Times Quick Cryptic No 1783 by Wurm

Posted on Categories Quick Cryptic
Well, we made it into 2021.  Let me be one of the last to wish you all a happier 2021.  Thanks to Wurm for this relatively gentle crossword, which though gentle, is quite sophisticated, and demands some degree of General Knowledge.  I solved it in 11 minutes, which is a fast time for me, and I hope that you all achieved a similarly satisfactory result.

The following is optional reading, and not related to this puzzle specifically:

Lockdown has found me reflecting on the nature of these QCs and other cryptic puzzles, and I have been wondering if the satisfaction index from solving can be attributed to any definable characteristics of the puzzle. I’m still thinking this through, but I think that the QCs generally have a number of dimensions, some of which are OBJECTIVE (or measurable) and others of which are SUBJECTIVE (or not easily measurable).

OBJECTIVE dimensions include the following:

  • DENSITY – Which I define as the number of black squares in the grid of 169 squares of a QC.  For example, today’s grid has 48 black squares to give a density of 28%.  This is quite low compared to the straw poll I took of the last few puzzles I blogged, which ranged from 48 to 56 black squares (28% to 33% density).
  • BREVITY – By which I mean the word-count for all of the clues.  Today the number of words used to clue all of the answers is 128, or 5.3 per clue.  Again, compared to the same straw poll, this is quite low – the range in the poll was 128 to 190 words in the clues, or a range from 5.3 to 7.3 per clue.
  • SPEED – my times range from a little below 10 minutes to around 25 minutes.  I am rarely quicker or slower than that range, and I target between 10 and 15 minutes per completion.
  • FIRST LETTER CHECKER – The presence of answers in the first row or column will automatically provide a number of first-letter-checkers, and this type of grid seems to be favoured over grids that lack them.  I suspect that, with a little thought, the grid types could be measurable for this attribute.
  • As far as objective measures go, I think I prefer low density, concisely clued puzzles, with a high index of first-letter-checkers, but I do like a workout, so I am not disheartened when my time is beyond my target range.  Whilst SPEED is measurable, it is also very personal from solver to solver.  My understanding is that the measurement of SPEED was the original objective of these blogs.  It’s what I often refer to as the Rotterometer – an objective measure of speed for this particular solver, or x Kevins, a relative measure of speed compared to a regular contributor to the blogs.

SUBJECTIVE dimensions, by their nature, are much more difficult to define, but we often hear words such as the following in bloggers’ comments.  I don’t think these are measurable as such, but they matter:

  • Wit or humour
  • General Knowledge – maybe a GKI or Index could be definable as an objective dimension, although one solver’s General Knowledge can be another’s jargon or mystery.
  • Approachability – is this just a euphemism for easiness?
  • Themes and Ninas – these are almost universally admired and appreciated, and generally add to the satisfaction index, particularly when spotted.

I’d be interested in others’ thoughts if you have any, but maybe not on this blog – feel free to send me a message if you want to add to any debate on the above.  If there is interest, I’ll collate and publish any thoughts, perhaps in a seperate blog.

Now back to Wurm’s puzzle.


Stickler for niceties hurt in physical training (13)
PERFECTIONIST – This is an anagram (hurt) of [FOR NICETIES] inside PT (physical training).
8  Large ears reshaped in surgical beam (5)
LASER – Another anagram (reshaped), this time of [L{arge} EARS].  LASERs are concentrated beams of light, often used to cut flesh in surgical procedures, but with a much wider range of uses than that.
9  On piano in group to admire (7)
RESPECT – RE (on, regarding) and P{iano} inside SECT (group).
10  Get wheels in middle for train (7)
CORTEGE – GET (wheels = reversed) to give TEG inside CORE (middle).  A CORTEGE is a ‘train’ of attendants, a retinue.
11  Second story is boring (5)
STALE – S{econd} and TALE (story).  At first I wondered about the equivalence of STALE and BORING, but either can, at a stretch, mean tedious, so I’ll let it pass.
13 Boat from Oxford University set off (9)
OUTRIGGER – O{xford} U{niversity} and TRIGGER (set off).  An OUTRIGGER can be a boat with projecting rowlocks, or a canoe with a projecting spar supported on a float.  The first is used by crews in the University boat race, the second by the many indigenous tribes that appeared in the films we watched as young boys.  To me, OU is more readily interpreted as Open University, being a graduate of that institution, rather than the other place.
17  Arterial route in Australia or Tasmania (5)
AORTA – Hidden answer in [australi}A OR TA{smania}.
19  Draw attention from cuts in English energy (7)
ECLIPSE – CLIPS (cuts) hidden inside E{nglish} and E{nergy}.
20  Shark vessel circles swirling fog (7)
DOGFISH – DISH (vessel) surrounds (circles) an anagram (swirling) of [FOG].  DOGFISH is a generic name for small shark of various kinds.
22  Stove at home once more (5)
AGAIN – AGA (stove) and IN (at home).  After a tradename appeared last week, here we have another in AGA, from the original Swedish manufacturers.
23  Teaches ceramics class for geeks (13)
TRAINSPOTTERS – TRAINS (teaches) and POTTERS (ceramics class).  A GEEK is someone who is obsessively enthusiastic especially about computers, but many would argue that TRAINSPOTTERS are at least GEEKish.


