Times Quick Cryptic 2057 by Orpheus

A good tester, involving a couple of educated guesses, but which I managed to finish in average time. I suspect there will be many NHOs today with the fabric, yarn, and amphibian (as well as possibly the singer and artist) all rather obscure bits of GK for a QC.

Definitions underlined.

1 Headless rodent by barrier in European capital (9)
AMSTERDAM – remove the first letter of (headless) hAMSTER (rodent), then DAM (barrier).
6 Expert identifying species of flatfish (3)
DAB – double definition.
8 Flexible individual initially visiting ruined castle (7)
ELASTIC – first letter of (initially) Individual, contained by (visiting) an anagram of (ruined) CASTLE.
9 Row about granny’s first big cat (5)
TIGER – TIER (row) containing (about) the first letter of (…’s first) Granny.
10 Back firm briefly employing family member (6,6)
SECOND COUSIN – SECOND (back), CO (company, firm), then all-but-the-last letter of (briefly) USINg (employing).
12 Torment omnivorous nocturnal mammal (6)
BADGER – double definition.
13 Fellow doctor at fight (6)
COMBAT – CO-MB (fellow doctor), then AT.
16 Singer in bar given banknote, we hear (12)
COUNTERTENOR – COUNTER (bar) with a homophone of (we hear) “tenner” (banknote). A rare singing voice.
19 Governor that needs to be straight (5)
RULER – definition and cryptic hint.
20 Article going into northern river’s meteorological conditions (7)
WEATHER – TEH (article) contined by (going into) WEAR (northern river).
22 Dull piece of floor-covering (3)
MAT – double definition.
23 Old sailor damages hot saline boggy area (4,5)
SALT MARSH – SALT (old sailor), MARS (damages), and H (hot).

1 President Lincoln’s tip for second son? (4)
ABEL – ABE (President) and the first letter of (…’s tip) Lincoln.
2 Marine algae filling children with wonder (7)
SEAWEED – AWE (wonder) contained by (filling) SEED (children).
3 Amphibian originally featuring in sci-fi film (3)
EFT – first letter of (originally) Filling, contained by (featuring in) E.T. (sci-fi film). A juvenile newt.
4 Helper on vessel talked of for a number of years (6)
DECADE – sounds like (talked of) “deck aid” (helper on vessel).
5 Musician’s device satisfied small number in capital (9)
METRONOME – MET (satisfied), then NO (small number) in ROME (capital).
6 Succeed ultimately, say, as painter and sculptor (5)
DEGAS – last letter of (ultimately) succeedeD, then E.G. (say), and AS.
7 Titled person needing oxygen in Greater London borough (7)
BARONET – O (oxygen) in BARNET (Greater London borough).
11 Approaches engendered by certain scorers? (9)
OVERTURES – definition and cryptic hint.
12 Stiffened fabric a couple of male animals required (7)
BUCKRAM – BUCK and RAM (couple of male animals). A stiff, loosely woven, cotton fabric.
14 Close relative runs into trouble (7)
BROTHER – R (runs) contained by (into) BOTHER (trouble).
15 Yarn Liberal associated with major railway junction (6)
CREWEL – L (liberal) with CREWE (major railway junction). A yarn used for embroidery.
17 Learner in group lacking illumination (5)
UNLIT – L (learner) in UNIT (group).
18 Part of circle primarily haunting gateway, perhaps (4)
ARCH – ARC (part of circle), then the first letter of (primarily) Haunting.
21 Goal of one entering in the morning (3)
AIM – I (one) contained by (entering) AM (the morning).

73 comments on “Times Quick Cryptic 2057 by Orpheus”

  1. For some reason, ‘scorers’ didn’t register with me–‘scorer’ always means ‘composer’ here–and I wasted time trying to make OVERTURNS work. 6:43.
    I do not recommend today’s 15×15 for QC solvers; or for anyone else.

    Edited at 2022-01-26 01:54 am (UTC)

  2. 9 minutes, my only unknown being CREWEL, though I’m not saying I never met it before. Fortunately the best-known thing about CREWE is that people change trains there. I now see that the yarn came up as recently as last August in the 15×15.

    One of the UK’s most famous COUNTERTENORs was Alfred Deller who came up only a few weeks ago in the main puzzle.

    Edited at 2022-01-26 06:25 am (UTC)

    1. I remember him from childhood; he was the first countertenor I ever heard. I didn’t even know there was such a voice.
      1. It’s only a highly developed and trained falsetto. It’s used a lot in early operas and the like for parts originally intended for castrati.

        Alfred had a son, Mark, who also sang countertenor, and there was a Deller Consort that performed and recorded masses of early music.

