Times Quick Cryptic 2076 by Hurley

An enjoyable QC – a quick solve but a challenge to hit target – 21ac took me 9 seconds over target of 10 minutes. I count that a win for Hurley!

Definitions are underlined.

1 Smart set resolved to get something for bed (8)
MATTRESS – anagram (resolved) of SMART SET.
6 Starts to believe as King unites capital (4)
BAKU – (B)elieve (A)s (K)ing (U)nites. The capital of Azerbaijan.
8 Pub owner, he entertains a great number (4)
HOST – triple definition.
9 Back briefly with vehicle attending gambling game (8)
BACCARAT – back briefly (BAC)k, vehicle (CAR), attending (AT).
10 Unlikely story about returning ill, not to be relied on (8)
FALLIBLE – unlikely story (FABLE) about returning ill (LLI).
12 National emblem featuring in disclosure, reportedly (4)
LEEK – homophone (reportedly) of leak.
13 Brilliant stroke, working to get voucher (6)
COUPON – brilliant stroke (COUP), working (ON).
15 Detective quiet about the French unit losing heart (6)
SLEUTH – quiet (SH) about ‘the’ in French (LE) and (u)ni(T).
17 Long account by His Excellency (4)
ACHE – account (AC), His Excellency (HE).
19 One running second machine (8)
SPRINTER – second (S), machine (PRINTER).
21 New walker, not half glum, lacking enthusiasm (8)
LUKEWARM – anagram (new) of WALKER and half of gl(UM). LOI.
23 Man’s statement of money owed (4)
BILL – double definition.
24 Part of artiste’s theatre trial (4)
TEST – part of artis(TE’S T)rial.
25 Destroy shed — limo wrecked (8)
DEMOLISH – anagram (wrecked) of SHED LIMO.
2 Are initially not entirely vocal over party fruit (7)
AVOCADO – (A)re, not entirely (VOCA)l on top of party (DO).
3 Two at fault regularly arriving at aggregate (5)
TOTAL – (T)w(O) a(T) f(A)u(L)t.
4 Decline English books (3)
EBB – English (E) books x2 (B B).
5 One following Southern US soccer unusually (9)
SUCCESSOR – Southern (S), anagram (unusually) of US SOCCER.
6 Printing system in liberal revamp (7)
BRAILLE – anagram (revamp) of LIBERAL.
7 Jack’s part of church, by the sound of it (5)
KNAVE – homophone (by the sound of it) of nave. Jack in a deck of cards.
11 After prohibition, 500 bear cost of music platform (9)
BANDSTAND – after prohibition (BAN) 500 (D), bear (STAND).
14 Monitor before iron court (7)
PREFECT – before (PRE), iron (FE), court (CT) – the school type of monitor.
16 Garden feature needed by kestrel, listen! (7)
TRELLIS – inside kes(TREL LIS)ten.
18 Maybe slide into swimming pool in building protected by Church (5)
CHUTE – building (HUT) inside Church (CE).
20 Person of distinction with the Spanish prize-giver? (5)
NOBEL – person of distinction (NOB), ‘the’ in Spanish (EL).
22 Mother is silent (3)
MUM – double definition.

49 comments on “Times Quick Cryptic 2076 by Hurley”

  1. Biffed SLEUTH & LUKEWARM. With ACHE, cluing HE by ‘His Excellency’ is a mark of a QC; a 15×15 would have, say, ‘ambassador’. 5:11.
    1. I was thinking exactly that! And I think there must be other differences too — I showed yesterday’s puzzle to Mrs S (whose home turf is definitely the 15×15) and she commented with surprise that there were two hiddens. She claims it is a rule of the biggie that there is only ever one in a puzzle. Can one of our maestros confirm?


