Times Quick Cryptic 2490 by Hurley


Solving time: 10 minutes with nearly 2 minutes spent at the end on 13ac.

Other than that I found it reasonably straightforward but I’m sure as usual there will be a full range of experiences to report.

As usual definitions are underlined in bold italics, {deletions and substitutions are in curly brackets} and [anagrinds, containment, reversal and other indicators in square ones]. I usually omit all reference to positional indicators unless there is a specific point that requires clarification.

1 Unusual arms mag? Tip leads to realistic approach (10)
Anagram [unusual] of ARMS MAG TIP. This word seems to have featured in a lot of the political news over the past week.
7 Some kleptocracy — nicking? One believes the worst (5)
Hidden in [some] {kleptocra}CY NIC{king}. As a confirmed one of these I’d suggest it’s more a case of someone who doesn’t believe the best.
8 Hot drink by rented holiday house (6)
CHA (hot drink – tea), LET (rented)
10 Aid to be doubled at the end — that’s the intention (3)
AID becomes AIM when its last letter is interpreted as a Roman numeral (D = 500) and then doubled (M = 1000)
12 Strong criticism of minor routes I’d echo (9)
B ROADS (minor routes as opposed to A roads), I’D, E (echo – NATO alphabet)
13 Asian republic, India, king’s backing (6)
I (India – NATO again), then LEAR’S (king’s) reversed [backing]. My LOI by some way. I was caught out yet again by a country in the Middle East being referred to as ‘Asian’. I wonder how this one qualifies to enter the Eurovison Song Contest?
14 Kind   bid (6)
Two meanings
17 Teach girl badly lacking energy (9)
Anagram [badly] of TEACH GIRL
19 Agent appears, recalled on regular basis (3)
{a}P{p}E{a}R{s} reversed [recalled] [on regular basis]
20 Dislike intensely core of plot — articles to follow (6)
{p}LO{T} [core], then A + THE (indefinite and definite articles)
21 Roam around front of ship, large (5)
PROW (front of ship), L (large)
23 Look for gold maybe, American — detailed information found here (10)
PROSPECT (look for gold maybe), US (American)
1 Cold place I misrepresented? Not a serious fault (10)
Anagram [misrepresented] of COLD PLACE I.  This is a diminutive of the Spanish word pecado meaning ‘sin’.
2 Law negative, just a bit — bristle! (3)
Hidden in [just a bit] {l}AW N{egative}. This is present on some grasses and cereals.
3 Car beam poorly adjusted — that could be grim! (7)
Anagram [poorly adjusted] of CAR BEAM
4 Extremely trendy firm working for magnate (6)
T{rend}Y [extremely], CO (firm), ON (working)
5 Pay for    raised platform (5)
Two meanings
6 Note childcare person’s souvenir (8)
RE (musical note),  MINDER (childcare person)
9 City rail system cut back, I suspected initially (10)
METRO (city rail system) then LOP (cut) reversed [back], I, S{uspected} [initially]
11 Mother with artist, though briefly, before November race (8)
MA (mother), RA (artist), THO (though briefly), N (November – NATO again!)
15 One’s got out, showing energy, unexpected pace, in southeast (7)
E (energy), then anagram [unexpected] of PACE contained by [in] SE (southeast)
16 As an example referring to second small exit path (6)
EG (as an example), RE (referring to), S (second), S (small)
18 Matter to take into account, heading off to see film star? (5)
{f}ACTOR (matter to take into account) [heading off]
22 At the outset open paper frequently (3)
O{pen} [at the outset], FT (paper – Financial Times)

92 comments on “Times Quick Cryptic 2490 by Hurley”

  1. No problems, although like Jack I was slow to think of ISRAEL. Also slow to recall TENDER–this clue or a variant has appeared a couple of times. I liked AIM. 5:12.

  2. I too got snagged by not immediately recognising that the orientals of Jerusalem were as Asian as (say) the orientals of Shanghai, taking me from a potential sub-6 to 7.28. And Jack, just to confuse you further about Eurovision, Australia is apparently in it as well these days. So, you know, great. Geographical confusion aside I thought the ISRAEL clue was quite tricky for a QC, as were METROPOLIS and BROADSIDE. But all up a pleasant work-out, thanks to both.

    1. I confess I was baffled when Australia managed to wangle its way into Eurovision, not only how they achieved it but why they wanted to! But Israel’s presence in European matters (most significantly European football) is longer standing and simpler to explain – it avoids them playing their Arabic neighbours in any Levantine or Middle Eastern equivalent tournament.

