Times Quick Cryptic No 1618 by Hurley

Posted on Categories Quick Cryptic
I had most of this polished off by the 6 minute mark, but it took almost as long again to unravel the remaining three (14ac, 22ac and 15d). A large part of that was due to a howler of a spelling error at 9d where I had the central E and L the wrong way round. Dear dear. I might try to claim that had the word had been written horizontally, I would have seen that it looked wrong, but I was quite deliberate when I typed LE, so you can call SB to that. Perhaps a couple of clunky clues stood out when solving – 1d seems unnecessarily generous – but as ever there was on closer inspection much to admire. Many thanks to Hurley!

1 Dessert maybe, something to chew on top performer’s tucked into (7)
CUSTARDCUD (something to chew on) STAR (top performer)’s tucked into
5 Fearless British getting on (4)
BOLD B(ritish) OLD (getting on)
7 Some wrap articles separately (5)
APART “some” of wrAP ARTicles
8 Payment for insurance before parent’s going around India (7)
PREMIUM PRE (before) MUM (parent) is going around I(ndia)
10 After return call American friend (3)
BUD – DUB (call) after return = reverse
11 Church Republican, first fellow believer (9)
CHRISTIAN – CH(urch) R(epublican) IST (first) IAN (fellow – random name)
13 Money demanded from Romans — outrageous (6)
RANSOM – anagram (outrageous) of ROMANS
14 Plan in relation to Channel Islands gym (6)
RECIPE – RE (in relation to) CI (Channel Islands) PE (gym). So “mantlepiece” left me with _E_ _ _ L, with a CI and a PE to factor in. Pencil = Plan was tantalisingly close and left me with an equally unparsable/not quite equal Compote = Dip for 15d.
17 A source of inspiration intended, say, to provide delight (9)
AMUSEMENT – A MUSE (a source of inspiration) MENT (sounds like MEANT: intended, “say”)
19 Chart married secretary brought back (3)
MAP – M(arried) AP (PA = secretary, brought back)
20 City adventure, ignoring odds — love it! (7)
DETROIT – aDvEnTuRe “ignoring odds” O (love) IT. A much better clue than my biffing merited.
22 Crowd in store by the sound of it (5)
HORDE – HOARD (store) “by the sound of it”. My eventual route in after getting past HOST(E?).
23 Abandoned political grouping (4)
LEFT – double definition
24 Theatre the French note is full (7)
REPLETE – REP (theatre, short for repertory company) LE (the, French) TE (note, as in do re mi, etc.)

1 Bed rich mama newly made — this lady’s job? (11)
CHAMBERMAID anagram (newly made) of BED RICH MAMA. The definition refers back to the bed-making in the cryptic.
2 Be candidate, popular, as deputy (5-2)
STAND-IN – to STAND for = to be candidate for; IN (popular)
3 Vegetable lorry OK, the man accepts (9)
ARTICHOKE – ARTIC[ulated vehicle] (lorry) OK, that HE (the man) accepts/embraces
4 Throw out rogue initially seen in storehouse (6)
DEPORT R (Rogue “initially”) seen in DEPOT (storehouse)
5 Social gathering’s ale unfinished (3)
BEE BEER (ale) unfinished. I see the derivation is no more complicated than: bees are social, so let’s call a social gathering a bee. I wonder if anyone’s ever been excluded from a spelling WASP?
6 First of all, looking up, is greeting Italian — this one? (5)
LUIGI – “first of all” Looking Up Is Greeting Italian. The definition refers back to the Italian used in the cryptic element.
9 Nice meal pet ruined that’s near fireplace (11)
MANTELPIECEanagram (ruined) of NICE MLAE PET. A quick search on the Times website shows 1502 instances of “mantlepiece” used in articles (and it even has its own entry in Collins). So I feel fully vidnicated. A google search brings up around 600,000 results, however, which is roughly the same total as “mischevious”. Ugh! nuff said.
12 Explosive tape shows workplace with poor conditions (9)
SWEATSHOP anagram (explosive) of TAPE SHOWS. Another clue that improves greatly on closer inspection.
15 Dip huge — right to replace knight (7)
IMMERSE IMMENSE (huge) R(ight) to replace N (knight in chess). I can’t make any sense of the surface, but the “M” checker initially made me think of houmous, with its array of spellings, and I couldn’t get past the answer being “a dip”.
16 Member of clergy’s partly indirect ordination (6)
RECTOR “partly” indiRECT ORdination
18 BBC missing a release? (5)
UNTIE BBC = Auntie, missing the A
21 Revealed to be away (3)
OUT double definition

