down to Harcourt Fenton Mudd 😉

  21. I think Doofers was on Hurley’s wavelength.

    I was not. Nothing unfair, I just couldn’t get things quickly. STAMP, BROODY, SPADE, LEAP, DESERT – all caused me to scratch my head!


  22. “One at the easier end of the spectrum”, you say. After an hour and a half, still stuck on no fewer than eight; must be both stupid and ignorant, therefore …
    Been doing these for nearly 18 months, have compiled my own “dictionary” with tricks like con = study, home = in, and likely Japanese islands, with over a thousand entries to date – but seem no closer to any kind of result.

  23. I was unconvinced by 8a SHARP but pressed submit anyway and, as the pink squares appeared, the much better STAMP immediately came to mind. There’s a lesson here and Doofers was more careful.
    Enjoyed this one and, although not easy, 34 minutes is quite quick for me.
    COD to HALT which started as a tentative HALF before PALATE resolved it.
    Thanks both.

  24. I’m another that disagrees with Doofer’s opinion that this was easy, and I don’t seem to be in a minority so far. Even so I would just about have finished within target if it hadn’t been for the sw corner where I failed to realise that ‘about’ was an anagram indicator for the word ‘what’, even though it’s probably the most widely used indicator that is used! My LOI was OUT which only revealed itself when I had the first letter in place.
    I eventually lurched over the line in 12.46, taking just about three minutes on my last three answers.

    1. Doofers is currently 4th on the WITCH (“Wavelength Index”) so he obviously found this one a lot easier than most of us!

  25. 27:16 with STAMP corrected from “sharp”. I’d bunged it in around 15mins on the basis that I’d already had enough of this puzzle and was unlikely to spend time alphabet trawling alternatives later. Same reason for bunging in TIGHT and BROODY.

  26. Not that easy for SCC+ members. Glad others agreed. DNF. Hm, mistakes were Sharp, Half and a totally unparsed 7d Pilaff. Not to mention needing a hint for 14d.
    Liked CHARIOT, PALMISTRY, FLAG, TERIYAKI. LOI SPADE, penny should have dropped sooner since I do play bridge.
    Could not parse eg BROODY. So thanks, Doofers.

  27. DNF and gave up at 28 mins.
    Didn’t like thaw.
    Also didn’t get broody or studio.
    Thanks as ever to setter, blogger and everyone’s entertaining comments

  28. Much like Boovers I gave up at around the 28 minute mark, defeated by STAMP and SPADE. I hadn’t considered a pack of cards at 2dn, but I might have got this eventually. Not sure that I’d have got 8ac if I’d stared at it all day. I had started off quite fast with a reasonable number going straight in, especially at the bottom. However it all tailed off with BROODY, THAW and EUPHORIA all putting up stiff resistance. MER at equating RHETORIC with bombastic speech.

    FOI – 6ac PEP
    LOI – DNF
    COD – 12dn TERIYAKI.

  29. I am another on the “found it very hard” side. Really struggled and needed a few checkers to get home. LOI: BROODY. Hard work.

  30. Wow, you thought this was at the easier end of the spectrum?! I thought this was the toughest for months!

  31. DNF by quite a distance. Just when I thought I was getting the hang of these ‘quick’ crosswords. Never really got into it. Looking at some of the answers I can see why.

  32. I find myself in the “This was hard” camp today. Took me ages to see the hidden TERIYAKI, PALMISTRY and LEAP, but the big holdup was LOI, SPADE, where several alphabet trawls failed to yield a result. Eventually I thought of PAD for place to live and saw the pack of cards. 14:37. Thanks Hurley and Doofers.

  33. Yes, I found this tricky in places too. POI was TIGHT which I just couldn’t see for ages (doh), closely followed by the then very obvious MINISTER. I actually quite liked BROODY, in contrast to others, although COD went to SPADE for the very clever misdirection. I didn’t have a clue what was going on with this one until I finally thought to separate ‘member’ from ‘place’. Thanks Hurley and D.

  34. Dnf…

    It’s been a while since I didn’t finish with just one to go – but for the life of me I just couldn’t see 11ac “Halt”. Obvious now I’ve seen the blog, but even though I considered it after a general word trawl, I just didn’t equate it with “end”.