      1. I used to get quite argumentative when Israel, Levant etc were referred to as being part of the Middle East. However, having mellowed over the years, I realize now the concept of the Near East is no more and there’s no sense me getting exercised about it!

      2. I believe Australia wangled their way into Eurovision because their TV companies have bucketloads of cash that the organisers want. Apparently it was popular viewing down under.

        1. It probably was. Passed this household by completely! Not exactly sure about those bucketloads of cash btw…

  3. 11:58. METROPOLIS was last one in because I tried to fit in an actual city like Annapolis or Persepolis so was ransacking my brain for all those possibilities. BROADSIDE was my favourite. Thanks for explaining AIM; I couldn’t see the Roman numerals. I tried STAGE first for STAND but it didn’t seem right. Now that I think of it METROPOLIS was the city where Superman and Clark Kent lived.

  4. I’m not sure I’d ever seen the trick in 10 in a Times puzzle before. I associate it with the puzzles by my friends Joshua and Henri.
    Nice to see PRAGMATISM, which, as a philosophical tradition, started here in the USA in the latter part of the 19th century. I know of C.S. Peirce’s work mainly via Gilles Deleuze.

    1. The doubling of the Roman numeral seemed very familiar to me but since I’ve been doing The Guardian puzzle every day since the first lock-down I couldn’t swear as to where I have seen the device before.

      1. I had not seen it before and thought it very clever and a nice addition to the QC setter’s arsenal. It got my COD for it (not often a 3-letter word does that!)

        1. My sentiments exactly! Though doubtless I will forget this device next time it comes up in a QC and end up scratching my head for ages.

    1. Thanks for the tip. I enjoyed it and completed it in 35 mins – quick for me (and under twice my QC time). Lots of the answers seemed to drop out, once I had built up plenty of crossers. John

    2. A very big Thank You Lindsay! Just completed only my second 15×15 ever – 41:59 after way too many word trawls 😊
      Please keep posting when you think the 15×15 is an easier one.

  5. It looked briefly as though I’d be moved towards the front of the class to start the week, but it was not to be. All was going extremely well until I lazily bunged in PRAGMATICS which then rendered the otherwise straightforward STAND and the obvious, but unparsable (for me) CHALET in the NE corner, ungettable.
    Just over the 20 minutes with no stand out clues for me, although I did have to think hard about the location of Israel. Just a very nice, doable puzzle.
    Thanks to Hurley and Jackkt.

  6. No major hold ups today. Managed to avoid the temptation to bif ‘coffee’ at 8a and it took a moment to remember the ‘pay for’ meaning of STAND.
    Started with PRAGMATISM and finished with ACTOR in 6.43 with WOD to PECCADILLO.
    Thanks to Jack

  7. Blimey. My fastest ever time, at 15:49. No aids either. Needless to say, I really liked this one. I may now have to go and lie down after the shock of it. Thanks Hurley and Jack.

  8. A gentle start to the week, and cleared in two straight passes.

    COD AIM (very clever)
    TIME 3:41

  9. Good stuff as usual from this setter.. iSRAEL took a long time until I spotted that I had mistyped PECCADILLO, not yet used to the iPad when my paper fails to arrive. PROSPECTUS held me up longest until a PDM. Biffed AIM…. Don’t know if I would have seen the clever 2×500 if I’d botheredto parse. Thanks Hurley and Jack.
    Saturday solvers may be interested at this from the BBC Newsletter which I get by email:
    “Have you ever heard of “shrinkflation” or “skimpflation”? The former was recently in the news when a French supermarket chain decided to name and shame the food companies who had made some products a little bit smaller, rather than raising the price directly. It pays to be aware….”

  10. 14 mins…

    I also thought this was fairly straightforward. Felt like a lot of anagrams, but I’ll have to go back and see how many there were. Main hold ups were 13ac “Israel” and the innocuous 5dn “Stand”.

    FOI – 7ac “Cynic”
    LOI – 5dn “Stand”
    COD – 9dn “Metropolis” – always like a coincidentally apt clue.

    Thanks as usual!

  11. After a weekend struggling on harder crosswords I was pleased to break my record at 27mins for this one. Found the 3 letter answers hardest to get with 2d LOI.

    Thank you Hurley and jackkt 👍

  12. 8:31 (Arab invasion of Sicily)

    LOI was ISRAEL. I’m never sure what continent it is in. Trying to draw the Europe/Asia boundary is hard. The Urals and the Bosporus are the two givens, the rest is very debatable.

    Initially had STAGE for 5d, but the need for a D in 12a sorted that.

