Times Quick Cryptic 2296 by Orpheus


My first blog, I took some notes on paper, hence don’t have a time, but maybe 19 mins. A few tricky misdirects from Orpheus slowed me down.

Merry Christmas to all setters, bloggers and readers. After all those Christmas Jumbo crosswords, family quizzes and the Only Connect Christmas Specials its good to be back in the familiar world of the QC.

Definitions underlined in bold italics, (Abc)* indicating anagram of Abc, deletions and [] other indicators.

1 Residence of Catholic dignitary in charge of French island (8)
DOMICILE – DOM (Catholic dignitary) + IC (in charge) + ILE(= île)

DOM (from Dominus), is a prefix for a monk. Also the Portuguese equivalent of the Spanish “Don”, as in Dom Vasco da Gama.

ILE appears in “Île-de-France”, the department Paris is in.

5 Obstruction knocked over by a fast-moving horse (4)
ARABA + RAB (“bar” reversed [knocked over])

ARAB as in the racehorse breed.

8 Rule initially covering a new cricket side (5)
CANONCovering (initially) + A + N[ew] + ON (side)

“on”,”off” and “leg” are three names for the left and right sides in cricket. Beloved of setters, worth knowing if cricket is not your thing. Canon Law is a series of ecclesiastical rules, but “canon” can stand by itself as any rule or axiom.

9 Vagrant carrying one’s information file (7)
DOSSIERDOSSER (vagrant) with I inside

Collins has DOSSER as British Slang.

11 Date post (11)
APPOINTMENT – Double def

I found this one hard. The two meanings are quite similar, I’ll call it a one-and-a-half def.

13 Attempt to take in bloke with old idea (6)
THEORYTRY (Attempt) containing HE (bloke) and O[ld]
14 Concentrate, reading catalogue in French (6)
LISTENLIST (catalogue) + EN (“in” in French)
17 Conservative, a member of the team? (5-6)
RIGHT-WINGER – Double Def. In British politics, the Conservative party is usually described as right wing.  Growing up, my favourite right winger was the Brazilian Jairzinho.
20 Popular poetry? The opposite (7)
INVERSEIN (Popular) + VERSE (poetry)
21 Hold forth in Windsor at Evensong (5)
ORATE – Hidden clue (“in”): Windsor at Evensong
22 Joke about new crew (4)
GANGGAG(joke) containing (about) N[ew]
23 Word in Alabama for transport hub (8)
TERMINALTERM (word) + IN + AL[abama]
1 Cut back coarse weed (4)
DOCK – Double Def. To DOCK wages is to cut them, and the DOCK weed is known from its leaf, the supposed antidote to stinging nettles.
2 Command given by chap with something on palm? (7)
MANDATEMAN (chap) + DATE (something on palm)
3 Actor involved with prison plotter (11)
CONSPIRATOR – (ACTOR + PRISON)* (involved with)

My LOI and I was looking at CON (prison) + ORATOR (actor). Or maybe there’s an actor called a “SPIRATOR” who specialises in breathing. There isn’t. Just an anagram.

4 Young chap’s untruth about a theologian (6)
LADDIELIE (untruth) containing A + DD (Theologian)

DD – Doctor of Divinity, hence a theologian

6 Reportedly beams, getting pay increase in New York? (5)
RAISE – RAYS (beams) – homophone indicated by “reportedly)

Orpheus added “in New York” to indicate US usage, which seems unnecessarily fussy. Surely “Getting a Raise” is now common in British English? OED has “chiefly US”.

7 First part of musical score maybe involving Italian singer (8)
BARITONEBAR ONE containing (involving) IT[alian]

My COD. I was trying to be clever with OVERTURE, but this is tightly clued. The score itself contains the notation, hence the bars (=measures in US usage), hence the first bar or BAR ONE.

10 Unusually good trio in Tom’s lounge (7,4)
SITTING ROOM – (G[ood] + TRIO IN TOMS)* (Unusually)
12 Scottish city’s currency mentioned on radio (8)
STIRLING – (STERLING) homophone (on radio)

City where William Wallace defeated the English as depicted in Braveheart. Sterling is a term for the now ubiquitous GBP.

