Times Quick Cryptic No 2049 by Orpheus

You may have seen in last weekend’s Times Puzzles newsletter from David Parfitt that Wadham Sutton has completed 50 years as a Times crossword setter, and that he sets Quick Crosswords under the name of Orpheus… and he has set today’s Quick Crossword for us. I think it hits the target right in the middle with a good mix of clue types, smooth surfaces and nothing obscure or too difficult and I finished in an average time for me of 5:20. Hard to choose a favourite, but I’ll pick 24A for the nice surface. Thank-you Orpheus and congratulations on the 50 years! How did everyone else get on?

Fortnightly Weekend Quick Cryptic. This time it is Phil’s turn to provide the extra weekend entertainment. You can find the latest crossword  here. Enjoy! If you are interested in having a go at our previous offerings you can find an index to them all here.

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

1 It may be drunk, or eaten with marmalade, perhaps (5)
TOAST – Double definition, the second a cryptic hint.
7 Thinking Reg must keep a son at home (9)
REASONINGREG outside, “must keep”, A SON IN (at home).
9 Communicate with a daughter in Brazilian port (5)
RADIOA D (daughter) “in” RIO (Brazilian port).
10 Chap entertaining longing for somewhere to cook (7)
KITCHENKEN (man’s name; chap) outside, “entertaining”, ITCH (longing).
11 Medic removing tip of tail from fish (7)
SURGEONStURGEON (fish), with the T, “tip of” Tail, removed.
12 Old male writer taking American passenger vehicle (7)
OMNIBUSO (old) M (male) NIB (writer) US (American).
15 Restoration we learn about (7)
RENEWAL – (we learn)* “about”.
18 Inspect an explosive device with former partner (7)
EXAMINEEX (former partner), A MINE (an explosive device).
20 Recklessly bid a lot for popular paper (7)
TABLOID – “Recklessly” (bid a lot)*.
22 Item in sports programme requiring level track, originally (5)
EVENTEVEN (level) and first letter of Track, “originally”.
23 Perspicacity unwelcome in performing musicians? (9)
SHARPNESS – Double definition, the second a cryptic hint.
24 Flight of geese identified by European in hide (5)
SKEINE (European) “in” SKIN (hide). Very neat surface playing on the other meaning of hide.
1 Conditions laid down for schoolkids’ work periods (5)
TERMS – Double definition
2 Civic dignitary planting tree on island (8)
ALDERMANALDER (tree) MAN (island).
3 Tool gardener finally wrapped in absorbent cloth (6)
TROWEL – gardeneR “finally” in TOWEL (absorbent cloth).
4 US city’s way to divide benefit (6)
BOSTONST (street; way) inside, “to divide”, BOON (benefit).
5 Well-to-do? That’s laughable! (4)
RICH – Double definition, the second as in “That’s rich”.
6 Fret in the past, brought up in south-east (7)
AGONISEAGO (in the past) IN “brought up” -> NI, SE (south-east).
8 Admit awareness of current learning (11)
ACKNOWLEDGEAC (Alterntating Current; current) KNOWLEDGE (learning).
13 Islanders keeping band in headquarters (8)
BALINESELINE (band) “in” BASE (headquarters).
14 Objection from pair initially on trial (7)
PROTESTPR (pair), “initially” On, TEST (trial).
16 Alarming exclamation from TV doctor before surgical procedures! (6)
WHOOPSWHO (TV doctor) OPS (operations; surgical procedures).
17 Embrace son beset by worries (6)
CARESSS (son) inside, “beset by”, CARES (worries).
19 Dined in college, according to report (5)
EATEN – Sounds like, “according to report”, ETON (college).
21 Sound made by donkey — or horse crossing river? (4)
BRAYBAY (horse) “crossing” R (river).

