Times Quick Cryptic 2495 by Alex – first catch your LOI

Hello all.  I liked this puzzle and am struggling to pick out a favourite clue.  9a is one contender, so I’ll go with that, but there are many options.  It took me a little over my average time, but other than a wild rodent chase for my LOI I’m not sure why I was such a tortoise today.  I will be interested to see how you found it.  Thanks Alex!

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

1a Entertain crowd (4)
HOST — Two definitions
3a Drink expert easily carried about (8)
PORTABLE PORT (drink) + ABLE (expert)
9a Harmful promises to pay off debts introduced by Number 10 (7)
NOXIOUS IOUS (promises to pay off debts) preceded by (introduced by) NO (number) and X (10)
10a Contest marriage (5)
MATCH — Double definition
11a Char works in Germany partly (5)
SINGE — The answer is embedded in (… partly) workS IN GErmany
12a Encounters European returning respect (6)
ESTEEM MEETS (encounters) and E (European) reversed (returning)
14a Group of extremists cleaning fruit badly (7,6)
LUNATIC FRINGE — An anagram of (… badly) CLEANING FRUIT
17a One politician has fake collision (6)
IMPACT I (one) + MP (politician) + ACT (fake)
19a Portion of small rodent (5)
SHARE S (small) + HARE (rodent)
My last in after a long mental rodent hunt.  The setter is backed up by Chambers, but not any other modern source I could find.  Hares are lagomorphs, which are related to rodents and share a common ancestor, but while they used to be considered rodents this is no longer the case.  Feel free to follow me down a Wikipedia rabbit(/hare) hole!
22a Gasp with love for seasonal entertainment (5)
PANTO PANT (gasp) + O (love)
23a Charity leaflet (7)
HANDOUT — Another double definition
24a Sheepdog by railway is mine (8)
COLLIERY COLLIE (sheepdog) by RY (railway)
25a Sell volume before conclusion (4)
VEND V (volume) before END (conclusion)
1d Fairly pious around home (8)
HONESTLY HOLY (pious) around NEST (home)
2d Wind instrument positioned above old person (5)
SAXON SAX (wind instrument) + ON (positioned above)
4d Distribute, say, the correct flyer (13)
OYSTERCATCHER — Make an anagram of (distribute) SAY, THE CORRECT
5d Seduce occasional office worker over time (5)
TEMPT TEMP (occasional office worker) above (over) T (time)
I did not forget the first word of the clue as I was writing this in and only correct my TEMPO once the crossing entry prompted me to, oh no
6d Cold November for bird (7)
BITTERN BITTER (cold) + N (November)
7d Copy part of Erasure chorus (4)
ECHO Part of ErasurE CHOrus
8d Company man is convincing (6)
COGENT CO (company) + GENT (man)
13d Head of department getting ousted is downcast (8)
DEJECTED — The first letter of (head of) Department + EJECTED (ousted)
15d Token is old penny dropped from broken mandolin (7)
NOMINAL — D (old penny) is dropped from an anagram of (broken) MAN[d]OLIN
16d Begrudge attending without leader (6)
RESENT — pRESENT (attending) missing its first letter (without leader)
18d Oil I mixed with a sauce (5)
AIOLI — An anagram of (mixed) OIL I with A
20d Make amends with a character (5)
ATONE A + TONE (character)
21d Large scale European production in chaos initially (4)
EPIC — First letters of (… initially) European Production In Chaos

65 comments on “Times Quick Cryptic 2495 by Alex – first catch your LOI”

  1. 13:13. NOMINAL and OYSTERCATCHER took a while for me to sort out the anagrams. Otherwise only HANDOUT gave me problems. I have trouble visualizing those simple compound constructions when looking for an answer. I didn’t think of COGENT=convincing or TONE=character at first but can see now that they work. Interesting to learn about how and where hares fit in the fauna realm!

  2. Luckily, I was ignorant about hares, so no eyebrow movement at SHARE. I biffed LUNATIC FRINGE without checking the anagrist, and biffed OYSTERCATCHER from checkers without reading the clue. 4:50.

