Times Quick Cryptic 901 by Orpheus

Foreign capitals, Indian cities, flora and fauna plus some less usual vocabulary would, I’d have thought, have held me up longer than 12 minutes (less 1 second – if you’re interested).
However everything flowed pretty smoothly and this ended up being very interesting – especially whilst writing the blog as I took a turn or two through the dictionary.
Here’s how I got on.


1. Larkspur – plant – any of various ranunculaceous plants of the genus Delphinium, with spikes of blue, pink, or white irregular spurred flowers. Early risers (LARKS), express contentment endlessly (PUR)r.
5. Opus – work. Quietly (P) in middle of house h(OUS)e.
8. Cairo – Capital. Broadcast (AIR) covered by firm (CO).
9. Spanner – tool. Girl (ANNE) in the first half of (SPR)ing.
11. Nan – old woman – nanny/grandma. Nan or naan is an Indian bread.
12. Overspend – fork out too much. Deliveries (OVERS), quietly (P), object (END).
13. Worthy – commendable. Why (WHY) protecting old (O) and right (RT).
15. Erotic – sexy. Books (OT) in (ERIC) Morecambe – who brought us sunshine.
18. Essential – indispensable. Anagram (construction) of AS IN STEEL.
19. Aga – Turkish commander. A (A), key (G), area (A).
20. Artiste – performer. Anagram (badly) of one (I) and TREATS.
21. Smock – loose garment. (S)ome, make fun of (MOCK).
22. Dodo – extinct bird. (O)ne inside strange (ODD) backwards.
23. Islander – inhabitant of detached territory. This writer defames (I SLANDER).


1. Lucknow – Indian City – a city in N India, capital of Uttar Pradesh. Good fortune (LUCK), currently (NOW).
2. Reign – exercise authority. Anagram (transforming) of NIGER.
3. Show of hands – vote. A show for the entertainment of the hands.
4. Ulster – a man’s heavy double-breasted overcoat with a belt or half-belt at the back. Some mog(ULS TER)ribly.
6. Pungent – sarcastic. Joke (PUN) senior officer (GENeral), (T)olerated. Pungent is usually a strong, sharp smell or taste which is also used of wit, satire, etc to mean biting; caustic. So sarcastic can be described as pungent.
7. Strad or Stradivarius is a priceless instrument. Dashed (DARTS) upwards – to the north.
10. Australasia – huge area. LOI as a very many things could be described as a huge area (like the space taken up by weeds in my back garden). Regrettably (ALAS) seized by European Country (AUSTRIA).
14. Resited – give new position. I (I) with relaxed (RESTED) outside.
16. Cracker – thing to pull at Christmas. I’m sure you’d like to know that a good friend went to a fancy dress party dressed as a Christmas cracker where she began a relationship – a long happy marriage ensues. Endlessly crazy (CRACKER)s.
17. Divers – double definition. The first is ‘in the past, various’. The British definition is archaic or literary making it ‘in the past’ – although I also note that the American definition isn’t archaic. Both mean various. The second is aquatic birds – the loons or divers are a group of aquatic birds found in many parts of North America and northern Eurasia.
18. Eland – African native. Aim (END) to tour US city (LA). An eland is a large spiral-horned antelope. As a slight aside it turns out that Elland Road (Leeds Utd) is not named after said beast but after a market town whose name derives from land by the water, river or land partly or wholly surrounded by water.
19. Aloud – how books may be read. Homophone (to be heard) of allowed – permitted.

18 comments on “Times Quick Cryptic 901 by Orpheus”

  1. LOI PUNGENT; it took me a while to accept–reluctantly– ‘sarcastic’ as the definition. Chris, you’ve got a typo at 14d: it’s RESITED. 5:02.
  2. At 12 minutes to completion I found this more difficult that many a QC. I think this resulted from neither 1ac nor 1dn going in as I tried as usual to establish a foothold in the NW corner, so I abandonded that idea, looked for easier pickings elsewhere and from then on I was solving the grid from the bottom up. Also quite a few checkers were needed before either of the long Down answers went in.
  3. Got everything bar DIVERS. Just didn’t know the double definition here, and there was no way I was going to get it. Slightly more tricky today, but very enjoyable nonetheless. They love sneaking in a Morecambe and Wise clue, these setters. Unless it’s only Orpheus who does so? Gribb.
  4. Completed with lots of interruptions but I would guess about 45 mins.

    Struggled with the last two: strad and especially divers. Almost put livers for the liver bird.

    Dnk nan spelling, ulster for coat or pungent for sarcastic, although they all seemed reasonable.

    COD erotic

  5. 12:49 here, held up by dopily bunging “sitar” in for 7d. Well, it is an instrument, and there’s a vague collection with “priceless” and “to north” in (g)ratis. I just hadn’t noticed the rest of the wordplay didn’t tell you to knock the first letter off…

    Still, once SPANNER went in I knew it was wrong and then OVERSPEND helped me to the right answer, with it going in last, just after PUNGENT.

    Helpfully I knew LARKSPUR from, of all places, a Nancy Drew novel I read when I was very young! It even has delphinia on the cover.

    Edited at 2017-08-22 08:59 am (UTC)

  6. I think 17d is a bit obscure.

    I would have gone with something like:

    Frogmen? a mixed bag dropping e!

  7. … to the fore today. All very fairly clued, however, so should have been easily accessible. COD goes to 3d.
    1. I thought so too. I took a while to get started, but finished in 7:12. Like Kevin, I hesitated over ‘pungent’. 23a my favourite.
  8. Just scraped in under ten minutes with 9:42 for this interesting puzzle. Was fortunate to know the Indian city which gave me my entry point, which along with 2d, gave me the plant. LOI was DIVERS, which took about 20 seconds before the penny dropped. Nice puzzle. Thanks Orpheus and Chris. Now off to take the grandson for a round of golf before I tackle the 15×15.
  9. Found this tricky, after yesterday’s success with Izetti. Didn’t help that I put TAB first for 19A – as in tab key (Turkish plus AB for commander?!!). DIVERS made it a DNF. Hope your friend’s marriage goes with a bang and is full of silly jokes, Chris 🙂
    1. Well, yes it did (a long time ago), and yes it was full of silly jokes (I was best man) – including a reference to ‘pulling a cracker’.
  10. Completely defeated by DIVERS, especially as I didn’t spot that I was looking for a double definition. Otherwise I found this reasonably straightforward.
  11. Some tricky clues/unknown words today which made my completion time of 19 minutes a pleasant surprise. Was on the point of giving up on my LOI, 17d, when the answer randomly popped into my head – although the correct parsing escaped me. Particularly enjoyed 23a
  12. No real problems today with Pungent LOI; I was also slightly puzzled by the definition.
    A classic puzzle in many ways with a plant and an antelope. About 17 minutes. David
    PS the 15×15 is mostly do-able for the experienced QCer.
  13. I thought 17d was a beautiful clue. Definitely COD for me. Much less happy about defining pungent as sarcastic.
  14. Thank you to all who write this blog . My confidence is growing with the quick cryptic; one day I hope to be grown up enough for The Big One. The explanations are invaluable, as I often have the answer without being sure of the reasoning.

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