58 comments on “Times Quick Cryptic No 2049 by Orpheus”

  1. No real problem but held up a bit at the end by BALINESE (too many isles to choose from, and is a LINE really a band?) and LOI SKEIN which is a word I didn’t know (except in the sense of wool). So 11:40 for me.
  2. I didn’t know LOI SKEIN either. Biffed ACKNOWLEDGE. ‘US city’ tends to be LA or NY, and I started on that assumption, wasting some time. This is probably the first time that I’ve had a faster time than John, if only 1 second. 5:19.
  3. Top half flew in but the bottom was tricky. LOI was WHOOPS. That had taken a bit of staring at. When it finally came to me in my excitement I entered ‘whopsy’ ruining SHARPNESS in the process. I’d been pleased to get SHARPNESS too so it was doubly agonising. So a good strong 11m but with 2 errors. No chance of bothering yesteday’s pleasing, possibly best ever, ranking in the 120s.

    I’m still finding the 15×15 a big step up. Having done the QC and the Telegraph yesteday and with Monday’s hat-trick buoying my confidence, I then found I couldn’t even start the 15×15. I’m discovering the benefits of the this site anew.

    Edited at 2022-01-14 06:14 am (UTC)

    1. I’m also struggling with the move to the 15×15. I tend to check the crossword snitch each day. If it’s under 90, it’s definitely worth a try. Anything over 100 is beyond me!

      1. A friend at Caythorpe tends to think The Crossword Snitch is closely allied to Mensa’s Intelligence Quotient!

        Edited at 2022-01-14 03:00 pm (UTC)

    2. We’re also finding the 15×15 a big step up — in terms of the complexity of the clueing and general knowledge. We were using the SNITCH to identify easier puzzles but, only this week, have decided to have a go at all of them. When we fail to get a toehold we cheat and Google the answer to 1A — this helps us get the ball rolling. On completion we always revert to the Blog to help us understand our biffs.

      Steed has just reminded me that we used this process when we started doing the QC (without the SNITCH of course) and it was a big help but not an overnight success.

      We feel that our 15×15 journey will be a long one…..

        1. Can anyone tell me how I find out what the Snitch is for any given 15×15 crossword please? And does the QC have snitches?

          Many thanks

          1. Just click on the relevant link here. Current crosswords are at the top but you can scroll down to the archive. Each SNITCH post has links to the crossword and the blog of it.

            Edited at 2022-01-14 12:32 pm (UTC)

  4. 7 minutes, held up at the end by SHARPNESS and BALINESE. Like Paul I had misgivings about ‘band = line’ but then saw it as confirmed by Lexico: band – a stripe, line, or elongated area of a different colour, texture, or composition from its surroundings.

    ‘a long, narrow band of cloud’.

    Speaking of anniversaries and milestones, for those who didn’t see it, the Crossword Editor, Richard Rogan who sets QC’s as ‘Felix’, posted that yesterday’s puzzle marked his 200th Quick Cryptic, hence the numerous appearances of ‘CC’ throughout the grid. It was also his 1000th puzzle of all types set for The Times which explains the appearance of the word THOUSANDTH. As mentioned by me early yesterday, ‘Felix’ has 61 QC’s to his name but the editor also sets for us under several other pseudonyms including Des, Oran, Marty, Kenny and Rodney, all first names of managers of Coleraine FC of whom RR is an avid supporter. He must use other names too as the total of QC’s set by them all is 110 by my reckoning, leaving another 90 unaccounted for at the moment.

    This is Orpheus’s 188th QC so he is due to attain his own 200th a little later this year. He achieved his 2000th Times puzzle on 23 September 2020.

    Edited at 2022-01-14 06:58 am (UTC)

    1. I find it quite incredulous that Orpheus & Co. can celebrate their landmark achievements, yet The Times does not allow their names to appear alongside their 15×15 puzzles. Utterly ridicerous!
      Sorry Mr. Picasso, please do not sign your masterpieces! Meldrew

      Edited at 2022-01-14 09:16 am (UTC)

      1. Equally frustrating that QCers who use the digital edition are not shown the name of the compiler.
  5. Thanks for the explanation of yesterdays CCs. Glad it was figured out – it had to be something special.

    8 mins for me today – couldn’t have gone faster and only BALINESE really slowed me down as I jumped around the grid.

    Like Mendesest above I am finding the step up from QC to 15×15 a tough test with the occasional shaft of light. These Blogs are a lifesaver and provide great entertainment and enlightenment.

    Onwards and upwards (and across and down).

