Quick Cryptic No 2683 by Hurley – setter wars

I do hope you could find your anagram hats this morning, because there are five longish and handily placed ones in this elegant offering from Hurley. They offered lots of useful checkers and made this a fairly straightforward outing for me. All done in 05:56 which is brisk business by my standards. I thought it was an excellent QC – how did you find it?

[PS – I’m rather busy today so won’t be around to respond to any queries till late afternoon; I’m sure that one of the wise heads will be able to help in my absence!]

Definitions underlined in bold.

1 Terribly mundane around November, like some railway stations? (8)
UNMANNED – anagram (“terribly”) of “mundane” + N for November (NATO alphabet). The definition was a bit sneaky.
6 Get rid of outdated alcoholic drink (4)
SACK – double definition. SACK was (the word has fallen out of general use, hence “outdated”) a generic name for a variety of fortified, sweet white wines from Spain or the Canaries, much beloved of Sir John Falstaff. Its origin is not clear; the theory I find most convincing is that it comes from the Spanish verb sacar (to draw down, as from a cask – so wines which had been drawn from their casks were sacas).
8 Group finally visit port city (4)
TRIO – when I eventually stopped trying to put “p” (for “group finally”) into RIO, I got there. It’s T for “finally visit”, of course, followed by the port RIO. My LOI, embarrassingly.
9 Very into disentanglement of Orpheus — it’s not difficult at all! (8)
PUSHOVER – ooo, bantz in the Setters’ Common Room. Apparently Orpheus nicked the last custard cream and Hurley was so miffed that he penned this clue, mocking Orpheus as being an easy solve. I think rappers call it a Diss Track. Anyway, it’s an anagram (“disentanglement”) of “Orpheus” with V for “very”. Just wait for Orpheus’s next puzzle, Hurley, you’re for it.
10 Impressive set of cards and then some! (8)
HANDSOME – HAND for “set of cards” (I tried “deck” for a while) followed by SOME, very neatly clued by “and then some!”. I did like that; COD from me.
12 Decline drink (4)
SINK – double definition.
13 Remove front from prickly plant in leisurely stroll (6)
15 Like this clue, a trial? (6)
ACROSS – the old self-referential trick, ha. A for “a”, CROSS for “trial” (which is a little loose – hence the “?” – but is fair enough given Collins sense 14:  “an opposition, hindrance or misfortune; affliction”).
17 Dad, zealous, carrying hand tool (4)
ADZE – hidden (“carrying”) within “Dad, zealous”. An ADZE is a bit like an axe, but the blade is at right angles to the handle instead of parallel.
19 Mob following extremely seismic game on board (8)
SCRABBLE – “extremely seismic” = the first and last letters (the “extremes”) of “seismic”, so that’s SC. “Following” that is RABBLE for “mob”. I’ve never really been a big SCRABBLE fan, winning depends so much on the luck of what you pick out of the bag. That’s my excuse anyway. Boggle is much better.
21 I’m received by temporary ruler’s group of soldiers (8)
REGIMENT -I’M goes inside (“received by”) REGENT.
23 Photo that’s a match! (4)
SNAP – double definition.
24 Reportedly moved fast in Tube? (4)
FLUE – a homophone (“reportedly”) of “flew” for “moved fast”.
25 Poor writing in ledger, go bananas! (8)
DOGGEREL – anagram (“bananas”) of “ledger go”.
2 Happy state initially: no issues really, vehicle as new assuredly (7)
NIRVANA – the first letters (“initially”) of “no issues really, vehicle as new assuredly“. Bit of a clunky clue for me, Brian.
3 Not silent, as broadcast permitted (5)
ALOUD – homophone (“as broadcast”) of “allowed” for “permitted”.
4 Unhappy, oddly lacking sleep (3)
NAP – take out the odd letters (“oddly lacking”) of “unhappy”, and NAP is what’s left.
5 Poor state, dire, is par sadly (9)
DISREPAIR – anagram (“sadly”) of “dire is par”.
6 Provide funds for snoopers (not English) in new arrangement? (7)
SPONSOR – anagram (“in new arrangement”) of “snoopers” without the E (“not English”).
7 Family welcoming European with no record of offending (5)
CLEAN – E for “European” inside (“welcoming”) CLAN for “family”.
11 Go beyond available resources, because of special purpose (9)
OVERSPEND – OVER for “because of” + SP for “special” + END for “purpose”. I’m not convinced by OVER for “because of” and it’s not supported by either Collins or Chambers. The closest I can get is an entry in Collins Cobuild saying “to indicate what a disagreement or feeling relates to or is caused by” (with examples like “fight over”, “fuss over”, “protest over”), which sort of works but not quite. Would be interested to hear what others think!
14 Place of great activity, buzz? (7)
BEEHIVE – this is a (takes deep breath) cryptic definition. It’s definitely not an &Lit or even a semi&Lit, oh no, and such heretical thoughts never crossed my mind, honest mum. Metaphorically it’s a place full of busy people and “buzz”; literally it’s a place full of bees and, err, “buzz”.
16 Matter recovered from lake — wild about that! (7)
SALVAGE – L for “lake” with SAVAGE for “wild” going “about” it. Very good.
18 Make one’s home delightful at the outset? We will (5)
DWELL – D for “delightful at the outset” + WE’LL for “we will”. The apostrophe is silent.
20 Moisten meat in bottom (about time!) (5)
BASTE – BASE is “bottom”, which goes around (“about”) T for “time”.
22 Pull boat (3)
TUG – the simplest of double definitions to finish off with.