        Edited at 2022-01-26 08:45 am (UTC)

        1. I remember my father having a record of Alfred and Mark Deller. I always understood that they were brothers. They certainly looked of an age. In those days it was incredibly rare, but nowadays we are rich in glorious countertenor voices such as the magnificent Iestyn Davies
          Gill D
          1. Well there were 26 years between them so either Alfred had worn well or Mark was in bad nick!
  3. Good progress on the RHS and slow going on the left. All in vain in the end for an inexplicable ‘elastEc’, giving me a painful pink square. Cryptics were kind but I’ve never knowingly heard of CREWEL or EFT and I have to dredge BUCKRAM up from the only in crosswords vault. LOI was OVERTURES where I needed all the checkers and a good chew on my pencil — I don’t understand the ‘certain scorers’ bit (overt ures?). Thought the algae was going to require knowledge too — but then suddenly it was SEAWEED. 15m but…
    1. As per Kevin above, ‘scorer’ is ‘composer’, as in one who scores music. An overture may be engendered by certain composers!
      1. Thank you (and Kevin). I read Kevin’s “scorer always means composer here” as having an invisible “but not in this instance” afterwards and so kept looking for hidden depth!
  4. Ah; I thought you were saying the word itself is more difficult for us. I must have had the checkers in place already, as I didn’t even notice the railway part.
  5. ….were immediately jettisoned, as I couldn’t solve AMSTERDAM without checkers. I didn’t have too much difficulty thereafter, although my LOI held me up for half a minute.

    TIME 4:10

  6. Found this tough going but persevered and got there in the end. All parsed other than OVERTURES which went in from definition alone.
    NHO CREWEL but the major railway junction helped. BUCKRAM seems to pop up every now and then so that went in easy. Not sure why it took me 30 minutes from FOI: SEAWEED to LOI and COD: SECOND COUSIN.
  7. Guessed my way to a fast finish …
    … with 3D Eft only vaguely remembered and 12D Buckram and 15D Crewel strictly only-in-Crosswordland for me. But the wordplay was kind for all three and I finished in just under 9 minutes. A very satisfying solve.

    A tip of the hat for the clue for 1D Abel, with Lincoln doing double duty both pointing one in the direction of Abe and giving the L direct.

    Many thanks to William for the blog

  8. Lots of write ins but some a few clever clues that made us think — so a good puzzle. We finished in 9 minutes.


    Thanks William and Orpheus.

  9. Mainly straightforward but struggled a bit with METRONOME, OVERTURES and LOI CREWEL went in with all fingers crossed. Finished in 8.15
    Thanks to William
  10. Struggled to get started which was a bit alarming but then made good progress including the SW which dropped in easily for a change. NHO the NHO’s listed but DEGAS is much admired and spent many hours in the ritual platform change at Crewe where it always seemed to be raining. All in all settled into my corner chair in 45 minutes with a feeling of achievement and a moment or two to research newts, material and embroidery.
    Thanks to Orpheus and William.
  11. An interesting one today. I liked DECADE, (having been one), didn’t finish, but thoroughly enjoyed trying.

    From personal experience, CREWE at 1.30am was a cold and lonely place for a teenager who’d got on the wrong train in the 1960’s and found the next train wasn’t until 7am. I’ve never been back …

    Thanks Orpheus and William.


    Edited at 2022-01-26 09:13 am (UTC)

    1. Sounds like my arrival for the last train, from Doncaster to London, due to leave at 10.30pm, one icy January night, in the late 1970s. Got to the platform to find it had been cancelled.
      Freezing cold night moving between metal benches, being awakened regularly by a grumpy BR employee who said vagrants had to move on!
      It didn’t endear me to the place, either.
  12. Total disaster for me. Erratic progress around the grid. I needed crossers like never before. As they emerged, I accelerated in spurts (and wondered why I had been held up by some of the more straightforward clues) but I was still left with some holes that I filled slowly. I finished and parsed them all but ended up firmly in the SCC.
    I can’t understand it. Others didn’t seem to have major problems Maybe it was just one of those things — a bad day? Maybe my mind is on preparations for our visit to look after our lovely granddaughter for a few days? I hope I can do better tomorrow! Thanks as usual. John M.
    1. If I may be permitted to make a comment, I would say don’t beat yourself up on a slow finish. I am a reasonably seasoned solver of the 15×15 but by no means one of the quickest (average around 40 mins). I usually finish it and take great pleasure in so doing, and that is the point (with the possible exception of the last few days which have been particularly gruelling)! The more you do it the better you get. Take pleasure in the fact that you completed the puzzle. Even Kevin found it tricky!
      1. Thanks! I only commented because my time for the QC was so uncharacteristic (I have done every QC since number 1). I am normally in the 10 — 15 min range (target 15) these days. I did all the DT cryptics online this week in less time (and even the latest Eye cryptic was a quicker solve than this). As you say, this weeks batch of QCs seems harder than usual.
        I wondered if any of the other solvers in my bracket shared my difficulty. John
        1. I did okay but I thought this was tricky. If I hadnt already known the crossword words EFT and BUCKRAM and punted the NHO CREWEL I’d still be doing it…
  13. 13 minutes, and I’m another who entered LOI CREWEL with fingers crossed as I had never heard of it. I was good with all of the other GK though, so no complaints. I naturally tried to make ROTTERDAM fit initially for 1a, but it isn’t a capital, and whilst some rodents may be Trotters, a trotter isn’t a rodent. 1a was still FOI, but took a few seconds longer than it should have. Thanks William and Orpheus.
  14. As a relatively new solver I have worked out what SCC stands for but what time do you have to beat to avoid becoming a member?

