Times Quick Cryptic 2166 by Orpheus


Despite not getting 1ac on first pass, I zoomed clockwise round the grid from the NE finishing back with LOI 1ac in 6:29. A pretty fast time for me – anyone breaking PB’s today?


Definitions are underlined in bold italics.

1 Backroom boy away in wine store (6)
BOFFIN – away (OFF) inside wine store (BIN).
4 Varsity sportsperson down in the dumps (4)
BLUE – double definition.
9 Wrongly target a sporting event — at Henley, perhaps? (7)
REGATTA – anagram (worngly) of TARGET A.
10 Piece of cast metal pub reportedly obtained (5)
INGOT – homophone (reportedly) of inn (IN), obtained (GOT).
11 Epilogue, or draft we prepared (9)
AFTERWORD – anagram (prepared) of OR DRAFT WE.
12 Sailor bringing deserter from the East (3)
TAR – deserter – rat – from the East/backwards (TAR).
13 Blockhead initially dismissing this writer’s humour (6)
DIMWIT – (D)ismissing, this writer’s (I’M), humour (WIT).
15 Threaten mischief-maker with death! (6)
IMPEND – mischief-maker (IMP), death (END).
17 Twisted-sounding grass (3)
RYE – homophone (sounding) of wry.
18 Damage borne by sickbay in old European republic (3,6)
SAN MARINO – damage (MAR) held by (borne by) sickbay (SAN) and in (IN) and old (O).
21 Bishop leaves drunk for game (5)
LOTTO – bishop (B) leaves drunk b(LOTTO).
22 Condition favouring face covering, mostly (7)
PROVISO – favouring (PRO), face covering mostly (VISO)r.
23 Gloat, getting farm animal across river (4)
CROW – farm animal (COW) over river (R).
24 Quick to give cue (6)
PROMPT – double definition.
1 Band created, we hear, for a pub employee (7)
BARMAID – band (BAR), homophone (we hear) of created – made.
2 Alarm Republican leaving for battle (5)
FIGHT – alarm (F)r(IGHT) without Republican (R).
3 Bury girl, one on break (12)
INTERMISSION – bury (INTER), girl (MISS), one (I), on (ON).
5 Beneficiary taking shelter outside entrance, possibly (7)
LEGATEE – shelter (LEE) outside entrance possibly (GATE)
6 Go into hospital department with hesitation (5)
ENTER – hospital department (ENT) with hesitation (ER).
7 Pudding made by son in the past (4)
SAGO – son (S), in the past (AGO).
8 Offence victim ultimately is bearing? (12)
MISDEMEANOUR – victi(M), is (IS), bearing (DEMEANOUR).
14 Great conductor, strange sort, supporting West? (7)
MAESTRO – anagram (strange) of SORT, under West (MAE).
16 One abandoning course, a rejecter of conventions (7)
DROPOUT – double definition.
17 Object of historic interest: some require licences (5)
RELIC – some of requi(RE LIC)ences.
19 Work in north-east? The answer’s in the negative (4)
NOPE – work (OP) inside north-east (NE).
20 Man overcome by one daughter’s literary style (5)
IDIOM – Man (IOM) underneath one (I) and daughter (D). Took a little while to twig the ‘Man’ bit but the answer was clear.


86 comments on “Times Quick Cryptic 2166 by Orpheus”

  1. I had trouble with ‘backroom boy’–didn’t know what it meant, and didn’t see how it defined BOFFIN, but once I saw the wordplay in it went. I don’t know if this is a PB, but it was fast for me. 4:19.

  2. 19:07 The only thing I wasn’t sure of was BOFFIN because I only knew bin for rubbish not wine.

  3. I safely boarded the 13:30 from Henley to SAN MARINO.

    FOI 1ac BOFFIN
    LOI 24ac PROMPT
    WOD 21ac BLOTTO!

    13ac DIMWIT brings to mind dear old Gordon Phillot (sic) as Mr. Dinwiddie in Muir & Norden’s ‘Whack-O!’ which starred Jimmy Edwards. It always sounded like Dimwiddy to me!