53 comments on “Times Quick Cryptic No 1618 by Hurley”

  1. Biffed LUIGI from the L, never did look for the wordplay; biffed ARTICHOKE from OK. Liked SWEATSHOP. 5:03.
  2. After a long run of mostly being over 20m it something of a relief to be able to answer nine of the acrosses on the first pass and to find the two long clues at 1d and 9d both came to mind immediately – although it turns out I’ve been spelling MANTELPIECE wrong my whole life – glad to come here and see I have rolytoly for company (enjoyed SB – a strong early contender for joke of the day). All green in a shade under 9 which is very fast for me, my second quickest ever I think. Best moment was solving 20a, clue didn’t look promising, then ignored the odds of too many words before it became clear, RECIPE was also fun, nice to build up the elements before what was going on revealed itself but best of all was CUSTARD for the penny drop moment – knew I was looking for C_STAR_ but no pudding came to mind so went back to the clue and tried CUD in the gaps and was amazed at what had emerged.

    Edited at 2020-05-21 05:32 am (UTC)

  3. Biffed LUISA from the L. I was eventually encouraged to look for the wordplay. Fortunately I had RECIPE first which served to ‘correct’ my spelling of MANTELPIECE as I typed it in. As my habitual spellings of words is, correctly, corrected in the solving of Times crosswords I thought nothing of it.
  4. Another MANTLEPIECE presenting problems solving RECIPE here. but I hadn’t written it in with confidence as I simply couldn’t remember which M-word is the cloak and which is the fireplace. Felt stupid, but vindicated later as both spellings are in SOED, Oxford Lexico and Collins.

    Even with all this going on I completed under 7 minutes with some seconds to spare, so I think there may have been an opportunity missed for a rare 5-minute solve.

  5. A different proposition from yesterday and I finished in 08:53.
    FOI was LUIGI, LOI BOLD which I came back to and had to stop myself biffing BULL which doesn’t work on any level.
    I knew I did not know how to spell Mantelpiece which was a help. COD to DETROIT.
  6. Good puzzle and just about on target, timewise. I would have been a couple of minutes quicker if I had not fallen into the LE/EL trap with 9d like roly and jackkt. So annoying. I didn’t have any problems with the anagrams and found a few easy biffs when crossers emerged but I parsed everything before completion. I liked DETROIT, (A)UNTIE, ARTICHOKE and LOI was RECIPE. Thanks to Hurley and roly. John M.

    Edited at 2020-05-21 01:50 pm (UTC)

  7. No problems here, with APART going in first, and a steady solve leaving me with a complete grid after 6:30, but a neccessary proof reading taking me to 7:10. I’d biffed MANSOU as a hidden for 13a, but noticed that CHAMBERMAID had changed it to RANSOU, so revisited the clue and saw RANSOM. Phew! Managed to get MANTELPIECE right first go. Thanks Hurley and Roly.
  8. That was a fun puzzle and, as roly has said, had many clues to admire. After having to think hard about 1ac it mostly went in quite quickly and I was all done in 1.8K for a Good Day. Quite close to a clean sweep but I just could not think of the US friend or “rep” for theatre. Having done the acrosses first meant that there was no MANTEL/MANTLE issue for me!

    FOI CUSTARD (eventually), LOI BUD, COD RANSOM (such a good surface).

    Thanks Hurley and roly.


  9. ….with having to eat my dinner off the MANTELPIECE if I didn’t stop misbehaving. It was obviously an idle threat, since it wasn’t wide enough to hold a plate.

