Times Quick Cryptic 920 by Orpheus

Posted on Categories Quick Cryptic
I needed 8 minutes for this one which contains a couple of slightly unusual words and meanings along with an unusual clue or two.

I was a bit late last week in adding my latest calculation of “difficulty” ratings to a comment in someone else’s blog so I’m posting them again here for those who may be interested but missed them. These are ratings of difficulty of setters based on my solving times between 1st August 2016 to 31st August 2017 and whether or not I managed to achieve my 10 minute target . Setters are rated for difficulty on a scale of 1-10 with 1 being the easiest and 10 the hardest. I have excluded setters who gave us fewer than 4 puzzles. Sorry the second column is a little out of alignment.

Setter (Puzzles set) / Difficulty rating this time 1-10 (Difficulty rating last time )

Des (4)               7.5 (n/a)

Hawthorn (13)   5.4 (n/a)
Howzat (4)      
5.0 (n/a)
Hurley (26)      
5.0 (6.3)
Oran (4)          
5.0 (n/a)
Pedro (14)        
5.0 (4.0)

Rongo (9)         4.4 (6.5)
Izetti (26)        
4.2 (7.0)
Joker (26)        
4.2 (6.9)

Teazel (27)       3.3 (6.5)
Tracy (26)      
3.1 (3.7)

Orpheus (26)   2.7 (4.5)
Felix (8)          
2.5 (6.2)

Flamande (26) 1.9 (3.6)
Mara (26)      
1.9 (6.5)

As usual definitions are underlined in bold italics, {deletions are in curly brackets} and [anagrinds, containment, reversal and other indicators in square ones]

1 A woman’s song about British plant collections (8)
HERBARIA – HER (a woman’s) + ARIA (song) containing [about] B (British). Maybe not the easiest of words for a QC but the wordplay could hardly be more helpful.
6 But this parasite may make us cross! (4)
TICK – Very unusual with a straight definition a little way into the clue and a cryptic hint which relies on ‘cross’ having the opposite meaning to the answer in one particular context. I’m sure there’s a more succinct way to describe what’s going on here but I haven’t managed to think of it.
8 Charlie’s fruit dessert? (4)
FOOL – Two meanings. That’s more like it!
9 Garden pest misused energy, consuming tops of flowers (8)
GREENFLY – Anagram [misused] of ENERGY containing [consuming] [tops of] FL{owers}
10 Retired woman and man selected for special duty (8)
DETAILED – DELIA (woman) + TED (man) reversed [retired]
11 Antelope’s endless combination of style and vigour (4)
ELAN – ELAN{d} (antelope) [endless]
13 Is its rough justice dispensed by leaps and bounds? (8,5)
KANGAROO COURT – A cryptic question provides the answer here
16 Act as volunteers, getting second highest grade (4)
BETA – BE (act as), TA (volunteers – Territorial Army historically, but no longer except in crosswords)
17 Stupidity of obnoxious person reversing round trees (8)
DOPINESS – SOD (obnoxious person) reversing  and containing [round] PINES (trees). Language, Orpheus!
19 Male bird identifying poisonous plant (8)
MANDRAKE – MAN (male), DRAKE (bird)
21 Conceited individual originally carried in commercial vehicle (4)
VAIN –  I{ndividual} [originally] contained by [carried in] VAN (commercial vehicle)
22 Bawdy  / university sportsman (4)
BLUE – Two meanings
23 Join convict, English, in body of plane (8)
FUSELAGE – FUSE (join), LAG (convict), E (English). A straightforward assembly job.
2 Acquit former partner on single charge (9)
EXONERATE – EX (former partner), ONE (single), RATE (charge)
3 A second dog climbing tree (5)
BALSA – A + S (second) + LAB (dog) reversed [climbing]
4 Professional soldier’s uniform (7)
REGULAR – Two meanings
5 Revise commercial involving soldiers (5)
AMEND – AD (commercial) containing [involving] MEN (soldiers)
6 Fruit primarily taken by artist — not Michel (7)
TANGELO – [primarily] T{aken}, {Michel}ANGELO (artist) [not Michel]
7 Senior officer’s pass (3)
COL – Two meanings
12 Impressive undertaking for Bobby? (9)
ARRESTING – A straight definition and a cryptic hint referring to ‘Bobby’ as slang for ‘policeman’
14 VIP taking old woman on river (7)
GRANDEE – GRAN (old woman), DEE (river)
15 Subdue section of media after work (7)
OPPRESS – PRESS (section of media) after OP (work)
17 Small person’s notes about conflict (5)
DWARF – D + F (notes) containing [about] WAR (conflict)
18 Man penning volume, a work of fiction (5)
NOVEL – NOEL (man) containing [penning] V (volume)
20 Single tool? The lot, by the sound of it (3)
AWL – Sounds like [by the sound of it] “all” (the lot)

29 comments on “Times Quick Cryptic 920 by Orpheus”

  1. 10.51 being held up by 8ac FOOL and LOI 10ac DETAILED. What a Charlie!?

    FOI 22ac BLUE

    COD 6ac TICK


    1. Surpised at your WOD as it came up in the 15×15 only last Tuesday. It was a pretty good clue today though (if perhaps a bit exotic for a QC) so I might have given it COD if I awarded such a thing.

      Edited at 2017-09-18 04:39 am (UTC)

      1. I also like the word ORTANIQUE and other exotic citrus!

        When I worked in Hong Kong back in 1996-8 for Saatchis, I instigated WOD, both in English and Mandarin for the so-called ‘Creative Department’.

        It was fun! Hobgoblin and Ma-ma Hu-hu were memorable. When I left, my charges printed up a small booklet entitled ‘Horry’s Word of the Day’.