  4. Orpheus and I continue to not be friends.
    I’m doing this during a break at an all-day training session at work on Resilience which is proving timely and useful! Ha!

    DNF like… Half of it.
    Please let me whine about it, I’m happy for explanations, this is clearly a me problem given that others found it easy, but please don’t minimise my frustration, it makes me feel worse.

    – why is a Boffin a backroom boy? I’ve never heard of the term but are all technical staff both male and in the backroom?
    – I don’t drink alcohol so all of it can get in the Bin as far as I’m concerned lol I recall now seeing the word on wine labels.
    – Wikipedia tells me Blues are handed out at some Australian universities too. I never knew, I was too busy being a Boffin.
    – I have to remember it is ‘this writer’s’ apostrophe is a contraction not a possessive
    – nho Legatee, but wordplay got me there, same with Henley
    – I have never ever heard of the second meaning of the word ‘dropout’ to mean unconventional person. Grateful if someone could tell me if that’s a common usage? I only know the academic usage and obvs the break in electrical communication
    – I was very taken aback by iom = man, but the clue is fair, I’ll have to write it down
    – I also didn’t know inter = bury, that’s on me
    – the sheer number of British slang words for drunk people! It’s like what they say about Eskimos and snow!

    OK I feel better now, lots to learn! Always tomorrow!

    Thanks Chris for the blog, very helpful!

    1. What they say about Eskimos and snow is wrong; Inuktitut has a couple of words for snow.
      I had the same thought about ‘dropout’; although I suppose that someone who drops out of society is in some sense unconventional.

      1. I did know that the Eskimo thing is a myth but it’s still ‘what they say’!

        The dictionary does say that ‘dropout’ is another word for ‘hippy’ or ‘beatnik’ which kinda already tells me what era that word may have been in use lol
        But yeah while it makes sense I’ve never heard anyone use it like that. Like, are people with face tattoos dropouts?

        1. Educating Tina
          Boffins are really only found in Britain according to several dictionaries.
          IOM and IOW too! And blotto, trousered, wankered, Brahms and Liszt, rat-arsed,
          zonked, pie-eyed etc. But we don’t use ‘elephants’, ‘out to it’ or ‘Adrian Quist’ which you may well be familiar with!
          It is worth remembering that this is basically a London-based crossword. The sheer amount of slang used just by Londoners is burgeoning. For an American, ‘Paul in London’ over on the 15×15 has a distinct advantage. A move to London would help you enormously!! My three adult children keep me in the loop.

          1. Yeah I know it’s a London based crossword, I am not truly mad about that. It’s just difficult for me to know sometimes what is localised knowledge and what is esoteric stuff from 80 years ago.

            I’ve found a weekly cryptic crossword in the Australian paper The Saturday Paper which is compiled by someone about my age and I find it much easier haha!

            I love these Quick Crosswords and this blog though they’ve truly let me into this wonderful hobby

            1. I’m not mad about the word ‘Yeah’. It was a proscribed word at school, especially after the Beatles introduced it to the English culture some 60 years ago.
              Without giving too much away, are you a Millennial? I’m a ‘Baby Boomer’.
              Tina, in the end life is about finding your comfort zone.

              1. How do you feel about the word Nope? 😂

                Yeah I’m a millennial, but on the older side 😀

      2. There are five notable Eskimo Languages.

        Lexemes referring to snow and snow from Steven A. Jacobson’s (1984) Yup’ik Eskimo dictionary and Anthony C. Woodbury, University of Texas at Austin, July 1991

        (1) Snowflake
        qanuk ‘snowflake’
        qanir- ‘to snow’
        qanunge- ‘to snow’ [NUN]
        qanugglir- ‘to snow’ [NUN]

        (2) Frost
        kaneq ‘frost’
        kaner- ‘be frosty/frost sth.’