  3. I was approaching my 20-minute surrender deadline when HANDOUT and OYSTERCATCHER finally dropped into place, fantastic anagram for the latter which eluded me completely. Fortunately I saw most of the hiddens quickly but there were several clues in the SE that took a bit of grinding out such as RESENT, DEJECTED and SHARE (never imagined a hare to be a rodent so that stymied me for quite a while). A number of good ones here including NOXIOUS, LUNATIC FRINGE (are we all in one?), HONESTLY and NOMINAL, but COD to that annoying OYSTERCATCHER. Thanks Alex and Kitty.

  4. 18 minutes for this one, so only 2 minutes shy of twice my target 10. Not my worst time for a puzzle by Alex though, that was 19 minutes in June this year. Bear in mind that he/she has set us only four!

    I’m not sure what caused the delay other than the long Down answer didn’t emerge until very late in the proceedings.

    I’ve no idea why Chambers would list ‘rodent’ as its first classification of HARE, putting it out of step with every other standard reference source. The creature was reclassified from rodent to lagomorph as long ago as 1912 based on differences in tooth configuration and replacement patterns, behaviour, habitat and diet.

  5. Yikes! To say that Alex and I are on different wavelengths would be an understatement.
    I struggled all over the grid, particularly with the two long anagrams that crossed the centre of the grid – in fact I needed most of he checkers to realise that OYSTERCATCHER was an anagram.
    Completely foxed by HARE being a rodent but it finally went in with a shrug and unlocked ATONE and LOI HANDOUT.
    Finished in 13.04.
    Thanks to Kitty and well played Alex

    1. Sawbill, I’m intrigued why you think that. I thought it was clever, albeit deceptive.

      Do you think it’s not appropriate for the QC?

      1. Yes, I do. Is it in one dictionary? Yes. Do the vast, vast majority of QC solvers think of HARE when they see ‘vermin’? No.
        SHARE is not a difficult word to clue so, personally, I cannot give Alex any latitude.
        After an alphabet trawl, I even wondered if there was a Japanese rat named TAKE.

        1. I take your point, but as you have said, it was easily obtainable and it was more feasible a hare is a rodent than a louse (which was my first thought).

          Personally, I’ve seen a lot worse clues in the QC – but, I’m looking at it from the cosy position of actually completing it, which can always taint your viewpoint.

  6. 11 minutes, but I share the general condemnation of the rodent clue – it just isn’t, in most people’s books, whatever Chambers may say. I also failed to parse Honestly – a classic biff-then-parse which in this case turned into a biff-then-can’t-parse as I thought the pious bit was -STLY (for saintly – it made sense at the time) and then made no sense of the Hone bit.

    That apart, some very nice clues and impressive long anagrams which I much enjoyed. Today’s trivia: the oystercatcher is the national bird of the Faroe Islands.

    Many thanks to Kitty for the blog

  7. (Whispers) I thought SHARE was quite clever, precisely because no-one would naturally think of a hare as a rodent. Isn’t that sort of trickery the point of crosswords?

    I definitely didn’t do what Kitty didn’t do either at 5d, oh no. Nor did it make it impossible to get LOI ESTEEM for a long time.

    I love OYSTERCATCHERS and see loads of them in the Highlands every summer. Beautiful birds with a very distinctive call. I’ve never seen one eat an oyster, though – cockles and mussels round us.

    All done in regulation 08:21 for 1.7K and a Decent Day.

    Many thanks Alex and Kitty.


    1. No-one would think of hare as a rodent because it isn’t one and hasn’t been classified as such for the past 111 years based on scientific research accepted by all but Chambers dictionary apparently.

      I can imagine the outcry if for example, Pluto were to be clued as a planet, but I might understand that more because there must be hundreds of thousands of people still alive in the UK who were taught that it was.

      Having said all that the clue was perfectly solvable.

      1. A word being used in a sense which was once current but isn’t any more is hardly the most shocking event in a cryptic crossword … but I suppose it would have been better as “former rodent”! Though that might have started even more hares running (ahem).

