Times Quick Cryptic 1756 by Hurley

A very enjoyable romp through Crosswordland which took 9 minutes. Finished in the SE with 20dnac. Some crisp clueing and enough mental gymnastics to make this a challenge whilst also being quick.

Sorry – posted this to a personal blog rather than times for the times. Here we are:


1. Ruler’s talk seems all right initially (4)
TSAR – (Talk) (S)eems (A)ll (R)ight.
4. A court visit upset campaigner (8)
ACTIVIST – a (A), court (CT), anagram (upset) of VISIT.
8. Country lads love Niamh’s clothes (8)
SLOVENIA – the answer is ‘clothed’ in lad(S LOVE NIA)mh.
9. Reduce church work (4)
CHOP – church (CH), work (OP).
10. Grain, local, the French buy finally (6)
BARLEY – local (BAR), ‘the’ in French (LE), bu(Y).
11. In flexible way making provision (6)
SUPPLY – double definition.
12. Modern territory frequently linked with courage (5-2-3-3)
STATE OF THE ART – territory (STATE), frequently (OFT), courage (HEART). COD – I just liked the surface and the way the parsing clicked together.
16. Reveal contents of text by model (6)
EXPOSE – contents of t(EX)t beside model (POSE).
17. Idiosyncrasy of returning book unopened (6)
FOIBLE – of returning (FO), book unopened b(IBLE).
19. Song, popular, I adapted, in part (4)
ARIA – in part of popul(AR I A)dapted.
20. Long-distance traveller, name, international players recalled (8)
SPACEMAN – the parsing is all backwards (recalled) – name (EMAN), international players – caps (SPAC).
21. Both sides in the Rugby like nice fabric material (8)
TERYLENE – the two outer sides of (T)h(E) (R)ugb(Y) (L)ik(E) (N)ic(E).
22. Fish aunt prepared (4)
TUNA – anagram (prepared) of AUNT.


2. Saucy dance? (5)
SALSA –  salsa is an example of a dance and is also a sauce – making it ‘saucy’. Possibly an &lit – not being a Strictly fan (it’s not so much the dancing as all the dramatic razzmatazz and the seemingly dodgy voting) I am only dimly aware that this is one of the Latin American dances and so possibly considered saucy in the ‘sexy’ sense.
3. Note your rival – somehow radically different (13)
REVOLUTIONARY – anagram (somehow) of NOTE YOUR RIVAL.
4. Irritate using a word of refusal in New York (5)
ANNOY – a (A), word of refusal (NO) inside New York (NY).
5. Poles in characteristic passage (7)
TRANSIT – Poles (NS) inside characteristic (TRAIT).
6. US politician‘s weakness over gift I’d put in (4,9)
VICE PRESIDENT – weakness (VICE) over (above – this is a down clue) gift (PRESENT) with I’d (ID) put inside it. I liked yesterday’s Morten Moreland cartoon which weaved commentary from US politics with the sad news of Dave Prowse – https://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/comment/morten-morland-times-cartoon-november-30-2020-m0wdjkwxd
7. Special fuel, I hesitate to say, that’s given away too much (7)
SPOILER – special (SP), fuel (OIL), I hesitate to say (ER).
10. Vehicle, one held in reserve, coming up (3)
BUS – one held in reserve – sub – coming upwards in this down clue (BUS).
13. After ex moves, having no liability to Revenue (3-4)
TAX-FREE – anagram (moves) of AFTER EX.
14. Keep an eye on poetry in Old English (7)
OVERSEE – poetry (VERSE) inside Old and English (O E).
15. Draw neckwear item (3)
TIE – double definition.
17. Contrive dishonest outcome of snooker game (5)
FRAME – double definition.
18. Commit to memory name of king, northern (5)
LEARN – name of king (LEAR), northern (N).

44 comments on “Times Quick Cryptic 1756 by Hurley”

  1. No time, as split between early hours and lazing on waking. FOI 1a, LOI 20 ac which I biffed then parsed. Does anyone do the SEMantics (South East Mensa group) crossword?
  2. A return to sub-10 solving after well over a week, ruined by managing to alter SUPPLY to ‘supple’ in the time between parsing and typing. I enjoyed this one. Seven on the first pass of acrosses gave plenty of checkers to work with many of those passed over giving a hint they ought to yield with a but of thought. Took too long to get STATE OF THE ART despite a recent appearance. Had to concentrate to get TERYLENE, never paused to parse VICE PRESIDENT and needed the blog for FOIBLE – ‘of returning’! It was right there in front of me!
  3. My best time so far as I have breached the twenty minute barrier at last. Where was 20 down? Perhaps the blogger’s last one in was Space Man!
    1. Congrats on a sub 20! Yes – Spaceman was my LOI at 20 across – thanks for spotting that in the preamble.
  4. I really enjoyed this one. 76 minutes for me. I managed to get 23 of the 25 before I even opened my Chamber’s Crossword Dictionary. I had to come here to get the last two.

    FOI: 1a TSAR

    9a CHOP got me. One of the two I had to come here for. The other was 14d Oversee. When trying to work this clue out I had the first letter, and the word observe kept cropping up in my mind, yet I knew it couldn’t bet that as it didn’t fit with some other letters I had in the answer.

