Times Quick Cryptic No 1972 by Wurm


Watch my solve here: https://www.twitch.tv/videos/1162086431 .

4:38, which means there was a lot of biffing. I’m looking forward to figuring out what some of the wordplay was!

General remarks

A brief summary of cryptic crosswords —feel free to skip— :

  • Each clue has at least one “definition”: an unbroken string of words which more-or-less straightforwardly indicates the answer. A definition can be as simple as a one-word synonym; but it can also be a descriptive phrase like ‘I’m used to wind’ for REEL or SPOOL. A definition by example must be indicated by a phrase like ‘for example’, or, more commonly, a question mark (?). Thus ‘color’ is a definition of RED, while ‘red, for example’ or ‘red?’ are definitions of COLOR. Punctuation is otherwise irrelevant. Proper nouns will appear capitalized, but otherwise capitalization is irrelevant as well.
  • Each clue may also have an unbroken string of words which indicates the answer through wordplay, such as: using abbreviations; reversing the order of letters; indicating particular letters (first, last, outer, middle, every other, etc); placing words inside other words; rearranging letters (anagrams); replacing words by words that sound alike (homophones); and combinations of the above. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but the general theme is to reinterpret ordinary words as referring to letters, so that for example ‘lion’s head’ indicates the first letter of LION: namely, L.
  • Definitions and wordplay cannot overlap. The only other words allowed in clues are linking words or phrases that combine these. Thus we may see, for example: “(definition) gives (wordplay)” or “(definition) and (definition)” or “(wordplay) is (definition)”.
  • The most common clues have either two definitions, or one definition plus wordplay, in either order. But a single, very misleading definition is not uncommon, and very occasionally a definition can also be interpreted as wordplay leading to the same answer. Triple definitions (and more) are also possible.

My conventions in the solutions below are to underline definitions (including a defining phrase); put linking words in [brackets]; and put all wordplay indicators in boldface. I also use a solidus (/) to help break up the clue where necessary, especially for double definitions without linking words.

Here is a Glossary of all the wordplay indicators and abbreviations in this puzzle.


Wordplay indicators

and = next to
board = containment
choppy = anagram
disrupted = anagram
first = first letter
from = linking word
front clipped = remove first letter
in = containment
in = hidden word
in = linking word
misshapen = anagram
on = next to
returned = reversal
strangely = anagram
ultimately = last letter
volatile = anagram
where = linking word

Abbreviations and little bits

bowled = B
character = AIR
check = CH
circle = O
Cockney district = BOW
female = F
girl = GAL
lake = L
like = DIG
newspaper = RAG
one French = UN
year = Y



3   Check to board earlier vessel (8)

7   Warm garment / to take to the cleaners (6)
FLEECE = double definition

8   Surprise greatly — like Villa? (8)

9   Googly say bowled everyone! (4)
A cricket reference.

10   Fitting in gap tightly (3)
APT = hidden in GAP TIGHTLY

11   House one French / girl in Cockney district (8)

13   Advantage [where] bushy boundary has front clipped (4)
EDGE = HEDGE without first letter

15   Olympian [from] Egyptian port returned (4)
ZEUS = SUEZ reversed

17   Year in capital strangely unrepresentative (8)
ATYPICAL = Y in anagram of CAPITAL

19   Old man [in] contemporary music (3)
POP = double definition

22   Sea / bass (4)
DEEP = double definition
A ‘bass’ voice is a deep voice.

23   Maintenance / at no cost without worries (8)

24   Newspaper published something spicy (6)

25   Broken chord disrupted opera gig (8)


1   Satisfaction guaranteed after request (8)

2   Pirate’s prop to fix on stage? (3,3)

3   American commando [in] ocean and lake (4)

4   Bard’s missus doth show style! (8)
I hadn’t parsed this at the time, but it’s lovely!

5   Misshapen ear not decorated (6)
ORNATE = anagram of EAR NOT

6   Choppy sea, ultimately stormy, not a problem (4)
EASY = anagram of SEA + last letter of STORMY

12   Spring / activity for the kids? (8)
LEAPFROG = double definition

14   Elegant people in / volatile Gulf (8)
GRACEFUL = RACE in anagram of GULF

16   Shakespeare’s first / page / present [in] Globe (6)
SPHERE = first letter of SHAKESPEARE + P + HERE

18   Colour in like circle? (6)
Another good one.

20   Blonde female character (4)

21   An Odysseus in another Odyssey? (4)
Strange phrasing of the definition, but I suppose if you said, “She’s an Odysseus.”, that means, “She’s a hero.”.

