Times Quick Cryptic 1236 by Hurley

I really enjoyed today’s puzzle – lots of crinkly parsings and good surfaces but still quick by 15×15 standards. I particularly liked the simple yet chewy 22dn but that was pipped to COD by 15dn.
LOI was 16ac by a country mile – it’s ‘crinkliness’ took 2 minutes to unravel which just tipped me over the ten minute mark.


7. NAKED EYE – natural (not using any aids) looker (something which looks/sees). Anagram (at work) of NEED A KEY.
8. TOOK – stole. In addition (TOO), thousand (K).
9. BARROW – something street vendor uses. Black (B), pointer (ARROW).
10. RICER – kitchen utensil – rather like a potato masher but which forces the potato though a hole the size of a grain of rice. I enjoy cooking but the nearest I’ve got to one of these is a garlic crusher. Better off (RIChER) dropping husband (H).
11. AFT – towards the stern. (A)dmiral’s (F)ound (T)urning.
12. FEISTY – lively. Anagram (unusually) of FIT YES.
14. SHADOW – dog (someone’s steps). Display (SHOW) welcomes publicity (AD).
16. DECREE – edict. The easy bit is energy (E). Then take 50% off (DECRE)asing and put the remainder at the front of the answer (i.e. before the ‘e’) to get DECRE E. As usual, it’s all very easy once you see it.
18. CREDIT – believe (you wouldn’t credit it). Anagram (unexpectedly) of DIRECT.
19. LEA – meadow. To get the answer you have to visit b(L)u(E)j(A)y regularly.
20.SPEED – rush. Gym (PE) inside southeast (SE) found beside duke (D).
21. SALVER – tray. One putting money aside (SAVER) including pounds (L).
23. LAST – double definition.
24. SPLENDID – brilliant. Anagram (renovated) of SPINDLE, daughter (D).


1. JAPANESE – Asian. Judge (J) with a (A), sheet of glass (PANE), the extremities of (S)af(E).
2. VEER – change direction. Some of nai(VE ER)ror.
3. MEDWAY – river. Surprised exclamation (MY!) around editor (ED) and Washington (WA).
4. HEARTS – suit in cards. Fellow (HE) with skills (ARTS).
5. STOCKADE – barrier. Standard (STOCK – as in answer), homophone (we hear) of help – aid.
6. DOUR – sullen. Medic (DR) outside Oxford University (OU).
13. SORRENTO – Italian port. Anagram (strangely) of NO RESORT.
15. OLIVE OIL – cooking ingredient. As it happens (LIVE – as in a broadcast) inside (stuffing) two ducks (OO), I (I), left (L).
17. ELDEST – first born. Housed in the clue – hot(EL DEST)ined.
18. CASTLE – big house maybe. Actors (CAST) with ‘the’ in French (LE).
20. SLAP – hit. Small (S), circuit (LAP).
22. LYNX – feline. Homophone (they say) of couples – links.

27 comments on “Times Quick Cryptic 1236 by Hurley”

  1. No problem with MEDWAY (with some checkers) or SORRENTO, but like Vinyl I just waited for checkers and biffed DECREE. I suppose I should have spotted the ‘decre’ of ‘decreasing’–who knows, maybe I did–but did not work out the parsing. 4:46, slightly over 2 Verlaines.
  2. Found it quite tough, and ran out of time after 25 mins with lynx outstanding.

    Also dnk salver.

    Cod eldest.

  3. 8 minutes. It’s interesting that DECREE seems to have caused a bit of difficulty (yes, I waited for the checkers too!) as all but one letter of the answer is in a word in the clue. There has been some dicussion here recently about this sort of thing, ‘monster’ leading to MONSTRANCE, ‘duck’ leading ‘shelduck’ etc – is it lazy clueing or a ruse to distract solvers? Today’s example is leading me to think it’s more likely to be the latter as the comments would seem to suggest that it actually works in a kind of ‘hiding in plain sight’ sort of way. After the ‘duck’ incident I started to refer to ‘dead duck’ clues, but I now think ‘decoy duck’ may be a better term.
  4. Great puzzle. Most clues needed a bit of work but all fair. Would have been fast for me but for an eight minute interruption. Didn’t know Sorrento but with all the checkers and knowing it was an anagram of somewhere in Italy it had to end in O, so only three letters left to put in. LYNX was LOI, my first sighting of this chestnut. FOI was NAKED EYE, spotted the anagram and that it ended in EYE but took a while for the last five letters give up their secret.
  5. No problems apart from LOI 16a. After 14 minutes I had all the checkers but could not find an answer. Had I not been solving online I would have gone for a break. I finally found DECREE and the clock was at 22:23.
    As our blogger says it’s very clear once you’ve got it, but the clue was constructed in such a way that I could not see what was required. David
  6. Back to SCC with 19.09. Chewy. Didn’t spot the anagram for ages in naked eye and LOI was what should have been a straightforward slap. Doh. Lynx finally clicked only after dismissing a dubious risqué lion.
  7. Slightly trickier than of late, I thought… but maybe my thinking was just in the wrong direction at times. e.g. failed to spot the anagram at 7a initially and was looking for a verb form of suit at 4d – HEARTS my LOI. Fortunately my geographical GK was up to 3d and 12d. COD to the neatly hidden ELDEST. 5:20.
  8. DECREE was my LOI by miles too, despite having all the checkers … in fact I chewed my pen for a full Kevin over it, taking me to 3.2 Kevins, a Not Very Good Day. As the comments seem to suggest, if this type of clue is a distraction device it’s working rather well!

