Times Quick Cryptic No 1619 by Alfie

Posted on Categories Quick Cryptic

Some people get all the fun… After the super VE Day Anniversary crossword two weeks ago, today I have the bonus of blogging a crossword from Alfie. Not a prolific setter here (under that pseudonym at least), but every previous crossword he/she has set for us has had some element of alphabetical magic. I wont spoil your fun by describing what I found in today’s just yet…

It seemed about average difficulty to me with maybe a surfeit of anagrams, but I didn’t mind that. My only problems were a carelessly biffed DRUM ROLL at 11D to start with and wondering how I could make a word starting with PIANO at 23A. I finished in just under 5 1/2 minutes – about average for me. Thank you Alfie! So how did you all get on?

And talking of bonus fun… Many people here have bemoaned the fact that there are no Quick Crosswords in the weekend papers. So, for those who are interested, you can find my modest attempt to fill the gap this weekend with A Quick Crossword by Johninterred. If you follow the link you will find an image of the puzzle plus links to a PDF version to print and an interactive version. There is also a blog explaining the answers. Enjoy (I hope)!

Meanwhile back to today’s answers…

Definitions underlined in bold italics, (Abc)* indicating anagram of Abc, deletions and [] other indicators.

4 Supported — or retreated? (6)
BACKED – Double definition
7 Greeting school quintet (4-4)
HIGH-FIVE – HIGH (school) FIVE (quintet)
8 In Cyprus, settlers find apple (6)
RUSSET – Hidden in CypRUS SETtlers.
9 Link jam, surprisingly, with starter of unappealing spam (4,4)
JUNK MAIL – Anagram [surprisingly]  of (link jam unappealing)*  using just the first letter [starter of] unappealing.
10 Fish around lake, being at a loose end (4)
IDLEIDE (fish) [around] L (lake).
12 Second refusal by old college to provide game (8)
MONOPOLYMO (second; moment) NO (refusal) POLY (old college).
15 People giving up, heading from our IQ test, confused (8)
QUITTERS – Anagram of (our IQ test)* losing the first letter of [heading from] oUR
18 Right about America’s corrosive influence (4)
RUSTRT (right) [about] US (America).
20 Fleeing from concoction of methanol (2,3,3)
ON THE LAM – [concoction of] (methanol)*. Our third anagram already.
22 My French diary recalled an Asian nomad (6)
MONGOLMON (my in french) LOG (diary) reversed [recalled] -> GOL.
23 Upright, not upper class, old expert musician (8)
VIRTUOSOVITUOuS (upright) without the U (upper class) O (old). I was thinking upright = piano at first, but that was the wrong tree to bark up.
24 Flesh mostly to freeze in tight corset (6)
BODICEBODy (flesh) [mostly] ICE (to freeze).
1 Place false statement before head of university (4)
LIEULIE (false statement) U [head of] university.
2 Sake? This can make you most unsteady! (8)
SHAKIEST – (Sake This)* [make]. I guess if you drank a lot of sake you might start to stagger.
3 Royal Artillery’s turned up in dark to surrender weapons (6)
DISARM – RA’S (Royal Artillery’S) [turned up] -> SAR [in] DIM (dark).
4 Live at home, outside evacuated regional capital (6)
BERLINBE (live) IN (at home) [outside] RegionaL without its middle letters [evacuated].
5 Price of firm’s time (4)
COSTCO’S (firm’s; company’s) T (time).
6 Gems editor’s penning lamer after revision (8)
EMERALDSED’S (editor’s) outside [penning] (lamer)* [after revision].
11 Dilapidated slum door, something beaten alone (4,4)
DRUM SOLO – [Dilapidated] (slum door)*.
13 Yell, losing head, producing blade (3)
OARrOAR (Yell) without its first letter [losing head].)
14 Took heart from freebie given to European political party (6,2)
PERKED UPPERK (freebie) E (European) DUP (Democratic Unionist Party; political party).
16 Gradually develop passion for climbing: very English! (6)
EVOLVE – LOVE (passion) reversed [climbing] -> EVOL V (very) E (English).
17 Go after sex appeal in heavenly body (6)
SATURNTURN (go) [after] SA (sex appeal).
19 Fruit revealed by lifting nail gun (4)
UGLI – Hidden [revealed by] [lifting] nail gun -> nUG LIan.
21 Heads for America — Palm Springs — enjoying recess (4)
APSE – First letters of [Heads of] America Palm Springs Enjoying.