53 comments on “Times Quick Cryptic No 1972 by Wurm”

  1. Thought I’d done quite well this morning, being all green in 13 but there’s some very fast times above! Five on the first pass of acrosses and then the downs were more forgiving to give plenty to work with. Solved from the bottom up from there. CAREFREE took its time to arrive but that allowed LEAPFROG and then BUNGALOW to leave me with the NW to finish. It wasn’t until PLEASURE went in that I finally gave up on ‘dias’ for ZEUS. It’s never occurred to me there’s a port to go with the canal! Good one!


    Thank you plusjeremy and Warm

    Edited at 2021-09-29 06:47 am (UTC)

  3. 9 minutes. Took a while to understand ASTON-ISH which delayed me writing it in although it was the obvious answer.
  4. Couldn’t get started until 4th clue down. Did nearly all the other across clues in sequence, then worked up the ‘down’ clues.
    I’d biffed HOUNSLOW at 11 and had to correct that.
    Finished with 1d
  5. A few seconds over target — it seemed a lot quicker (perhaps because I was so immersed?). Some nice clues — I liked ASTONISH, HATHAWAY, INDIGO, SPHERE. Thanks to Wurm and Jeremy. John M.
  6. Quite chewy for me with SCHOONER, HATHAWAY (which I never did parse) and the unknown ARPEGGIO being particularly stubborn at the end. A high quality puzzle though and I particularly enjoyed ZEUS, PEG LEG, GRACEFUL and ASTONISH.
    Finished in 13.51
    Thanks to Jeremy
  7. Wurm + awkward grid + couldn’t get 1ac (well it was 3ac but you know what I mean) = all set for disaster. But to my ASTONISHment it all went smoothly after that for an anti-clockwise solve ending up back at 3ac with all the checkers.

    Clever, slightly quirky puzzle. Great fun.

    FOI PLEASURE, LOI SCHOONER (it was the “to board” that threw me), COD EDGE (everyone loves a bushy boundary), time 07:49 for 1.3K and a Very Good Day.

    Many thanks Wurm and Oh Jeremy Blogger.


    Edited at 2021-09-29 07:36 am (UTC)

  8. Nothing too taxing for a better than usual 4K. Finished in the SE with LOI RAGOUT. COD Hathaway. Thanks Wurm and Jeremy.
  9. 7:36 Personal Best. Some great clues that had me grinning behind my mask (on train again) ASTONISH and HATHAWAY went in early and were both great.

    Also was impressed with the simple reversal of Zeus, after trying Neda/Aden.

    LOI RAGOUT on a top to bottom solve.


  10. Found this surprisingly tricky …
    … and although all green, it took 13 minutes and I am another who biffed but never parsed 4D Hathaway. 12D Leapfrog also confused me — i was convinced that Spring gave Leap and then could not see any wordplay to give Frog. Odd clue, not really one thing or the other.

    Those two apart, all eventually done and parsed, though like Mendesest I clung onto Dias for the backward Egyptian port for some time before letting it go.

    Many thanks to Jeremy for the blog

  11. 47 minutes. Some of the clues were very hard indeed.

    For my LOI, I had to text my musically gifted 13-year-old nephew, who attends a private school for the arts, on his way to school for 25 across. I assumed it was a musical term and that it was an anagram of opera gig. He gave me the answer in seconds. A word I had never heard of before. Thank you, Phoenix!

    For Egyptian port I pondered SAID for a while, but could not think of an Olympian called DIAS. Then SUEZ came to me. A canal I have sailed through many times in my Navy career.

    This took me 5 trips to Chambers, and, of course, help from my nephew. Disappointing result for me.

  12. I needed the danglers before I saw what was going on at 3a, but made good progress from there and popped in LOI, GRACEFUL at 6:51. Nice puzzle. Thanks Wurm and Jeremy.

    Edited at 2021-09-29 08:57 am (UTC)

  13. FLEECE made me smile. Also liked Zeus, bungalow, HATHAWAY, ASTONISH (FOI).
    No real problems today which was good.
    Thanks for v helpful blog, Jeremy

    Edited at 2021-09-29 11:48 am (UTC)

  14. ….as I learned to chant in my days at Villa Park 1970-3. ASTONISH was a write-in. This was an excellent QC from Wurm, and I was surprised to finish so quickly.

