Times Quick Cryptic 2500 by Orpheus


This was my first QC solve within 10 minutes since 29th September but as mentioned in my comment last Friday, I have now increased my target time from 10 to 15 minutes to give myself more time to relax and enjoy the scenery.

There are some tricky bits and pieces here so I shan’t try to predict how this will go down with the room.

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.

7 Chirpy type taking notes in US intelligence (6)
C A D (notes of music) contained by [in] CIA (US intelligence). Scary-looking insects. Apparently only the males make the noise.
8 Wish of French teacher, possibly, to take English (6)
DE (of – French), SIR (teacher, possibly), E (English)
9 Lout spilling oil in Native American hut (8)
Anagram [spilling] of OIL, contained by [in] HOGAN (Native American hut). SOED: An American Indian (esp. Navajo) hut made from logs, earth, etc. I suspect that most solvers will have got this one without knowing the hut reference. It has probably come up before but feels a little too obscure for a QC. Setter Oink might have been kinder to us and used his signature reference in the wordplay.
10 Right time of life for fashion (4)
R (right), AGE (time of life). As in ‘all the rage’.
11 Crossing river, arrived at small cave (6)
GOT TO (arrived) containing [crossing] R (river). Often associated with Santa in shopping malls and department stores.
13 Wading bird biting head off rue? (5)
{r}EGRET (rue) [biting head off]
14 The vehicle in front? (3)
Two meanings. The foremost position, often in a military sense.
15 Reflect about old Mickey, perhaps (5)
MUSE (reflect) containing [about] O (old)
17 Scandinavian invader’s female ruler (6)
VI (random female), KING (ruler)
19 Stake in metropolitan tenement (4)
Hidden [in] {metropolit}AN TE{nement}. A stake as in betting.
20 Blandishments from cook drinking coffee (8)
FRY (cook) containing [drinking] LATTE (coffee)
22 Seabird circling a very public house (6)
TERN (seabird) containing [circling] A + V (very)
23 Be without the old retired valet (6)
LACK (be without), then YE (the – old) reversed [retired]. SOED:  A (liveried) servant; a footman, a valet; a menial.
1 Lose everything, presumably, being a dipsomaniac (4)
WIN 0 (lose everything, presumably)
2 Wager involving everyone in Swan Lake, for example (6)
BET (wager) containing [involving] ALL (everyone). Swan Lake is one of Tchaikovsky’s most popular ballets.
3 Fellow having wander round back of big tree (8)
MAN (fellow) + ROVE (wander) containing [round] {bi}G [back of…].

In the mangrove swamps
Where the python romps
There is peace from twelve till two.
Even caribous
Lie around and snooze;
For there’s nothing else to do.
In Bengal
To move at all
Is seldom, if ever done.
But mad dogs and Englishmen
Go out in the midday sun. [Noël Coward]

4 Norse god — initially only deity in Norway (4)
O{nly} + D{eity} + I{n} + N{orway} [initially]
5 Loan shark certain to reside in ancient city (6)
SURE (certain) contained by [to reside in] UR (ancient city). A money-lender, usually charging exorbitant rates of interest.
6 Perk up, hearing of south coast resort (8)
Sounds like [hearing of] “Brighton” (south coast resort)
12 European working in a manor (8)
Anagram [working] IN A MANOR
13 Eastern vacation ultimately feasible, much to be desired (8)
E (Eastern), {vacatio}N [ultimately], VIABLE (feasible)
16 Like rough ground? That’s odd (6)
Two meanings
18 Tawdry gear used by school (6)
KIT (e.g. running gear) SCH (school). I’m not sure the definition fits exactly but there’s certainly some overlap of meaning.
20 Finance duke used to support entertainment (4)
FUN (entertainment), D (duke)
21 Genuine-sounding Scottish dance (4)
[Sounding] like “real” (genuine)

57 comments on “Times Quick Cryptic 2500 by Orpheus”

  1. 9:06. ENVIABLE, FLATTERY and WINO were favourites. No big holdups led to a very fast time by my lights. Thanks for reminder of Noel Coward song!