Football team in China excellent (6)
PALACE – PAL (china, cockney rhyming slang, china plate, mate) and ACE (excellent), referring, of course, to Crystal Palace Football Club.
Lake and river rose catastrophically (9)
RESERVOIR – Anagram (catastrophically) of [RIVER ROSE].
Sincere answer Hemingway accepts? (7)
EARNEST – ERNEST (Ernest Miller Hemingway, the American writer) ‘accepting’ A{nswer}.
4  We help in their shambolic call to vote (5-4,4)
THREE-LINE WHIP – Anagram (shambolic) of [WE HELP IN THEIR].  In parliament, a THREE-LINE WHIP is a call for members to be in their places ready for a vote or division.
5  Nothing unaltered in desert haven (5)
OASIS – O (nothing) and AS IS (unaltered).
6 Diamonds set evenly in circlet (3)
ICE – Alternate / even letters in {c}I{r}C{l}E{t}.
7  Non-drinker in row causes giggle (6)
TITTER – TT (tee-total or non-drinker) inside TIER (row).  ‘Oooh no, missus, TITTER ye not’ as Frankie Howerd used to say.
12  Say A380 flying near a Pole (9)
AEROPLANE – Anagram (flying) of [NEAR A POLE].  A380 is a reference to an Airbus wide-bodied AEROPLANE, not many of which are currently flying.
14  Brave man to vex six-footer (7)
GALLANT – GALL (to vex) and ANT (six-footer, an insect).  A GALLANT is a dashing, debonair young man.
15  Robber also cutting dash (6)
BANDIT – AND (also) ‘cutting’ (inside) BIT (dash, as in a bit of / dash of salt).
16  Slip catch turned game (6)
TENNIS – SIN (slip) and NET (catch) all reversed (turned).
18  Foreign article contains untruth (5)
ALIEN – AN (indefinite article) with LIE (untruth) inside (containing).
21  State purpose briefly (3)
GOA – GOA{l} (purpose) briefly = drop the last letter.  GOA is a state on the SW coast of India.

51 comments on “Times Quick Cryptic No 1783 by Wurm”

  1. Goal! Thanks Rotter, I couldn’t work out what four letter word meant purpose even once I filled in the one missing vowel to get GOA. Also couldn’t see how AEROPLANE worked – though since I used to drive past one on a roundabout every day when I worked at Heathrow I spotted the answer pretty quickly – should have seen what ‘flying’ was doing. I found this tricky, all green in 13 but built up gradually after getting five on the first pass of acrosses. Downs were gentler at first and that helped PERFECTIONIST emerge and once THREE LINE WHIP went in there was a lot of help to be had around the grid. Slowed again at the end to prise out BANDIT, CORTEGE and DOGFISH just leaving me to enter the O in GOA and submit with fingers crossed. Good one.

    Brief initial thought on the on the interesting opening on satisfaction is that the subjective measures matter much more after the fact but the absence of objective things like missing opening letters can be trying during solving.

  2. 11 minutes, missing my target by 1.

    Two clues delayed me, the first being 10ac where I was convinced from the start that ‘wheels’ was cluing CAR, and I was even more convinced when the checkers C_R came into play.

    The other was 12dn where before I realised that an anagram was involved, A380 had me thinking of the UK road network rather than aviation. It didn’t help that it’s a road in Devon that I happened to know quite well at one time, at least the bit south of Exeter down to Torbay.

    At 16dn I thought equating SIN with a ‘slip’ was overstating things a bit.