    Thanks Jack and Hurley

  13. I was very slow to get going with this one. I jumped about the grid and found the usually easy 3-letter spaces quite difficult to fill (AWN anybody? – it had to be but I have never heard the word).
    I was relieved to be only 3 mins over target when I entered my LOI (ISRAEL) – I had expected a SCC entry today.
    Some very clever stuff but it was a chore rather than a pleasure for me on a Monday morning.. Thanks for parsing AIM properly for me, jackkt.
    Thanks to both. John M.

      1. Thanks but no help to me – I have never tried the NYT crossword. I have enough trouble with the wide range of crosswords available in UK papers and magazines. For example, I have just completed the latest Private Eye offering – a perennial favourite for me. John

        1. I was just indicating, in reply to your comment on AWN, that for some of us, e.g. Vinyl or me, it would be an all too familiar word. I don’t particularly recommend the NYT.

  14. Rapid start to the week, which (no doubt briefly) puts me in the top ten, a couple of seconds ahead of Phil.

    The three letter words gave me most trouble – NHO AWN, glad it was a hidden, and didn’t parse AIM – very clever. BROADSIDE my favourite, which also corrected my hastily biffed STAGE, which I then amended to the correct STAND, which was therefore LOI.


  15. All done in the end at 10 minutes, so a relatively gentle start to the week in retrospect. It did not entirely feel like it at the time, with some clever clues (Aim – my COD), some surprisingly difficult ones (like some others I was held up by Stand) and a headscratcher in Israel. I suspect I would have been faster if I had had my anagram hat on, but Peccadillo took time, and Metropolis was a classic Biff-then-parse.

    For Broadside, I parsed the -IDE at the end as “an echo of I’d”, ie sounds like I’d. It seemed to work at the time.

    Many thanks to Jack for the blog

  16. I enjoyed this – thanks Hurley and Jackkt. I think a lot of us will have thought about Australia and Eurovision, but I’m often reminded of how many of the tennis Brits that the Wimbledon crowd get so enthusiastic about are from places like South Africashire 🙂

  17. A dnf today. Had STAGE for 5d and so could not solve BROADSIDE.
    Could not solve ISRAEL either even after looking up Asian Republics online.
    The rest I thought was straightforward.
    Thanks both.

  18. Thank you, Hurley, for another friendly one this Monday morning. Still took best part of an hour, half spent on the NE corner, but at least all parsed (except AWN, NHO but seemed it had to be) without aids. FOI PRAGMATISM, COD AIM (love that), LOI STAND (alphabet trawl).

  19. Hurley in not so burly mood today. AIM was excellent; AWN perhaps not. Good to see King Lear walking on stage backwards, very ingenious if geographically surprising.

    All done in 06:46 for 1.25K and an Excellent Day. Many thanks Hurley and Jack.


  20. On the plus side, I managed to finish with everything parsed, even 10ac. Unfortunately it took me nearly 30 mins to cross the line, so standing room only today. My anagram hat was in the wash, so 1ac/d both needed nearly every crosser, though 17ac Lethargic was a rare and somewhat ironic write-in. Definitely not a good start to the week. Invariant

    1. Hello Invariant,
      I possess two hats – an Australian bush hat and a Tilley sun hat. I have just ordered a replacement for the bush hat, as it’s falling to pieces now. However, as far as I know neither is an anagram hat. Are you able to specify the characteristics of such a hat?
      P.S. Looks like I was just behind you in the queue for a seat in the SCC today.

      1. a) Very lightweight- sometimes you think you are wearing it, but it’s just not there
        b) Limited storage space around the hat band – room for a few chestnuts, nothing more
        c) Quite handy for keeping an extra mind in place, so that you can always be caught between the two. . . 😉

  21. Generally 17A, not sufficiently 1A. My PECCADILLO was not being able to fashion a word in my head out of the anagrist, my LOI and which carried me just into the SCC. I didn’t find this easy, and the blog saved me puzzling for ever as to how AIM worked, and introducing me to that version ofAWN as a word, albeit both were entered fairly quickly on the basis of the rest of the clue.
    Similar holdups and faulty guesses to those above further contributed to my slowness on what now looks like a pleasant puzzle. Tomorrow my ambition is to emulate the mighty Snail and race through. May change my name to Slug, and see if that helps.

  22. Back in Blighty after a month away. Last week I was off the grid cycling north of Girona. It feels good to start the week with an accessible QC. FOI PRAGMATISM and LOI PROWL in a speedy 7:07. Thanks Hurley.