  2. The SNITCH is at 91, but it’s early. I knew HOGAN, but it took me a while to remember it. MER at KITSCH. 5:13.

  3. WINO and HOOLIGAN, where I confused myself about the definition, held me up at the end and took me out to about 9 minutes, but then I discovered I’d stupidly pulled the wrong rein on BRIGHTEN and accordingly hit the fence. A lot of these (EGRET, ODIN, VAN) were complete gimmes but others were more challenging, eg LACKEY and CICADA where I (and I suspect a few others) saw ‘chirpy type’ and thought ‘bird.’ Thanks to Jack and Orpheus.

  4. 14.30, fast for me, with hogan an unknown, but the clue was fair enough to mitigate that. Looked like an infrendly grid and I didn’t see WINO to begin with, but the the final O saved me a few clues later.
    Hadn’t seen UR for a while but it has reappeared a few times recently – perhaps the most Crosswordy word of all, extinct elsewhere but once met, never forgotten.

  5. Nuts, took the important bit of BRIGTEN to be “perk up, hearing” rather than “hearing of south coast resort”. Should have taken more time. I shall agonise over that while I finish my Lemsip. I’d been pleased with a 9m solve too having had to wait until EGRET in the middle of the grid to get going. Was held up in the NW where I thought I was to have to know a Native American hut before HOOLIGAN saved me – but I didn’t know ‘hogan’ – and WINO where I needed the checkers.

  6. Top to bottom solve with very few hold ups apart from a very careful reading of 6d before going with BRIGHTEN.
    NHO of HOGAN but the answer was clear once there were a couple of checkers in place.
    Started with CICADA and finished with LACKEY in a speedy 4.41 with COD to WINO.
    Thanks to Jack

  7. DNK HOGAN for the hut, but otherwise no hold ups. Thanks Orpheus and Jackkt. 3:19.

  8. I biffed HOOLIGAN, and might have had to rack my brains to come up with hogan, though it does seem vaguely familiar. Otherwise I found this a gentle start to the week, and only four clues were unsolved on the first pass.

    TIME 3:05

  9. 4.14 WOE

    The South Coast resort was my last word; the penultimate letter my last square. Whoops. I think it would have been close to a pb but gotta read the clues.

    Thanks Jackkt and Orpheus

  10. DNK HOGAN, VAN(guard) biffed, assumed ODIN rather than Thor. VIKING opened up the bottom half which went quite quickly leaving gaps in top left hand corner to roll me into the club as usual!
    Thanks Jakkt & Orpheus

  11. 5 minutes plus injury time doing the check. I had forgotten HOGAN (heroically?) and tried TEPEE first, but not for long. At Spurs, our “VAN” is a centre back, but was far enough forward on Saturday!

  12. Totally breezeblocked by HOOLIGAN for some reason – not knowing HOGAN didn’t help, but the checkers and an anagram of OIL should have made it obvious enough. Then to cap it off, I discovered a fat fingered FIND when I submitted.

    I liked WINO.

    6:01 but..

  13. Completed all but 1d, 3d and 9a in just over 6 minutes and heading for a PB. I thought 3d might begin with man but MANGROVE didn’t immediately spring to mind as I think of it as a woody shrub in swamp, but the clue was clear. Then, with the G checker, biffed HOOLIGAN, although NHO Hogan. Then, took another two minutes on WINO, which is a word I don’t hear very often these days; perhaps people don’t like saying it in my company lest they cause offence!

    So, a disappointing 11m 24s although within my target 15m.

  14. 7:19
    Nothing too challenging today. LOI was CICADA. I’m not a fan of random strings of letters A to G being clued as ‘notes’. It might have been a better clue with a rotter or bounder being in US intelligence.

    Thanks Orpheus and Jack

  15. As I was doing this I had a feeling I was making heavy weather of an easy one, and the times above bear that out. Hey ho. I was slow all over the grid – thought the chirper must be a bird, NHO a hogan (apart from Hulk Hogan, natch), missed that ROMANIAN was an anagram, thought “Eastern vacation” indicated EN so couldn’t work out what “ultimately” was doing, and so on. What a shambles.

    Limped home in 09:05 for 1.9 K and a Sluggish Day. COD FLATTERY.

    Many thanks Orpheus and Jack.


  16. No time today, but it was quick, despite having a really dreadful night after my COVID booster yesterday afternoon. I simply forgot to look at the clock on completion. I thought there may be a theme or Nina to celebrate the 2500th QC but I don’t see anything, and anyway, Orpheus doesn’t usually play such games. Thanks Jackkt.