    Edited at 2021-01-07 06:46 am (UTC)

    1. I have unfortunate memories of that road. One night in November 2016 I was heading from Plymouth on the A38 to join it and take my overnight break at Paignton. The signage was confusing, and the street lights were out. I totally missed the bend on the slip road, crashed over a foot high metal barrier, and smashed the steering system of the Nissan Juke I’d hired. But for the airbag, I might not be here to tell the tale. I’d not taken the accidental damage waiver, so it cost me £1,000. I ended up in A&E in Torquay, surprisingly uninjured. Finding a hotel at 11pm was anything but fun. After I’d stayed for two nights, they declined to give me a replacement vehicle, and I had a pig of a journey home by train (the 2 minutes I had to cross the footbridge with my suitcase as I changed at Newport were totally inadequate, and I had to stand for nearly an hour until I got seated at Hereford). Not the best few days of my life !
  3. This took a long time today – 30:38. I liked OASIS, one of the first to spot and one of the last to parse. LOI 1dn after taking ages with CORTEGE then entering PALACE and submitting on the basis that China is a PLACE containing A= excellent. I was not happy with it. Thank you Rotter for putting me straight
  4. Date: Thur, 7 Jan 21

    FOI: 17a AORTA
    LOI: 19a ECLIPSE

    Clues used with aids: 10 (1a, 9a, 10a, 13a, 20a, 23a, 1d, 15d, 16d, 21d)

    Aids Used: Chambers Crossword Dictionary, Bradford’s Crossword Solver’s List, TftT

    Total Answered: 20/24

    As soon as I started this one, I knew I would struggle. And I did. I am starting to recognise early on in any QC whether I am going to do well or not, and this one was definitely a NOT!

    I needed a lot of help with this one, and even had to come here for 4 of those answers. I also had a couple of wrong answers which totally threw me. It was many of the across clues that were mean to me. Down clues were not too bad. I did get THREE-LINE-WHIP (a term I knew not from knowledge of politics, but from my Navy days).

    As for the length of time it took me before I admitted defeat: Over one hour, that’s all I’ll say.

    Big fat DNF!

    1. Memories of three whips drawn on a sheet pinned to the Wardroom notice board, rig for the evening, time of high tea, “hard starters” e.g. 2/3 HN, muster on Flight Deck, be very polite at Cockers P, quietly invite young ladies down to Wardroom for subsequent party. Those were the days.
  5. I thought that this was quite tough with some subtle wordplay that required some thought. However it also provided plenty of smiles as the pennies dropped, although I never managed to parse CORTEGE. I finished in 11.55 with LOI ECLIPSE with my favourite being TRAINSPOTTERS.

    WRT Rotter’s intro, from a subjective point of view I think I prefer a puzzle like this over one I can speed through and get a really quick time as the satisfaction of wheedling out the answers outweighs the brief boost to my ego I get from posting a quick time.
    Objectively I quite enjoy the grids where there’s no 1a, as the lack of opening letters adds more of a challenge.

    Thanks to Rotter

    Edited at 2021-01-07 09:58 am (UTC)

  6. I found the top half straightforward (apart from my LOI CORTEGE which was a real test) and thought I was on for a quick finish. However, the lower half was full of tough clues. I didn’t like the definition of ECLIPSE or the clueing for TENNIS. I thought that DOGFISH was testing and would not have got BANDIT or GALLANT without all the crossers. Things became easier when THREE LINE WHIP and TRAINSPOTTERS went in (nice clue) but my early progress slowed to take me 3 minutes over target. A Curate’s egg from Wurm but a very interesting and helpful blog from rotter. However, I expect many solvers will not join him in finding it gentle; perhaps the relatively slow build up of posts today and the absence of some regular ‘early birds’ is a pointer? John M.