      1. As I understand it (he said, laughingly), in a 15×15 the setter is allowed one hidden, or two if one is a reverse. In the QC, the sky’s the limit. Or so I understand (still laughing). I’d wait for a maestro, if I were you.
    2. To be fair, it is usually clued as ambassador or similar in the QC, as I’m sure Jack can confirm! In fact I was actually slightly put off by it being clued this way as that is one of the pairings I now have hard wired like “do” for “party” or “home” for “in”. When you start doing crosswords in your late sixties it takes a long time to learn these, but when you finally do it is just as hard to forget them.
      Having said that, only 5 secs more than yesterdays PB, so a good day.

      Edited at 2022-02-22 04:24 pm (UTC)

  2. Pretty much a top to bottom solve with only SPRINTER and LOI LUKEWARM putting up much resistance.
    A well pitched QC but particularly enjoyed putting together the parts of PREFECT. Finished in 7.54
    Thanks to Chris and Hurley
  3. … for an 8 minute solve, with only my LOI 21A Lukewarm needing to be parsed post submission. An interesting clue, because it could also have read “New walker, half glum …” instead of ” … not half…”.

    Many thanks to Chris for the blog

    1. I wonder if it was Hurley’s attempt to indicate use the second half of glUM i.e. not (the first) half
  4. Once I gave up on “half glum” meaning that it ended UM, LUKEWARM fell into place and was much enjoyed, as was the rest of this.

    FOI MATTRESS, LOI LEEK (what a strange thing to have as a national emblem!), COD PREFECT, time 08:13 for 1.6K and a Good Day

    Many thanks Chris and Hurley


  5. Ten minutes. Not quite a write-in – seventeen on first pass. FOI Mattress, LOI host, which cost me two minutes. Did not need to parse sleuth, lukewarm and avocado so didn’t. I doubt whether I shall ever do a QC quicker than this. Thanks for the blog, Chris, it was nice to see how these worked, and to Hurley for the crossword.
    1. “I’ll bear the cost of this meal”

      “I’ll stand you all a meal”.

      Can’t see a problem TBH.

  6. Not 30, not 20, not 15 but 9:35 for a heart pounding race over the line to arrive 10 minutes before opening time. LOI a semibiffed LUKEWARM for a blistering record time under 10 minutes. Somehow they all just seemed to jump out and drop into place. Thanks Hurley and Chris
  7. Only LUKEWARM and the unpacking of SLEUTH holding me up unduly, and couldn’t quite believe that MUM was as easy as it looked, so hesitated a bit there as well.

    At the lowest end of the target zone.


  8. Inside 12 minutes by a good margin puts this at the easier end of the spectrum and makes for a good day. I liked PREFECT best, and LOI was the slightly troublesome LUKEWARM. I’m intrigued by Horryd’s comment above, but daren’t look until I’ve had a go at the 15 x 15. Thanks Chris and Hurley.
  9. I answered this on the ‘new’ format online Times (I normally use the old ‘classic’ version). It went quite well with my usual jumping around the grid. I took much too ling to see EBB (why?) and didn’t believe that lukewarm included an anagram of walker at first so a slight delay there. I made a lot of typing errors because this online version demands that every letter is entered, not just gap filling and that made for an error with NOBEL, even though I had DEMOLISH filled in OK.
    The format obviously threw me more than I realised. I’m not sure whether to stick with it or go back to the old format.
    Ah well, thanks to my silliness, I exceeded my target by a minute. Can’t complain about the QC, though — there were some excellent clues. Thanks to Hurley and Chris. John M.

    Edited at 2022-02-22 09:58 am (UTC)

    1. Lol, we too tried the new format for the first time today. I’d like to think we’ll have choice of format moving forward but I suspect the “classic” version will be retired at some point
      1. I’m sure you are right in assuming that the old version will be retired in due course. I think I’ll have to persevere with the ‘new’ format. The only downside was that the timer was ticking on visibly which I find distracting. Yes, I found that it can be disabled so I have now done that. I had a similar time to you two today! John
  10. About 7 minutes to get to an alphabet trawl for LUKEWARM. I thought that would be quicker than parsing. All done in just over 8 minutes.
    Very much a QC apart from LUKEWARM, but a good one.
  11. LUKEWARM gave me a DNF, with a sub-10 up until that point. I didn’t really see how to use “not half glum” : is that GL, UM, or maybe GM. I did not consider LM, as I has always seen “half” as consecutive letters. Was looking for some foreign word like NAUSEAM, with the “N” accounting for “new”.

