Times Quick Cryptic 2335 by Orpheus

Hello all.  Orpheus is back just a couple of puzzles after his last.  That one was my fastest of the year so far, while today I was just relieved not to be reporting my first DNF of 2023!  I had my fingers crossed that 12a meant what it needed to mean, but the gods were smiling and my faith in wordplay was rewarded.  Lots of nice touches here, I thought – but what did you think?

Thanks Orpheus!

Definitions are underlined in the clues below.  In the explanations, quoted indicators are in italics and I’ve capitalised and emboldened letters which appear in the ANSWER.  For clarity, I omit most link words and some juxtaposition indicators.

1a Widespread alarm about old sheep (9)
PANORAMIC PANIC (alarm) around (about) O (old) and RAM (sheep)
6a Monarch crossing eastern border (3)
HEM HM (monarch) spanning (crossing) E (eastern)
8a Wrongly take in report of girl in this place (7)
MISHEAR — A homophone of (report of) MISS (girl) and HERE (in this place)
9a Quick progress initially in military assault (5)
RAPID — The first letter of (… initially) Progress in RAID (military assault)
10a Unthinkable treatment of Peru’s poorest! (12)
PREPOSTEROUS — An anagram (treatment) of PERUS POOREST
12a Doctor wearing a ring in pulpit (4)
AMBO MB (doctor) inside (wearing) A and O (ring)
SOED: The pulpit or reading desk in early Christian churches; an oblong enclosure with steps at both ends
13a One administered an Asian republic (4)
IRAN I (one) + RAN (administered)
17a Study text of play, perhaps, one about call-up (12)
CONSCRIPTION CON (study) + SCRIPT (text of play, perhaps) + I (one) + ON (about)
Con meaning study is one of those archaic usages which lives on in crosswords
20a Sage in Srinagar is Hindu (5)
RISHI — The answer is embedded in SrinagaR IS HIndu
Don’t know Srinager?  Don’t panic!  Your first assumption should always be that you don’t need to, and that anything unfamiliar is there to provide certain letters.  If this approach doesn’t bear fruit, then you can start to worry!
21a Unsuspected difficulty? Mine comes before autumn (7)
PITFALL PIT (mine) comes before FALL (autumn)
23a The old Society? Absolutely (3)
YES YE (the old) + S (society)
24a Part of the bedding? I wondered, somehow (9)
EIDERDOWN I WONDERED, anagrammed (somehow)
1d Big cat identified by quiet university graduate (4)
PUMA — The answer as defined is identified by P (quiet) + U (university) + MA (graduate)
2d No way to take strong drink — a quack remedy (7)
NOSTRUM NO + ST (street, way) + RUM (strong drink)
3d Regret violence ultimately following game (3)
RUE — The last letter of (… ultimately) violencE after (following) RU (Rugby Union, game)
4d Gloomy Republican trapped by American elk (6)
MOROSE R (republican) inside (trapped by) MOOSE (American elk)
5d Ambitious professional rushes round island, given time (9)
CAREERIST CAREERS (rushes) around I (island) followed by T (time)
6d Thick-skinned creature taking fruit on European river (5)
HIPPO HIP (fruit) + PO (European river)
I haven’t seen the river Po for a while.  It’s the longest river in Italy, but has also stretched to the shores of crosswordland many times
7d Second course in meal, currently in vogue (6)
MODISH MO (second) + DISH (course in meal)
11d Ban favouring writer (9)
PROSCRIBE PRO (favouring) + SCRIBE (writer)
14d A very old company securing publicity for fruit (7)
AVOCADO A + V (very) + O (old) + CO (company) containing (securing) AD (publicity)
15d Move quickly, getting second spicy dish (6)
SCURRY S (second) + CURRY (spicy dish)
16d Clear one politician wearing hat (6)
LIMPID I (one) and MP (politician) inside (wearing) LID (hat)
Informal hats which setters like to throw into grids include today’s LID and also the old favourite TILE, which is one to remember
18d Outstanding features Kentish lad set up? (5)
NOSES — A Kentish lad might be a SE SON; he’s here in reverse (set up, in a down entry)
19d Football supporter possibly consuming large tart (4)
FLAN FAN (supporter) consuming L (large)
22d Sailor taking part-time soldiers on river (3)
TAR TA (part-time soldiers) + R (river)

44 comments on “Times Quick Cryptic 2335 by Orpheus”

  1. 4:19. AMBO rang a bell from puzzles. NOSES was tricky for me, because I don’t know the geography of the UK. Needed all the crossing letters.