        1. As has already been pointed out, SHARE is not a difficult word to clue so why the need to go down this particular road in the first place, especially in a QC?

  8. A tough start to the week from Alex, I thought. A few clues dropped out quickly for me (including some easy hiddens) but I struggled over the rest and jumped about all over the grid making slow progress before tipping into the SCC with my LOI OYSTERCATCHER (which emerged on the basis of checkers before, like Plett11, I realised it was an anagram). I agree with many of the comments above.
    Thanks to both but hope the week offers some easier fare. John M.

  9. Kitty, my rodent chase came up with lice although I quickly discarded lice for hare without questioning it! FOI HOST and LOI DEJECTED. I needed all but one of the checkers to get OYSTERCATCHER and I didn’t parse ATONE until after I submitted. 7:29 for a very good start to the week.

  10. Hard for me! Slow all round the grid. My personal NITCH and WITCH nearly as red as Plett’s!

    All came in the end, but it was PORTABLE that took the most time – looking for the definition at the wrong end of the clue.


  11. I was surprised to see HARE was a rodent so SHARE didn’t come immediately to mind. OYSTERCATHCER took a while to see to. I liked the surface for NOXIOUS. Thanks Alex and Kitty. 4:44.

  12. I was terrified that 19a should turn out to be SLICE, and only nervous when submitting SHARE. 3a deceived me for most of my time by carrying TEA about, and the admirable anagram for OYSTERCATCHER only resolved when I looked at the right end of 3. Slowed me right down: I might leave the MCS until I’m more awake!

  13. 16 mins…

    I really enjoyed this – mainly because I finished what I thought was a tricky puzzle in a reasonable time.

    Some lovely clues, and 19ac “Share” was a definite “is it really?” moment. Luckily 4dn “Oystercatcher” came quickly which helped pull the two halves of the grid together.

    FOI – 2dn “Saxon”
    LOI – 1dn “Honestly”
    COD -2dn “Saxon”, but could also have been 9ac “Noxious”

    Thanks as usual!

  14. I enjoyed this so thanks Alex and Kitty. My main problem with Hare for rodent is that it’s unnecessary – I don’t think quickies should be obscure or contentious.

  15. 16 minutes for this enjoyable tussle. I’m another tempted by SLICE, but rejecting it to find SHARE and wonder about the classification. In the end I justified it by thinking that rodents have long front teeth and so do rabbits and hares, so maybe they are. DEJECTED my LOI after looking to drop a leading letter from a word for department. Thanks both and well done Alex, a nice challenge.

  16. I was nearly defeated by this as I had DEFEATED in pencil at 13d and nearly put it in in a rush to finish. But I paused to parse and got DEJECTED, a good clue among many.
    Then LUNATIC FRINGE after writing out the anagrist twice; and finally OYSTERCATCHER without seeing the anagram!
    I did wonder about HARE but I’m not that offended by the clue.
    COD to OYSTERCATCHER. 20 minutes in all, a good challenge.
    It’s a good job Astro_Nowt does not do the QC (he hates bird clues).

  17. 9.00

    Also struggled to get properly flowing. Forgot the flyer so that only emerged at the end which didn’t help.

    Interesting discussion about SHARE. As you Wordle afficionados know there are a lorra options for S_A_E so its a combo which can be clued many different ways. So probably comes down to how many solvers stuck it in thinking “really?”. My take is if that number is more than a small handful probably it would have been better clued differently. But it’s not a science and that’s why we love these things.

    Anyway I liked the puzzle and thought the two long anagrams were good – thanks Kitty and Alex

  18. 16:32 Thirty Years War grinds on

    Tough old start to the week. LOI SHARE, after considering STAKE. Slow with OYSTERCATCHER, good anagram.


  19. Polished off quite a number of easy clues/chestnuts and thought I was in for a fast time. Unfortunately what remained after the first pass was tough going. Took far too long to see DEJECTED and HOST and never managed to parse OYSTERCATCHER. Accepted SHARE without considering to much whether or not a hare is a rodent but I was less sure about act=fake and tone=character, although I can see now that they do work. 22 minutes for a disappointing start to the week.