    Edited at 2021-01-07 10:06 am (UTC)

  7. Rotter on form today; a great blog and very fast time.
    This was tricky Wurm for me today. I had two major problems: I know nothing about boats; and I really struggled with 14d. My first go for 14d was ADAMANT with a question mark. That made the boat impossible. It was my last one left after 15:32. It took me over 5 minutes of deep thought to get OUTRIGGER and then I just plumped for GOADANT at 14d. So one wrong after 22:31.
    Enjoyed the puzzle very much. COD to TRAINSPOTTER.
  8. Have to disagree with Rotter about the difficulty of this puzzle. It was a slow trawl of about 35 minutes to get to one left (10a) and then another 15 minutes before I finally saw that maybe “wheels” was telling me to put GET backwards. With that in place I was able to dredge up the vaguely heard of CORTEGE and then parse it to finish on 51:00. It was the kind of puzzle that would have totally flummoxed me when I was starting out doing these, so I sympathise with Poison Wyvern and anyone else who might not immediately think “China” = mate = pal, for example. Anyway, a good workout as I’ve come to expect from Wurm, and an interesting blog Rotter, so thanks to all as usual. FOI 8a, LOI 10a, COD 20a.
    Got PERFECTIONIST , THREE LINE WHIP and eventually TRAINSPOTTER (COD), finishing SW and NE.

    Returned exhausted to wild guess no 1 PALACE and looked up Train. Wild guess 2 ECLIPSE turned out to be right. Got OUTRIGGER but failed to see parsing at first, oh dear.
    Quite relieved to meet AGAIN. Wild guess 3 GALLANT. Never thought of Ant = six footer.
    Wild guess 4 TENNIS fitted the checkers.

    So won through in the end, only resorting once to CCD. I understand the link between China/mate/pal but ….

    Thanks to Rotter for much needed blog.

    Edited at 2021-01-07 11:34 am (UTC)

  10. I didn’t enjoy this much. At 35 minutes, five minutes over where I usually stop, I threw in a very grumpy towel.
    I was thrown by lots here. For example, in 10 across, CORTÈGE, I was looking for a word with EE in – wheels in middle – and couldn’t think of one. I wouldn’t have got the correct answer in a month of Sundays. I don’t know why “get ” is reversed either.
    I guess my biggest problem here is being totally off wavelength with the synonyms today – “core” for “middle” (10), “trigger” for “set off” (13), “pal” for “China” (1 down – sorry, but a GR from me, even though I answered it, unparsed), “sin” for “slip” (16, answered and parsed but MER )…

    On the other hand, I did like OASIS, 5 down and GALLANT, 14 down.

    Marvellous blog, Rotter. I’m going to have a calming cup of tea and then reread it to fully appreciate your comments. Thanks so much for taking the time to do this

    1. As a verb to wheel can mean to turn round or change direction. The only real-life example that comes immediately to mind is “right wheel” or “left wheel”, being an instruction to parading troops to go back the other way, but helpfully including guidance on which way to turn.

      Edited at 2021-01-07 12:11 pm (UTC)

  11. I found the Rotter’s introduction thought-provoking. I frequently feel I’m pondering longer on a QC clue than on one in the 15×15. Somehow there seems to be more of a chance element: “think of a word that might be a synonym for this other word”, rather than the answer being built up by wordplay. I’m not expert enough as a solver or a linguist to express this better, but the QC is definitely sometimes the more frustrating of the two.

    Jim R

  12. Yupp. A toughie for me too. Couldn’t parse CORTEGE as I completely missed the direction of wheels, similarly PAL although both so clear from Rotter’s blog, thank you.
    Glad to see that it was not “potters” that were the reference to being Geeks as in my experience they are nothing of the sort, but as I have never knowingly met a trainspotter, am prepared to take that as read.
    A struggle and frustrating when completing the puzzle but fail to know why.
    Thanks Wurms
  13. Nothing gentle about this one as far as I was concerned; DNF after 15 (gave up trying to work out CORTEGE). Back to Evil Wurm.

    FOI LASER, LOI TENNIS (“sin” for “slip” a bit of a MER, like Jack), COD GALLANT, a Bad Day.

    Thanks Wurm and Rotter.


  14. Not sure it was gentle Rotter, but I’m pleased to say I enjoyed it and finished in 34 mins.

    I thought there were a some tricky clues that needed some lateral thinking. 1dn “Palace”, 10ac “Cortège” and 14dn “Gallant” come to mind. Unfortunately, it took an age to get both 1ac “Perfectionist” and 23ac “Trainspotters” which didn’t help with my time. I’m sure we’ll also get the usual debate about whether trainspotters are geeks (and is it derogatory?).

    For a while, kept thinking 4dn had something to do with the Commons division bell – so my initial guess was in the right ball park.

    Only question was whether Pal = China needs something to distinguish it as Cockney rhyming slang – or is it just taken that it’s an expression for friend?

