Times Quick Cryptic 2281 by Wurm


Some great clues and a fun puzzle from Wurm. I didn’t  know how to parse  1ac but was fortunately enlightened by an always helpful source. Just on 8 minutes – so this flowed well – especially in the top half.

My recent grandparent-duty trip caused my longest break from blogging since the QC started (in 2014, I think). I found I was happy ‘in retirement’ so it seems right to allow others to have a bash at blogging. I’m told that volunteers are coming forward – and I know you’ll treat them gently! This, therefore, may be my last regular blog but I will not be a stranger to this rather wonderful forum. I would like to thank everyone for putting up with my typos and for all your posts. Special thanks to jackkt without whom I would have foundered years ago and also to vinyl1 for organising. This seems too good a moment not to mention my huge respect for the SCC regulars – keep at it and keep enjoying!

Definitions are underlined in bold italics.

1 First victim President succeeding James B? (4)
ABEL – whilst the answer was clear, I have to own up to some help from a friend on this one. President (ABE Lincoln) 16th US President succeeded James Buchanan (15th).
4 Swine: chap always seen in celebration (8)
HOGMANAY – swine (HOG), chap (MAN), always (AY).
8 Accelerator and choke (8)
THROTTLE – double definition.
9 Dry air circulating by day (4)
ARID – anagram (circulating) of AIR, day (D).
10 Quiet beer for an upright member (4)
PALE – quiet (P), beer (ALE). I’m thinking ‘paling/pale’ as an upright part of a fence.
11 Flustered later in court battle (8)
WATERLOO – anagram (flustered) of LATER inside court (WOO).
12 Lay out wearing undergarment? (6)
INVEST – wearing undergarment (IN VEST).
14 Stoat in mere swimming (6)
ERMINE – anagram (swimming) of IN MERE.
16 Show less restraint in puzzle? (8)
BEWILDER – show less restraint (BE WILDER).
18 Carbon works in Barrow (4)
CART – carbon (C), works (ART).
19 Old Chinese leader grabbing tail of black shark (4)
MAKO – Old Chinese leader (MAO – I considered Tao but that’s a philosophy), inside which is blac(K).  Mako is a type of shark – and, fyi, is a green shrub and a bellbird in NZ.
20 Creature ransacked tent area (8)
ANTEATER – anagram (ransacked) go TENT AREA.
22 Ruler taking over north, in part (8)
GOVERNOR – part of takin(G OVER NOR)th.
23 Indian state accommodating unknown artist (4)
GOYA – Indian state (GOA) inside which is unknown (Y).
2 Country curses wet weather (7)
BAHRAIN – curses (BAH!), wet weather (RAIN).
3 Cracking solo — Coltrane finally free (5)
LOOSE – anagram (cracking) of SOLO, Coltran(E).
4 Sexy husband on the books (3)
HOT – husband (H) on top of books (OT).
5 Fantastic support for stars (5,4)
GREAT BEAR – fantastic (GREAT), support (BEAR).
6 This makes trestle from mixture of letters (7)
ANAGRAM – a rather wonderful cryptic definition, trestle being an anagram of letters. COD.
7 Friend has a Russian fighter over initially (5)
AMIGO – a (A), Russian fighter (MIG), (O)ver.
11 Shy and tense (9)
WITHDRAWN – and (WITH), tense (DRAWN).
13 Nutty pie in my view best example (7)
EPITOME – anagram (nutty) of PIE, in my view (TO ME).
15 Creche in North Surrey moved (7)
NURSERY – North (N), anagram (moved) of SURREY.
17 Muse employed by some singer at opera (5)
ERATO – inside sing(ER AT O)pera.
18 Scottish group on key makes ringing sound (5)
CLANG – Scottish group (CLAN) on top of musical key (G).
21 Sailor not entirely bitter (3)
TAR – not entirely bitter (TAR)t.


60 comments on “Times Quick Cryptic 2281 by Wurm”

  1. ‘James B’ seemed rather arcane for a QC. (Buchanan was often regarded as our worst President, until Trump came along.) BEWILDER, WATERLOO, & LOI ANAGRAM took me some time; I liked ANAGRAM once I finally got it. 8:13.

  2. 18 minutes. A lot of really simple ones plus four or five that held me up.I get confused by partial anagrams like EPITOME and member in the definition for PALE also was a puzzler. GOVERNOR( missed the hidden) and BEWILDER stretched my time out too.