61 comments on “Quick Cryptic No 2683 by Hurley – setter wars”

  1. 11:24. OVERSPEND was my favourite. Night’s still young so maybe I’ll SINK some SACK before hitting the sack.

  2. I started with ‘group finally’=P, and ‘deck’, too, and stayed with them too long. I spotted the initial letters in NIRVANA, never actually read the clue, but I agree with Templar that it’s pretty clumsy. ‘OVER’ seems OK to me; not that I thought about it or anything. 4:56.

  3. 9 minutes. No problems. ‘Because of / OVER’ seems fine to me – ‘crying over spilt milk’ for example.

  4. Passed over lots of clues in the top half in my first pass of acrosses so built from the bottom. At the end I was left with an almost empty SW but once I let go of ‘cacti’ and thought of bRAMBLE it fell fast – BEEHIVE, ADZE, DWELL and FLUE all suddenly arrived for a 14.55 finish but not all green – a too casual keystroke gave me an unnoticed OVERSoEND. Never quite comfortable today.

  5. We thought this a bit of a curates egg. Liked baste and handsome but thought beehive and nirvana were a bit odd. A good few were write ins but several took a few goes.

    Spent too long with wrong bits of anagrist which didn’t help, particularly thinking go bananas was the instruction, rather than go being included! Also toyed with deck.

    Eventually all green in 29.12 so a bit over our 25 target.

    Thanks Hurley and Templar for the great blog

  6. Straightforward enough, but not particularly satisfying. I biffed my LOI when it couldn’t really be anything else, but “Nevermind” (I parsed it eventually). Thanks to Templar and Hurley.

    TIME 3:54

  7. Slow to get going but nothing too testing in hindsight.
    Started with HANDSOME and finished with TRIO, where I had the exact same experience as our blogger, in 7.20.
    Thanks to Templar for entertaining blog – I love the idea of Orpheus plotting his revenge.

  8. 10:52 Slowed down by DISREPAIR, which required pen and paper to untangle.

    Thanks Templar for an entertaining blog. I share your doubts about BEEHIVE.

  9. Real IT problems today – firstly the Times app threw me out half way through the puzzle, requiring a re-login and all entries and time so far lost. So no clear idea how long this took me, but I suspect around 13 minutes would be fair. Then TfTT got in on the act and deleted my first attempt at a post. Grrr.