15 Land originally explored regularly in public transport (7)
TERRAINTRAIN containing E[xplored] R[egularly] (originally)

Plenty of misdirects here from Orpheus. “Originally” this time goes with the two words succeeding it, not the one preceding it. And  “regularly” was chosen rather than say “rapidly” to set up the false flag of alternating letters. Misdirection is all part of the game.

16 Ancient oared vessel heard by military engineers (6)
BIREMEBI(BY) (homophone – heard by) + REME (military engineers)

The Corps of the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (REME) came up recently, they are apparently different from the RE. And if you never heard of a Bireme, you might have heard of a Trireme or the Quinqueremes (of Nineveh).

18 Your setter’s in good nick for a start: that’s specified (5)
GIVENG[ood] + N[ick] contains IVE (Your setter’s)

This is the tricky apostrophe “s” which indicates “has”. Think of the setter saying “I’ve been ill”, it would get reported as “Your setter’s been ill”.

19 Duck having drink on lake (4)
TEALTEA (drink) + L[ake] where “on” is used in a Down clue to indicate succession.

61 comments on “Times Quick Cryptic 2296 by Orpheus”

  1. I biffed GIVEN & TERMINAL, never did try to parse them. I didn’t realize RAISE was widely used in the UK; but in any case “in New York” helps mislead by suggesting NY or N_Y. 6:14.

  2. 18:41. Could get nowhere for a long time until a few at the bottom let me start and I worked back up. with clues that were giving me no idea on first reading becoming solvable as one or two checkers appeared. SITTING ROOM was hard to parse as I have difficulty with partial anagrams. Concentrate meaning LISTEN was slow for me to see. I don’t have a problem with the two meanings of APPOINTMENT not being distinct enough.

  3. Not sure I understand the difficulty with the double definition in 11a.

    What month is our appointment / date ? [Although this synonym is a bit of a stretch for me as I can’t think of a context where the words are interchangeable – date only being used for a romantic meeting. I guess this is OK in Crosssword-land though]

    Who was successful in the interview and got the appointment / post ?

    I am relatively inexperienced at this so perhaps I’ve missed the point.

    1. I think ‘date’ is now increasingly used informally (maybe ironically?) as ‘appointment’: “I’ve got a date with my accountant.”

      Whether it’s used widely enough to enter crossword clue usage I don’t know

    2. You’ve got it. Those two meanings are quite distinct, and clearly what was intended. At least I don’t see “date” as synonymous with “post” in any sense.

  4. 8 minutes. Congrats on your first blog, Merlin, and welcome to the team!

    There was nothing to delay me by much here although I did look twice at ‘in New York’ re RAISE. I understood its function in the clue to indicate American usage, but it had never occurred to me before that it was an Americanism. However the dictionaries I have looked at all seem to support the view that it is. I suppose in the UK we might say ‘rise’ or more likely ‘pay rise’, but I’m surprised it’s necessary to make a distinction.

    I also thought twice, Stirling or Sterling? I do know the difference but have been known to muddle them on occasion.

    I’m struggling to see any problem APPOINTMENT clued as a double definition and Slowcoach has already given examples along the lines I was thinking.

    1. raise/rise is one of those US/UK differences I’ve ‘known’ since childhood. I just looked up ‘pay raise’ and ‘pay rise’ in Collins: ‘pay rise’ is called another term for ‘pay raise’; ‘pay raise’ doesn’t cross-refer to ‘pay rise’, and the overwhelming majority of example sentences are from UK sources.

      1. The Collins entry for ‘pay raise’ is in the British English section but the only definition is a ‘US’ term for ‘an increase in wages or salary’. As mentioned in my comment I think both ‘raise’ and ‘rise’ are acceptable and widely used in the UK, but I can’t recall ever hearing anyone here refer to a ‘pay raise’. It’s interesting that the example sentences from UK sources as mentioned by you are all from The Guardian but I wouldn’t take anything they print by way of grammar or usage as authoritative. Knowing their reputation, the examples could all be typographical errors!

        1. Unfortunately the Times seems to have a lot more problems with literals these days! Well, the online version does – I don’t see the print version any more. Thank goodness they don’t creep into the crosswords too often 😉

  5. 11:39 here, with the top-left corner putting up stiff resistance. I needed the blog to understand DOMICILE and, now that I do, I think it’s very difficult for a QC, as it needed terms from two different foreign languages.