And now to what I think is hidden in the grid…

I’m not sure I’ve got this entirely right, but…. Reading through the across clues the answers contain an alphabetical sequence:
4A has the letters ABCD and E
7A has FGH and I
9A has JKLM and N
12A has O and P
15A has QRST and U.
and then…
Well 16A has RST and U again and then 23A has the V, but for the W, X, Y and Z you have to read the clues at 23A and 24A… and even there there is no W. I guess there wasn’t room for VERY WAXY ZEBRA at the bottom of the grid.
Is there anything I’ve missed? Still. 3 words containing 5 different consecutive letters in the alphabet and one with 4 all in the same grid, covering almost all of the alphabet in sequence is pretty good going. Thank-you again Alfie for the bonus fun!

Update: Thanks to jabche for pointing it out…
All the across clues in fact contain consecutive letters, so to add to the above:
8A includes RSTU
10A inludes D and E
18A includes RSTU
20A includes LMNO
22A also includes LMNO
23A includes RSTUV
and 24A includes BCDE
Well done Alfie!

55 comments on “Times Quick Cryptic No 1619 by Alfie”

  1. Biffed a couple: MONOPOLY, VIRTUOSO, BERLIN. LOI BODICE. I would have thought that RUST was an effect not a cause of corrosion. 4:35.
  2. 9 minutes. Congrats, John, on spotting something going on here. I was expecting to find something as soon as I saw the setter’s name because all of Alfie’s 4 QC’s and the 5 he has set as Noel have contained something of the sort either in the grid or in the clues, but I failed completely.

    As things stand on this occasion it seems either that the setter started something and was unable to see it through to completion or the whole thing is a coincidence (unlikely), or I suppose he may have been playing a different game that we haven’t yet grasped entirely.

    Edited at 2020-05-22 05:03 am (UTC)

  3. 14:30, held up by evolve, virtuoso, drum solo (COD), quitters, and LOI shakiest.

    Thanks for the weekend quickie, will have a go tomorrow.

  4. I thought I was going to be on for a quick finish but I got very stuck on my last 3 – MONGOL, UGLI and BODICE – for no apparent reason. My favourite today was PERKED UP and I finished in 12.34.
    I had a brief and fruitless search for some sort of drug theme when I saw the first 3 unchecked letters in the grid.
    Thanks to johninterred for the blog and also for your QC, which I’ll try over the weekend.

    Edited at 2020-05-22 07:27 am (UTC)

  5. I thought this was a cracker, although I got badly becalmed with the bottom half mostly empty. Finally all green in 27m. Only four acrosses on the first pass and all in the top half. Part of my problem was ON THE LAM, I have never heard of it to such an extent I dismissed even with “on the” seeming such a promising start. Be interesting to hear if it is regional and which one having lived in SW, SE, NW, WM, London and Scotland! DRUM SOLO held me up even when checkers came in I couldn’t immediately see what was going on – loved the clue though. Didn’t know SA meant sex appeal either. Lots to admire here, good fun, slightly tempered by others not struggling!
    1. SA meant sex appeal about 100 years ago; I doubt if anyone under 60 or so uses it. But setters have found it too useful to give up, despite frequent complaints from bloggers and solvers. I’m afraid you’ll need to keep it in mind, along with another antique, IT.
  6. Just over 20 minutes! I am so pleased. I’ve not done it in under 30 before now.

    My mother used to use “SA” frequently, but that was a long time ago …

    And thanks for the extra puzzle, John, my Saturday breakfast will now be much happier. Except that the lack of a QC was the only indication I had of what day of the week it was.