    TIME 3:39

  15. FOI BALL and then quite quick to my final phase. A lot of the clues required some thought and some GK. My COD ASTONISH was easy enough for a football fan. Lots of other good clues.
    I was help up by INDIGO and DEEP and PEG LEG was LOI as I had mistyped FLEECE; ICE LEG nearly went in in desperation.
    But I corrected my error. 13:40 on the clock.
  16. An on target solve but with some biffing. ASTONISH I tried to parse as AS TO NISH (as to nothing which made no sense) and I also had O range instead of INDIGO at one point. LEAPFROG went in unparsed. My POI was SCHOONER and my LOI after an alphabet trawl was DEEP. COD HATHAWAY and/or DEEP. 8:52
  17. Like the good Doctor AJK I too went originally for dear old HOUNSLOW, but it’s the wrong end of town; out by HEATHROW innit! I much admire the way Mr. Wyvern woke up his nephew in Phoenix, in order to get 25ac ARPEGGIO – ‘Who Wants to be a Millionaire?’-style! But I couldn’t bring myself to watch the Biff-Fest.

    FOI 20dn FAIR

    LOI 15ac ZEUS


    WOD 2dn PEG-LEG

    As for Lord Time – my “Paper Mate- Ink Joy” ran out – of Ink (Joy!?) – I couldn’t find another to hand. I ended up heavily engraving the NW corner. Let’s say 12 minutes and a few choice epithets.

  18. Those sort of kids! I was looking all over for a herd of goats. Over to you Lord Ulaca.
    Ah! Anonymous GW is of the fairer sex! Please join TFtT anon, and get an avatar (up to 15) if you like being a regular.

    Edited at 2021-09-29 09:18 am (UTC)

  19. 17 minutes for what I thought was a chewy puzzle. It was going ok until I came to the SE where the GRACEFUL, DEEP, INDIGO and RAGOUT answers wouldn’t fall and were my last four in. Some really good clues though, very satisfying, and a couple of half-themes with Olympians and Shakespeare appearing a couple of times. Thanks both.
  20. Two goes at this. Was doing well, twelve in in no time, then got up to 20 … then stumped in the SE corner with a*y a must to solve, surely. Had to try any????? in the on-line version to get a red square to make progress, likewise ???ous for a red square to find ragout. Tried fish for sea bass, four red squares. Husband supplied indigo but neither of us could work out why. Defeated today, 20/25 and spent forty-five minutes on it. Got ball, but don’t “get” the clue. But still enjoyed the process. COD Hathaway. Thanks, Jeremy, and Wurm. GW
  21. Paper hasn’t been delivered today, probably because the paper boy couldn’t find fuel for his BMW(!). One of the joys of rural living is the quirky paper delivery system. So I had to do it over brunch on my iPad, not my preferred method.

    Anyway, I didn’t have a lot of problems with this QC, dotting round the grid in my usual manner and finished and parsed in just over 21 mins, for a Good Day…

    Thanks Wurm and Jeremy

      1. Google NewsTeam Group (easier than me quoting the URL and needing to get it unspammed) and plug your postcode in, if your haven’t already tried them. They do a lot of rural deliveries, I gather.
          1. Definitely. We used to do the same but they gave up doing papers recently as it was proving too much hassle for the amount of business they did. We’re fortunate to get deliveries as the next nearest place to get them is 5 miles away and it would be expensive to make a special trip as we don’t go out in the car every day, by any means.
    1. Ours gets delivered to the top of our lane where it is stuffed in a piece of drainpipe. This means a bit of uphill exercise with the dog if we’re not going out by car. The newspaper girl is amazing and even leaves it in the nearest bus stop when there’s snow and ice and she won’t attempt the lane at the top. Lovely to live in the countryside!
    2. I didn’t know paperboys existed any more. I have not seen one for years. I used to see scores of them years ago on my early morning runs.
  22. Hooray !

    This is the first one I have finished correctly this week.

    I liked the “SUEZ” ==> “ZEUS” clue (15 Across).

    Also the navy “SEAL”s clue.

    Marvellous how the Yanks manage to train the Seals to shoot rifles so accurately with their flippers.