    COD: BARITONE, for the great PDM.

    Thanks to Orpheus, and thanks and welcome to the blogging crew, Merlin.

  6. A good puzzle with some tricky bits, I thought, but I kept comfortably within 15 minutes. COD to BARITONE.
    And a splendid full blog. Many thanks Merlin. Here’s to many more

  7. Beaten by BIREME at the end of a tough quickie for me. I now have vague memories of seeing it, or a variation on it, covered in a blog some time in the past and I determined, but clearly failed, to lodge it in the obscure crossword answer drawer in my brain. Will try again now.

    ARAB horses seem to be on a good run at the moment in the quickie?

    Great blog Merlin and thanks to Orpheus too.

  8. Got nowhere in the NW so moved on and then made steady progress clockwise around the grid. Fortunately the NW proved easier when I returned there and I finished with the 1s, although DOMICILE remained unparsed as I wasn’t familiar with Dom for catholic dignitary.
    Had to give careful thought to the spelling of STIRLING and may well have got it wrong if it had appeared in the concise crossword.
    Finished in 8.23
    Thanks to Merlin for an excellent first blog

  9. 21 minutes all parsed.
    LOI: TERMINAL. I had this early on but didn’t see the WP until near the end.
    Favourites: TERRAIN and BIREME.

  10. 8.04

    As Jackkt said

    Congrats and thanks Merlin. Nice blog and a nice puzzle from Orpheus too

    First post over the Festive break so Happy Christmas everyone

  11. A personal worst. Four errors from three pink squares. The fan on my real laptop has packed in, so it’s waiting to go to the repairers, that means this old, very slow machine came out today. The gap between typing and the letter appearing contributed to GIVEe wreaking GANG and a wonky I in CONSPIRATOR but tIRIME was all mine – heard sort of gave ‘try’ and I though a tireme was a thing rather than a TRIREME as Merlin points out. Not too much pleasure in my 19m solve – a tough welcome for Merlin but you rose to it magnificently! 19m including all manner of errors.

  12. 19 minutes with aid as NHO Bireme and with .i.e.e was working on re for Royal Engineers at the end with synonym for purchase thinking the homophone was’buy’… also not helped by jumping down the cricket eleven (xi) rabbit hole and bunging in axiom in for canon.
    So nice to be back to the ‘QC with a cuppa in bed’ routine after hosting a full-on family festive feast for fifteen (that’s an effing lot for anyone to handle)
    Congratulations and thanks to Merlin on an excellent and informative blog and to Orpheus for the mental stimulation.

  13. Fabulous blog and a lovely QC. For my money Sir Stanley Matthews was the finest Right Winger. But back in the day I think he was an outside right. Either way he was sheer magic. Even saw him in action once. Mesmerising.

    1. I saw him play in a charity event at Somerton Park Newport when I was in my young teens. I was an autograph collector, and after the game sought his autograph on leaving the changing room. In my excitement, I managed to tread quite forcibly on his magic right foot, and had him hopping around for a few seconds. He was very good natured about it, and still signed my autograph album!

  14. I looked at this for two minutes before getting FOI TEAL. Not a great start so I tried to speed up. 12 minutes on the clock when I nearly came here but I went back to 1d and changed DICE to DOCK. Glad I took that time. 13 minutes in all.
    A good puzzle. Easyish when done, tough to start.

  15. I thought this was much harder than usual from Orpheus, with foi 4d looking quite isolated at the top of the grid for ages. I eventually managed to get a few crossers going, but had joined the SCC by the time I returned to the NW. Domicile proved to be key there, but Mandate only came after Appointment banished the idea of any hands being involved. Slight mer at the unused ‘reading’ in 14ac, as that prompted thoughts of OT/NT – perhaps ‘using’ would have been less misleading. Congratulations to Merlin on an informative first blog. Invariant

  16. CANON and DOSSIER got me off to a quick start, then a steady run around the grid saw me finish on GIVEN as the SW corner tumbled into place. No particular hold ups, but the clock had ticked over to 8:01 as I submitted. Thanks Orpheus and Merlin, and congrats to Merlin for an excellent first blog.

