Times Quick Cryptic 2071 by Pedro

Well, this one nearly went on the ‘too hard’ pile. After 8 minutes there were whole swathes of blanks in the grid. 13dn then 3dn cleared the log jam to some extent but I was still left chipping away at some clues. Even then, at 18 minutes I so nearly dnf – 8ac is a very cunning biff trap.

A lot of clever stuff – but before anyone cries ‘foul’, there were also more gimmes than would normally appear in a 15×15.

Good luck!

Definitions are underlined.

7 Square, popular in Tyneside area (4)
NINE – popular (IN) inside Tyneside area (NE). 3×3=9.
8 Sharp comment with indication about energy in cooking device (8)
BARBECUE – sharp comment (BARB) with indication (CUE – I came so close to putting QUE) about energy (E). My LOI needing the checkers. It seems both spellings (C and Q) are valid – the Q version being more American English – but the tla is always BBQ – I suppose it can’t be BBC or we’d have to have a licence.
9 Physicist initially well-informed about light particle (6)
PHOTON – (P)hysicist, well-informed about (HOT ON). I was looking for a physicist beginning with W.
10 Satisfied story is missing a show of courage (6)
METTLE – satisfied (MET a condition), story (T)a(LE) missing a.
11 Last characters in church to feel godly or saintly (4)
HOLY – churc(H) t(O) fee(L) godl(Y).
12 Support backing people in fierce speech (8)
DIATRIBE – support – aid – backing (DIA), people (TRIBE).
15 Rector’s first boy brought in some bells for his own use? (8)
PERSONAL – (R)ector and boy (SON) inside some bells (PEAL).
17 Good individual no longer with us (4)
GONE – good (G), individual (ONE).
18 A thing about boarding old British plane (6)
OBJECT – about (C – circa) getting inside (boarding) old British plane (O B JET).
21 Maker of uniforms possibly to follow common soldiers (6)
TAILOR – follow (TAIL), common soldiers (OR ordinary ranks).
22 Declining to accept sources of any really hoary old theatre piece? (3,5)
WAR HORSE – declining (WORSE) to include (A)ny (R)eally (H)oary. I dont really see War Horse as old – it was first staged on 17th October 2007. I suppose age is relative (it’s what my grandmother told me!) so maybe, to someone younger than me, 15 years ago makes it old. Or it could be that the clue isn’t quite right – but every time I think that I’m proved wrong. It seems to be so in this case as well. Thanks to the posts below for continuing my education – a war horse is any much performed (hence old)  piece of music in an opera or theatre.
23 Something to revolve around a half-dozen turns (4)
AXIS – a (A), half-dozen – six – turns (XIS).
1 Sensible to capture pencil marking on part of avian skeleton (8)
WISHBONE – sensible (WISE) holding the marking on a pencil (HB) and on (ON). Cleverly constructed clue. I was thinking wingbone for a while then thought I’d never know this piece of obscure gk – then the pdm when I realised I knew it all along.
2 Saint occupying extremely religious office (6)
VESTRY – Saint (ST) inside extremely (VERY).
3 Town near Oxford, note, toured by a major university figure (8)
ABINGDON – note (N) around which is a (A) major (BIG) university figure (DON). I found this really, really hard not being familiar with the town – although when I eventually pieced it together it did ring a bell. Note – is often clued as a musical one. Abingdon is about 7 miles SSW of Oxford.
4 A lot of dirt is ghastly (4)
GRIM – a lot of (not all of) dirt (GRIM)e. Not a hidden clue then!
5 Comedian’s mocking cry absorbing street (6)
JESTER – mocking cry (JEER) around street (ST).
6 A Parisian brought up a couple of lines without significance (4)
NULL – a Parisian – un – upwards (NU), a couple of lines (LL).
13 Confused everybody offshore? (3,2,3)
ALL AT SEA – everybody (ALL), offshore (AT SEA).
14 One moving into residence after aristocrat kept up great friendliness (8)
BONHOMIE – one (I) moving inside residence (HOME) after aristocrat – nob – upwards (BON).
16 Observe article that makes you show anger (6)
SEETHE – observe (SEE), article (THE).
17 Stringed instrument mostly good for Scottish sailor (6)
GUITAR – most of the Scottish for good (GUI)d, sailor (TAR). The whole guid thing (it’s in Collins) didn’t leap to mind but the definition was pretty clear.
19 Partiality shown by arts graduates around India (4)
BIAS – arts graduates (BAS) around India (I).
20 Some optimism returns after reflecting for a period (4)
TERM – some of optimis(M RET)urns backwards – after reflecting.