    No other problems, although EBB was a challenge, and I had NOBLE at 20d which fitted the definition and but of course “LE” is French, the Spanish have “EL and LA”.


    1. Perhaps I misunderstood your post? Chris’s blog makes clear that it is an anagram of WALKER and UM (consecutive letters).
  12. A very steady solve, with Lukewarm and Fallible (I was trying to get lia/ail in there somehow) the only significant hold ups. 18mins in total, with 15ac, Sleuth, as CoD, just ahead of 14d, Prefect. A well-judged QC from Hurley. Invariant
  13. Started with EBB, then got the top row downs to allow me to see MATTRESS. I then moved south and came back to finish in the NE with BAKU and BRAILLE. 8:20. Thanks Hurley and Chris.
  14. An enjoyable puzzle which we completed using the new grid. We took ages to spot LUKEWARM even though we’d worked out how to solve it (that sounds nonsensical but it’s true). We finished in precisely 16.50.


    Thanks Chris and Hurley.

  15. Dallied over the triple definition at 8a as I’m not used to seeing them all that often in the QC. Glad I’m not the only one to struggle with LUKEWARM, my POI (penultimate one in). 7:17.
  16. A rapid 10 mins, which could have exceeded PB territory if I hadn’t got slowed down by 21ac “Lukewarm”.

    All felt very “identikit” — slot “a”, next to “b”between “c” etc.

    FOI — 1ac “Mattress”
    LOI — 21ac “Lukewarm”
    COD — 11ac “Fallible” — although I felt it was slim pickings today.

    Thanks as usual!

  17. … then embarrassingly slow to the end.

    I started well with MATTRESS, BAKU and some of their danglers. Then I hopped around the grid, utilising the new checkers as they appeared, and found myself with only three clues to solve at the 14-minute mark. Unbelievable! A whole 6 minutes available to chalk up a rare escape from the SCC. But, I’m afraid it was not to be. Those three clues (BANDSTAND, SPRINTER and LUKEWARM) took me a further 24 minutes to crack, and I crawled over the line in a much more prosaic time of 38 minutes. LUKEWARM was my LOI, as I just did not spot that it was an anagram. I was searching for something like NU_E_AUM, with N for ‘New’ and UM for ‘half glum’. Quite what ‘walker, not’ signified I couldn’t fathom.

    I feel deflated, especially as Mrs Random will not get to her attempt until later this afternoon. I had hoped to set her a challenge, but she will almost certainly go sub-20 today (she equalled her PB of 11 minutes yesterday, so she’s on form).

    Many thanks to Hurley and Chris.

    Edited at 2022-02-22 12:22 pm (UTC)

    1. I never look at my time anymore as I’m doing the grid.

      Previous experience has taught me if I think I could be on for a quick time or PB, the sudden rush of excitement will invariably bring me down to Earth — the equivalent of finding oneself with only the keeper to a beat in a football match and hoofing it into the stands.

    2. Similar story here – just on a slower timeframe.

      To get so many so early and then sit staring is deflating indeed.

      But thems the breaks.

  18. A very similar solve to others. MATTRESS went straight in but LUKEWARM held out for a minute or two at the end. My penultimate solve was SPRINTER as I failed to associate printer with machine. I confess that until today I didn’t know of BAKU, the capital of Azerbaijan. 8:22 for a good day.
    1. Azerbaijan Formula 1 Grand Prix is a city street race held in Baku. As a city tour the sights get quite familiar by lap 50 but probably not recommended for cyclists.
  19. So many machines, so it took an alphabet trawl to get to the printer! Just trying to think of a random machine wasn’t going to work. Frustrating because – of course – we’ve seen this before. Anyway, that took me to 11 minutes, which seems to be my average these days. 21a was a teaser too – strange how some words, like walker for example, just don’t look like anagram fodder!