  17. 31:49! Not a good day. The NE corner did for me, with ARAB and DOSSIER failing to appear in good order. The main aggravation was not realising I’d typed SIRTING ROOM so APPOINTMENT seemed wrong and I couldn’t think of an alternative. Oh well, there’s always tomorrow. Thanks, both.

  18. Congratulations Merlin on your debut blog – full and informative!

    Lots here to enjoy and some wicked misleading going on – I too tried briefly to get NY into the answer for Raise, was led astray by “regularly” in the clue for Terrain, and puzzled by “reading” in the clue for Listen. But checkers put me straight on all three, for a finish in just over 7 minutes.

    Not sure why Dock should be described as coarse – a redundant word in the clue perhaps?

    Hope all had a good Christmas break – our 6 house guests all depart today, so the house metamorphoses from hotel to laundry as we attempt to return to normality (and a lower thermostat setting).


    1. I haven’t been able to shed light on the actual botanical meaning of ‘coarse’ but the Oxford dictionaries all define DOCK as ‘a coarse weed’. There’s also ‘course grass’ which can be called ‘weed grass’.

  19. Aargh, this was my worst effort at a QC since starting about three months ago. Only a measly 3 clues filled in before giving up after an hour. Perhaps the brain was befuddled after too much Christmas cheer.
    Thank you to Merlin for helpfully explaining the answers. Some I should really have got on my own but others were pretty tough IMHO.

    1. Stick with it. Hang out here and you’ll start picking things up quickly, it’s a friendly place.

  20. Finished in 19 minutes with everything parsed except 18dn (GIVEN). Thanks for deciphering that for me Merlin and congratulations on your first blog – here’s to many more. I was slowed a bit by having entered TERMINUS at 23ac (taking the mention of Alabama as an example to indicate the US), but otherwise it was a steady but rather pedestrian solve.

    FOI – 5ac ARAB
    LOI – 19dn TEAL
    COD – 14ac LISTEN

    Thanks to Orpheus for a challenging QC

  21. A Champagne Day! 5:21 and .8 K. This was despite a slow start – it took me about 4 clues before I got going, but everything else just fell into place. I felt there were a lot of familiar clues here which undoubtedly helped. I did this on my tablet but no issues with fat fingers for a change 😅
    FOI Dock LOI Terminal COD Inverse
    Many thanks Orpheus and thanks and congrats to Merlin for an excellent first blog 😊

    1. Was this done before or after the champagne 🥂? If the latter I may try it one day to see if I speed up 😀

      1. None taken yet! Although maybe it would be interesting to see what happens after 😅
        Thanks all 😊

    2. Congratulations, Penny! I’m running a day or two behind at the moment, and the QC I tackled yesterday evening (Boxing Day’s Izetti) made me wait longer to solve my first clue than you took to finish this entire puzzle. I eventually crossed the line in 77 minutes. What a contrast!

  22. I too got off to a slow start with only 8A, 1D, 6D, 5A and 12D entered on the first pass. However, on my second visit round the grid I spotted 11A and everything then fell nicely into place.

    I was satisfied with my finish at just under 11 minutes. Thanks to Orpheus and welcome Merlin – a very helpful and informative blog.

  23. Thought I had finished in a nippy 8.00 until I discovered I had carelessly put in STERLING for 12dn. I had previously noted on a final check that I had a second I in CONSPIRATOR instead of an A, but failed to pick up the other error.
    A nice straightforward crossword from Orpheus and thanks Merlin for your first blog

  24. I found this one extremely difficult to get started on. But as the answers eventually came, so the grid started to fill, albeit very slowly.

    I needed help with three clues, though even the hint of just one additional letter help me solve.

    However, a DNF for me as I had TIREME for 16d.

  25. 13:39. My experience mirrors that of david1 above; nothing in for a couple of minutes before things started to flow. Still, some tough ones like BARITONE at the end, made this no cake walk.

    Thanks to Orpheus and thanks and congrats to Merlin on an excellent first blog; er…, a hard act to follow.

  26. 7:48

    Fairly gentle – the only one I had any trouble piecing together was SITTING ROOM where for some while, my foggy head could not determine what the anagrist should be.

    Thanks Orpheus and congrats Merlin on your very-informative first blog.

  27. Congratulations on your first blog Merlin – of course I knew you’d do OK, having enjoyed your blogs on the Weekend Specials.