    I did think I was going to complete this without using any aids or coming here. But, as I said, 9a and 14d had me wracking my brains to no avail.

    1. A good tip from DorsetJimbo, erstwhile blogger of 15×15 and Mephistos, is to write the words of a clue vertically if you get really stuck.

      You may have got fixated on church work being something liturgical.

      Written as:

      you can concentrate on each word individually.

      When you’ve been solving for a while CHURCH will trigger a knee-jerk reaction of CH or CE. Similarly WORK will make you think OP (for OPUS) or GO.

      Combined with the checking letters at your disposal (C_O_) your options are CEOP and CHOP. Does CHOP = REDUCE? Not an obvious equivalence but yes.

      Similarly with OVERSEE, O{ld} and E{nglish} are oft used by setters and whilst there are several options for POETRY, verse is one of the usual suspects (along with ODE and LINES).

    2. Well done. You’re getting there. The first full solve is in sight. I was also stuck on OBSERVE and OBVERSE.
  5. Thanks to Hurley for a welcome return to a genuine QC. Finished in 11.08 for a pleasant change. It was a reasonably straight run through from top to bottom with late hiccoughs because, after biffing a few, I wrote in OBSERVE for 14d – a nice bear trap for the careless solver, Hurley! Finally sorted myself out when 16a had to be EXPOSE. TERYLENE (clever construction) needed the crossers before the parsing penny dropped and FOIBLE was my LOI and I parsed it later. I was helped by seeing VP and STATE OF THE ART straight away (I liked the construction of the latter).
    Another good blog from Chris which was worth a careful read through to enjoy some of Hurley’s clever clues once again. Many thanks to both. John M.

    Edited at 2020-12-01 01:50 pm (UTC)

  6. 12 quick minutes for me with no real problems to speak of. I would have been quicker, but FOIBLE, FRAME and TERYLENE held me up a touch at the end. Thanks Hurley and Chris.
  7. What do you do if you see a spaceman? Park in it, man! (It works better orally.)

    An excellent QC and lots of COD candidates. I greatly admired the concealment of SLOVENIA, which fooled me first time round (anyone else toy with “bumpkins”?).

    FOI TSAR, LOI SPACEMAN, COD TERYLENE (hon mention to STATE OF THE ART), time 8:52 for an estimated 2K and a Good Day.

    Many thanks Hurley and Chris.


  8. I managed in just under 10 too so it was very satisfying – thanks Hurley and Chrisw. There were a couple which had to be right and were a bit tricky to justify at first (eg terylene) but it was all fair enough As has been observed a proper quickie in my view.
  9. 9+ hours after the fact, I really can’t remember much, but it was sluggish going. Biffed STATE-OF etc., and SPACEMAN. I didn’t (don’t) understand CAPS. FRAME was a problem, as I know diddly about snooker. 8:13.
    1. CAPS – per Lexico, “cap” can be “(British) A cap awarded as a sign of membership of a particular sports team, especially a national team.”
  10. Is it Monday today? (somewhat disorientated due to extended period of isolation).
    Either this was very much at the easier end of the scale, or I am improving (unlikely) as I got inside 20 mins (just) with no passes. Might have been quicker if I did not obsess to parse everything twice, once before entering and again after. Sun is shining, sadly, not all well with the world.
    Thanks Chris and Hurley for bringing back the possible.
  11. A comfortable 10 minute solve. My first thought at 14dn was OBSERVE but fortunately I already had the first E-checker to force me to reconsider.
  12. I found this fairly straightforward, with one answer leading nicely to the next. I had a brief flirtation with FICKLE before WOD FOIBLE put me back on the right track. Finished in the NE, which was the last part of the grid I looked at, with LOI CHOP. Completed in 7.06, with TERYLENE being the standout clue for me.
    Thanks to Chris
  13. FOsI Barley, Aria, Vice President, Oversee, Tuna, Tie
    Feel I should admit I looked up Frame, then realised it was a word I knew.
    Yes, clever hidden word, Slovenia. Terylene clever too.

    LOI Spaceman (failed to get tricky parsing)

    Thanks to blogger, as ever.

  14. This enjoyable puzzle was very welcome after yesterday’s (for me anyway) rather tricky one. All done and dusted in 14 happy minutes, with my LOI, 20 across, the travelling SPACEMAN. Very neat clue.

    Lots to like here, eg the Lego-brick wordplay in 12 across, STATE OF THE ART, the nicely hidden instructions in 21, TERYLENE and, much less significant – but still, for a while at least, pleasingly misleading – things like the sly inclusion in 19, ARIA , of “popular ” (surely leading to IN? Nope ! ), “love ” in 8, SLOVENIA (Surely an O? Nope again), and, in 10, BUS, “one” (I? See previous answer….).
    Thanks, Chris, for the blog and thanks too to Hurley.