        (3) Fine snow/rain particles
        kanevvluk ‘fine snow/rain particles
        kanevcir- to get fine snow/rain particles

        (4) Drifting particles
        natquik ‘drifting snow/etc’
        natqu(v)igte- ‘for snow/etc. to drift along ground’

        (5) Clinging particles
        nevluk ‘clinging debris/
        nevlugte- ‘have clinging debris/…’lint/snow/dirt…’

        B. Fallen snow

        (6) Fallen snow on the ground
        aniu [NS] ‘snow on ground’
        aniu- [NS] ‘get snow on ground’
        apun [NS] ‘snow on ground’
        qanikcaq ‘snow on ground’
        qanikcir- ‘get snow on ground’

        (7) Soft, deep fallen snow on the ground
        muruaneq ‘soft deep snow’

        (8) Crust on fallen snow
        qetrar- [NSU] ‘for snow to crust’
        qerretrar- [NSU] ‘for snow to crust’

        (9) Fresh fallen snow on the ground
        nutaryuk ‘fresh snow’ [HBC]

        (10) Fallen snow floating on water
        qanisqineq ‘snow floating on water’

        C. Snow formations

        (11) Snow bank
        qengaruk ‘snow bank’ [Y, HBC]

        (12) Snow block
        utvak ‘snow carved in block’

        (13) Snow cornice
        navcaq [NSU] ‘snow cornice, snow (formation) about to collapse’
        navcite- ‘get caught in an avalanche’

        D. Meterological events

        (14) Blizzard, snowstorm
        pirta ‘blizzard, snowstorm’
        pircir- ‘to blizzard’
        pirtuk ‘blizzard, snowstorm’

        (15) Severe blizzard
        cellallir-, cellarrlir- ‘to snow heavily’
        pir(e)t(e)pag- ‘to blizzard severely’
        pirrelvag- ‘to blizzard severely

        1. I get your point H, but it pales into insignificance when compared to British references to drinking and drunk, only a few of which you have included in your list elsewhere. Interesting though.

          Sorry if that caused an extra swipe John M!

          1. “Miss Smilla – we will not let you snow” (with profound apologies to the late Freddie Mercury !)

              1. At risk of further snowstorms of info, ‘Inuit’ is a more acceptable term (to the Arctic peoples )than Eskimo these days.

      3. It was a two hour break because we were discussing really awful topics and how to not get ptsd from the work I do 🙁

        Are you having a go at me for my long comments? Because I’m requesting a comment collapse button for the blog.

    2. For more on British boffinery there’s a great book by Francis Spufford “Backroom Boys: The Secret Return of the British Boffin”

    3. If you were old enough you might remember Timothy Leary’s exhortation to “turn on, tune in, and drop out” from I believe “the summer of love”. This was the call to hippiedom, and alternative lifestyle. I am trying to work out whether this means I had a misspent youth or the opposite.

  5. 12:07 here. Top row had first (BLUE) and last (BOFFIN).
    What is the lead time on submitting a puzzle? Is it just coincidence that this one mentions Henley on the day the regatta starts?

  6. After beginning a return to form last Wednesday I suffered a very bad lapse yesterday but am pleased to be back on track again today and I completed this in 8 minutes fully parsed.

    I nearly came a cropper at 18ac though as left to my own devices without paying full attention to wordplay I’d probably have put SAN MERINO (like the sheep). I’d have been rescued by the A-checker eventually but not before I’d lost time.

    At 16dn it occurred to me that the clue is not so much a double definition as two examples of the same trait of character and this was confirmed when I checked SOED which combines both into one: A person who drops out of a course of activity or study, or who abandons conventional society in favour of an alternative lifestyle. colloq. M20.

  7. Not sure of my time as I forgot to look at the clock before starting. I’d guess around 20-plus minutes and I needed wordplay to dig out some of the answers.
    FOI: REGATTA BIFD spotting the anagram after.
    LOI: IDIOM BIFD and partly parsed. I didn’t see the IOM bit.
    Favourite NOPE.

  8. All done and all green in 11. 10 on the first pass of acrosses and not too bad on the downs. Needed all the checkers for INTERMISSION and then for BOFFIN – I ran out of wine stores after ‘cellar’ on the first pass. Fixated on ‘prevail’ and had that odd crossword madness of wondering if it had really been proveil all along before PROVISO was LOI. As for Tina I couldn’t have told you what a LEGATEE was before starting but the clue was helpful. Good one!