47 comments on “Times Quick Cryptic 2071 by Pedro”

  1. I biffed WAR HORSE, and wondered about the definition; I never heard of the stage piece, and only know the ‘veteran, old hand’ meaning of the term. Having been burned once by casually putting in BARBEQUE in a 15×15, I had no problem here. [On edit:] I think I got ABINGDON once I had the B D_N, but I have no idea how I came to know the town. DNK HOT ON, and I also tried to think of a W physicist; then flung in NEWTON. Which helped stretch out my time to 7:29.

    Edited at 2022-02-15 06:58 am (UTC)

  2. I didn’t find this particularly hard for a QC but needed 11 minutes (one over my target) because a number of clues didn’t give up their secrets quite so easily and needed revisiting as the checkers arrived.

    I felt for our overseas solvers when I saw ABINGDON at 3dn although it’s the third largest settlement in the county by population after the City and Banbury.

    A WAR HORSE is possibly most widely used for much-performed pieces of music in general, not necessarily opera, but also for plays. On a visit to theatre you may be treated to one war horse but if you go to a concert hall (or to hear Andre Rieu) the whole programme may consist of them.

    Edited at 2022-02-15 06:01 am (UTC)

    1. Thanks for clearing up the ‘old’ in the clue. My first thought had been that my lack of culture would derail me on that clue — and it turns out it did!
  3. Tough with some good challenges on the way. A little local knowlege can be a curse. I live pretty close to Oxford so cycled through Bicester, Didcot, Aylesbury, Witney and more before engaging with the clue to finally arrive at ABINGDON. I tried to justify Newton for physicist for a while and even got as far as proton before I finally saw PHOTON but the best moment came with AXIS where I was sure the roman numeral for six was going to play a part so that XI in the middle really threw me. I finally read the clue more slowly and groaned deeply. BONHOMIE most certainly biffed. Didn’t know nob for aristocrat and couldn’t see what ‘moving’ was doing in the clue. I also struggled with what ‘marking’ was doing in the clue for WISHBONE and needed Chris’s help to clear that up. I saw that ARH was going to feature in WAR HORSE on first reading but had forgotten by the time I came back to it as LOI and I couldn’t justify the ‘old’ in the clue. So two words not doing much in clues held me up on the way to being all green in 20.
  4. I found this tricky and had to rely on wordplay for several clues particularly WAR HORSE, VESTRY and even my LOI: BIAS.
    No problem with ABINGDON which was also a WP build.
    35 minutes including parsing.
  5. Some chewy stuff in here but all fairly clued – although I chucked in WAR HORSE from the checkers and never did work out what was going on with it.
    Living fairly close to ABINGDON made it a write in but PHOTON, METTLE and BONHOMIE proved tricky. Like Mendesest I spent time trying to get VI into the middle of LOI AXIS, before the penny dropped.
    Despite being over target I was quite happy to finish in 11.32.
    Thanks to Chris and Pedro
  6. By PHOTON WARHORSE WISHBONE OBJECT … just not on any decent wavelength. Thanks Chris- to me that was a real toughie, even with all the excellent blog explanations.
  7. Ran out of time. DNF. I saw War Horse at the National in 2008 and it was amazing. Could not parse many and gave up biffing after 40 mins.
    CODs AXIS and WISHBONE. Thanks Chris and Pedro for a frustrating puzzle that left me suitably puzzled.
  8. A good QC which was a mix of easy and quirky/testing. I thought I was motoring quickly but must simply have been totally absorbed because I finished at 2 mins over target.
    I began to list the clues I really enjoyed but ended up with so many that I erased them and just went back to Chris’s excellent blog. Many thanks to Pedro and Chris for a really enjoyable start to the day. John M.
  9. ….to publish both this tricky devil, and the nightmarish 15×15, on the same day. I finished this more than a minute over target, and unwisely thought I might not be much slower with the biggie — how wrong I was ! It took me three and a half times as long, and is definitely NOT for the faint-hearted.