  17. 15 mins…

    Maybe could have been quicker, but I ended up having to do an alphabet trawl for 1dn – and stupidly started with “a”.

    Some good stuff here, although I agree there were some tricky moments. Had a to take a breath to ensure it was “Brighten” and not “Brighton” for 6dn. 17ac “Viking”’was fairly straight forward, but I misparsed it and had “Viki” combined with the mysterious, possibly ancient Chinese ruler called “Ng”.

    FOI – 7ac “Cicada”
    LOI – 1dn “Wino”
    COD – 23ac “Lackey”

    Thanks as usual!

  18. Just over 15 minutes, was flying along until I got held up by Lackey and Wino. Thought it was much easier than recent offerings. Thanks Jackkt and Orpheus

  19. 13 minutes for me. LOI LACKEY which required several looks. I tried to justify Butler early on which wasted time.
    The SE was where I finished after problems. I had a DANE invading and various other mis-steps.
    Not that easy in my view and one of those difficult grids. And HOGAN was,of course, unknown.
    Some good clues. COD to FUND.

  20. A very fast solve for me today at just under 7½ minutes, with only Hooligan unparsed. At least I am in good company in not knowing Hogan. Some very nice clues – I enjoyed Mangrove especially – but I do share Simjt’s view that CAD might have been more elegantly clued than “notes”.

    Many thanks to Jack for the blog

  21. The quick times today seem to suggest it was on the easy side as my time of 7.31 seems to confirm. It was good to break my 10 minute target at last having failed on every day last week. The only unknown in parsing was HOGAN as a Native American hut, but the rest was plain sailing.

  22. 6:00

    Two left after 4:30, took another 90 seconds to come up with CICADA and then WINO. Gentle start to the week. HOOLIGAN a biff, never heard of a HOGAN.

    Thanks Orpheus and Jack

  23. As ever I am completely out of sync with the rest of the solvers. Dipsomaniac, Hogan and Blandishments all are words I have never heard of before, the latter at least being gettable. Had to google Dipsomaniac to get WINO. That left me with just CICADA left and having already failed the grid by googling I got bored of cycling through the various note combinations and bunged in CILACA for a 21m DNF. Frustrating

  24. Needed the cat’s help with several of these clues to complete.

    Can’t quite put my finger on it but did not enjoy this one at all. Some of the clueing seemed desperate.

  25. Having failed to break 20 minutes last week I polished this one off in 12 minutes, all parsed. First pass gave me a lot on the right hand side but almost nothing on the left, but most of the blanks were filled on the second pass leaving only the NW corner. Felt I knew the Native American hut (having quickly discarded tepee) but couldn’t bring it to mind, but getting MANGROVE enabled me to solve HOOLIGAN from the crossers.

    FOI – 8ac DESIRE
    LOI – 1dn WINO
    CODs – 11ac GROTTO and 1dn WINO. Also liked ODIN

    Thanks to Orpheus and Jack.

  26. Very quick then stuck in NW, like others. Finally solving: 1st PDM CICADA, 2nd MANGROVE, 3rd HOOLIGAN (nho Hogan either) and LOI WINO.
    Biffed VAN forgetting Vanguard. Liked LACKEY, MOUSE, ODIN, GROTTO.
    Thanks for blog and Mad Dogs, Jack.

  27. Romped through this in 27 minutes.
    I think that while some of the clues were tricky the definitions were straight forward and at QC level which really helped.
    Thanks Orpheus and Jackkt- I enjoyed the phrasing and rhyming from Noel Coward.

  28. Dreadful! My awful streak continues and is now well into its third week. Despite starting well and solving my first 15 clues in 15 minutes, I then completely ran into the buffers. I had completed the NE and SW corners, but both the NW and SE corners remained impenetrable for a further 15-20 minutes.

    GROTTO finally broke the logjam in the NW and I somehow ground out the remaining clues in that quadrant, but I was defeated in the SE. LACKEY and KITSCH resisted all my attempts. I know both words of course, but have never used or even thought of using LACKEY, and tawdry to me means sordid or dishonourable, not KITSCH. I thought KITSCH was some sorts of cheap plasticky souvenirs or bad art, but I obviously thought wrong.
    Eventually, my patience ran out and I gave up after 70 minutes. So, it goes down in my records as a DNF and was a soul-destroying experience.