  2. I think I forgot to parse NOSES. We’ve had RISHI a couple of times in the main cryptic, probably not in a QC. 4:58.

  3. 8:17. I’d come across AMBO and RISHI a few times before so not too many hold-ups apart from the usual sluggishness at the start. Favourite was the PREPOSTEROUS surface for PANORAMIC.

    Thanks to Orpheus and Kitty

  4. 9 minutes. AMBO is a word I definitely learnt here but maybe in the main puzzle. Sage RISHI has appeared a few times since his arrival in Downing Street.

  5. Just under 10 minutes for a puzzle that seemed spot on for a QC. NHO either Ambo or Rishi (so that’s what the PM’s name means), but the clues were very clear – once I had first tried then discarded Agari as the Indian sage.

    Many thanks to Kitty for an informative blog and to Orpheus for a good start to the week.

  6. Felt like a proper crossworder today when I saw hat and ‘lid’ came to mind at once giving LIMPID even though I couldn’t have defined it before I sat down. Before that it had been slow going, having had to pass over six across clues to get a start with IRAN. The bottom was done with barely anything in the top half. SW was completed with finger crossed on AMBO and then I tackled the SE. MODISH was easy once I saw it but put up one hell of a struggle – same with HEM. ‘Rhino’ was so hard to resist that HIPPO eluded me for too long too. Scraped under 15 for an all green start to the week. Good one!

  7. Gentle going but LOI AMBO went in with fingers crossed, having discarded amdo and amoo as less likely alternatives – not a great clue in my opinion.
    Enjoyed the rest of the solve, starting with PUMA and finishing in 6.25.
    Thanks to Kitty

  8. I agree with Cedric that this was a near perfect pitch for a quickie.

    Like others I trusted the wordplay for AMBO but I was held up elsewhere by chucking in an unparsed RHINO and RIM in the top right which threw much of that corner for a while.

    For 5D I was searching for how ‘professional’ would form part of the answer for ‘ambitious’ and only later twigged it was half of the main clue itself.

    I enjoyed MISHEAR

    About 12mins I think with an unplanned break.

    Thanks very much Orpheus and Kitty too for a fine blog

  9. Used to live near Wenden’s Ambo, near Saffron Walden and the lovely Audley End House, so popped that in without a pause.
    Almost arrived too early for the club but spent time on NOSES which was clearly right but seemed a bit too cryptic. That and a Monday morning fug tipped me into the club bang on opening time. Coffee and croissant beckon from my usual corner chair. Looking a bit short on the usual regulars today.
    Thanks Orpheus and Kitty.

  10. NHO AMBO (other than it being “both” in Latin) and couldn’t work it out; hence DNF. Six-and-a-bit minutes for the rest. Hey ho. COD NOSES.

    Many thanks Kitty and Orpheus.


  11. Not as straightforward for me as it appears to have been for the early solvers. I was only just outside target at 10.15 but it took me a while to get my LOI 5dn CAREERIST. I had heard of AMBO before, but my first thought was trying to justify AMMO somehow! As others have said, a good crossword, so well done Orpheus.

  12. Quick start to the week.

    Only LOI CAREERIST gave me pause for 30 seconds or so at the end. Like others, I knew AMBO from previous puzzles.

    PANORAMIC COD for the surface.


  13. A shade inside 14 minutes, with NHO RISHI and AMBO, both entered based on wordplay and checkers. LOI LIMPID eventually became clear. A nice puzzle and good blog – thanks both.

  14. 27 mins…

    Have to admit, I found this tough. So when I read all the comments above, I thought I was doing a different puzzle. Maybe I’m just having Monday morning syndrome.

    I DNK 12ac “Ambo”, but once I had a few checkers I just had to cross my fingers that it wasn’t “Ameo”. Similarly, wasn’t too sure about “Limpid”. My main struggle though was the NE corner where I had a complete brain melt for the 6dn “Hippo”, 6ac “Hem” and 7dn “Modish” combo.

    FOI – 1a “Panoramic”
    LOI – 16dn “Limpid”
    COD – 10ac “Preposterous” – amusing surface.