  23. The majority of my (rare!) finishes are around the 45 minute mark and whilst this felt fairly average, I’m always delighted when I can actually finish a puzzle — hoorah.

    Yesterday I gave up after 30 minutes as I found it hard to get my teeth into at least half of the clues, whereas today, even though chewy, I managed to get everything bar 7ac in after approximately 40 minutes. After another 5 minutes or so staring at _L_E_E, the penny dropped for FLEECE.

    I frequently make a RAGOUT, but it has never been spicy and I found it hard to put it on the grid. NHO SCHOONER, but wordplay was clear for both these clues.

    Didn’t know anything about a googly in a game of cricket, I just assumed the reference was to an eye BALL. Again, clear wordplay was the saviour here!

    FAIR was clearly defined, but NHO Air = Character.

    HATHAWAY was biffed, but I can now (just) see the wordplay.

    Some easy write-ins such as ARPEGGIO, ORNATE, EDGE (did we have this clue last week but of the Cockney garden boundary variety?)


    Thanks plusjeremy and Wurm

    Edited at 2021-09-29 12:20 pm (UTC)

  24. Quite an entertaining puzzle, especially the quirky clues, one of which (Indigo) is my CoD. Couldn’t see 3ac, so started a bit lower down with Astonish (a tad hard for non-football fans, or should that be football fans? 😉). I was another Port Said tester for 15ac, and only got Ragout with the help of Hero/Indigo. Stopped as the clock reached 20mins, with loi Schooner unparsed at the time. Invariant
  25. An enjoyable 23 mins for me, although as usual I felt I could have been quicker (15ac “Zeus” comes to mind). Nearly went down a few wrong paths, such as thinking 12dn was going to start with “Jump” and believing Shakespeare’s wife was called “Kate” (don’t ask).

    After playing many Arpeggio’s for my piano exams, 25ac wasn’t an issue. Similarly, the Villa thrashed my local team 6-0 in a recent EFL cup round, so that was fresh in my mind. Incidentally, they have a pretty good squad – so maybe they won’t “surprise greatly” in the future.

    FOI – 6dn “Easy”
    LOI – 3ac “Schooner”
    COD – 4dn “Hathaway”, although I did like 18dn “Indigo”

    Thanks as usual!

  26. Funny how I can look at this during breakfast and think “help!”, then two hours later sail through reasonably easily.

    I biffed SCHOONER and wondered why it was described as an “earlier vessel” when there are quite a few of them about, then looked at the blog and understood.

    Much enjoyed today, thank you Wurm and Jeremy.


  27. 20.07 – narrowly in the SCC but pretty good for me! FOI – 3D SEAL and then worked round clockwise finishing with 1D PLEASURE with no major hold ups. COD to 15A ZEUS / SUEZ.
    Thanks to Wurm and Jeremy!

  28. 6:08 late this morning, so an end to a brief run of fast times by my standards. Held up by 7 ac “fleece” and 2 d “peg leg”, neither of which was particularly difficult but that’s how it goes sometimes.
    I generally find Wurm’s puzzles aren’t as difficult as those of other setters but I felt this was quite tricky in parts, albeit entirely fair.
    Like others have said, I fiddled about with 15 ac “zeus” and trying to reverse “said” into something mythological, until the crosser from 1 d “pleasure” allowed the penny to eventually drop.
    COD 8 ac “astonish” which raised both a groan and a smile. I also liked 4 d “hathaway”.
    Thanks to Jeremy and danke schon to Wurm
  29. My only hold up was at the Bungalow with the IKEA furniture.
    17ac ATYPICAL was a nice anagram, but for COD I’ll take the
    Sea Bass with a glass of the house Arpeggio, sorry Pinot Grigio! Cheers!
  30. Today’s 15×15 isn’t quite as easy as the Snitch (64) suggests, but is still doable if you trust the cryptic for three or four unusual words.
  31. Gave up on Deep, Indigo and Graceful

    I was fixated on Main and missed (in the) deep — pretty tricky double definition I thought….

    Saw Gulf needed a stir but lost the will sadly.

    Some very easy (the top half flew in) and the rest difficult. But a good crossword in general.

    Thanks all
    John George

  32. We were discovering the delights of the Dorset coast on Wednesday and have only just completed the puzzle. We really enjoyed this quirky but clever puzzle. We took 9 minutes.


    Thanks Jeremy and Wurm.

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