  9. FOI Boffin. Struggled for ages to parse Band (Banned) was a homophone for Bar but things all seemed to go in nicely after that. Liked SAN MARINO and MISDEMEANOUR. I thought I was cracking on for a sub 20 finish but then the timer showed 24:25. Time flies. Usual corner chair beckons with a coffee, toast and Marmite. Thanks Chris and Orpheus

    1. We had a fresh delivery of Marmite on Sunday here in Shanghai. We were getting low. Things are finally getting back to normal! My Mate, Meldrew

      1. But did they include supplies of Marmite with Truffle flavour? A treat for Meldrew perhaps. Might work with noodles for you too. 😏

        1. I have a jar of black truffles in the fridge. So a new treat is in store with some fresh noodles and finely chopped spring onion. My Mate.

  10. No real issues but I needed the checkers to see, and then a bit of thinking to parse, BOFFIN and DIMWIT. I liked CROW for the clever allusion to the Wolf, Goat and Cabbage problem. Thanks Chris for the commentary and Orpheus for the neat puzzle. 4:14.

    1. As per Stephen Fry, why on earth would a farmer buy a goat and a wolf on the same day, under those circumstances!?

  11. Started with BLUE having realised that cellar didn’t work at 1a and it was plain sailing until I hit the doldrums in the SE where PROVISO, IDIOM (never knew what it meant) and LOI DROPOUT took a little time to unravel.
    An enjoyable solve completed in 8.01
    Thanks to Chris

  12. Very similar to Plett11, whose experiences are often so like mine that I occasionally wonder if I’m living through Fight Club, only with crosswords.

    FOI BLUE, LOI PROVISO, COD DIMWIT, time 07:31 for 1.9K and a Decent Day.

    (The clue for DROPOUT was more suited to the Concise, wasn’t it? Barely cryptic.)

    Many thanks Orpheus and Chris.


  13. After yesterdays poor showing barely breaking twenty minutes back to more like my average at 8.47. Like others confused with the definition of BOFFIN as backroom boy, and have always considered it as a description of an egghead probably a scientist.
    Averted a DNF at the last minute by returning to a biffed 1dn and changing BARHAND to BARMAID.
    As a schoolboy, on the rare occasions I stayed for school dinners, the pudding always seemed to be SAGO. Quite revolting, nobody liked it and they persisted in serving it. I’ve not heard of it or seen it on any menu in modern times, is it still served up anywhere?

  14. Not a PB, and was never going to be after I had written None in for Nope at 19D (my excuse is that working = on seemed to work for me). That held up the SW corner considerably until I put it right. Also forgot Man is sometimes a clue to IOM – Idiom was a write in but unparsed until I read the blog, upon which a Doh! moment followed. But finished in 9 minutes even so, so not one of Orpheus’s toughest I think.

    The cluing for Regatta was generous – it hardly needed the mention of Henley – and for Dropout was odd. Not really a DD, more of a single definition and not very cryptic at that.

    Many thanks to Chris for the blog

  15. I found this far from simple. Lots of interest and steady progress but I slowed at the end, mainly because of PROVISO and DROPOUT which took me a minute over target. Thanks to Orpheus and to Chris for his parsing – Like Cedric, I failed to parse IDIOM and I biffed MAESTRO without considering Mae West. Incidentally, I didn’t care for AFTERWORD (though it had to be). John M.
    P.s. Could we provide Victor with a blog of his own. I tire of flicking up and down on my iPad over his screeds in order to check the blog whilst completing my contribution (the blog and my comment are now miles apart).

    1. I wonder if there can be a hide all comments or a collapse comments option that could be added, if what you want is the blog to be close to the comment box

      This has never occured to me as a problem because I’m always so early

      1. Good idea but I cannot comment on the practicality. Perhaps, unlike you, I am starting the QC later these days. 🙄

        1. I’ve never used an iPad but on most devices it’s possible to have the site open on two tabs, one for the blog and one for writing your comment, and switch easily between them.

          On a PC or laptop there are keyboard shortcuts that allow you to jump to the top and back again without losing your place but I’m not sure these work if you are actually in the process of composing a comment.