    Thanks as usual!

  15. 1718 Start of the War of the Quadruple Alliance

    A bit slower after worrying about the NHO AMBO ( where ADRO looked just as plausible)and RISHI. Also toyed with “panoramal”, which had “alarm” mixed up in there.

    LOI MODISH where I was tempted by MODEST on the basis that “surely nothing else fits”

    “Scribe” and “script” intersect in this puzzle. A feature or a bug?

  16. NHO AMBO meaning pulpit, only know it as short for Ambassador!
    Otherwise finished in good time though slowish on PREPOSTEROUS, CAREERIST. Liked PROSCRIBE, RISHI, EIDERDOWN, PITFALL. Put Rim instead of HEM at first, thinking of Emir backwards.
    Openreach have unexpectedly turned up so maybe I will be Superfast.
    Some clues easy today, some a bit tricky. Luckily remembered NOSTRUM.
    Thanks vm, Kitty.
    (Openreach confirm that final installation of Superfast broadband is yet to be confirmed)

  17. I started very slowly-FOI was YES -and once I had a few letters I sped up to finish in 9 minutes. LOI was HEM after MODISH.
    I thought this was an excellent QC.
    I had the letters for AMBO-M,A,O,B on my paper- so the answer was gettable with checkers, but I remembered the word from previous puzzles.
    MAHA-RISHI pointed to another possible unknown.

  18. Not completely straightforward.(eg unusual words at 5d and 7d) but enjoyed completing in about average time. Like some others, NHO AMBO or RISHI, but guessed from parsing and crossers. Knew Srinagar to be in India, and that many Indian given names have another meaning.. It also helped that one RISHI to my knowledge is fortunately proving far more SAGE than his predecessors. FOI PUMA, LOI AVOCADO, COD NOSES, although SE for KENT is a bit of a chestnut. Thanks Orpheus and Kitty.

  19. I found this one to be quite tough in places. I had to pause after half hour and take a break from it.

    I wouldn’t consider any clue to be a COD.


  20. Felt reasonably straightforward but still ended up in the SCC after a struggle in the NE corner. LOI eventually CAREERIST. FOI PANORAMIC. NHO AMBO but like others plumped for that rather than amdo or amoo. RISHI also unknown but seemed likely. 23:03. Thanks Kitty and Orpheus.

  21. 5.48

    No problems here with AMBO also known from the biggie.

    Surface wasn’t super smooth but I liked the anagram for EIDERDOWN

    Thanks Kitty and Orpheus

  22. I’m another who thought this was a tricky start to the week. Having managed to negotiate a few of the more troublesome ones, I ended up really struggling with the Scurry (wrong end of clue – yet again) and Conscription combination. Along the way, Ambo was a completely unknown, just follow the cryptic and hope, that fortunately turned out OK. All in all, I’m content enough with a window seat in the SCC. Invariant

  23. Well into the SCC as initially I biffed RIM and RHINO… Otherwise steady progress. Pleased to remember AMBO from a previous QC (I think). New words for me in RISHI and NOSTRUM. LOI CAREERIST. Liked SCURRY and MISHEAR. Thanks to kitty for the blog, and to ORPHEUS for a good workout.

  24. Solved hardly anything at first look. Gradually got started and things fell into place. However, NHO AMBO or NOSTRUM so guessed and looked up to check: fortunately correct!

  25. Knew AMBO from the Biggie and was confident in (Maha-)RISHI from following The Beatles as a youth. No struggles with the puzzle. PUMA went in first and CAREERIST finished the job. 7:47. Thanks Orpheus and Kitty.

  26. FOI PUMA and last two CAREERIST and IRAN. I have NHO an AMBO and I’m glad to find out that RISHI is a sage. I also did some incorrect biffing with Rhino/Rim although in that particular corner MODISH seemed the most elusive. 8:05 for a good day.

  27. I find Orpheus a very challenging setter, but I’m OK with that as long as the clues are pitched at QC-level solvers. Unusual words should be unambiguously clued, but unfortunately this was not the case with 12a (my LOI). After struggling hard for 43 minutes (very few clues came easily, today) I found myself faced with a choice between AMBO, AMDO and AMOO – and a 67% chance of a DNF! Just not fair, IMHO. Fortunately, I chose on the basis of ease of pronounciation, but guessing correctly wasn’t a satisfying experience.