    FOI – 8ac “Laser”
    LOI – 15dn “Bandit”
    COD – 14dn “Gallant”

    Thanks as usual.

    1. Others may disagree, but I don’t think it’s usual to include an indicator for Cockney rhyming slang though it may happen. It is necessary for dropped aitches though; there’ll be something about Cockneys or Bow or the East End or some such.
      1. Ah…maybe that’s what I’m thinking.

        Definitely seen it for dropped “h’s” but thought I’d seen an indicator for use in rhyming slang in the past.

        1. Yes, of course, but I was referring to clues to dropped aitches and they rarely (if ever) make the distinction.
          1. Bow Bells were cast in Whitechapel – if you ask me Whitechapel is the real ‘East End’. Bow Quarter became heavily populated in the early days of the Victorian period when Bryant & May built their infamous safety match factory there. Many of the ‘Matchgirls’ were former Bow fruit pickers. A couple became victims of the ‘Whitechapel Leather Apron’.

            Real Cockney’s likes to use the word ‘trousers’ as a nonce word esp. when referring to their boss or someone ‘igh up – they don’t use ‘is name as such, but the expression -‘Ow’s ‘is trarsers’. No names….

            Edited at 2021-01-07 03:00 pm (UTC)

  15. I found this very slow-going and DNF. I had to turn to Rotter’s explanations frankly. (No shame in that, but it is a shame!)
    Didn’t know CRS for ‘China’ in 1D
    didn’t see CORTEGE in 10A. as didn’t understand ‘wheels’ indicator
    missed the correct synonyms for 16D TENNIS
    Even stuck on BANDIT. Ugh.

    Tomorrow is a new crossword, so onwards!

    Thank you for the explanations.

  16. This took me a lot longer than usual.

    I struggled with THREE-LINE WHIP, CORTEGE and OUTRIGGER. I was partly hindered by having mistyped RESERVOIR, so I spent too long trying to think of a boat beginning with ‘V’ before spotting my mistake.

    LOI: 21D GOA

    Thanks to therotter and Wurm

  17. Took me a while to get going after a major technology battle trying to get the puzzles to load today. I eventually cleared cookies etc and logged in and out of the Times site, before I was able to start. FOI PALACE, LOI PERFECTIONIST. 12:14. Thanks Wurm and Rotter.
  18. Well I appear to be in a minority of one on this one – with everyone else out of step except me. Following the above comments, I am happy to re-classify this, from gentle to chewy, although it seems that I was on the right wavelength when solving. As I have said previously, when I’m blogging, I tend to solve at a different time of day to my normal daily routine. Perhaps I should change my habits to see if my average times come down?
  19. I like the idea of trying to understand why some puzzles are better than others – Phil and John’s puzzles are a good benchmark with reasonable difficulty, possible to solve even if GK lacking, theme, humour, clue makes sense – is internally consistent. I might add to the Rottometer – how many checkers are vowels vs unusual consonants – e not always much help 🙂
  20. Outside the target of 20:21 (note, one second has been added to my target for the New Year). Was very close to throwing in the towel, but kept at it. THREE LINE WHIP helped late on, but like many other solvers, I felt “wheels” as a reversal indicator seems pretty tough, esepecially combined with a red hirring “in middle”, and a foreign word to boot. LOI for many today.

    For BANDIT I parsed as BAN=cutting, and DIT=dash (Morse code thing?)

    With G—-A-T at 14d, was very hard to get away from “giant” for six footer. But I liked the answer (ant).

    COD: TRAINSPOTTERS. Great clue.

  21. Thanks so much for this. I actually realised for myself once I’d posted my comment but didn’t alter it because I can’t edit posts on my phone and I was still feeling too prickly to fire up the computer to make the necessary adjustments.
  22. Guessed early on that this was going to be tricky and so it proved. The Gallant/Eclipse pairing helped take me beyond 30mins, and after a further five getting nowhere looking at my last pair, 10ac and 16d, I decided to pull stumps. I’m sure a late night (and early start) watching CNN didn’t help, but this definitely seemed a tad hard for a QC. Invariant
  23. 11:09.

    Though looking back, I’m not so sure why. Maybe because all of the long ones took a while, so I was lacking in crossers.

    LOI was GOA, mainly because I missed it, filled in my OUTRIGGER, expecting it to be the last clue, and it wasn’t.

