Times Quick Cryptic 2157 by Oink

Straightforward, but not boringly so.

FOI 1dn, LOI 4dn, COD 1ac. Thanks Oink!

Definitions underlined.

1 Large Ugandan I deployed as my protector? (8,5)
GUARDIAN ANGEL – anagram of (deployed) LARGE UGANDAN I.
8 Annoys agents searching for drugs, we hear (5)
NARKS -sounds like (we hear) “narcs” (agents searching for drugs).
9 Here’s a little something for you? (7)
PRESENT – double definition.
10 Gangster fleeing one country for another (7)
AUSTRIA – AL (Capone, gangster) removed from (fleeing) AUSTRalIA (one country).
11 Singer with extremely ladylike name (5)
TITLE – TIT (singer) with the first and last letters of (extremely) LadylikE.
13 Horrible tangerine, one from S America (9)
ARGENTINE – anagram of (horrible) TANGERINE.
17 Quick to have bases around lake (5)
FLEET – FEET (bases) containing (around) L (lake).
19 Shocking outburst by old boy (7)
OBSCENE – SCENE (outburst) by OB (old boy).
20 Forgive sailor taking crack (7)
ABSOLVE – AB (sailor) and SOLVE (crack).
22 Old cardinal inhaling unknown gas (5)
OZONE – O (old) and ONE (cardinal (number)) containing (inhaling) Z (unknown).
23 Return to office to check report (13)
REINSTATEMENT – REIN (check) and STATEMENT (report).
1 Ultimately threatening chap from United Nations? He might shoot you (6)
GUNMAN – last letter of (ultimately) threateninG then UN MAN (chap from United Nations?).
2 Pecos area developed for advanced industry (9)
AEROSPACE – anagram of (developed) PECOS AREA.
3 Help with washing up during childish rage? (7)
DISHRAG – hidden in (during) chilDISH RAGe.
4 Characters in Aristophanes perhaps finding most essential part (5,3,5)
ALPHA AND OMEGA – Letters of the Greek alphabet (characters in Aristophanes perhaps).
5 Someone like Mata Hari, but a man (5)
AGENT – A GENT (a man). Mata Hari is the alias of a famous female WWI spy.
6 Geese occasionally neglected? Gosh! (3)
GEE – every other letter (occasionally) deleted from (neglected) GeEsE.
7 Mess made by lots of little pigs (6)
LITTER – double definition.
12 Criminal to free her thus? (9)
THEREFORE – anagram of (criminal) TO FREE HER.
14 Where shopper may be arriving soon (2,5)
IN STORE – double definition.
15 Announcement of a beautiful romance (6)
AFFAIR – sounds like (announcement of) “a fair” (a beautiful).
16 His Excellency’s in ultimate command (6)
BEHEST – HE (His Excellency) contained by (in) BEST (ultimate).
18 Accounts of saint heading north drinking beer (5)
TALES -ST (saint) reversed (heading north), containing (drinking) ALE (beer).
21 Runner hiding in Enniskillen (3)
SKI -hidden in enniSKIllen.

62 comments on “Times Quick Cryptic 2157 by Oink”

  1. Oink is my favourite setter 🙂

    FOI: gunman (which then gave me guardian angel and away we went)
    LOI: Title (took me a while to see a tit being a singer)
    COD: Austria (I bet this is one that’s come up before in different guises (is that called a chestnut like that old chestnut) but I’m new and the glee I felt when I worked it out!!!)

    I didn’t remember Mata Hari’s name but I liked that clue too. My book recommendation today is Ben McIntyre’s the Spy and the Traitor which is a non fiction spy novel that reads like fiction.

    1. Oh i have a newbie question. Can unknown be x y or z? Any other letters?

      1. That’s all I’m familiar with! I feel like N is clued slightly differently, like ‘some number’. I don’t think I’ve ever seen it clued as ‘unknown’.