    1. A “pale” is the vertical part of a fence, so I think that’s the “upright member”. Just saying, I’m glad that came up on someone else’s day to blog: I doubt I could have resisted my inner Finbarr Saunders. 😉

  3. I’m not sure what delayed me but I needed 13 minutes for this one, missing my target by 3.

    My only unknown was MAKO, but with the O-checker in place the wordplay was pretty obvious so it didn’t delay me unduly. After finishing I checked and found that MAKO appeared once before in a 15×15 as recently as last May when it was even easier to solve although I didn’t know it then either.

    Elsewhere today ABEL was obvious from ‘First victim (4)’ but I abandoned the remainder of the clue until the clock was stopped.

  4. DNF, just could not prise out BEWILDER. Quite a few words seemed to fit: I went with one who is keen on returning land to nature, a REWILDER.

    My time on the completed 15×15 was quicker. I had no NHOs over there, in contrast with MAKO.

    Great clues today, liked ABEL best, and guessed that James B would be the president before Lincoln. A true 15×15 clue, to be sure.

    1. Will try the biggie now seeing that I was also BEWILDERed (but not ‘remindered’ 🤡) by 16A

  5. 24:50 here. Had to check with Mr Google whether Abe L. really was the president after James B. and still think the clue doesn’t quite work: maybe “Jim B” would have been better. But this is why they don’t pay me to create the crosswords.

    COD ANAGRAM Very nice
    LOI BEWILDER (which is a close second for my COD)

  6. 14 minutes for me, also missing the hidden in 22a. Some nice stuff here, but slowed myself by trying to spell ABEL. able, and not fully understanding the clue as a result, until it was corrected when LOOSE emerged. Thanks Wurm and Chris.

  7. 33 minutes all parsed but a bit of a struggle this morning.
    FOI: HOT followed by HOGMANAY.
    LOI: WATERLOO after WITHDRAWN These and the SW corner are where most of the time was spent.
    COD when I finally worked it out EPITOME. Oh and BEWILDER which I’m sure I’ve seen before so it shouldn’t have held me up.

  8. Chris, your blogs are always clear and helpful. i will miss them, having read every one. But, when it feels like the right time to move on, I commend you for going with it.
    See you on this thread, though.

  9. I didn’t know the name of president James B or the shark, but neither of them held me up. On the other hand BEWILDER had me bewildered for a while until I stopped trying to make “show” the definition. Neat crossword with plenty of nice clues – COD to WATERLOO for me. Thanks Wurm and Chris. 4:58.

  10. Like Merlin above I was beaten by BEWILDER but, unlike yesterdays clues that beat me, I doff my cap to this one.

    Thanks Wurm for a pretty tough puzzle and Chris for a fine blog.

  11. Not a good day to attempt all the clues in order, starting with the acrosses, as I found the downs a lot easier. Some tricky stuff in here so I was quite surprised to finish just within target (9.49). Particular struggles were with WATERLOO, BEWILDER, WITHDRAWN and LOI GOVERNOR.
    Lots to enjoy along the way with BAHRAIN just pipping ANAGRAM to clue of the day.
    Thanks to Chris

  12. I confidently used the well known key of K to make CLANK at 18d, which meant GOYA took a lot longer than it should have. But my real struggle was WITHDRAWN, which took forever – even when found by trawl, I was so fixated on it being a double definition that I could hardly accept it! The “with = and”/“and=with” trick is one I constantly forget.

    Clever and slippery puzzle, as always with Wurm. COD to ANAGRAM, time 08:22 for 1.0001K and an Excellent Day.

    Many thanks Wurm and Chris (not quite for the last time).


  13. A good puzzle but chewy enough in parts to tip me just into the SCC. Most of my hiccups are mentioned above but MAKO was no problem and ANAGRAM (my COD) emerged quite quickly. GOVERNOR was very neat and BAHRAIN raised a smile.
    PALE seemed obvious but I hesitated to put it in because of the definition given. I came back to it at the end and entered it with fingers crossed. The same for the clever ABEL (my US history is pretty woeful). INVEST and CART were late penny-drops for me.
    Many thanks to Wurm and, especially, to Chris. Your excellent blogs will be missed, Chris. John M.