    ABINGDON was a write-in for me, despite never having been there, since it was home to Morland’s Brewery and their excellent beers. Alas, they are brewed elsewhere nowadays, and are a little the poorer for it.

    TIME 6:04

  10. … and several he probably didn’t even intend on my way to a sluggish 18 minute solve. Several of my blind alleys have already been mentioned by others: the W from “initially well-informed” in 9A Photon (in passing, does Hot on really mean well-informed? I thought it meant passionately attracted to); trying to fit VI into 23A Axis; the hidden that wasn’t in 4D Grim (at least that did not take long to prove a futile search); and so on. Aaargh.

    But I spent most time on my LOI 22A War horse — I did not know the expression in its “old and much played theatre piece” meaning, and even after biffing the answer could not see what the “old” was doing in the clue — at one point I even tried “sources of any really hoary old” as giving the AR HO in the middle, but that left W—-RSE for declining which did not look right either.

    All in all I think this must rank as one of my least impressive “all greens”! But they all count, as countless sportsmen have said.

    Many thanks to Chris for the blog

    1. Well informed about is HOT ON.
      As you can see form the blog we had the same experience trying to justify ‘old’ in war horse.

      Edited at 2022-02-15 11:00 am (UTC)

  11. About 50 mins of tea drinking during which my screen largely remained as blank as my thoughts. Having filled in the little block at 7,9,11A and 1,2D fairly quickly I came to an abrupt halt as I tried to progress. ABINGDON was a slow construction but the BARBECUE was a late PDM and in the meantime I went rummaging elsewhere. Lots of good clues that took some unpacking, a number of which I felt leaned more to the 15×15 level. However, all done eventually, albeit glacially. Not all fully parsed at the time so the blog was much appreciated to fill the gaps in my thinking.
  12. I fell into all the same traps as you, except that I wasn’t tempted by the W in the photon clue. However, in my case they pushed me into the SCC with a time of 22 minutes. METTLE and GRIM were my last two in, in the NE. Some very good challenges here, but I think I’ll give the 15 x 15 a miss today, given Phil’s assessment above. Thanks both.
  13. I thought I was looking at a dnf but I ground it out in the end. No where near my recent sub 10’s though. Never heard of war horse. A bit too tricky for a quickie methinks, thanks though!
  14. Biffed most of this in thirteen minutes, needing another six to see axis and warhorse. Needed the blog for the parsing of no less than eight clues, which were all biffable. Did not see hot on, the hidden for holy, the aid in diatribe, the c in object, the other ranks in tailor, only got Abingdon because we drive past it quite often, and did not see the nob in bonhomie. Thanks for sorting all that out, Chris. I quite enjoyed the puzzling aspect of this. Thanks, Pedro.
  15. DNF WISHBONE, not helped by putting Proton for 9a. Just realised I forgot to go back and solve WAR which I could have biffed eventually, I dare say, having got HORSE. Put Art House to begin with, oh dear.
    PDMs with ABINGDON and BARBECUE helped the rest.
    Had to begin in SE corner as drew a blank until then. FOI ALL AT SEA, like me.
    Thanks vm, Chris. COD BONHOMIE, though not entirely what I felt towards Pedro.

  16. Steady solve over about 20 minutes, with some household interruptions. North East corner last to fall. GRIM and METTLE last in.
    Thanks for the blog, and the setter for the puzzle
  17. I gave up around the 20 mins mark with 14d refusing to yield. I suspected it was a borrowed French word and got as far as BON/nob for good/aristocrat and then just couldn’t recall how the word ended. I’m definitely lacking in BONHOMIE because I failed my day 6 lateral flow test. My other main hold ups were WISHBONE, VESTRY and the parsing of GUITAR. Thanks Chris

    Edited at 2022-02-15 10:54 am (UTC)