        1. Oh good! I was surprised to see z as unknown today. We’re getting into 3D calculus territory

  2. 12:27 Luckily able to overcome some self-made obstacles. Thinking Aristophanes would provide the letters for 4 down and thinking 1 across would end with five-letter word “guard”. Also that Syria from Assyria would help with 10 across . Could make no sense of hes inside bet but finally saw it was just he inside best! COD to OBSCENE.

  3. Finished in 8:19, a very fast time for me. Would have easily been a PB if I hadn’t spent an embarrassingly long time trying to complete REINSTATEMENT, with all the crossing letters already in place. Ah well. FOI GUARDIAN ANGEL, LOI REINSTATEMENT, COD AUSTRIA.

    Did not know ALPHA AND OMEGA used to mean “most essential part”.

    1. Revelation 1:8:
      “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.”

      1. It is a bit strange, isn’t it, for ‘first and last’ to mean ‘most essential’? But I get the drift… “from A to Z” becomes “A and Z”.

  4. I got very bogged down trying to figure out the anagrams, rather than moving on to the rest of the puzzle to get checking letters. So not only did I take a long time, but I realized after submitting that I’d failed to unscramble AEROSPACE. Oof.

  5. -Assyria’s a country isn’t it?
    -Uh, don’t think so
    -Go on, that’s where Yossarian’s from
    -You remember, Catch-22
    -Sure, but I still don’t think it’s a country
    -But it probably used to be one
    -I really don’t think that’s a good-
    -Too late, I’m hitting submit!

    -I told you not to do that
    -Oh well. Hey it looks like we entered ONSCENE instead of OBSCENE anyway so it didn’t really matter
    -Still. I feel really dumb right now. It was probably some obvious country, like-
    -Austria! Austria and AustrALia! Geddit?
    -Right, great. See you tomorrow

  6. I took the midday flight from Vienna to Buenos Aries

    LOI 16dn BEHEST
    COD 10ac AUSTRIA
    WOD 4dn ALPHA AND OMEGA which was in the 15×15 quite recently.

    I believe the QCs are getting somewhat harder. Like Jack recently I am struggling to get under 10 minutes.

  7. At 9 minutes this was my first “target achieved” since last Wednesday. I saw GUARDIAN ANGEL straightaway which gave me lots of first letters for Down answers. No problems other than an extra beat or two needed to spot the double definition at 9ac.

  8. I agree with horryd that the QCs appear to be getting harder. No complaints from me. I thought that ‘scope’ rather than ‘pecos’ might have provided more potential.

  9. 24 minutes with no real hold-ups. BIFD AFFAIR seeing the homophone post solve.
    Favourite TITLE.

  10. REINSTATEMENT and BEHEST both took a good while to unravel at the end after a good momentum built from a slow start. I spotted ‘guard’ quickly at 1a but thought it must go after something like Coldstream and so GUARDIAN ANGEL was not one of the 3 I got from the first pass of acrosses. Downs went better, particularly enjoying AGENT on the way. Didn’t think I’d ever heard of ALPHA AND OMEGA but once I saw alpha would fit it seemed to make sense. All green in 14.

  11. 43min50 solve.

    Last 10mins of that spent staring at the checkers of ThErEfOrE before I eventually saw the anagram. Frustratingly discounted that on my first parse when “free her thus” had too many letters.

    The 10mins before that … were spent trying to figure out REINSTATEMENT, BEHEST and AFFAIR – the latter of which I’d put in but couldn’t definitively parse. Likewise PRESENT and IN-STORE, as they don’t seem cryptic enough.

    Biggest block in the early going was resolutely sticking with Adele (in place of TITLE). Could see the LE ending and should have realised she’s not dead but there’s the A in the Mata-Hari clue and I was using the clue’s “like” for AS at the beginning while trying variations of spy and bond in there. Ugh.

    ARGENTINE FLEET – interesting choice, the day after 40th anniversary commemorations.


    Thanks to Oink and William

  12. 5.41

    No hold ups today. I also like Oink but as I solve on my phone I never know who the setter is till I come here and didn’t clock the pig reference this time.