    Thanks Orpheus and John – and all contributors

  6. Like Mendesest, I found the top half pretty straightforward but ground to a halt at the bottom. I was very slow to see the anagram for tabloid, and then thought 24 A may be sightread. I also stalled on Balinese. Once I got tabloid and caress it all fell into place in 17 mins.

    Congratulations to Orpheus on reaching such a milestone. I always find his puzzles well pitched for this level. Thanks for the blog John.

    FOI Toast
    LOI Whoops
    COD Sharpness

  7. I could not finish this one. Was unable to answer 23a or 6d. Other than that I was doing very well with this one. Had I been able to answer these two quickly, it would have been a sub-20 minute solve.
  8. I solved this on my phone while sitting in a strange machine hurtling at enormous speeds into a far distant city called London. This “commuting” thing will never catch on.

    Fun puzzle which seemed a little easier than of late! Thanks for the stats on Orpheus and Felix, Jack.

    FOI TOAST, LOI AGONISED, COD SHARPNESS, time 07:42 for 1.5K and a Very Good Day.

    Many thanks Orpheus and John.


    PS on edit, did anyone hesitate over SURGEON? Since there is a surgeon fish (in fact a whole load of them) I thought that “fish” was the definition and struggled to make the rest of it make sense until I saw “sturgeon” and the penny dropped.

    Edited at 2022-01-14 11:01 am (UTC)

  9. Sped through this in a top to bottom solve. The only minor pause was over LOI SKEIN, which I’d heard of but assumed it was speak with a double E. Fortunately trying to parse it took me to the correct spelling.
    I thought that Orpheus was kind by specifying TV Dr in WHOOPS or I’d have spent time running through the various MOs, MDs, DRs etc, as I have done in the past.
    Finished in 5.31 with my favourite being SHARPNESS.
    Thanks to John
  10. Appear to be weakness in these parts. A SKEIN of geese Is well known to twitchers, shooters and those who indulge ‘Nature Watch’ etc. 24ac my WOD.

    FOI 1ac TOAST

    LOI 3dn TROWEL

    COD 21ac TABLOID

    This afternoon I was on the 17.30 OMNIBUS which stopped everywhere from BOSTON to ETON College.

    On edit I note that PW is on the up — but still missing a bit of sharpness and dragon eyes!

    Edited at 2022-01-14 09:07 am (UTC)

    1. I particular like the collective nouns ‘a coalition of cheetahs’ which is how I used to refer to the Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition of 2010 and ‘a crash of rhinos’ for the imagery.
  11. But actually managed to complete this in 32 minutes.
    I spent far too long not entering Kitchen — only understood parsing from the blog.
    Reasoning also took too long — overthinking.
    I initially spelt Bray as Brey in a moment of carelessness which added five minutes of confusion finding Sharpness (NHO perspicacity).
    Very pleased to get Skein (another NHO) — just spotting Skin in time before almost conceding…
    Generally difficult today but I found it satisfactory. (Apart from Boston at 4d)
    Thanks all
    John George
    1. Likewise re: Orpheus. Since starting these QCs, my overall score vs this setter is 21-18. I find Joker and Teazel similarly taxing, but Orpheus heads my list at the moment.
  12. Found this to be just right and settled into my usual corner bang on time.
    FOI TOAST immediately followed by TERMS for a ring of confidence.
    Amused to see how many different ways there are to squeeze Eton into the puzzle. My alma mater rarely gets a mention and then it’s for its more well known association.
    LOI SHARPNESS. Thanks Orpheus and John
    1. My old school – on the other side of the Thames (as well as the tracks) from Eton – will never get a mention, that’s for sure 😂
      1. I share your disappointment; mine was on the same hill as Harrow, only a few hundred yards away.
        1. 😅 Mind you, my school had a lot more letters in its name. No use for crosswords though!
  13. Like others, the top half filled quickly and straightforwardly with only AGONISE causing a short pause. However, my progress became patchy in the lower half. Good clues meant that all were solvable and I was relieved when I finally dredged up SKEIN from my memory. BALINESE took ages, though and was my LOI. I finished a minute under target, all parsed.
    A very good puzzle — a fine QC with a good mix of accessible and thought-provoking clues. I especially liked ACKNOWLEDGE and WHOOPS. Many thanks to Orpheus for his imagination and rigour. Gratitude to John, too, for his usual vg blog, especially for SHARPNESS where I was looking for an answer involving harp/harpists rather than a straightforward dd. John M.