  24. Well we didn’t think it was easy but we didn’t find it too hard either and finished it in 15 minutes. Some excellent clues which were satisfying to solve – thanks Wurm.

    FOI: laser
    LOI: cortège
    COD: trainspotters (we liked “oasis” too)

    Thanks to Rotter for the blog. Until relatively recently our key metric was simply being able to complete the puzzle. Now, we also “measure” our completion time but don’t track it. Our main source of satisfaction comes from the enjoyment of pitting our wits against those of the setters.

  25. Rotter, I am glad you revised your assessment to chewy. I was well over my target 10 but I did enjoy this Wurm QC. My FOI was LASER. 1a and 1d were very late solves but I had hold ups all over the grid notably in the SE corner with OUTRIGGER, GALLANT, ECLIPSE and TENNIS all intersecting. MY LOI in just under 17 mins but at least with all answers parsed was CORTEGE. Thanks for the blog Rotter.

    Edited at 2021-01-07 01:53 pm (UTC)

  26. I do fear that there have been too many attempts to over intellectualise the QC recently. Mr Wyvern appears to have set things off with his forensic approach to problems. We had gerunds yesterday! After 30 minutes it might be might be more rewarding to have a go at a ‘suuji wa dokushin ni kagiru’ or start the 15×15!

    Today’s puzzle was a 13×13 and not a QC per se! My time was my best for a long time 6.45, as it was better suited to my style of solving.


    LOI 16dn TENNIS

    COD 4dn THREE-LINE WHIP (where’s Kevin?)


    Edited at 2021-01-07 02:08 pm (UTC)

  27. Another wriggly one from Wurm! I agree with Plett – I find succeeding with a tricky one is much more satisfying than whizzing through an easy one (although this is all comparative of course). Having said that, although there was definitely a sense of relief when CORTEGE finally revealed itself, I can’t say I enjoyed this quite as much as Teazel’s offering yesterday, and it took nearly twice as long! Still I liked GALLANT, THREE LINE WHIP and AEROPLANE.

    FOI Stale
    LOI Cortege
    COD Tennis
    Time 17 minutes

    Thanks Wurm and Rotter for the comprehensive blog and very interesting reflections

  28. I also thought this was difficult and I needed aids to finish. LOI was PALACE which I tentatively pencilled in as it did not seem like much of a name for a football team and I couldn’t parse it either as I thought the CA was the China ref but that left PALE for excellent!
  29. Never got on the wavelength today. Stumbled through the top half and gradually subsided below. Quite a few things to store in mind for future use including “wheels” and “china”. No real complaints about the clues, just beyond me today. Good blog though.
  30. Another DNF making it 3 out of 3 this year.
    Today just 1 failure. Cortege. Scuppered by thinking car was the 1st 3 and hadn’t seen wheels as a reverse before. No complaints however and another tool for the bank.

    Maybe tomorrow will get me over the line.

  31. Thanks Rotter for the thought-provoking blog and for parsing at least 4 answers the reasoning for which had eluded me. I’m glad you reclassified this as I definitely did not find it gentle. I was finished and all correct in 19 minutes, not helped by recklessly bunging in Goliath at 14dn after getting the first two crossers. Trainspotters soon showed me the error of my ways. Needed almost all the crossers for Three-Line Whip although I knew it was an anagram.

    FOI – 8ac LASER
    LOI – 1dn PALACE

  32. I would offer elegance of clueing as another factor for this. We find a QC with well constructed surfaces much more enjoyable, so for example today’s clues which we found very awkward detracted from the puzzle, although we solved it and fully parsed it (albeit not quickly)
    I would differ over the Nina measure though, in our experience these seem to spoil the puzzle rather than add to it, and I think posts here would suggest we are not the only ones to find this. Perhaps it just shows that the subjective measures are just that!
  33. ….transport enthusiast (buses for me, trains in his case). Call us anoraks, and we’ll take it. But geeks ? Absolutely not.

    First, my compliments to the Rotter for such an interesting blog.

    I felt sorry for our non-British readers today, as THREE-LINE WHIP was bad enough, without expecting them to know only half the name of CRYSTAL PALACE !

    COD THREE-LINE WHIP (but I’m English)
    TIME 3:43

  34. … as although I usually end with thanks to the day’s blogger, today I will start with them, as Rotter’s very thoughtful piece at the start, and very thorough parsing and explanations of the clues, was much appreciated. Thank you!