    Thanks to Orpheus and Jack.

    On edit: I have now read the posts above and am astonished at how easy most others found it. I appear to be pretty much the only outlier. Mrs Random has also made me look like the class dunce, as she has just rattled it off in 16 minutes.

    1. I wish that I could find some encouraging words Mr R. It’s been an awful time recently on the QC. Things will, I’m sure, pick up for you. I think today was a classic QC for the accomplished solver. The lack of comments suggests that most of us more modest solvers had a bad day.

      Good luck tomorrow. 🤞

  29. Quickest time for many a week, certainly within 20m which for us is very unusual. No real hold
    ups. A pleasant start to the week Thanks Orpheus.

  30. We often have something clever related to round numbers of QC’s so I was expect something related to 2500 – have I missed it?

  31. 16.49 Slow today, particularly in the NW. HOGAN is new to me. Thanks to jackkt and Orpheus.

  32. Should have solved more than I did as most of the clues were fair. Her is a question. I do suduko but only the very hard ones as the rest are not a challenge. Why does anyone who can do these puzzles in less than 2 minutes bother. I seriously cannot see why anyone would do any kind of puzzle that offers no challenge.

      1. Well, the site is called…
        And as I understand it, was started by keen solvers to compare their times and discuss the 15×15 generally (as there was no QC then). We are a later addition.

      2. To be fair, none of the very fast solvers ever comment here and the mention of one of today’s fast times was made not by the solver themselves but by another commenter.

    1. But to go from solving in 10 minutes to solving in 9 minutes to solving in 8 minutes … to solving in 3 minutes to solving in 2 minutes to solving in 1 minute 35 seconds most definitely IS a challenge, as is every step along the way. This very newspaper will be hosting a crossword championship later in the month where competitors will do well if they solve quickly and accurately, but there will be no points awarded for how challenging they found the puzzles or the level of enjoyment they experienced. The desire to do something simple as quickly as possible is widespread and long-standing – ask Usain Bolt or Max Park, for example.

  33. I haven’t collected any stats or conducted research on this, but my feeling is that there are fewer comments here today by 5.45 pm.

    They may be like me and only look at the blog when they have finished, so maybe the people who have not yet posted are really struggling as I have been today.

    Usually I like to keep at it – sometimes over a few days, but with others such as this one, I get the feeling that I would never ever get the answer. There were several words I had NHO today or was very unsure of the definitions – I don’t mind having a couple as I like to learn new things but there seemed more today and the clueing harder- for me anyway.

    So today was DNF. Annoyingly although I thought of CICADA from the word play when I quickly looked it up I dismissed it as it was an insect – DOH!

    COD The genuine sounding Scottish dance.

    Thanks John and Orpheus

  34. Surprised my time was only 7:30 as it seemed to be taking a while with CICADA and BRIGHTo/EN taking some time to be sure of. Liked FLATTERY. Loi TAVERN. Enjoy the scenery, Jack – you’ve earned it!

  35. Guessed HOOLIGAN (NHO HOGAN) and VAN (didn’t think of VANGUARD), but managed the rest slowly but surely.

  36. Under 6 minutes so very fast for me. Only unknown was HOGAN but HOOLIGAN went in from the crossers and the first word of the clue.

  37. 11:47. Easy until hooligan, cicada, and LOI wino. On my phone so a decent time.

    COD wino.

  38. Turns out I can’t stay away from these wretched puzzles.

    Another frustrating, unsatisfactory day. Going well until HOOLIGAN and GROTTO held me up badly, leading to a 27 min solve.

    Thought this was hard so thoroughly downcast after reading comments saying it was easy. I feel like a real idiot (so no change there). Cue another bad week.

    Thanks for the blog.

  39. 14:55, just inside my target. HOGAN was faintly recognized after getting the answer and subtracting the anagram of OIL, but I’ve no idea where I saw it. My LOI was LACKEY, where I completely missed that “Be without” means “lack” and so spent ages looking for a synonym of “be”.

    Thanks to Orpheus and Jackkt.

  40. Is there no better way of clueing VI as a random female? I’m not sure I’ve even heard that name used?

  41. Ok, I’m stumped. How is 1d WINO? How does ‘Lose everything, presumably’ = WIN o? Losing everything and winning nothing aren’t the same things. What am I missing?

Comments are closed.