  18. This was hard for a QC. I happened to know ABINGDON so that sped things up and I had all but three finished in 12 minutes.
    I decided not to give up. I eventually worked out BONHOMIE and then went to my last two. I had WALTON,WILTON and WESTON as the physicist until I saw I was barking up the wrong tree.
    Finally I spent ages parsing 1d and it came down to a choice of FISHBONE or WISHBONE. On the basis that FINE = Sensible, I went for FISHBONE.
    So one wrong after 26 minutes.
    A good struggle. I was defeated by Pedro; nothing unfair with hindsight, but tough at this level.
    1. Dear Mr Ivad (!),
      I suffered the same fate as you — DNFing by one letter of one clue, based upon some spurious logic — but on a different clue. I put TINE instead of NINE, and was gobsmacked by my ineptitude when I read Chris’s blog. Galling at the time if one adhere’s strictly to ‘competition’ rules, but laughable now that some hours have passed.
      Good luck tomorrow!
      Mr Random
  19. 14:06 and pleased as it seemed chewy in parts. Some very nice clues which lent themselves to “biff then check”, although NEWTON at 9A was a Biff too far. This was my COD because of the fair misdirection, and the pleasing “Hot on”. This phrase is often used to describe someones contributions to Pub Quizzes.


  20. I started off fairly quickly filling the NW, with ABINGDON known as I once stayed there. I seemed to slow down after that, but still came in under target at 9:07 with WAR HORSE LOI. Thanks Pedro and Chris.
    1. Remarkable how many of us seem to have a connection to Abingdon. Perhaps it’s something to do with its 37(?) pubs? Our group tried quite a few, but then settled on one with a bar billiards table for the rest of the stay. Happy days.
      1. I was there house sitting for my ex wife’s sister’s husband’s parents:-) She wasn’t my ex wife then so it was long long ago! Funnily enough I now regularly visit Abington in Northampton where my cousin lives. In fact I’ll be there this weekend en-route to Hounslow.
        1. I once lived at a place with the phone number Abingdon 235. Little known fact — Abingdon was the last telephone exchange in southern England to move from operator-only to automated Subscriber Trunk Dialling (it was as late as some time in the 1970s)
  21. Distinctly chewy, but nonetheless very enjoyable. At one point I had about ten answers without a single overlap, which made for a very odd looking solve. As a student, I once stayed in Cosener’s House in Abingdon while on a course at the Rutherford Lab, so 3d was a write in with a couple of checkers in place. Sadly, it was also the final hold out on the parsing front — Bing (Crosby) for note seemed dubious, even for Pedro. Stopped the clock at 25mins, with CoD to 18ac, Object, a nose ahead of 2d, Vestry. Invariant
  22. And to every action, there is a reaction! After yesterday’s speedy solve, today put me firmly in the SCC. In fact, I got so stuck with about four to go that I went away for a bit. It did make a difference – when I came back after about 10 minutes, those last little so-and-sos made their appearance quite quickly.
    I thought it was very hard. If it had been a biggie, I wouldn’t have minded the struggle. However, ABINGDON was a gimme – I went to school there for a couple of years in the early 60s and my favourite car ever was made there (a 1973 MGB Roadster)! As Phil says, Morlands brewery was there too – their pubs had lovely signs and their Old Speckled Hen beer was brewed in commemoration of an MG car! Morlands ales are made in the home town of one of our esteemed bloggers now – nowhere near Berks / Oxon.
    FOI Nine
    LOI War horse
    WOD Bonhomie
    COD All at sea – because I was!
    Thanks Pedro and Chris
  23. DNF, foiled by NW corner: NINE,PHOTON & WISHBONE. Guessed WAR HORSE (nothing else fitted). A challenging puzzle for a QC.
  24. … I can’t believe I DNF’d on 7a (NINE). I put TINE on the basis that TE might be the Tyneside postcode (I don’t know what it is) and that garden fork tines are square in section. My error ruined an otherwise good performane (36 minutes is good for me) on what I deemed to be a very tricky puzzle.

    I’m not happy, but many thanks anyway to Pedro and Chris.

  25. Foul!

    Only kidding….I did actually finish this, but gave up on looking at the time (about 45 mins). As my first one in was 17ac, I knew I was in trouble.