        2. I will put it in the suggestion box and perhaps the Head Boffin will know more!

          Being Australian, the crosswords go live at 9am for me and by the time I have a look at them at lunch the blog is usually up.

          In the meantime I do think maybe you can open the blog in two different tabs on your ipad browser, one to read the blog and the other to write your comment. A toggle between the two tabs is only one click, zero swipes!

          Edit: I see that Jack has also suggested the same thing. Let us know how you get on, I hate to think my newbie rambling is causing people annoyance 🙁

          1. Tina, your ‘newbie rambling’ as you put it is exactly what this forum exists for — on topic and insightful and giving rise to discussions and comments that will be helpful to other newbies and less experienced solvers. And as an experienced solver myself I enjoy reading them, as do others, I’m sure.

  16. 11 minutes for me, no real problems to speak of. I see BOFFIN as scientist, and by extension back-room boy, both of which were in common usage when I was a nipper (like Meldrew, I was a baby-boomer, born exactly 71 years ago today, maybe a half-millennial?). SAGO made me smile – my father always complained about never getting any, until we presented some to him. It is still available in tins at some supermarket outlets. Thanks both – nice start to my day!

    1. Happy 71 old thing! Sago in SE Asia with coconut cream and fresh mango is delish!
      Might you be returning to your original avatar, which I get very used to?
      Have a great day!

      1. Can you get locked up for that John ? Have a great day Rotter. I remember being 71, and spending an enjoyable 10 days in Scotland on a Rail Rover ticket.

    2. Hope I am not too late to join the well-wishers. May you have A drippy bath, yah?
      Make it a good one. Blighter.

    3. Congrats dear boy. I think you should go French and say sixty eleven. Sounds younger. An excuse to get blotto.
      For our overseas brethren any profanity with the suffix -ed means drunk. 🤪

  17. Under target, but could have been quicker.

    BOFFIN was LOI, even with the helpful crossers – I finally twigged that away = OFF, and that was that.

    I think I liked SAN MARINO best, or maybe AFTERWORD or DIMWIT.


  18. A good day. Zoomed through mostly. LHS pretty easy, slowed on LOsI MISDEMEANOUR and IMPEND.
    Clues written in faint pencil at first (i.e. biffed) were SAN MARINO (COD), IDIOM, MAESTRO.
    Thanks all, esp Chris.

  19. Like others, Boffin needed all the crossers and a bit of thought, but steady progress thereafter until I reached the SE corner. Prompt (a DD CoD!) then turned an unpromising loi D*o*o** into a more obvious Dropout, and a satisfactory 17min finish given yesterday’s horror show. Invariant

  20. Timely reference to Henley REGATTA as it starts today… local roads will be jammed!

    Lost track of my time as I had to go out for an hour midway. That said, it was slow. I really struggled in the SE corner having entered NONE instead of NOPE and then took a good 10 minutes before correcting myself with 22A. LOI 16D.

    Thanks Orpheus and Chris

      1. Not the last time I was there! Have you ever queued to get over the bridge at Henley? It’s bad enough on normal days let alone regatta week.

  21. Started with SAGO and finished with CROW. Sounds an unlikely menu! 5:31. Thanks Orpheus and Chris.

  22. 3:30 today. Virtually a write in. Not sure I can do it any quicker. Enjoyable all the same.

  23. I spent a fair while correcting typos, and would probably have been the best part of a minute quicker otherwise. At least I still made my target. Nice puzzle, thanks to Orpheus and Rotter.

    TIME 4:52

  24. I struggled to get started with this one, but once I got a couple of answers in so the rest flowed quite quickly.

    I did struggle on a couple of clues resulting in my opening of Chambers.

    22a I could not answer even with aids. But once I came here I found that I had got 19d incorrect. I put “None”. This, of course, gave me a wrong letter for the start of 22a. Even if I had got 19d right, I still don’t think I would have been able to answer 22a.

  25. Similar to yesterday, with just three to solve after only 13 minutes (astonishingly fast for me) and those three taking nearly as long again to get. The three that held me up were all down in the SE corner – IMPEND, DROPOUT and PROVISO. PROVISO proved most awkward, because I had NONE for 19d and N_O_I__ was impossible to fill. Eventually, I realised my error and I crossed the line in 23 minutes. Quite possibly a PB for me with Orpheus, so I’m very pleased.