    All very smooth, though maybe no absolute stand out clues today

    Thanks William and Oink

  13. Nice to have a puzzle from Oink again – we have been missing them recently I think. And I celebrated by romping through it in 5 1/2 minutes, my second faster ever (is the acronym “PSB” in the canon?), helped by spotting 1A Guardian Angel straight away and then all the downs from it following quickly. Only (minor) hold-up was over 3D Dishrag, as this is not a term we use in our household (dishcloth or teatowel territory here …) but the answer was clear enough.

    Many thanks to William for the blog

    1. Oink
      I too had the impression he’d been appearing less frequently but a little research confirms that’s not really true. In his first full year as setter (2019) he produced 11 puzzles, and in 2020 and 2021 he set 12 in each, spaced pretty evenly at around one puzzle per month. This year he has set 6, and it’s June, so he’s right on target. It’s true he missed March but he gave us two in April to make up. Having said all that, his last appearance before today was 2nd May so we were definitely due this one.

  14. 5:54 which is a bit slow for me, but I needed checkers to get the long answers. Odd to find the same word in both this and today’s 15×15. Thanks Oink and William.

  15. 1a went straight in and thereafter it was a gentle top to bottom solve. I thought I might break 5 minutes but LOI BEHEST put paid to that. Lots of excellent surfaces but GUARDIAN ANGEL gets my vote for COD.
    Finished in 5.19.
    Thanks to William and Oink

  16. I was a bit slow on that, getting stuck on BEHEST (too many E checkers!) and just generally taking a long time to crack my last half dozen. Nice puzzle, very elegant.

    FOI GUNMAN, LOI DISHRAG (durr), COD ABSOLVE, time 10:13 for 2.5K and a Very Bad Day.

    Many thanks Oink and William.


  17. I like Oink, too, but this was not as easy for me as for many posters above. I was over target but not embarrassingly so. It still took me longer than yesterday’s T-graph Cryptic, though. I’ll see what today brings.
    1a went in early but a typo in 1d made AUSTRIA impossible until I returned and proof-read carefully. 23a needed most of the crossers before it clicked (and led to BEHEST as my LOI).
    A good puzzle. Thanks to Oink and William. John M.

  18. 1ac went straight in and its offspring then gave me a good start that, for once, continued as I moved down the grid. A 14min solve, including a couple on loi Present where I missed the dd and so thought it was too simple to be the answer, is quick for me. CoD to 16d, Behest, which like 17ac Fleet (of foot) is starting to feel a bit ancient. Invariant

  19. Much enjoyed. Relatively quick after easy 1a, but took a while to see LOI ALPHA AND OMEGA, even with all the checkers.
    Liked the piglets LITTER, PRESENT, BEHEST, TITLE, FLEET.
    Thanks vm, William.

  20. Pretty straightforward, with only BEHEST taking me over the 4 minute barrier – wasn’t sure where to put the HE, and it’s not a word I use often.

    Lots of smooth surfaces made this fun but not difficult!


  21. 22 mins…

    I’ve mentioned previously that I think Oink’s been getting harder and this hasn’t changed my mind.

    We always had a “dishcloth” in our house, not a dishrag – so 3dn took far longer than it probably should have.

    FOI – 1ac “Guardian Angel”
    LOI – 4dn “Alpha and Omega”
    COD – 20ac “Absolve”

    Thanks as usual!

  22. Managed not to get caught out by ASSYRIA today. First 3 in, GEE, LITTER and GUARDIAN ANGEL. LOI FLEET. 6:17. Thanks Oink and William.

  23. Well I did get caught out by ASSYRIA, so a DNF for me in 11.34, which was outside my target anyway. Having been to Austria on so many occasions I haven’t a clue why I went back to biblical times. A fair crossword with some good clueing, so disappointed to have failed on a clue I vaguely remember having cocked up before.

  24. Enjoyable 29 min solve today, held up for almost 10 mins by my LOI, REINSTATEMENT, despite having all the checkers, and it took Mrs Prof to solve it.

    I think historians now mainly agree that Mata Hari was not an agent of the German state but a scapegoat for the failings and mutinies of the French army. Although the French had themselves attempted to use her as an agent against the Germans, so the clue is fair enough!