  14. Struggled with this one – after 5 minutes the grid was still almost entirely empty and a finish at all, let alone in a reasonable time, looked most unlikely. Eventually the answers started trickling in, and I finally crossed the line in 18 minutes. Not all parsed even then; I didn’t understand the wordplay for 1A (tough for a QC clue for non-American solvers IMO), and never parsed Withdrawn either.

    Much more of a workout than I usually find Wurm. Many thanks to Chris for the blog, indeed for all your blogs, which are always very clear.

  15. Robbie Coltrane was Cracker in the TV series. A satisfying QC today, thank you Wurm and Chris

    1. For anyone who’s missed/not seen “Cracker” a rerun of the whole series (2 episodes per night) began last night on ITV3. Should be available on “catch-up”, and well worth the effort.

  16. Admit I used CCD for BEWILDER (COD). Otherwise OK, but slow. Biffed MAKO. Got GOVERNOR but missed hidden. Liked HOGMANAY, THROTTLE, AMIGO, GREAT BEAR, BAHRAIN, among others. Biffed WATERLOO. I find those half anagrams tricky, but the battle sprang to mind. Also biffed ANAGRAM itself, v subtle.
    Thanks for much needed blog, Chris.

  17. V good puzzle, which stretched me well over target again, though not by as much as yesterday.

    I thought I was going to throw in the towel on my LOI BEWILDER, but alpha trawl came to the rescue. That, ANAGRAM, BAHRAIN, ABEL and GREAT BEAR were all good.


  18. A good start in the top half, before similar problems to others lower down the grid. I was still in with a shot of a sub-20 with a couple to go, but Waterloo (wrong end of clue) and loi Cart (wrong type of Barrow) pushed me into the SCC. CoD to 17ac, Bewilder, for the PDM. Invariant

  19. Loved this; tricky, witty and pretty! All parsed except the L in 1a, obvious when pointed out by Chris, and didn’t get the Buchanan reference which was fun but not needed. I have never seen PALE used thus, but guessed from PALING and confirmed byl looking up. FOI HOT, COD BEWILDER ( the cheeky ANAGRAM a close second) LOI ABEL. I always start in the NW corner, but Ia seemed so obtuse I moved to the NE and went round clockwise. Thanks, Wurm and Chris for the entertainment..

  20. 6.39

    BEWILDER came quickly at the end as my LOI when I didn’t think it was going to.

    Liked GREAT BEAR

    Thanks Chris and Wurm

  21. Probably reading too much into 3 down but Jazz Saxophonist John Coltrane played many a solo. Thanks to all.

  22. From ABEL to CART, with the anagrist for ANTEATER needing to be written out, in 8:53. Thanks Wurm and Chris.

  23. Judging by some of the times listed above I think I must have been on form today, coming home in 7.58. I must have been flying if I can beat Kevin’s time!
    Never heard of MAKO as a shark, and did hesitate over the parsing of ABEL, in particular in accounting for the L. Eventually deduced it was the immediately preceding president to Lincoln, but didn’t know it was Buchanan.
    Many thanks for the blog Chris and enjoy your ‘retirement’ with your grandkids.

  24. I biffed ABEL although I understood basically how it was meant to work. If asked to randomly name 30 USP’s I wouldn’t have thought of Buchanan. I also biffed ANAGRAM, but that was immediately clear to me afterwards

    LOI CART (oh, THOSE sort of works !)
    TIME 4:06

  25. One of my better efforts at 16:45. A few easy ones and some that puzzled for a while but generally steady progress. FOI 2down, LOI 22across, COD BEWILDER.

  26. 22 mins… but once again I got stuck on a down/across axis of 13dn “Epitome” and 16ac “Bewilder” – so I had deja vu from yesterday. Luckily, a moment of inspiration got me there in the end.

    A few clues I didn’t know, like Mako for a shark – although I did know he was an actor who played the wizard in John Milius’s Conan The Barbarian from 1982. Like many I also struggled with the parsing of 1ac “Abel”.

    Whilst there may not have been any carbon works in Barrow, there were definitely Steelworks until they were flattened many years ago.

    FOI – 3dn “Loose”
    LOI – 16ac “Bewilder”
    COD – 16ac “Bewilder”

    Thanks as usual – and thanks to Chris for his blogs over the many years.