  15. FOsI DAB, DEGAS then trotted relatively quickly around the grid finishing with AMSTERDAM, which made me laugh, and ABEL. Also amused by COUNTERTENOR. No problem with BUCKRAM or CREWEL, but only dimly remembered EFT, a bit of a biff.
    An enjoyable puzzle, thanks vm William.
    1. Yes — screwed up that explanation, didn’t I? Will fix once I’m back at my desk. Thanks.
  16. Some real write-ins and then trouble.
    NHO Countertenor nor Crewel.
    Overtures fair but difficult.
    Combat? Hmm, tricky too.
    Oh well, at least the bits I could do were fun.
    Thanks all
  17. Twenty-two minutes without parsing second cousin (the cousin bit), or metronome. Was going very well but was stumped for a while having pencilled in beyond reason which fit, but didn’t parse, and messed up the metronome. LOI combat, got stuck on wombat – which isn’t a fight. My Mum used a crewel needle to darn my Dad’s socks. COD Amsterdam. Thanks, William, and Orpheus.
  18. As William predicted, NHO CREWEL or EFT but guessed from clues. Guessed BUCKRAM too -heard of it, but didn’t know what it was!
  19. ABEL was FOI, but I needed all the crossers apart from METRONOME to get AMSTERDAM. Only unknown was the CREWEL definition, but I knew the railway junction. LOI OVERTURES. 8:16. Thanks Orpheus and William.
  20. A bit of obscure vocab and some well constructed clues.

    EFT is familiar to me from a senior colleague from many years ago, who used to retire to the pub at midday and start work on his daily consumption of port, calling junior staff to the pub as and when required. He always used to refer to juniors unable to cope with the required port consumption at said meetings without staggering or slurring as being “p!ssed as an eft”, rather than the more traditional newt. Different times…

    Anyway, LOI was BADGER, liked OVERTURES.

    Found some form again, 5:37.

  21. 32 mins today, fully parsed and held up by LOI CREWEL for which I was looking for a technical definition of a major railway junction. Now I feel daft as my own mother is an expert in crewel embroidery! Also held up by AMSTERDAM as I had convinced myself that the rodent must be a rat and that the unknown European capital must be a NHO eastern place. Something there to learn to improve my solving style.

    COD for OVERTURES which was cleverly crafted and I very much enjoyed DECADES as well.

    I thought Orpheus was very generous with 12a when a simple ‘Torment mammal’ would have worked.

    I do wonder why the letters ET are so frequently clued by ‘sci-fi film’. I am convinced I have seen these exact same clues for MAT and BUCKRAM before as well. Perhaps further examples of generous clueing for those like me in the SCC.

    Thanks as always to William and Orpheus. Prof

    1. I think “Torment mammal” would have been rather easier, actually, since I spent a while trying to get separate value from both “omnivorous” and “nocturnal”!
  22. A frustratingly slow start had me eyeing a DNF but bouncing all over the grid I was pleased with 12:30. EFT dragged from the depths of memory. BUCKRAM could be nothing else with the fillers I had in place and CREWEL is a new one to me.

    I like the adjective ‘chewy’ – it’s how I describe the kind of red wines that I like with steak.

  23. A flying visit today and apologies for not reading everyone’s posts yet (but I will later). Just had to say I did this in 11:37 (the time as I post) with amazing views of a SALT MARSH out of our window! Serendipity or such like 😊 We’re in Brancaster Staithe, the sky is blue(ish) and we’re off to RSPB Titchwell (more salt marsh, reed beds, saltwater lagoons and 1000s of birds). Happy days!
  24. 1ac and 1d went straight in and when Overtures and Second Cousin followed shortly afterwards I thought I was heading for a PB. Orpheus had different ideas. Badger, Dab/Baronet and Combat all took some working out, but NHO Crewel needed all the crossers before it became a ‘had to be’ answer and a 16min finish. Quite a few options for CoD, but I will give the nod to 5d, Metronome. Invariant
  25. I did this right to left and top to bottom, over a coffee at Dinton Pastures country park cafe, so on the easier side for me. CREWEL unknown to me, but wordplay helpful. Crewe used to be a trainspotter’s Mecca in the 1970s.
    I’ve not heard of Buckram either, but that also was guessable with wordplay and checkers.
    Nice puzzle. Thanks for the blog as always
  26. Everything in 20 mins apart from 13ac which I couldn’t get as I had the unconvincing “Barones” for 7dn — for some reason I was thinking of the London Borough of Barnes. Why on earth I didn’t step back and think “Baronet” I have no idea.