    Thanks William and Oink.

  25. Please can someone help me understand why “in store” means “arriving soon”. Thanks

    1. Or if you want an example that passes the direct substitution test: There’s some bad weather in store.

  26. Am commenting from Jackkt territory today (Weston Turville)! Actually a rather sad job, sorting out my husband’s late uncle’s house, so glad to have a break with this cheerful puzzle.
    Possibly my PB, almost certainly my PSB, at 5:45, so very close to 1K and an Excellent Day, puzzle-wise..
    FOI Narks LOI Behest COD Agent

    1. Hi, Penny B. It’s so close to me but I’ve never been there. It’s very famous for its long list of location shoots for film and TV, including The Vicar of Dibley!

      1. Are you thinking of Turville near Henley? That’s a lovely village where lots of filming has been done over the years! We’re in Weston Turville, near Aston Clinton, pleasant but not as lovely as the other one. Keep seeing signs for Leighton Buzzard though 😊

          1. Really? Well, we’ll be there again in a month or so – the local pub is just what every village needs 😊

  27. I didn’t think this was one of Oink’s finest, although maybe that’s because I struggled a bit with it. Finally crossed the line in 20 minutes with a couple unparsed (thanks to William for explaining these). I was slow on the anagrams, which are normally one of my strong points, and was surprised to find the clock stopped on 20 minutes as it seemed slower.

    FOI – 13ac ARGENTINE
    LOI – 12dn THEREFORE
    COD – nothing really stands out for me but I liked 1dn – GUNMAN

  28. DNF again 😕 Not getting to do these daily at the moment and was putting a few recent DNFs down to being out of the rhythm – but interesting to see that some think the QCs are getting harder because even with the blogs I’m not seeing the parsing straight away.

    Thanks Oink and William

    Fingers crossed for the next one being a completer 🤞

  29. Not helped today by putting GUNNER at 1D on the basis that, if ILLER can be ‘more Ill’, then UN’ner can be someone from the United Nations. This led to a fruitless search for a country with E_S_R_A until I realised my mistake, slapped myself round the back of the head and put in GUNMAN.
    I liked 22A and 18D, but needed a trip to William’s blog to fully grasp the parsing of a couple of clues, mainly 23A and 4D, which was my LOI.

  30. I was only held up by LOI AUSTRIA. ASSYRIA appeared and wouldn’t go away for some time.
    Enjoyable puzzle.

  31. First part of this was tackled waiting in Milton Keynes Outpatients and not helped by finding my pencil had gone awol from my wallet so was having to remember everything as I went. But I got off on the wrong foot by seeing 1a having ‘-guard’ and it wasn’t until the second sitting back home that I worked from the crossers to get ‘guardian-xxxxx’. Bif’d 10A Austria. FOI 1d Gunman. LOI 16D Behest. COD 4d Alpha and Omega. Certainly an easier puzzle than some of late but no less enjoyable for that. Needed William’s blog to parse 10a so grateful for that and to Oink for a fun time.

    1. I seem to be collecting TfTTers today. Jackkt, Plett and now you – we drove through MK on our route south! I do hope you’re on the mend after your hospital visit today 😊

  32. The Free Dictionary has AS as an acronym for assassin.This is a stretch but if you consider assassins as gangsters your biff just might work!

    1. Not sure it parses.

      The gangster has to flee from one country (AS SYRIA) to another (SYRIA) but the answer is 7-letters.

  33. I found this one quite tricky with too many guesses and not being able to parse a number of answers. Like some others I also think the QCs have been more difficult recently.
    Thanks for the blog.

  34. Thrown completely by 10ac. Remembered Al for gangster but convince myself that the answer began with Al. Confusion reigned!

    Can’t say I found the rest of it easy, but still v enjoyable

  35. I seem to be running a day behind. Must catch up.
    Good puzzle. Tried ALbania but that didn’t parse. Eventually got the answer. COD. Thanks Oink et Al.

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