    Sadly everyone will therefore miss my original extended musings on random and not very connected thoughts, probably on balance a blessing for all. Suffice it to say that my anagram hat was on and I whizzed through this until the last two. ACROSS took some finding (I think one can be excused not immediately seeing the cross = trial link as it was the 14th meaning in Collins), and then LOI SALVAGE followed – great clue, and totally defeated me until I had the starter S.

    Many thanks Templar for a great blog

  10. Finished it! Liked the pair of S – – K drinking clues, but not convinced about “some” = SOME.
    LOI was DWELL.

    1. I agree ‘some / SOME’ is a bit generous even allowing for this being a QC which many think means it should all be easy, but I’d be inclined to allow the setter some slack as ‘and then some!’ does make for a rather fine surface reading.

  11. Liked the puzzle, loved the blog.
    I assumed that Cross was as in ‘my cross to bear’, worked for me anyway.

  12. Chuckled at the idea of bantz in the setter’s common room!

    I found Hurley’s puzzle a bit of a PUSHOVER, though good fun. SINK was LOI, the definition for UNMANNED took me some time to see, even with the checkers.

    I like the word DOGGEREL, and when I started by career in the mid 90’s, hand-written ledgers were indeed still a thing, and poorly written entries would drive me bananas.

    EDIT: Blinking flip – second on the concise at the moment – ahead of mohn. He must be operating with broken fingers.


  13. 5.24

    Rather liked the PUSHOVER clue if only for its valiant attempt at anagramming Orpheus.

    Thanks Hurley and Templar for the always amusing blog

  14. Dnf…

    After 20 mins, I had everything apart from 16dn, and then had a total mind blank. Looking at the blog, “Salvage” now seems pretty obvious, so I’m kicking myself. Whilst I did enjoy the rest of the puzzle, this is not turning into a great week.

    FOI – 1ac “Unmanned”
    LOI – Dnf
    COD – 9ac “Pushover”

    Thanks as usual!

  15. Satisfying solve – some anagrams surprisingly difficult to re-order successfully, in a good way – and excellent blog as always from Templar! 14.30 which is good for me 😊 Joint COD to salvage and doggerel. Is SP a common abbreviation of special? I don’t really remember coming across it

  16. Right on the mark as far as I’m concerned for Hurley’s puzzle, which for a QC is neither too difficult or too easy. Whenever Hurley sets the puzzle, I seem to be just about on target time, which today was slightly under at 9.34. My only minor quibble would be with the use of SOME in 9ac when it is part of the clue.

  17. I thought this was a fairly gentle puzzle from Hurley, which I ambled through in 16mins. Might even have managed a sub-15, but for the alpha-trawl needed for loi 12ac Sink. As others have mentioned before, two word double definition clues are either blindingly obvious or fiendishly difficult and, for me, Sink today was in the latter category. Excellent blog as usual from Templer, full of little quips such as ‘the apostrophe is silent’ ☺ Invariant

  18. No problems for me. Flue was my LOI. Otherwise it was fine. Except I originally thought 12A was Down. Seemed to work fine to me but then I realised it was wrong.

  19. Much easier than yesterday’s Orpheus QC which definitely wasn’t a PUSHOVER for me! Didn’t know wine meaning of SACK but nothing else fitted (other than hock which felt a stretch). Held up by UNMANNED at the start which I needed to write out, although nothing unusual there. Pleased to remember what an ADZE was from a previous crossword. Liked SALVAGE and PUSHOVER. Not sure about the some in HANDSOME but agree surface works really well. Many thanks for the blog T.

  20. 13:09
    I had DOWN for “decline drink”, but backtracked when SPONSOR went in.

    In the QC the setter gives help, so not just “drink” for SACK, but “outdated alcoholic drink”. This is one of the key differences between the QC and the Big One.

    COD HANDSOME. Amazing how a simple instruction “and then some” was not obvious. I was obsessed with PACK or DECK being the first or last parts of the clue.

  21. Toyed with a city called PRED for 8a until, like Templar, the penny dropped and RIO was as usual the port.
    SACK was mentioned in a podcast yesterday which helped.
    Nicely pitched QC taking two visits, one coffee and 34 minutes.
    Thanks to Hurley and Templar.