  23. No dramas today. Finished in 11 minutes with LOI METROPOLIS which was parsed after the clock was stopped.
    I too wondered about the definition of ISRAEL but the parsing was very clear to me so I moved on quickly.
    Another vote for AIM as COD.

  24. No problems with this today, a steady solve finishing in 7.29, with my LOI being ISRAEL. It is one of those countries that is difficult to associate with a particular continent, and even though I’ve been there it did cause me pause for thought. Like others I don’t remember the device in 10ac being used before, but the parsing came quite quickly to me.

  25. 7:26

    A more even battle with the oft-tricky Hurley today, though I did biff 10a, 15d and 16d without fully parsing. As for Israel being in Asia, I use the rule that if it’s east of Turkey, then it must be Asia. I was strangely drawn to the long words around the edge – PECCADILLO might be the diminuitive of pecado, but it’s odd that it has a double-C – Spanish words don’t typically have double consonants (apart from the double LL which is pronounced as a small ‘y’).

    Thanks Hurley and Jack

  26. 5.13 with a typo

    Dunno how I typed METRIPOLIS – thiught I’d been checking carefully as I went thriugh but need ti di better ibviously.

    That doubling of the roman numeral was in a 2010 Times 15×15 I essayed recently. It completely baffled me then but I did realise what was happening on this one

    Thanks Jackkt and Hurley

        1. Dear Blighter,
          Just to say that your reply to me gave Mrs Randim the giggles (not the goggles). However she thought it’s New Zealanders who talk more like that than Istralians.

          1. Mrs Random is absolutely right. The Australians don’t have quite such a unique way of pronouncing their vowels as the New Zealanders. I am just relieved that I have not been taken to task by an Ozzie!
            I have spent quite a bit of time in Oz and also had colleagues from the antipodes. One lovely bloke refused to recognise this issue. Over a few pints, I asked him to say Pan, Pen, Pin, Pon, Pun. He said ‘no problem’ and proceeded to say ‘Pin, Pin, Pin, Pin, Pin’….. 😆

  27. 17 mins, happy to have parsed AIM and got ISRAEL despite the Asian reference. PROWL held me up as I was trying to make ‘bow’ fit as the front of a ship. Having now looked it up, apparently the prow is the foreward-most part of the bow. Learned something!

  28. A relatively gentle offering from Hurley today but with a few tricky bits. I crossed the line in 16 minutes with all parsed bar AIM. NHO AWN and had to look it up later to check the definition. Slow with some of the anagrams and also toyed with STAGE at 5dn but BROADSIDE soon put paid to that.

    LOI – 13ac ISRAEL
    COD – nothing stood out for me while engaged on the puzzle but now AIM has been explained I have to nominate it – very neat.

    Thanks to Hurley and Jack

  29. Fast in parts, slow in parts, but completed OK.
    Couldn’t parse AIM, ACTOR, NHO AWN.
    I was able to do the anagrams without writing them down, so that’s an improvement.
    Yes, I was trying to think of a CROPOLIS city at first, instead of the obvious.
    Good clue. Also liked CHALET, TYCOON, PROWL, BROADSIDE.
    Yes, I suppose the Middle East is part of Asia geographically but ISRAEL held me up too.
    Thanks vm, Jack.

    1. Ditto!
      After an early morning sunny, pre-work trip to the driving range, managed a lunch break moment to catch up on the QCC and enough time to nip into the SCC for a quick coffee!

  30. I found this quite tricky in places, although I did finish all correct in 31 minutes (about average for me, these days). Mrs Random, on the other hand, found it relatively easy and finished in the low 20’s.

    I’d NHO AWN, but saw it hiding in the clue and, whilst I’d heard of PECCADILLO, I had no idea what it meant. TENDER and REMINDER required 8 minutes or so of head scratching and were my last two in.

    My CoD has to go to AIM. I was pleased to parse the clue as I went along, but I needed the M from MARATHON before it dawned on me.

    Many thanks to Hurley and Jack.

  31. Very pleased with our PB of 15 minutes.
    Awn not known but alphabet trawl didn’t produce many other options

  32. A very quick start soon slowed down, but I’m more than happy with 18:28 overall. NHO AWN but the wordplay and checking letters made it a decent bet. COD BROADSIDE.

    Thank you to jackkt and Hurley!

  33. Just under 9 mins, only hold ups were reminder and LOI tender.
    COD aim, have seen this device before but only in the 15×15.

  34. Solved in 8:44, but with an annoying fat fingered typo at BROADSODE/REMONDER for 2 errors. Drat. PARGMATISM was FOI. Last 2 in, TENDER/REMONDER, Grrhh! Thanks Hurley and Jack.