    Annoyingly made a transcription error online after a quick solve on paper. No problems, although I biffed CUSTARD and LUIGI and parsed them quickly once I’d finished.

    TIME 0.75K

  10. A very different grid to yesterday’s. The balance that I was missing has been provided with this straightforward, but fun, crossword. I finished this in 11 minutes which is a PB so am feeling Very Pleased. I entered everything post parsing and had no issues with any of the clues apart from a brief dalliance with reversing the letters in 6 down, LUIGI, as a result of “looking up”. I agree that some of the surfaces here were a bit dodgy eg the aforementioned 6 down and also 15down but it was still fun. I read the “social gathering” in 5 down as the kind of get-together that might occur at, for example, a “spelling BEE”. COD 18 down, UNTIE. My thanks to RolyToly for the blog and also to Hurley for the puzzle
      1. Thank you! I’ll aim for sub 10 minutes but fear it could be some way off!
  11. I had a very similar experience to Roly with most of it going in fairly quickly and then coming to a complete standstill with IMMENSE and RECIPE outstanding. It took me far too long to realise that I’d mispelt MANTELPIECE.
    Finished in 12.42
    Thanks for the blog
  12. 11:30, held up by the same 3 as rolytoly (horde, immerse and LOI recipe. Like others I also had mantlepiece at first. COD BOLD, Sir Tom maybe. Hope your gout improves rotter.

    I was thinking about some recent comments about the difficulties of the QC and progressing to the main puzzle. So I compiled some tips I used in case they are of any use.

    1. Complete easier puzzles. Either look on the SNITCH website (under the links section on the side of the blog). Find the dark green entries. Or for earlier crosswords, search Jackkt’s puzzles on Tuesdays, he gives an indication of the difficulty in the first line of his blog. Once you have completed one, the rest seem a little easier.

    2. I double check for anagrams/hiddens. They are usually more sneaky.

    3. If needed, finish crosswords by checking the definition part in the blog. Most blogs underline the definition so you can try and complete without seeing the answer. Also finish using aids.

    4. Build up a crossword list or Big List of Words as Gothic Matt calls it.

    5. Review the blog each day. Verlaine’s (Friday) is really good for decoding hard crosswords.

    6. Post on the blog, ask questions for any parsing that is not clear.

    7. Don’t expect to finish everyday. I usually get anywhere between 40-100%.
    And don’t be disheartened by the times posted, I’m usually over an hour.

    8. Buy the Tim Moorey book.

    1. Often wondered whether there should be a “difficulty” level shown. I know this is probably hard to assess in reality, but with the 15×15 (and sometimes the QC if I’m being honest) you just never know what to expect.
      1. there is on the SNITCH. Google snitch xwd and its the first link, or see on the right of the blog in links.
        1. Apologies – thought you were referring to something else other than the Time crossword. Looked it up and I am now enlightened. Thanks!
  13. Just inside 15 minutes, so within target, but feel I should have been quicker. I’m suffering from a bad attack of gout which I don’t think has helped with the concentration. I was also a MANTLE initially, until RECIPE refused to reveal itself, forcing a reappraisal. I’d questioned the spelling when first entering the answer to 9d, so it didn’t take long to find my problem. Some nice stuff here. Thanks Roly and Hurly.
  14. … at both the puzzle from Hurley, and the comments above. Finished in 12 minutes (nice to be under 15 again) but only after joining what seems like most other contributors in mis-spelling 9D Mantelpiece, only corrected when trying to fit in LOI 14A Recipe.

    MERs at 10A Bud (does Dub really equate to Call, and what is the word After doing in the clue?), and 5D Bee (Bee = social gathering??) but overall a very enjoyable puzzle.

    Thanks to Roly for the blog and all other contributors for showing I was not alone on 9D!