  22. 11 minutes. I had to think about OVER for ‘because of’ too; Jack’s example above illustrates the sense very well. No other quibbles and I liked PUSHOVER and BEEHIVE, whatever clue category it’s deemed to best fit into; another I’m glad I didn’t have to try to explain!

    Thanks to Hurley and Templar

  23. Finished without too much trouble, though I needed The Orange One’s help with 17a. We both agree that it’s a made up word created by the setter because they couldn’t think of a word to fit there. 🤣


    My verdict: 👍

    Pumpa’s verdict: 🐈

  24. Orpheus was definitely no PUSHOVER yesterday. In fact, he pushed me over – I gave up after 72 minutes with two clues still unsolved.

    Today’s offering from Hurley was much more to my liking and I crossed the line all correct in 22 minutes, which is fast for me.

    My first pass through the across clues yesterday produced precisely nothing at all, whereas today’s attempt yielded seven correct answers and one error (I’d biffed ‘down’ instead of SINK) – an infinitely better return from my first 5-6 minutes, I’m pleased to say. Thereafter, I proceeded at a steady pace and (mercifully) did not get breezeblocked by my final few clues. SACK was my LOI, as I’d NHO the drink.

    It was nice to see Orpheus in the clues and my two favourites were HANDSOME and SCRABBLE.

    Many thanks to Hurley and Templar.

  25. 6:00

    On the gentlish side I felt, though not entirely plain sailing. Lots went in on first glance, though stuff like PUSHOVER, SPONSOR, SACK and SINK (ah! that meaning of ‘drink’) hung in there until the final reckoning. Lovely blog Templar – always an enjoyable read.

    Thanks both

  26. From NAP to TUG in 6:37. Slightly delayed by DUCT at 24a until BEEHIVE and the DWELL put me right. Thanks Hurley and Templar.

  27. 09:40

    Bit of a breeze block on LOI disrepair, even with DIS_E_AIR !

    CsOD handsome pushover…

  28. Just pitched at the right level for us today, probably helped by not waiting till supper to start.

  29. Got all the way down to 13ac before my first solve and I was worried it was going to be on a par with yesterday’s. However things improved rapidly after that and I finally finished in 17 minutes, all parsed. I was surprised at the number of anagrams, some of which needed writing out before they yielded. Other than that a fairly staedy and uneventful solve.

    FOI – 13ac RAMBLE
    LOI – 4dn NAP
    COD – 19ac SCRABBLE

    Thanks to Hurley and to Templar

  30. Same time as yesterday which goes to show something. Yesterday’s was described by most as hard – and today’s is ‘no problem’. Whatever – just over 10 mins so quite happy. Loved the blog – are you going to be a second in the ‘Chambers at 10 paces’ duel?

  31. A leisurely 13:57 here, needing many of the crossers to sort out the anagrams, which I think is probably exactly the opposite experience from the speedsters. COD and LOI SALVAGE, phrase of day “the apostrophe is silent”, which elicited a snort.

    Thanks to Templar and Hurley.

  32. Shakespeare’s Falstaff is always calling for more sack and sinking it with gusto. A carpenter’s adze used to intrigue me as a child: what did it look like? Almost a record time for me today but the dwell/flue crossover defeated me, so dnf. I spent far too long trying to justify dream at 18d: dream home, we will dream… And I got to Mornington Crescent before giving up on a 4 letter Tube station that sounded fast! Fun puzzle, great blog: thank you.

  33. 15 mins finish, despite a very nervous Sack. Don’t know the drink. Thanks for the blog Templar, couldn’t parse overspend without you. Great crossword Hurley.

  34. All done fairly quickly, though not as quick as yesterday’s. Didn’t parse OVERSPEND, but now I see it’s cleverer than I thought.

  35. DNF

    Not too bad. A brief delay on FLUE and BEEHIVE but couldn’t get LOI SALVAGE and made a rather weak guess with SOLVATE.