  35. 16 minutes elapsed time, but that includes a significant ‘bad news’ interruption from neighbours, so comfortably inside target. I liked AIM and STAND and LOI was METROPOLIS. No problem with the geography test for ISRAEL. Many thanks Jackkt and Hurley

  36. DNF. Just could not see ISRAEL, and also had no idea about AWN.

    The AIM/AID thing passed me by completely, not sure if I like it or not.

  37. Still getting used to the updated Times iPad app – very cross that I have to log in again every time it idles – any tips anyone? Unfortunately the temptation to use the new (to me) ‘reveal word’ function proved too strong for LOI ISRAEL, so a DNF. I must resist and persevere as I did before the wretched update.
    Anyway much to like including COD BROADSIDE. Thanks for explaining the parsing of AIM – one to remember. Gentle apart from the NHO AWN and ISRAEL. Thanks Hurley and Jack.

  38. 6.20 With 1d and 1a providing lots of initials the answers flew in. NHO AWN. Didn’t parse AIM. ACTOR slowed me a little at the end. Thanks to jackkt and Hurley.

  39. I don’t find this one too difficult, though I needed the cat’s help with 1d as I have never heard of PECCADILLO before. Luckily he had.

    I had never thought of Israel being in Asia. In fact I even Googled it, as it just didn’t ring true with me. But it’s right. Guess I didn’t consider the Middle East to be Asian. Asia always brings to my mind places like China, Thailand, Cambodia, etc.

  40. 13:55
    FOI: 1ac PRAGMATISM quickly followed by 7ac and 8ac leading me to think I could be on to a very quick time. Moments later, reality came crashing home.
    Fortunately, I found the anagrams and hidden clues relatively easy which helped me (eventually) get the rest. I did hamper myself by blindly putting STAGE in for 5dn (STAND) until the penny dropped with 12ac BROADSIDE allowing me to correct 5dn and get my LOI: 6dn REMINDER.
    Thanks jackkt for explaining the derivation of 10ac AIM – I would never have worked it out.
    Thanks again jackkt and thanks to Hurley for an enjoyable QC.

  41. Pretty much as Kevin said in the first comment. I liked the double D becoming M in AIM. TENDER my LOI. Thanks Hurley and Jackkt. 4:24.

  42. 10:06 here, almost a rare sub-10, but the time taken to parse ISRAEL pushed me just over. Enjoyed this a lot, with COD to AIM.

    Thanks to Hurley and Jackkt.

  43. 10:50

    Super easy and just over half my target time of 20 minutes. Only delay was figuring out the anagram for LOI PECCADILLO.

  44. 18:11 for 50th SCC escape of the year in 132 completions (38%) of 191 QCs (26%). Just the matter of only a 69% success rate. Online is quicker but somehow encourages me into errors I don’t make on paper.

    While technically correct, thought the misdirection of Israel as an Asian country wasn’t suited to the QC. Couldn’t make headway on it until I finally unravelled PECADILLO which I didn’t know then meaning of.

    Not too bad for a Hurley though. As per others, I liked what was going on with AIM.

    1. 50 escapes this year? Marvellous! I still haven’t reached that milestone after approx. 3.3 years. Mind you, my success rate nowadays is around the 90% mark (+/-).
      P.S. I solve only on paper.
      See you tomorrow.

      1. Thanks – will be interesting to discuss our different approaches later! From the upcoming weather looks like we’ve picked the right day to meet up.

      1. Nah … quit again today at 30mins. I don’t know what my benchmark for considering myself ‘qualified’ is. Failure weighs heavily on me.

  45. Mainly straightforward apart from AWN (clear from clue but NHO), AIM (couldn’t parse at all), METROPOLIS (took ages) and STAND (tried for ages to fit DAIS into S-A -D).

  46. 3rd consecutive 11-minute finish on a Monday. So close to breaking 10 mins with just one letter to get, the ‘w’ in 2dn. NHO AWN and, by the time I did an alphabet trawl and realised the answer was just a hidden word, 9 mins had become 11. Aaargh!

    Not a good day for hidden words. Missed one in the Quintagram as well.

    Long, long day at work tomorrow (14 hours), so very low expectations.

    Thanks for the excellent blog.

    1. Well done GA – the regularity of those 11minuters should be heartening. When the correct Monday comes along, you’ll fly through it even quicker!

  47. The 10a device was new to me. Wondered about 13a Israel but it had to be with a clever clue.

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