        Fond memories of HK.

  2. DNF: did not get DETAILED as never seen retired=backwards, which seems a stretch. So I had ED as my man and was looking for a retired woman (6)

    HERBARIA seems a pretty obscure word for 1 ac in a qc. TANGELO was a new word, but nice definition.

    Also spelt EXONARATE incorrectly, reading it as EX-ON-A-RATE.

  3. 13 mins today, but DETAILED stumped me, so the time is irrelevant. If there’s one thing I hate more than random names, it’s random names backwards.
  4. About 50 minutes.

    Fairly easy until the north west. Stuck on herbaria (obscure), 8a (keep forgetting this dessert), detailed (agree with gradese), balsa (lab for dog was good) and regular.

    Couldn’t parse elan, obvious now.

    For detailed, alternatives are:
    Comprehensive bidet ailed partially.
    Minute appendage chopped off?
    Blow by blow date I led crazy

    Try the main cryptic, its on a par with today’s QC.

    COD Balsa

    Edited at 2017-09-18 08:34 am (UTC)

      1. But the answer is TICK not TICK OFF. CROSS and TICK are not interchangeable, are they? I may be missing something.
        1. This clue might have found a more natural home in the Guardian. I think what jackkt is alluding to in the blog is that though tick and cross may have opposite meanings in one sense (say, when marking exams), they can have complementary meanings in another (i.e. a tick (insect) could lead to us being cross (angry)), and the clue is attempting to draw our attention to that contrast.
        2. I thought that the setter was drawing attention to the way one might either tick something off a list, or cross something off a list, with the use of “But…” at the beginning indicating the contrast, even though the effect is the same.
  5. My 20:15 means this was the hardest QC I’ve done in ages, I think. Finally came up with some wordplay that made a plausible word for the unknown 1a HERBARIA, but then it took me an age to come up with BALSA and DETAILED. I think I’m quite weak on wordplay that calls for a couple of arbitrary words from enormous potential pools—men, women, dogs, plants, so forth.

    Thanks to setter and blogger. I’d agree with others that perhaps today’s 15×15 might be worth a go for QCers; I don’t think I was stuck on anything in there as long as I was stuck on 10a here…

  6. I agree – I reckon this was the hardest quickie for some while. Took me 39 minutes and I nearly gave up on several occasions. Very few anagrams today which always help me in getting a foothold.
  7. First DNF for me for a while. Had never heard of TANGELO and the clueing for TICK was too tough for my Monday morning brain. Got everything else by Waterloo East.

    This felt a pretty stiff challenge for a QC.

    I share the views of gradese and flashman about clues using random names.


  8. I have no idea how Orpheus is only 2.5 he is always very difficult in my opinion. Today’s for a Monday much to difficult, many obscure words and I agree tick to me is not cross. Not a great way to start the week
  9. I also thought this was a bit tricky for a QC, although there was nothing I haven’t come across before in the 15×15, and the QC is supposed to lead up to its big brother, so we should expect to see these devices crop up occasionally. Random names are obviously tricky and do cause grumbles in the 15×15 blog too. This one took me 9:03 with no particular hold ups although I did have to think a bit about TICK and TANGELO. Enjoyable puzzle. Thanks Orpheus and Jack.
  10. Just short of 35 minutes today, with the last 5 on 10ac – gave up trying to think if random names and just thought about picking someone for special duty. 1ac was new to me, but the cryptic left little doubt. Awl in all, quite a hard start to the week. Invariant
  11. Thought this was tough for a Monday. I thought the cluing in 6ac was perfectly clear. It is the combination of “but” and “may” which tells you that the answer is the opposite of “cross”. Like others, I didn’t like the cluing for 10ac. And do TANGELOs actually exist outside of crosswordland?
  12. Not easy today but no complaints. Tangelo seems to crop up frequently in these crosswords; agree not easy for beginners but clueing was clear.
    LOI was Detailed -like others. Nothing wrong with the clue for me but agree quite tough for the QC.
    I solved this in two sessions -one before having to catch a train so no accurate time but no big hold-ups. Probably around 20 minutes. David
  13. As with others I found NW hard. Others – Mandrake, Tick and Tangelo more akin to the 15×15. Held up getting Detailed and finally finished in around 20 mins – double my typical. If I was ever in a Kangaroo Court I’d be hopping mad. Thanks all
  14. A puzzle of two halves for me today. Everything south of 13a went in without too many problems but the northern half was tricky and I eventually gave up on 10a as just too difficult for me.
    Despite that I enjoyed the challenge and there were a couple of satisfying ‘aha’ moments at 1a and 6d
  15. The QC has given us tangelo before now, so my main problem was the entire parsing but didn’t take too long to twig. Herbaria was obvious but new to me so had to check there was such a word. Detailed was also obvious from the straight definition and again parsing took a little thought. we’ve also seen several other words before – vain, mandrake, awl, amend, blue, élan etc so my main thought is to congratulate the setters for their ingenuity in re-cluing these for us! FOI 12a, LOI 10a, COD 3d. Over a couple of sessions, I suppose about 50 minutes of gentle fun.
  16. It took me a minute to think of FOOL (my LOI), which I’ve come across in the puzzles before, but I didnt’ know from Charlie. It’s British slang, of course, but of the rhyming sort, derived from… “Charlie Hunt.” Oh, my! Rather naughty for the Times, no?

    Edited at 2017-09-18 11:18 pm (UTC)

    1. I’ve seen that explanation before and indeed it’s in some dictionaries esp the on-line ones, but whatever its origins Charlie has been perfectly innocent and acceptable slang for a fool for the past 100 years or so, and very widely used, especially in expressions such as ‘a right/reet Charlie’ and ‘a proper Charlie’.

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