      1. They certainly did…as did the iron works before them and probably the shipyard/sub shed that’s there now.

  27. Submitted with fingers crossed for MAKO and PALE. Both parsed but defintions were new to me. LOI was BEWILDER – that clue had me misdirected like crazy. All green in 11.

  28. Cheated by looking up BEWILDER, but this enabled me to see WITHDRAWN, my LOI. 28 mins even with a cheat – very slow today. Many thanks for the blog Chris. I really needed it to parse ABEL and ANAGRAM (hangs head in shame). Great puzzle, especially liked BEWILDER. Many thanks all.

  29. Confusion continues! Obviously I DNF, but I did better on the 15×15 than I did on the QC! I wish I understood how these things worked.

    1. Put simply, some of the QC’s are tricky and some of the cryptics relatively easy. But you knew that already of course.

      What you might not know is there’s a website saying exactly how easy:


      Today’s cryptic was about as easy as they come!

  30. Abel was my first answer. First victim immediately gave me the answer. Most of the QC was not too difficult for me, but I did struggle with bewilder and epitome, both of which I had to resort to aids for.

    Invest was pencilled in for a long time before I penned it. Pale too had me guessing for a while. I did see pale right away but I could not see why an upright member was linked. In it went anyway, and now that I have come here I can see how it did indeed fit.

  31. A few clues gave me pause for thought including ABEL, PALE and MAKO. I needed all but one of the checkers for ANAGRAM and submitted with an unparsed WITHDRAWN. My LOI and COD was BEWILDER in a just outside target 9:14.

  32. This was payback for my good performance yesterday. I struggled at first, but eventually got going around the edges and reached the 6-to-go point after 25 minutes. Unfortunately, 25 minutes later I had made no further progress and had precious few ideas as to how the remaining clues worked or even what the definitions were.

    19a was clearly MAKO or MAok (I knew not which), but WATERLOO, WITHDRAWN, INVEST, EPITOME and BEWILDER were never even close to appearing on my radar. So, 50 minutes of toil and a thumping DNF.

    Many thanks to Wurm and Chris.

    P.S. Looking back at my records over the past year or so, I have had far less success with Wurm’s offerings than with any other setter. Only 2 solves under 45 minutes, but 6 DNFs (plus 2 over the hour) from his last 13 outings. This contrasts markedly with my overall 80-85% success rate and 35-40 minute average over that period. Why has he done this?

    1. I found it very hard to spot the definitions today and looking up top only 5 of the clues have multiword defs. Just no idea what I was aiming for.

    2. At least you had the good sense to pull up stumps after 50 mins. I was still going after an hour and 50 mins, and still 16ac eluded me!

  33. Another unpleasant 1hr45 of effort after yesterday’s 2hrs. At least the alphabet trawl at the end for BEWILDER led to a successful solve.

    (Noting also the surface of 1A led me towards James Bond which then had me putting in SPYO thinking of SPIRO AGNEW who I think was Gerald Ford’s VP. Almost immediately removed it. Once I got ABEL, I realised it referred to James Buchanan but not aware of who followed. Nice clue)

    Edit: just tried the 15×15 … had all but three done in 45-mins. Got stuck on my final one which came down to an incorrect crosser and then with some more alphabet trawling had it all done in 1hr12. All in all much more enjoyable than this QC.

  34. A pretty quick solve over a coffee out, but threw in Episode for 13d as LO and a fit but impossible parse. I meant to go back to it when I got home but forgot, so a DNF.
    Can I add my thanks to Chris for your clear and helpful blogs over the years. Glad to read you will be around in this role for a while yet, and then as a contributor.

  35. DNF. I am one of the many who was bewildered by 16ac.

    My long-forgotten O-level in American History was useful for 1ac; since the clue required us to shorten Abraham to Abe, James B could have been given in the clue as Jim B.

  36. I thought things could only improve after yesterday. I was wrong.

    My performance today was abysmal. Almost 2 hours for a DNF after failing to get 16ac. Clue after clue had me tied up in knots.

    Thanks for the blog Chris. However inept I am, the efforts of you and your fellow bloggers are hugely appreciated.

    1. You may know this, but it helps to look for the definition at the beginning or end of the clue. Could be one word or several. That’s the most common type of clue and may help to focus on what you’re being asked to solve. Sometimes it’s the whole clue but not that often – then there are the two halves (a double definition). There are more but that’s probably enough for now. Good luck!

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