    Enjoyable puzzle and blog, thanks Hurley and Chris.

    Am I the only person who briefly wondered whether there is a type of nautical tray known as a “slaver”? Just me then?


  9. … as I started to check my answers and forgot I hadn’t completed 11a!
    COD: 1d
    LOI: technically 11a, but it was 16a
    thanks to the blogger, setter and all who contribute
  10. ….SPEED this morning. Trickier than yesterday for sure, and an increase of 24% in my finishing time bears that out.

    I was fine with DECREE, but struggled just a little with MEDWAY. Kent is the only English county I have never visited. Maybe next year….

    TIME 3:57

    Phil Jordan

  11. Definitely on the chewy side. Got fixated with ‘par’ as the start of 5d and couldn’t get past the mindset for ages. Isn’t 1d a Definition by Example? Is so there ought to be a question mark or other indicator in there somewhere.
    Thanks as always to setter and blogger.
      1. I see your point. I suppose that makes this a Solution by Example, if there is such a phrase.
  12. I’m glad a few others struggled with DECREE – Was the only clue remaining to be solved, and puzzled over it for about 5 minutes on the bus this morning, before realising I was almost at work and so gave up and came on here to have my folly revealed to me… Still, pretty happy with getting the rest completed in a fairly decent (for me at least) 20ish minutes.
  13. Eldest and decree, just did not ‘see’ either – thank heavens for the blog! 75 mins. Frankyanne
    1. No times are good or bad – it’s just what you make of them personally. Thanks for posting yours today. We get a few comments that fast times posted can be demoralising (which I hope isn’t true – when I first started it gave me hope that these puzzles were solvable) so I hope this will balance the books a bit and encourage non-commenters (aka lurkers!) to come forward.

      Edited at 2018-12-04 01:03 pm (UTC)

      1. As a fairly ‘newbie’ myself, I don’t find the fast times demoralising, merely impressive!
      2. times do not bother me either.
        admittedly, mine aren’t fast and I prefer to focus on the quality (or lack of it) of the solve.
        however, my times have started to drop … and I think I’ve highlgihted, but I stand in awe for the less than 10 min crew!
  14. Just over my 30 mins or so average. Saw RICER straightaway but had never heard of it. FOI NAKED EYE. LOIs JAPANESE/DECREE. Spent too long trying to think of an asian judge before the obvious hit me. Why was DECREE so difficult when it was there in plain sight and totally biffable?. COD DECREE for a clue which had us all going around the houses for no obvious reason.
  15. I had no particular problems, but I always find Hurley’s puzzles on the chewy side. I biffed DECREE from the checkers, but did spot the parsing just afterwards. The vaguely remembered RICER took a while though. 9:06. Thanks Hurley and Chris.
  16. A steady solve until the final one 16a DECREE. The placing and checkers E R and E were not particularly useful. Yes, E could be energy but that didn’t help me. A good example of my tendency to overcomplicate things and my undoing today. Finished in 14:27. I enjoyed the rest of the puzzle. Thanks Hurley and Chris.
  17. I had a similar solve to many others it would seem with DECREE adding a couple of minutes to my time of 14.13. The Italian port and the river also proved tricky, especially as I was focused on getting HEY into the river. CoD goes to 14a for reminding me of one of my favourite childhood books ‘Shadow the Sheepdog’.
    Thanks for the blog
  18. Horrible puzzle. Dodgy definitions – the whole lot that makes the 15×15 so unenjoyable. Quick cryptic has lost it’s way.

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