    FOI – 9ac NOXIOUS
    LOI – 1dn HONESTLY

    Thanks to Alex and Kitty

  20. Enjoyed this puzzle, though offended on behalf of HAREs.
    Took me a while to untangle OYSTER CATCHER. LHS easier than right.
    Nothing to do with QC, but some of you may be interested to know I saw some stunning Reeve’s pheasants in the middle of nowhere this weekend.
    Thanks vm, Kitty.

    1. Reeve’s pheasant-will try to store that away in an accessible part of my brain for when some setter uses it!

  21. Took a while to get going today, although I’m not sure why. FOI NOXIOUS, but needed blog to parse fully. Had N for number, although I know n = ‘any number’ really, plus IOUS, leaving me with OX… Another ‘slice’ before SHARE. Very pleased to hear hares are not rodents, and I’ve learned a new word to boot. Nothing especially troublesome otherwise. Liked the surfaces for COLLIERY and BITTERN. Thanks very much to kitty and Alex.

  22. A difficult start to the week, with a slow, bitty solve that was heading for a DNF before Oystercatcher suddenly popped into my head to unlock a few answers. Like others, Share seemed unlikely, but a hundred times more plausible than Slice, and Atone then quickly removed any lingering doubt. The window seats were all gone by the time I crossed the line, but just grateful for a finish. CoD to 9ac, Noxious, closely followed by the Saxon. Invariant

  23. 8:48

    Needed to write out the anagrist for LUNATIC FRINGE – not a phrase that came to mind easily. Glad I solved 13d before 19a – SHARE was a write-in based on definition, but I didn’t know before today that hares had ever been classified as rodents. Favourites were 9a and 2d.

    Thanks Alex and Kitty

  24. 18:39 so over budget. Not helped by red wine yesterday.
    Share is poor.

    You can even squeeze the correct classification in:
    Commission stuffing lepus hare

    COD Lunatic fringe/portable

  25. Determined today to finish it and justify my existence (for reasons which Johninterred knows) – and after about two hours, succeeded (no aids). FOI VEND (yes, took that long), COD LUNATIC FRINGE (for the brilliant anagram), LOI ATONE. MER at expert = (merely) ABLE; and I’m with you, Kitty, as to hares being “no longer considered” to be rodents. Otherwise, phew!
    Yes I too wanted SLICE – and toyed with the tempting 3 SUITCASE, before BITTERN precluded it.

  26. Took a while to untangle OYSTERCATCHER and LUNATIC FRINGE. Found it hard to accept that a hare can be classed as a rodent, but shrugged and moved on. FOI was COGENT. LOI was DEJECTED. 11:04 so missed my target. Thanks Alex and Kitty.

  27. I had the same thoughts as just about everyone else, hare as a small rodent! Really?
    For this reason it was my LOI as I kept thinking it had to be something else.
    I was darting all over the grid with this one, and when finally completed the clock showed 10.09. I was surprised it was as quick as that as I sensed I would be well outside target.

  28. Definitely a pen and paper day. The crossing SHARE and ATONE causing the biggest delays on the way to an all green 18.

  29. 17:36. Hare-brained clues aside, a steady solve that could have been quicker but it’s Monday, so I couldn’t. The Across clues went in well until the long loonies, so I filled in the Downs above and then meandered around more slowly for the rest.
    DEJECTED held out for a long time and didn’t the help much with the “rodent” but filled all the squares eventually.

  30. 11:54 (Henry II crowned King of England after death of King Stephen)

    SHARE went in with a shrug, since hares are more rodent-like than lice.
    Held up by the long anagrams OYSTERCATCHER and LUNATIC FRINGE, otherwise I might have been able to finish with a 2d date.

    Thanks Alex and Kitty

  31. So, last week’s loss of form continues. 50 minutes today, which makes it five-in-a-row at three-quarters of an hour or more. My recent average of around 30 minutes is in the process of being blown out of the water at the moment. At least I am just managing to finish them, I suppose.