    FOI Mattress
    LOI Sprinter
    COD Demolish – what a fun surface

    Thanks Hurley and Chris

    By the way, Phil mentioned ‘Sloggers and Betters’ yesterday – I’ve worked out the spoonerism but guess this is an event for the upper echelons?

    1. Absolutely anyone with an interest in crosswords is welcome. Some gatherings are more formal than others (in the sense that they entail planning ahead and booking venues), others are more ad-hoc – people saying they’ll be in X place (London, NYC) etc at such and such a time and then taking it from there, typically PM-ing each other and meeting up at a boozer.

      Personally, I think TffT events are superior, since beards are not compulsory…

      1. It always sounds as if the meet-up after the championships ie a highlight of the day! Maybe it’s time to start an East Midlands sub-group. Fortunately I’m not showing any signs of a beard yet 😂

        Edited at 2022-02-22 08:36 pm (UTC)

  20. SO frustrating…a DNF because I didn’t go back and change 8a from poet to host – just bamboozled by the triple definition. Otherwise a quick solve, and done unusually early afternoon waiting on today’s bread to prove – soon to be out of the oven! FOI 1a mattress. LOI 10a fallible COD 13a coupon once I had discarded tokens as obviously wrong.
  21. ….as I nailed all but three of the across clues, and all of the down clues, on my first pass. Coming back again, I knocked out FALLIBLE and LEEK immediately (I’d misread the clue for the latter). I was held up ever so slightly by my LOI.

    LOI LUKEWARM (but you’d all guessed that !)
    TIME 3:45

  22. Was on for a rare sub-SCC time today but took an age with HOST, stumped by the triple definition, although later very obvious 🙄 Limped over the line in 22 mins. No problems with LUKEWARM which I got after solving CHUTE and MUM. DNK BAKU but wordplay was clear. FOI MATTRESS. CODs FALLIBLE and COUPON. Enjoyable. Many thanks to Hurley (favourite character in Lost) and Chris
  23. 1h20 to complete.

    Was banging them in for first 20-25 mins then came up against a wall. All the time knowing the pub owner was sat there, with checkers but no idea of how I was going to get it.

    Another 30-mins passed before PREFECT, COUPON, BANDSTAND, FALLIBLE, SPRINTER all slotted in a matter of minutes.

    At 1hr05 I gave up due to aching glutes.

    Came back for a final 15-mins to get LUKEWARM and HOST. Just couldn’t see host as “a great number” even though I knew the clue might refer to something like “mass”. No complaints about that bit but “pub owner” doesn’t seem a specific enough definition for a host, to me. But I’m sure I stand corrected.


    Edited at 2022-02-22 03:56 pm (UTC)

    1. You should stop the clock, go away and have a cup of tea and then come back for a second sitting. More often than not, the hold outs then drop into place. Funny things, brains. Invariant
  24. Sailed through this in under 10 minutes until I got completely stuck on LOI LUKEWARM. And it’s so obvious with hindsight. Annoying!
  25. Busy today so had to tackle it in two halves: seemed harder than it turned out to be. All the blanks went in quickly on my return to the puzzle. Some neat clues.
  26. Very annoyed with myself. I should know better than to biff things without parsing, but 2d was so obviously AVACADO and I was going pretty well at that point, so I didn’t want to waste time (yes, I know, A stitch in time and all that). Filling in the blanks not long later, it never occurred to me that anything could be wrong, even when I couldn’t see anything that fitted 8a _A_T. An alphabet trawl came up with VAST and though I couldn’t quite see how it worked, I shoved it in. My time was 21 minutes with several minutes spent on that one, but I now need to spend at least that long writing out AVOCADO multiple times as penance for my poor spelling. I’d have probably misspelt FALLIBLE too were it not for the backwards ill. Thanks anyway Hurley and Chris

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