  36. 37 minutes of angst, frustration and despair.

    It just gets worse and worse. I’m struggling so badly with this. Not sure where to go for help!

    This was straightforward and yet I managed to make a complete mess of it. I missed some anagram indicators and then had trouble with DWELL (aren’t I stupid?), FLUE and SALVAGE. SALVAGE took something like 15 minutes. Appalling.

    Frankly all hope of ever improving has gone. Just under four years and I am still at beginner level. I made an effort recently to force myself to try the proper crossword in the hope that it would assist with this. What a waste of time that seems to have been.

    I’m sure many of you recorded great times today, so well done if that’s you. I dare not read the other comments for fear of becoming even more despondent.

    What a nightmare this week has been! 124 mins and a DNF. I’m dreading tomorrow.

    Thanks for the blog.

    PS Now read the other comments. A mistake. Several people called it ‘gentle’. Proof positive that I am simply incapable of doing this to a level that makes me feel in any way competent. I suppose someone had to be bottom of the pile, but my self esteem can’t take much more. I thought I was of reasonable intelligence until I started attempting the QC!

    1. Gary, why not try doing these without timing yourself ? Just relax and measure yourself for a few weeks in terms of finish vs dnf. I suspect that you are putting too much pressure on yourself by watching the clock. Invariant

      PS I know for a fact that a few of your reported ‘failures’ of late have actually been quicker than my own ‘successes’!

      PPS I think this game has, at best, a very loose connection with intelligence.

      1. Thanks Invariant and Steel City.

        Next week I’m going to follow your wise advice and ignore the clock.


    2. I don’t think I can do better than quote the great Izetti, who posted this on the blog on 13 July 2018: “I fear that ‘biffing’ is often caused by an obsession to finish quickly in order to quote a quick time and impress others. It goes along with the mentality of solvers who don’t like unusual words, because they like to biff from definitions. One purpose of the QC is to encourage learners to work out subsidiary definitions, sometimes even for words with which they are unfamiliar. I fear that biffing is a consequence of the obsession with ‘times’ for The Times. Relax, gentle solvers and enjoy!”

  37. Managed this in two sittings (lunch and supper … and we moan about children and their mobile phones).

    I liked the dad zealous carrying a hand tool. Sums up my dad. I’m sure he had an ADZE too. It was my FOI.

    LOI SALVAGE got once I’d completed DOGGEREL which for a long time I expected to be an anagram of in ledger.

    Thanks Hurley and Templar.

  38. 13:29 for us though it felt like it should have been faster. Slow to see SUNK and my first thought was also HOCK for the wine. Needed your help in parsing OVERSPEND, Templar, so thank you for that and thanks, too, to Hurley.

  39. I’m obviously of the wrong generation. Apparently everyone knew SACK as an alcoholic drink, except me. Another DNF because of a word I’ll never use (with the meaning of outdated alcoholic drink). On the plus side I did know ADZE and have used one 😀

  40. Back at last–either I’ve adjusted to having insomnia or I got more sleep than I thought last night, and at last I can do the QC again. 19:58, with time for two alphabet trawls for SACK and SINK, and an anxiously muttered “but a SNAP is not a match!” as I put my LOI. Some challenges for a non-British person, as I never heard of SINK for drink or saying “SNAP!” when things match, and we barely have railway stations here, let alone UNMANNED ones.

    The most amusing part of the puzzle for me was that my little inner voice, on first reading the 17A clue, immediately whispered “ADZE you fool”. Which I ignored since come on, there must be lots of four-letter words for tools, I’ll wait until I can parse it or have a crosser. The mind is a strange thing. Obviously I saw the hidden, but didn’t know I’d seen it.

    It was kind of terrible being unable to do the QC. Hence this late-night (for most of you) comment though few will see it.

    Thanks to Hurley, and to Templar for the highly entertaining blog!

    1. Absolutely get the “delayed onset solve syndrome” – I find it quite often happens when I give up and move on to the next clue in a huff, at which point the answer suddenly presents itself! Welcome back.


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