    The offending clues today were SHARE, RESENT, HANDOUT and ATONE. All in the SE corner and all inter-connected, so I had precious few checkers to work with. 25 minutes were spent on these four alone.

    Mrs Random has had to pause her attempt, as she is off to her sculpture class. Her comment as she left was “These used to be enjoyable, but they’re just no fun at the moment”. I think she may decide to stop doing them. I hope I’m wrong.

    Thanks to Alex and Kitty.

  32. Lovely to see oystercatcher. Common at our near rspb site. Cheeky looking things with evil eyes, love them.

  33. I enjoyed the discussion above, never knew that about Pluto, nor hares, that’s the fun of these.

    LOI ESTEEM as I was trying to find a word meaning encounters or a European to fit E_T_E_ that read respects backwards. Oh well got there in the end.

    I HONESTLY couldn’t see 1D, but The Gentleman helped me.

    Thanks everyone, Kitty and Alex.

  34. cross about the use of rodent for hare – they are not rodents and haven’t been for a good long time! rest was OK.

  35. 8.41 with the same shrug at SHARE and I thought the surface for NOMINAL was odd, otherwise I found this quite enjoyable. I realised quite quickly that 4d was an anagram but it took a long time to reveal itself. I love the sound of OYSTERCATCHERs – it brings back happy thoughts of holidays in North Norfolk.
    FOI Host LOI Oystercatcher COD Noxious – definitely worth the entrance fee 😅
    Thanks Alex and Kitty

  36. 12/26. I can’t think of anything new to say about SHARE. Had I solved that one, it might have unlocked 13D, 20D and 23A. That would then have assisted 4D and 14A. I wouldn’t have completed the puzzle, obvs, but one stupid clue stopped me solving perhaps a quarter of the grid. And then experts wonder why beginners give up.

  37. 20.23 Very much off the wavelength today. The NE and the SW weren’t too bad but the other corners were slow. Ignoring SHARE, the clues were fair in hindsight. Thanks to Kitty and Alex.

  38. 21:45, pleased that I managed to finish without resorting to any aids. FOI NOXIOUS, LOI COGENT, where I spent too long trying to fit a specific name into the clue (“COBERT”, anyone?).
    Thanks to Alex and Kitty.

  39. We found this quite difficult, had tempo for 5d, which meant that we could not solve 12a esteem. We were slow on a number of other clues, not an easy start to the week.

  40. 14 minutes so agree with the difficulty level outlined. SHARE caused a shrug but no difficulty which was the opposite with the two long, crossing anagrams. Our feathered friend the bittern seems to be flying into several crosswords I’ve attempted recently.

  41. I must be missing something obvious here, since nobody else has asked about it, but why is Tone = Character?

  42. The tone of my comment may offend as much as the character of what I wrote last week – but as zoologists know there is a rodent which is definitely a hare – the spring hare of Africa.

  43. DNF. Found this super hard.

    Could anybody help me with why SAXON is old person? I put it in from the clue and crossers but cannot parse it. I have heard of the Saxons of course but cluing an entire ancient Germanic people as ‘old person’ seems a bit far fetched.

    1. A Saxon was a person. He/she lived a long time ago so was old (just like an old fossil). You just have to see it a bit differently. John.

  44. This resident of the (V) SCC was pleased to finish – and disappointed that OYSTERCATCHER took him so long as they are regularly seen on this edge of Poole Harbour. SHARE went in with a shrug and the thought “I didn’t know HARE was a rodent . . .

  45. Dismal start to the week. Started ok but hit the buffers with 6/7 left and went into panic mode. Dreadful on the anagrams and 12ac. I struggle to get the reversal clues with more than one component.

    Overall a very poor day and a 28 min finish. Another week of torment begins…

    Thanks for the blog Kitty.

  46. PS Felix posted in the comments from last Friday to say there was a nina, with 19dn being a clue.

    Did anyone spot it? I wouldn’t get a nina unless it came up and introduced itself, but I wondered if one of the more accomplished solvers spotted it?

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