  7. A bit obscure for me. I’ve come across ‘on the lam’ before but only in a crossword I’m a southerner but the management is from the north and it meant nothing to her either (we are both well over 60 btw). Idle worked but never heard of an ide – not easy to find in the dictionary either – cross-referenced to orfe in OED – same as id in Collins . I get what you mean Kevingregg but for a quickie I would prefer setters to stick to English that still means something. I’m probably in a minority there.
  8. ….Alfie ?

    I disliked this puzzle with its strange grid so much that I wanted to rip my BODICE, and would never have spotted the quasi-nina. It was obviously compiled for the enjoyment of the setter rather than the solver.

    TIME 5:34

  9. A Champagne Day for me – not only my second ever true clean sweep (all the acrosses in order followed by all the downs in order) but also my first ever sub-5 solve!!! So exciting. I knew it was going in quickly but I still couldn’t believe it. I doubt I’ll ever do it again but it was a great feeling. And even it was STILL slower than Kevin 🙂 this has been my first and no doubt final sub-Phil – an extra bottle will be opened!

    John, I absolutely doff my cap to you for spotting that – even once I’d learned from your introduction that there was something going on I went back and stared at it and couldn’t see a thing. Very well done. Thanks too for the weekend QC, which I am greatly looking forward to tackling.

    FOI BACKED, LOI APSE, COD MONOPOLY. I knew ON THE LAM, must have read too many American detective stories. Thanks Alfie and John.


    Edited at 2020-05-22 09:22 am (UTC)

    1. Well done – that’s 5 PBs in two days. There must be something in the water!
      1. Thanks to all for kind comments! Don’t expect any repeats – as the famous poker player Amarillo Slim used to say on the rare occasions when a less skilled player triumphed, “I guess some days the lettuce eats the rabbit”
  10. Flushed with success from yesterday, I thought I was on to another really quick (for me) finish today as the answers to 4 to 9 across inclusive went in as soon as I’d read the clues. Alas, that fell apart at 10 across, IDLE. Having said that, the remainder of the Across clues were very straightforward, even 20, ON THE LAM. I am from Wales and it’s certainly a phrase I’ve heard although I’ve not used it personally. The one that held me up the longest was 14 down, PERKED UP. I stared at it for ages, even though I had all the checkers. Duh!
    NHO of a fish called “ide” and, sadly, spent some time trying to find a fish that contained IS (“being “) and E (“at a loose end”) plus L (“lake”). The result of all this barking up the wrong tree delivered ISLE. All was not lost, however, because as soon as the letter D was delivered by 11 down, DRUM SOLO, I could see that all I had to do was to swap my errant S for an altogether more satisfactory D, to produce a term meaning “being at a loose end”. Very nice.
    It took me longer to finish than I’d like – 24 minutes – but it’s not too embarrassing a time, I think. All the alphabetical genius here totally eluded me and, well, aren’t there too many letters of the 24 missing for this really to work? Thanks, John, for the smashing blog. Will definitely have a go at your weekend crossword – thanks for preparing it. I miss the QC on a Saturday! And thanks, too, to Alfie, for providing me with a happy half an hour’s brain gym.
  11. A fairly quick solve today with 30:46. Nothing particularly held me up, though I’d never heard of ON THE LAM and just had to hope that it was that rather than “On the mal”. Also don’t recall coming across SA, but thankfully I do remember seeing IDE once before to give me my LOI 10a. As for a theme, when I first saw John mention one, I looked and my first thought was that there was something drugs related going on, with LSD in the top row, HIGH in the second, JUNK in the fourth, ICE at the bottom, as well as QUITTERS. I thought PERKED UP and SHAKIEST might fit the theme too, and maybe there were some slang terms I didn’t know like EMERALDS and RUST. Anyway, thanks as usual to Alfie and John.
    1. Yes. A drug theme was my initial thought too, seeing what you saw. But then I remembered that Alfie’s previous themes all had an alphabetical element.
  12. Completed in a steady solve today but not ultra-quick like some. I thought it was of medium difficulty and a good exercise for the grey matter. “Ide” for a fish rang a very faint bell – must have come across it in a previous crossword – and I did know “on the lam” as a slightly old-fashioned US phrase.
    FOI – 7ac high five
    LOI – 24ac bodice (this held me up for longer than it should have)
    COD – 18ac rust. I just loved the wording of the clue.
  13. A good start for me but an inexorable deceleration followed because of quirky clues plus some plausible mistaken alternatives based on biffing instead of parsing! I finished in the SE with EVOLVE, VIRTUOSO (nice clues), ON THE LAM, SATURN (SA as sex appeal – really??). I, too, liked RUST and have no problem with it being a ‘corrosive influence’, unlike Kevin. It is a process as well as a physical effect.
    I just avoided the SCC but by the skin of my teeth. Gone are my days of frequent sub-10 min QC solves. I expect to be in the mid/upper teens these days. Is it me or or QCs getting tougher? Thanks to Alfie for another mental workout and to John for a good and perceptive blog. John M.