  15. Right on wavelength today. FOI, TSAR. LOI, ANNOY, simply because I did the grid in an anticlockwise direction. 5:45. Thanks Hurley and Chris.
  16. Agree not too difficult today. FOI TSAR then very quick progress and I started biffing a couple: 14d had to be OBSERVE and I thought 20a started STAR. These and a couple of trickier clues slowed me down. LOI was SPACEMAN (is that everyone so far?).
    COD narrowly to SUPPLY. Enjoyable. Time 10:31. David
    PS SPOILER relevant for all those who have been watching The Undoing.
  17. I finished this one well within target but the excellent cluing was mostly lost on me in my biff fest. The three thirteen letter clues were all biffed from checkers as was SLOVENIA – I didn’t see the hidden. Unlike others SPACEMAN was easily constructed and one of the few answers I fully parsed before submitting. At the 7 minute mark I only had TERYLENE and FRAME remaining. I wanted to put in fraud at 17d but couldn’t see the snooker connection and so FRAME was my LOI. 8:26 or just over 1K for an excellent day. Thanks Hurley (I enjoyed parsing many of the clues post solve) and Chris for the blog.
  18. As others have pointed out, this was a fairly gentle 15min test from Hurley, and none the worse for it. A straightforward top to bottom solve for me, with the long answers providing a good scattering of helpful crossers. I initially fell into the Observe trap, but climbed out when it didn’t parse and came back once Expose and the excellent Terylene had made it a write-in. CoD to the mischievous 17ac, Foible. My thanks to Chris and Hurley. Invariant
  19. Must have been on the right wave length today as I completed this in 10 minutes which pretty much matches my previous PB.

    Debated whether 11ac was “Supply” or “Supple”, but the only other hesitations were 20ac “Spaceman” and 21ac “Terylene” which I managed to eventually biff in my finishing frenzy.

    FOI – 1ac “Tsar”
    LOI – 21ac “Terylene”
    COD – 17ac “Foible”

    Thanks as usual.

  20. We positively sailed through this in 7 minutes (equalling our PB I think). Lots of fun clues which we really enjoyed solving – thanks Hurley.

    FOI: salsa
    LOI: terylene
    COD: state of the art

    Thanks for the blog Chris.

  21. Was actually quite quick. Bit of a biff fest though. SLOVENIA, TERYLENE and FOIBLE all waited until afterwards for further analysis and forehead slapping.


  22. My fastest for some while at 16 mins. No real holdups but didn’t stop to parse FOIBLE and only part-parsed STATE OF THE ART. Nice crossword – my thanks to Hurley and to Chris.

    FOI – 1ac TSAR
    LOI – 7dn SPOILER
    COD – 16ac EXPOSE for its smooth surface

  23. Enjoyable puzzle giving us the best time for some days. Failed to parse 17a, foible put in from definition. Thanks for the blog and to Hurley.
  24. Much easier today, and several great clues, including TERYLENE which was a new species of clue. Very nice, and CoD for me, although SLOVENIA was close. I also had a SUPPLE/SUPPLY confusion.
  25. All very straightforward today so a good time for me at 30 minutes including parsing throughout and ambling along savouring some of the clues. FOI 2d Tsar took me back to 1a Tsar; LOI 20a Spaceman where I had been thinking of comets/meteors etc so sort-of on the right path; COD 12a State of the art for the construction. Now got to find something else to do this evening… I generally find Hurley a more testing setter so think he (?) more benign today or I was just more on the wavelength. Nice succinct blog from Chris too.
  26. I was on the 10.45 this morning.

    FOI 22ac TUNA

    LOI 21ac TERYLENE – ghastly material

    COD 6dn VICE PRESIDENT – will Pence attend Biden’s inauguration or Trump’s?

    WOD 17ac FOIBLE

  27. Normally when I speed through a QC I manage about half in 10 minutes then grind to a complete halt for an hour. At 20 minutes I had just 17A/D Foible and Frame to go in and even after searching for options for both I still couldn’t understand why Foible was the answer. Very frustrating! 30 mins 48 seconds.

    Thanks for the blog and an almost personal best. Next time!

    FOI 1A Tsar
    LOI 17D Frame
    COD many, but I particularly liked the neatness of 6D Vice President

  28. This would have been close to being my second fastest ever had it not been for 21a. I’m not great on fabrics and I feared for a while it was going to be an unknown. Then I thought of TERYLENE, but wasn’t sure, firstly, if it was really a fabric (I know my mum refers to terry towelling nappies and it seemed familiar though), secondly what the correct spelling was if it was real, and thirdly, how on earth it parsed if it passed tests one and two. Thankfully it was only a couple of minutes later that I saw the answer to that third question and was thus able to stop my watch on 19:24, my best time for three weeks. Never did parse SLOVENIA, so my retrospective COD to that. Thanks Hurley and Chris
    1. Was one of the first synthetic fabrics I remember. Terry towelling is cotton, on the other hand. Don’t know why it was Terry tho. Must look up. French derivation?

      Edited at 2020-12-01 08:51 pm (UTC)

  29. I must have a weird crossword brain. I normally expect to finish the QC in about 18 minutes. I failed to complete the last five in a row but thought that todays was the easiest I have ever done (4min 30 sec)

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