    As above, NHO of 15dn “Crewel” either, but the clueing was fair.

    FOI — 1ac “Amsterdam”
    LOI — dnf
    COD — 5dn “Metronome”

    Thanks as usual!

    Edited at 2022-01-26 11:58 am (UTC)

  27. Just avoided a CREWEL fate by guessing correctly. BUCKRAM and EFT are very familiar by now but there’s always a new word, isn’t there? (In fact I looked briefly at the blog for the “Monthly Club Special” the other day and don’t think I recognised a single word!)

    Like Steed and Emma I found this a mix of testers and write-ins, which made for an enjoyable solve since the easier ones meant that one was never stuck for too long.

    FOI ABEL, LOI BADGER, COD AMSTERDAM, time 08:48 for 1.3K and a Very Good day.

    Many thanks William and Orpheus.


  28. Didn’t get too many across at the top on first read through but improved towards the bottom. The downs went in more easily and the grid filled up fairly rapidly from there. Small delay at 7dn where I thought the answer was the borough rather than the aristocrat. Didn’t properly parse overture or metronome, so thanks for the explanations William. Had vaguely heard of crewel and knew all the other vocabulary. Finished in the (for me) fairly rapid time of 12 mins.

    FOI – 9ac TIGER
    LOI – 11dn OVERTURE
    COD – a toss up between 1ac AMSTERDAM and 4dn DECADE.

    Thanks to Orpheus for an entertaining puzzle.

  29. But finally limped over the line in 30 mins or so. Knew CREWEL, but NHO EFT — guessed from wordplay. Held up significantly by OVERTURES and ARCH, latter due to having SALT MIRES at first 😆 Many thanks Orpheus and William.
  30. Completed over lunch today so later than usual. All done in 15 with a typo at crewel, w
    hich was in itself a guess. Anyone else remember the mouse who lived in a windmill in Old Amsterdam? For that 1Ac is my FOI & COD
    LOI overtures
    Thanks William & Orpheus

  31. Probably due to our ages but we knew all the difficult ones from our childhoods – buckram and crewel, and the musical countertenor and Degas too. We don’t do it against the clock but managed a lunchtime sandwich and finished before the fruit and nuts.
  32. Needed our joint knowledge today, eft, buckram and crewel only known to one of us. Amsterdam was fairly obvious, had to remember the Netherlands have two capltals, The Hague came to mind first.
  33. Back from our bird spotting — we (with the help of true birders} saw a water rail, curlew, whimbrel and pintail — all would make excellent crossword answers (and on occasion have been known to!)
    Forgot to thank Orpbeus and William earlier — so thanks 😊
  34. From. Amsterdam to Crewe Central, arriving slightly early.

    FOI 1 dn ABEL

    LOI 3ac COMBAT

    COD 15dn CREWEL


  35. Another good day for me, though I thought I was going to come unstuck on my LOI COMBAT. Initially I had written in “BOMBUT” hoping it was some unknown word for “fellow”, but I knew that was very unlikely. Thankfully I didn’t take too long to see the light and stopped my watch on 15:34, which I think just about scrapes into my top 20 fastest ever. I must confess that a few went in unparsed and I’m glad I remembered coming across BUCKRAM, CREWEL and COUNTERTENOR in previous crosswords. COD to AMSTERDAM as I always approve of the inclusion of rodents, even headless ones. Thanks William and Orpheus.
  36. That was tough with 3 NHO words, BUCKRAM, EFT and LOI CREWEL. Had to rely on half the clue to get each of them and almost put EAT until I realised the clue would then be incomplete.
  37. Some nice cluing so thanks to orpheus and blogger.
    Bit worried though…4 in a row completed!
  38. All correct in 43 minutes, but not all fully parsed and not all GK known.

    BUCKRAM, EFT and DAB only half-remembered from their previous appearance(s) here. Had to trust wordplay for DEGAS and ABEL. NHO CREWEL, but again had to trust wordplay (and TROWEL just didn’t make sense).

    Many thanks to Orpheus and William.

  39. Another struggle. Had to look up dab and put in bland for 17 down. Never got on the wavelength at all, and, for a newish solver, there were few easy pickings to get me started. Monday’s ‘easy’ solve seems a long time ago!

    Gary A

  40. Tricky I thought and quite pleased to finish in s slightly sub-par time

    Liked DECADE

    Thanks all

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