    Edited at 2020-05-22 10:59 am (UTC)

    1. I think you may be right that the puzzles are getting a little more challenging. I’ve gone from usually under 10 minutes to sub 10 being a Good Day. But we all have more time and the puzzles are mostly fair and often really good fun. Seems OK to me.

      Either that or my brain has turned to mush ….


      Edited at 2020-05-22 06:29 pm (UTC)

  14. On paper today. Started with LIEU and solved steadily. ON THE LAM is a curious phrase I only know from crosswords. LOI was SATURN where I needed several iterations; tried IT for SA and TRY for GO ; would have biffed STARRY given the chance. But SATURN emerged and I was done in 13 minutes.
    I looked for a theme just in case seeing Alfie’s name. Couldn’t spot anything. Well done John and thanks for the extra puzzle.
    COD to DRUM SOLO. David
  15. I was unable to spot the letter sequence even after John’s blog intro, until he spelled it out later. I did manage to solve the puzzle though, starting with COST and finishing with VIRTUOSO, once APSE took care of my biffed VERTICAL. No particular hold ups. 7:47. Thanks Alfie and John.
  16. Put Drum Solo the wrong way round at first which held me up.
    BODICE was my LOI but now I shall look out for Freeze = ice in future. I don’t think of bodice as a tight corset, just part of a dress. (When I finally solved the clue I anticipated Ripping jokes from you chaps but I see only one so far)
    Must remember diary = log too.
    Anyway I thought it was fun today, thanks all round.
  17. Back to normality after yesterday. A steady solve with the Perked Up, Rust (iffy), and unknown On the Lam trio the main hold ups. I also spent some time trying to get IT, rather than SA, into 17d before the inevitable pdm. Just over 20mins including parsing, so still fairly quick for me. Invariant
  18. Top half went in fairly quickly and I thought I was on for a good time, but then things got a little trickier the further I went down.

    This was partly due to putting 11dn as “Solo Drum” which threw everything out for the SW corner. I vaguely recollect “On the lam” from another puzzle, but it couldn’t be anything else with the wordplay.

    However, although this took me well over my average (around 50 mins in the end), I really enjoyed it.

    FOI – 4ac “Backed”
    LOI – 19dn “Ugli”
    COD – 14dn “Perked Up”

    Thanks as usual

  19. It all felt a bit odd and not surprised there was something going on but never have found it. However most clues accessible which ticks the enjoyment column. Just left with the fruit that alluded me.
  20. Forgot to thank John for setting a weekend QC which I shall save for tomorrow.
  21. A Brilliant Day today! Not a true clean sweep (congrats Templar) but starting with 4a, then 4d, 5d, 6d, 7a etc, and following the grid meant that for the first time ever, I completed the crossword in the order I tackled the clues – and I did it in just over 8 mins. As I was working my way through, I kept thinking: this can’t last – but it did! There might be some fizz round here as well 😉

    Like others, as soon as I saw Alfie’s name, I looked for the nina but couldn’t find it. Well done, John, on the detective work, but I’m with Phil and Louisa that the theme didn’t really click for me. Obviously, all themes / ninas are contrived, but they benefit from having a natural flow to them, and – sorry Alfie – I just didn’t think this one did.