    Personally, I found this on the more difficult end of the spectrum, with quite a bit of misdirection in a number of clues.

    FOI – 1dn “Desert”
    LOI – Dnf
    COD – 6dn “Primary” – although I liked “Spade” and “Euhphoric” in equal measure.

    Thanks as usual!

  35. 21.07 I found this really hard, and the Quitch currently rates it as the toughest since an Izetti back in November. STAMP, TIGHT, SPADE, MINISTER and BROODY were the last few in. Thanks Doofers and Hurley.

  36. Very hard. The Doof was clearly on fire. Watching an Ealing comedy in the 70s I had to ask my father what tight meant. Pissed son, pissed. Not sure it’s been used in anger since the 50s. J

  37. Another one who found it a lot harder than the blogger claims it to be. I sometimes wonder if I’m doing the same puzzle as the blogger, as so many times I hear them say “This was easy!” “At the easier end of the spectrum!” And so on. 🤣

    I could only solve about half of the clues. No Orange assistant today either.

    However, what I could solve I enjoyed.

  38. We also found this hard, thought it was us after a busy day with the great grandchild, and
    our young dog to control.

  39. Despite Spade causing a DNF. I loved this one. Some leapt off the page, others had to work at until the A Ha moment.

    Thanks Doof and Hurley

  40. I struggled from the start on this.
    Had to stop after 16 minutes to catch a train with several unsolved.
    I finished with the very tricky SPADE after about 24 minutes in total; well over my average. This was a hard QC.
    But it was a good puzzle. COD to SPADE.
    Biffing DELICACY at 12 d was silly and caused quite a hold up. Mature reflection on the parsing would have been quicker.

  41. Like others I found this difficult, particularly the SW corner, and nearly gave up. In the end I completed it in 35 minutes, feeling pleased that I made it. I found the double definitions particularly tricky, especially OUT. Bother, I have just noticed that I put EUPHORIC instead of EUPHORIA. Thank you for the blog, Doof, and Hurley for a challenging puzzle.

  42. Not feeling too bad now having seen the Quitch and read of others’ experiences because this was a rather slower than average 16:40 for us. We seemed to be doing OK for quite a while but DISBELIEF took longer than it should have done and, like Doofers, we puzzled for a good long while (largely trying to recall Italian delicacies) before seeing LOI TERIYAKI. STAMP went in quite quickly but with a good deal of uncertainty. Rood was barely remembered so there were also fingers crossed for BROODY though that seemed rather more probable. Thanks Hurley and Doofers.

  43. Wow, crosswords are weird things, being different things to different people. This one clearly struck my sweet spot, but judging by the QUITCH (currently 123), that didn’t happen for many people.

    Apologies to anyone who felt annoyed after struggling and then coming here to find a breezy, “hey, that was easy, wasn’t it!” blog entry.

  44. Oh oh oh I’ve lost my knack. Finally just gave in with 5 (!) unsolved, which hasn’t happened for months.

    Some fun clues though, I particularly enjoyed PALMISTRY. And TERIYAKI, a devilish bit of misdirection.

    Thanks to Hurley and Doofers!

  45. This was, at least for me, straightforward and I am therefore unhappy with my time of 17 mins. I should have been well under 15 mins, but, as usual, messed about with an obvious anagram (THAW) and took ages to see the hidden AGGRO. I have again missed out on the opportunity to record a decent time.

    Already at 70 mins for the week, which I find very frustrating and annoying.

    Thanks for the blog.

    1. Gary! The snitch says this was super tricky!!! Look at all the troubles everyone else was having!

      17 minutes? What the hell you super star

      1. Thanks Tina 👍

        I’m sure you’ll soon be back on form 🤞🤞.

        I’d forgotten about Brussels meaning EU and had to solve that clue backwards. It took me ages when I started the QC to remember SE for Home Counties.

  46. 23:53

    Easier end of the spectrum it may have been but after romping through the top half took forever in the south. Biggest struggle was BROODY, MINISTER and LOI TIGHT.


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