    I tend not to like puzzles I can’t finish (who does?), or with clunky ugly clues, or with wildly obscure names – but I also don’t much enjoy puzzles that are basically write-ins, or full of GK that one either knows or does not. Anything that takes me between about 8 and 20 minutes usually means a good but fair work-out. In passing I half agree with Paanliv on Ninas – if done well they can add to a puzzle, but all to often the need to complete the nina (or pangram) forces setters into some really contorted cluing, and then it is definitely a detractor.

    So to the puzzle, which took me 14 minutes and can therefore be seen as “middling to on the tough side” for me. I thought 11A Stale was a weak clue – stale and boring are not the same – and 16D Tennis also caused a minor grumble at Sin = slip. My LOI was 14D Gallant which I put in correctly but totally failed to parse; my best attempt at explaining it was ALLAN (man’s name) in GT (for giant, ie 6 footer). Yes I thought it weak even at the time …

    COD to 23A Trainspotters, such a simple clue when one has seen (or spotted?) it.

    Rotter, one comment on the blog – a Three line whip is not just an order to attend, but an order to attend and vote according to the party’s position. In other words “You must vote, and you must vote for our side”.


    Edited at 2021-01-07 05:21 pm (UTC)

  35. Fully solved without aids in 70 minutes, after a fast start. I hit the buffers with 10 clues remaining, whereupon I made no further progress for the next 25 minutes. Eventually, I got going again, but it was a real struggle from there the finish line. My cause was not helped by having entered plausible, but incorrect solutions to a couple of clues (9a and 19a), both of which made 4d (a key clue, given the number of intersections) impossible. I took ages to spot these errors and my time shows it.

    However, looking on the bright side, as nearly half of my QC attempts since I started last June have ended in DNFs, I count today as a hard-earned victory.

    Mrs Random crossed the line in 28 minutes and said it was “difficult”. I don’t believe her, however, as anything under half an hour cannot have posed much of a challenge.

    Many thanks to therotter (I will mull over your Satisfaction Index idea) and to Wurm.

  36. Aplogies for late blog but qc is done over dinner. A hard wokout but fun when we worked it out.
    Us trainspotters ain’t geeks but us computer nerds might be
  37. Just about the right chewiness for me: not easy but doable. Was pleased to remember six footer meaning ‘ant’ from a previous puzzle.
    I’m always surprised that people guess solutions they can’t parse, which sometimes helps and sometimes hinders. I can’t bring myself to write it in until I’m sure it’s right.
    1. Normally I guess, write faintly, then parse, but I found the parsing in at least four clues too difficult, and was surprised my guesses were correct.
      One day, let us hope, I shall parse first. It does sometimes happen even now.

      Re Ninas, I think they can cause convoluted clues, as someone said above.

      Yes, Rotter, I like grids which give first letters. My GK is probably better than my solving skills, but I enjoy learning Crosswordese.

  38. Rather than Kevins, for a number of years I work on Rotters. I’m frequently exactly twice the bounder’s time. So after a disaster today and reading his delightful blog I assumed that dry January was having a very bad effect. However seeing all the other comments I shall persevere with being TT (to use common QC parlance). I suppose today I was still half as good as Rotter as I did finish half the flipping grid. Unlucky 13×13. Johnny
  39. Not gentle for me at all. This was the first quick crossword I haven’t been able to complete for years!!! I couldn’t see OUTRIGGER – didn’t know the word – although as an Oxford graduate OU was obvious!
  40. 24 minutes after thinking that it would end in tears – needed most checkers to see 1a not thinking of PT having got the excellent Titter…
    Not keen on the Tennis clue – only knew because similar caught me before… I have A380s overhead all the time (well as stated by Rotter(I think) not many at all at the moment)….so aeroplane was in before seeing the anagram…most time on LOI Cortege- was about to give up when I just saw it.

    Excellent blog thanks Rotter… I think that the different setters styles have a big sway in my ability to complete…and not being one for the 15×15 I do notice that many solvers here sail through some crosswords that I just find too tricky in places to complete – and they usually have that 15×15 experience.
    I am particularly nervous of Orpheus at the moment – well actually I suppose I am nervous of them all!!

    Thanks all
    John George

  41. Good grief. Gentle? You must be joking. Too hard for me. 6 unsolved:10a, 19a, 20a, 23a, 15d and 16d, so a dismal DNF. I am seldom on Wurm’s wavelength.

Comments are closed.