    However, there was plenty to enjoy – and some crossword regulars. I’ve seen ide a lot, along with that other well-known fish, the gar – maybe on the other side? Ticks went by HIGH FIVE, ON THE LAM (lovely anagram) and PERKED UP.

    FOI Backed
    LOI Bodice
    COD Quitters
    Time 8:05

    Thanks Alfie and John – I shall look out for your special

    OK, over to the 15×15, where I expect to be flummoxed, as per norm!

      1. Well done pebee. As Phil says, I too think it’s still a clean sweep whatever order you tackle them in. Records are tumbling all over today!
  22. Congrats on the clean sweep ! It’s the way I think of such an achievement, rather than every clue in sequence – which slows one down !
  23. It’s been an interesting week – our times have varied from the sublime to the ridiculous. So nice to enjoy a challenging test in a reasonable time of 15 minutes – thanks Alfie.

    FOI: lieu
    LOI: perked up
    COD: high five

    Thanks for the blog John and we will definitely have a go at your QC tomorrow – really appreciate you creating it for us.

  24. ON THE LAM was a nostalgic write-in for me. It was common parlance in the Met Police when I joined in the early 80s, although it had largely disappeared by the time I retired 30 years later. Enjoyed this one today – I like a bit of idiosyncrasy.
    My thanks to Alfie and John.
  25. I’m a little late to the party with a solve just about on target. FOI was BACKED, biffed VIRTUOSO and failed to parse it, bit of a MER at the wordplay for QUITTERS (heading from?) and LOI was PERKED UP. Thanks John for the link to the QC.
  26. Day off work today, and a rare chance to sit in the garden and do the crossword. All done in one sitting, didn’t really know ON THE LAM, but must have heard of it, because LAM sounded vaguely familiar in a way that MAL didn’t. Never heard of IDE either, but since I got DRUM SOLO on the first pass it seemed a safe bet that such a fish must exist. Like others, somewhat nonplussed by the alphabetic theme. Impressive to find words containing so many consecutive letters, but a mystery to me why it was apparently unfinished, when it seems there would have been space on the grid??
  27. … and all done in 11 minutes. Only 10A Idle caused a hesitation, the Ide is not a fish I have heard of. But I see it is in the dictionary so I have Learnt A New Thing today.

    COD to 12A Monopoly, and I am very much looking forward to trying John’s bonus puzzle tomorrow!


  28. Many thanks John for a very enjoyable QC. Our completion time was reasonably fast but we didn’t clock it so I can’t give you a specific number. I look forward to your next challenge!

    FOI: doll
    LOI: involve
    COD: encyclopaedia

  29. I’m glad I saved Alfie’s challenging puzzle until this morning when I had more time to think than yesterday.
    Even so it took me 26 minutes as I was scratching my head over PERKED UP and VIRTUOSO for much too long.
    Like others, I hadn’t heard of ‘on the lam’ but it couldn’t have been anything else really. My COD goes to MONOPOLY.
    Thanks to John for the detailed blog and for the extra puzzle which I’ll tackle tomorrow.

  30. Found this hard but I did finish. Excellent blog I thought. I agree that obscure words have no place in this type of crossword.
  31. I think there’s a little more (but not much) to the theme than you outlined:
    all the across clues (except IDLE) have 4-6 consecutive letters

    but that’s it

    More of a challenge to the setter and one not quite seen through to a conclusion (but still good fun)

    Maybe we’re so spoilt with the quality we regularly receive, that we feel we can pick holes when we’re not totally satisfied

    fish = IDE is also a very common device (like SA and IT, and the “key” one that I keep overlooking)

    1. Thanks. Well done in completing the NINA. In fact IDLE does contain 2 consecutive letters, D and E, so the set is complete.

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