    RISHI and NOSTRUM were also new to me, but their parsing was clear from both clues. I was also significantly delayed by CAREERIST and MISHEAR, so much of the puzzle was quite a challenge today.

    Mrs Random sprinted home in just 16 minutes. She hadn’t come across AMBO either, but she just bunged it in without thinking MD or MO might also represent doctor.

    Many thanks to Orpheus (except for AMBO) and Kitty.

  28. 4:50 this morning.
    Experienced a false start at FOI 5 d “hippo” where I rushed in to enter “Rhino”, assuming the European river was “Rhine”. Not the only one to biff wrongly, I see from earlier comments.
    By the time I’d unravelled things, I reckon I was about 1 minute down but then fortunately picked up some speed and accuracy. I see Verlaine was under 2 mins, which puts things into perspective rather!
    No standout clues but a well-pitched and fair QC overall.
    Thanks to Orpheus and to Kitty for her blog containing some very helpful advice for newcomers.

  29. I thought this was a very good puzzle, probably as it is my first finish after 5 dnfs last week. 48 minutes.
    Like Kitty and others I held my breath over AMBO and agree with Mr Chap that having the option of AMDO in a QC made it feel slightly unfair.
    COD to Noses for the ‘oh clever’ moment when the parsing finally dropped.

  30. Also found parts of this tricky, one wrong 7d loi we put modest. We also started with rhino for 6d, ne corner gave us the most trouble.

  31. I came to this late after a busy day with lots of travel. I got through most of it, wrote LIMPID (but wasn’t confident that a limpid stream was a clear stream) and went back to it later. I didn’t know AMBO (if I have met this before in a crossword, I have forgotten it), and managed to over-write the O in EIDERDOWN with a fat-fingered mis-type of AVOCADO. The long anagrams dropped our quickly but I was slow with MODISH, needed the crossers for NOSES, and my LOI was CAREERIST.
    I still avoided the SCC when all was done but was not impressed with my performance.
    Thanks to both. Better luck tomorrow, perhaps, although it will be another day with early travel to, and through, N Yorks to the NE coast. John M.

  32. 16:30. Got everything eventually after slow but steady progress . Thanks, Kitty, for advice re solving clues with unlikely words like Srinagar and also heads-up about tile for hat. Must store away for future use!


  33. NHO Ambo.

    I had convinced myself that it was going to be a word I’d never heard of and initially had it as Adro, until I saw Nostrum. Then I had it as either Ameo or Ambo and gambled on the latter. Not a great clue, IMHO.

    The rest of it was straightforward, with some nice surfaces. 18 mins.

  34. Sneaked in just under target at 14:30-ish. Like many others, enjoyed this a lot and learned two new words, although I suspect both AMBO and RISHI will remain on my “only in crosswords” vocabulary list.
    Thanks to Orpheus and Kitty.

  35. LOI was MODISH, to finish in 13:33.

    AVOCADO, which was correctly defined as a fruit, reminded me of my attempts at crossword setting many decades ago, in my school newspaper. I had a crossword including AVOCADO, but had defined it as a vegetable. This prompted a letter to the editor from the school’s gardening department, in the form of a poem on whether avocado was fruit or vegetable, concluding that it was “fruit without a doubt.” To this day, when eating an avocado, tomato and cucumber salad, I remind myself that I am eating a fruit salad.

    Thanks Kitty and Orpheus.

    1. I realize my personal take on this is totally unscientific but if you can put sugar on it and eat it for dessert it’s a fruit; if you put salt and/or butter on it and eat during main course it’s a vegetable. Of course the many exceptions only serve to prove this rule for me!

  36. Definite DNF. Very hard for me. Did not know AMBO (apparently great for those who do the 15×15 is hardly a recommendation in my world!). Also failed on 17a, 5d and 18d. Discouraging start to the week.

  37. A tough opening to the week, finishing in around 30 mins.

    Agree completely with Mr R about AMBO, but otherwise no complaints. I really do struggle with long anagrams, with 10ac proving hard today.

    Got some of the tricky ones immediately but then struggled with others that were, with hindsight, not too hard.

    COD – YES

    Thanks for the blog Kitty.

  38. Not grumbling but had a MER for U and MA for a university graduate when MA itself implies a university graduate.

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