    To be fair, as noted above, none of the answers were particularly difficult, but the clueing felt impenetrable at times. DNK “Guid” for Scottish “good” — so that’s one to store away for another time. Should have got 9ac “Photon” much sooner than I did (I had Newton/Proton and various other combos).

    FOI — 17ac “Gone”
    LOI — 1dn “Wishbone”
    COD — 9ac “Photon”

    Thanks as usual!

  26. We were well and truly outdone by Pedro today. We failed to get WAR HORSE even though we had HORSE (and have seen the play). We also failed to spot GRIM and METTLE so we gave up after 22 minutes.

    COD: we like BONHOMIE and NINE

    Thanks Chris and Pedro.

  27. But amazed that I completed this in circa 30 minutes. Initially thought absolutely no hope but struggled through. Photon — like others — tricky. I was in the Newton camp. Also ages thinking Birdbone and knowing it to be something else. Gosh, years since I grabbed and snapped the wishbone!
    Some obscure stuff but somehow finished.
    Thanks all
  28. … in about 1hr30. Technical DNF as checker-assisted on PHOTON (orig. proton), NINE (side), METTLE (metale – couldn’t remember how to spell mettle initially and had reached the wrist-slashing stage of bunging stuff in for the checker!) But otherwise all my own work – somehow.

    Quite a few clues I biffed and couldn’t unravel PERSONAL, OBJECT, WARHORSE, ABINGDON, METTLE, GUITAR, VESTRY


    Tough one today – so pleased to get through it 95% successfully

    1. 100% success is so difficult. On average, a QC contains 25 clues and if each clue is made up of 2-3 components (sometimes more) we have to go error-free for around 65-70 elements, just to avoid a DNF. How some solvers achieve this in astonishing times day after day beggars belief. I know I will never join their ranks.
  29. We also found this to be a mixture of easier clues and tricky ones. Did not know warhorse as described and we spent a lot of time in the sw corner. The nob of bonhomme was no problem, remembering the phrase ” he is one of the nobs” from many years ago. A lack of anagrams did not help us. An interesting puzzle.
  30. that others got stuck, not just me. 29 min and 4 unsolved. War Horse passed me by today, could not disentangle and did not know the other meaning but loved the stage show. Failed on tortuous Wishbone, impressive clue. Nine and Term hiding in plain sight, where I did not see them, but know I should have done. Many thanks to Chris for extended blog, and Master Pedro for creative clues.
  31. Biffed BOTTLE for show of courage, but even when that penny dropped I didn’t see GRIM, or indeed OBJECT or BAERBECUE. A really tough one. Gave up after 30 minutes.
  32. I biffed bottle as well which caused much consternation until I worked out grim. As with others, many clues were ‘biffable’ and the blog was very welcome in its explanations! I was held up at the end with war horse. Somewhere in the 40-50 minute range, but just glad to complete it.

    Gary A

  33. Now, usually, if others found it difficult, I usually would’ve really struggled and either have taken hours or not completed the grid, but I found this fairly straightforward once I tried it not semi-conscious on painkillers. I was a little perturbed when on the initial first scan on the clues I got to #11 before there was an obvious one, but the down ones were more obvious, especially #3, and once I had few in, the crossers pointed me in the right direction. Dozed off, appropriately, at confused everyone offshore, but returning to it when actually awake, it was straightforward other than bonhomie, which I got when I had the crossers, and war horse, which I just wasn’t confident in, even though it fitted, so came here to double check and see what I’d missed, and I didn’t know the theatrical definition of a war horse, so that now makes sense.
    For once, I must’ve been on the right wavelength for the setter, or my crossword skills are finally improving
    FOI: Holy. LOI: War horse Liked: 8, 10, 15, 1, 3, 6.
    For once, didn’t biff anything!


    1. Congratulations and welcome! If you ever have any questions (no matter how small) then we’re very happy to help.
  34. Just did this today. I thought this was very difficult and couldn’t get many at all. Thank you for the blog. I must say vestry was misleading as it is not a church office it’s a robing room for the clergy in a church — often full of flotsam and jetsam!

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