    Once again, Mrs R whizzed through the grid, and only really got stuck on the parsing of SAN MARINO.

    Many thanks to Orpheus and Chris.

  26. 5.37

    Also finished back with BOFFIN. MISDEMEANOUR took longer than it should have

    Neat enjoyable puzzle

    Thanks Chris and Orpheus

  27. Not on wavelength at all for this one. I struggled with so many including BOFFIN, IMPEND, PROVISO and LOI DROPOUT. I’m still unconvinced about DROPOUT as a double definition despite what the dictionaries say. 12:36

  28. Setter for this one must be about 90 years old … BARMAIDs, backroom boys, bLOTTO, SAGO and possibly even DIMWIT and INTERMISSION.

    Started off with 11 answers on my first readthrough which took around 7-mins. Took a break at 35-mins having added only another 3-4 after briefly flirting with an unparseable intermittent.

    Came back this afternoon and another 5-mins of blank staring before I figured “COLD-SHOULDER” was an offence you have to bear *eyes roll*

    In the end it took 1hr15 total. Along the way I …
    – put in TAR took it out because I couldn’t quite remember it for sailor.
    – put in PRO took it out when cold-shoulder didn’t fit it
    – put in IDIOM took it out because I didn’t know it’s a literary style rather than just a phrase or adage
    – put in B—IN took it out because I couldn’t see a parse for backroom or winestore.
    – put in FIGHT and guess what … took it out because it couldn’t possibly put an F in 1A and I couldn’t parse it.
    – put in IMP took it out it because it usually refers to small children and I was thinking DIE for the ending which doesn’t make a word.
    – thought about GATE for entrances and LEEs/leas but couldn’t get there.

    Also struggled with SAN-MARINO which I have visited. Travelled there on a coach from Rimini and as we drove up the winding roads, we were overtaken by no less than 30 Ferraris !! Off to their owners club meeting I guess! As for the clue, despite having the SAN-, this really highlighted how my brain works and links information – I was trying to think of an old republic/empire from ancient Greece times – if you’d asked me for a European country, I’d have got it in an instant.

    Disappointing end to a fantastic start – ho hum!

    1. Hey L-plates, a quick Google tells me that Orpheus is one very experienced setter indeed! He has compiled well over a thousand puzzles was a beloved boarding school music teacher and IS INDEED IN HIS 90s!!!

      I can only hope to have a teaspoon of such mental faculty at that age if the world hasn’t ended already

      But it sureeeeeee explains why I am never ever on his wavelength

  29. All complete and parsed in 12 minutes – on the quick side for me. Spent a little time spelling MISDEMEANOUR or I would have been a little quicker. Nice puzzle.

    FOI – 4ac BLUE
    LOI – 1ac BOFFIN
    COD – 1dn BARMAID for the double homophone.

    Thanks to Orpheus and Chris

  30. 13 mins…

    Definitely on the quicker side for me, although I had a small panic about the spelling of “Misdemeanour”, for some reason thinking there may be an “i” between the “d” and “m”.

    Whilst I can now see Boffin = Backroom Boy, my initial thought was of some lowly employee working in the mail room of a conglomerate’s skyscraper which didn’t help with the recognition. Luckily the parsing was fairly straightforward once some other checkers went in.

    FOI – 4ac “Blue”
    LOI – 8dn “Misdemeanour”
    COD – 1ac “Boffin” (a rare struggle to find one to be honest – but I’ll stick this in purely for it misdirecting me)

    Thanks as usual!

  31. Started this one well enough and had three-quarters or so done in about 12 minutes, but the remaining quarter took another 12 for a 24:29 finish. Didn’t parse IDIOM, but saw why Man = IOM immediately I read it in the blog. COD to BOFFIN. Thanks Orpheus and Chris.

  32. Did most of it quickly, but got really stuck with MISDEMEANOUR, PROVISO, IDIOM and DROPOUT – not sure of the “rejecter of conventions” meaning for this. Glad I was not the only one to struggle when some of you can do this in 5 minutes!

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