    No real problems here, and I was comfortably inside my 5 minute target.

    TIME 4:29

  28. Congratulations, Merlin, on an excellent first blog.

    I know what it is like to put one’s head above the parapet … scary but worth it.

    COd to TEAL.

  29. A difficult puzzle, I thought. Finished but took a long time and made one mistake thinking Ladlie must be a NHO theologian!
    Struggle in the NW with DOMICILE and DOCK, and in the NE with BARITONE and ARAB. A lot of rejected biffs today. PDM with STIRLING helped. Fortunately remembered BIREME from previous QCs.
    Thank you for much needed blog, Merlin, and congrats on debut.

  30. Welcome Merlin! Rather slow today – the NE proved the final hurdle with BARITONE after a very long pause and then loi DOSSIER. 12 minutes.

  31. Unlike some others, I began well but then slowed a little for a solve that was just inside the SCC cut-off (😊). Got the first four across clues and thought I was on a flyer. Struggled somewhat with APPOINTMENT and initially put TERMINUS rather than TERMINAL. This held me up at the end, with TEAL my LOI after I had corrected my error.

    I wouldn’t have said RAISE was a particularly American term and so took a while to see this one. Very pleased with myself for getting BIREME. Rather fluked CONSPIRATOR, thinking CON for prison and taking it from there.

    All in all, a most enjoyable QC, accompanied by an outstanding blog. Well done Merlin, and thank you!

    PS. I’m with you on Jairzinho.

  32. Struggled with bits of this: tried to fit NY into 6d until the penny dropped, and didn’t see ARAB, DOSSIER or BARITONE for ages. NHO BIREME, so DNF.
    Sir Stanley Matthews was unquestionably the greatest right winger!!

    1. Well, Sir Stanley and Jairzinho both have their firm advocates here as best right wingers of all time. Looking up various opinions on-line reveals they are certainly considered as or among the greatest. George Best, Garrincha, Luis Figo, and Jimmy Johnstone also get serious consideration. It’s one of those unresolvable questions I will have to remember to ask St Peter about on my way through Pearly Gates.

      1. I had the pleasure of seeing Luis Figo in the flesh at a Champions League match at Elland Road. He was playing for Real Madrid. A phenomenal player who appeared to have the ball tied to his bootlaces. He also had the amazing ability to go from standing to sprinting in the blink of an eye.

        My father swears that George Best was the most naturally gifted player he has ever seen. Something of a wasted talent by the end of his career unfortunately.

  33. Dnf…

    Completed after 22 mins, but two errors in 4dn and 16dn. The first was a poor effort on my part thinking “Ladlie” was soon obscure theological term, but I wouldn’t have got 16dn “Bireme” any day of the week. One to note for the future.

    FOI – 6dn “Raise”
    LOI – dnf
    COD – 7dn “Baritone” – lovely surface.

    Thanks as usual, and well done to Merlin for his first blog.

  34. MER at 18d, if the ‘s is possessive, then the surface is gibberish. Expanding it gives “your setter has in good nick”. If it was “setter’s been in good nick” I would have no problem.

    1. I have to agree, not a very satisfactory clue. I think “your setter’s” would better equate with “my” or “mine”.

  35. Thanks for the debut blog Merlin!

    I came to this late, having been for a family walk in the driving rain, followed by some lunch. Managed to keep within target though.

    A good puzzle. RIGHT WINGER took longer than it should have. Favourite and LOI BARITONE.


  36. No time but around 25 minutes but dnf due to Bireme…
    I thought that Reme would feature but didn’t see the By = Bi part. NHO Bireme (or maybe forgotten since I feel it’s been around before) and so an unsatisfactory conclusion.
    Thanks all (well done Merlin)

  37. Excellent blog (IMHO), Merlin.
    Sorry for running a day behind, but I have only just done this puzzle. However, I’m very pleased to report a 24-minute finish (especially having taken 77 minutes over the previous day’s Izetti).

  38. Toughie – playing catch up but now on to today’s QC. A DNF at the final hurdle being misdirected looking for a theologian in 4d and stuck in Ladlie! How annoying to misread that last clue.
    Congratulations to you Merlin on an excellent blog! You’ve set yourself a high bar.

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