    1. People gather together to do needlework in “The Great British Sewing Bee” which is a current TV show. I don’t watch it as it’s obviously a stitch-up.
  15. Can I add to the list of those solvers who were slowed down by putting in MANTLE at 9d. POI was consequently RECIPE and LOI IMMERSE just like Roly. Other than that I biffed LUIGI. 9 mins
  16. Heading for a fast one until I hit the buffers at 14a, all down to the MANTEL/MANTLE issue. Live and learn.

    COD to CUSTARD because it’s generally something to chew on whenever I make it.

    Many thanks to Hurley and Roly.

  17. Back to my average of 30 mins today – would have been quicker but just didn’t spot the hidden word for 16dn (although, to be fair, it was fairly straightforward).

    With regards to 9dn – I initially left the “e” and “l” out as I wasn’t sure which way around it went either. Thankfully 14ac confirmed it to me later on.

    FOI – 8ac “Premium”
    LOI – 16dn “Rector”
    COD – 18dn “Untie” – obvious I suppose, but made me smile.

    Thanks as usual.

    1. Omitting odd “dubious” letters from an otherwise known solution is a good tactic. It’s something my Dad dinned into me 60 years ago. A few days ago I entered an ending as “ology” and solved the rest of the clue later. However doing that enabled me to see two other answers running through those letters.
  18. Having dashed through merrily I came to a halt at LUIGI which of course shd have been obvious.
    Also held up by Immerse and Amusement.
    I liked Auntie/Untie. I even jotted down Auntie in the margin but the penny didn’t drop for a while.
    Guessed immediately but couldn’t parse CUSTARD so many thanks as ever for the explanations.

  19. After two awful DNFs in succession a QC about right for me. Fooled by 6d but otherwise good fun and a reasonable challenge for my poor abilities.
    1. … but next time you see ‘first of all’ you will know what to look for – unless it’s the a
  20. Goodness me, they absolutely flew in today. Started with 1d and 1ac, and their associated offspring, so I knew straight away this could be a quick time, but successfully resisted looking at the clock, as that has frequently kiboshed my effort in the past. Minor hold ups along the way included MantELpiece (who would have thought it?) and an inexplicable but soon corrected Hoard for Horde at 22ac. CoD to 3d, Artichoke. Crossed the line just over 11mins, which is two or three minutes better than my previous quickest, so thank you Hurley. More importantly, some bunting is now due… 😉. Invariant
    1. 😄 Well played sir. Couldn’t find the bunting but hope a vrtual glass of fizz will do 🥂🥂
  21. A steady solve throughout with only a short pause for thought at the 5ac/5dn/6dn interface. Certainly much more straightforward than the last couple of days. I even managed mantelpiece with no trouble.
    FOI – 1ac custard
    LOI – 6dn luigi (couldn’t see what was going on with this at first)
    COD – 18dn untie

    Thanks to setter and blogger

  22. Well, after a couple of tricky days we found today’s challenge from Hurley to be not too hard, not too easy but just about right. We wrote in the majority of answers but we too stumbled by spelling mantelpiece incorrectly which really slowed us down as we tried in vain (well, at least until I corrected the spelling mistake 🤪) to find immerse and recipe. We ended up taking 18 minutes to complete which is longer than we would have liked but a heck of a lot better than the times we recorded on Wed and Tues.

    FOI: chambermaid
    LOI: immerse
    COD: artichoke

    Thanks to Rolytoly for the blog and Hurley for a fun challenge

  23. I agree with others that this was a pleasure to solve and I think that I achieved a PB of just over 12 minutes.
    It was so satisfying to work through Hurley’s clever cluing although I thought that the wording of 1A was a little clumsy.
    Too many CODs to mention.
    Thanks to Roly for the blog.

    Edited at 2020-05-21 02:32 pm (UTC)

      1. Thanks both.
        I haven’t had a chance to do today’s puzzle so hope for another PB when I tackle it tomorrow…
        Have a great holiday weekend!
  24. and left hanging on the barbed-wire as like Our Blogger I threw in PENCIL at 14ac – then threw in the towel giving 15dn a miss! DNF after 16 mins.

    FOI 7ac APART

    COD 20ac DETROIT


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