    Edited at 2022-01-14 09:37 am (UTC)

  14. Lovely puzzle on which to end the week. It’s no real problems we finished in 9 minutes.

    COD: for making us smile on this frosty Friday — WHOOPS AND RICH

    Congratulations on your golden anniversary Orpheus.

    Thanks for the blog John.

  15. I agree this was a good puzzle – thanks Orpheus and John. Skein was LOI for me too – quite deeply buried in my knowledge bank!
  16. Another who raced through the top half, then slowed a bit. TOAST was FOI and SHARPNESS held me up slightly at the end. BALINESE needed the checkers. 6:41. Thanks Orpheus and John.
  17. All fairly straightforward, apart from SHARPNESS. I had all the checking letters, but needed two coffees and a shower before it came to me.
    I have only heard ‘perspicacity’ used once, by George Robertson MP, being oily with Saddam Hussein, a long time ago.
    Many thanks for puzzle and blog.
  18. Done in 32 mins and although I had some doubts about my guesses, the ‘line’ in Balinese and sharpness they proved to be correct. Always happy just to complete, thanks setter and blogger.
  19. A bit easier today. I solve on paper, and had finished in thirteen minutes, but was unsure about a couple so I entered my effort into the grid and was pretty amazed to find it was right. FOI toast, but then some way before another – surgeon – occurred. Discipline to the wind, I solved all over the grid and ended up with 20 on first pass. LO’sI Boston and Balinese, both biffed. Liked all the clues. Did not see the Isle of Man, or alternating current. Thanks, John, for clearing all this up, and for the blog. Congratulations to Orpheus on the milestone, and thanks for all the challenges.
  20. And my first ever clean sweep!

    I thought 23a might need to wait for some checkers but then the penny dropped and the rest went in with barely a pause. Funny to think that only a year or two ago I considered 20 mins a good time – maybe all these lockdowns have sharpened my brain.

    Thanks for the blog and thanks jackkt for the info on RR.

    1. Congratulations on the clean sweep. I haven’t managed one for some considerable time — I may be tempted to deliberately try for one next week, and allow my speed-solving to lapse for a while.
  21. 11 minutes on paper today; held up at the end by BALINESE (the hardest clue today IMO) and SHARPNESS, which was LOI because I had written WHOOOP and it took me a while to spot my error. Whoops!
    LOts of nice clues and a well-balanced puzzle. COD to OMNIBUS.
    And congratulations to Orpheus on this milestone. Another thousandth after yesterday.
  22. Like nearly everyone else, I raced through the top half only to come to a halt several times when working lower down. Not helped by being unsure about the meaning of perspicacity, and couldn’t quite see how Eat-in worked as a homophone… but it was Balinese that took forever. All sorted out in the end, for a 23min (fully parsed, Mr R) solve with CoD to the pdm parsing 23ac, Sharpness. Invariant
    Congrats to Orpheus and Richard Rogan.
    Thanks to John.
  24. … and entirely doable, a super QC which took me just over 7 minutes. Largely a rotational solve — I started with the NW corner, then the NE, then the SE before finishing in the SW, ending with LOI 14D protest, only because it was the last one I looked at.

    Nice to see Boston as the US city not the more usual suspects. I worked for a company whose head office was in Boston for 13 years and made many a trip there; it is a very pleasant city on the coast, and one of the few places in the United States that you can still see emblems of Britain’s former colonial rule, as the Old State House building still has statues of the Lion and the Unicorn prominently displayed.

    Many thanks John for the blog, and Phil in anticipation for the Saturday Special.

  25. 11:24. Felt like a good run, with LOI CARESS/EVENT. I had heard SKEIN but was not sure of the spelling. And the useless rule “I before e except after e” proved again to have way more exceptions than agreements.


    My 15×15 journey is similar, I try a couple early in the week when they are known to be easier. Can complete maybe one, in the allocated time of 1 hour. Blog and snitch invaluable. For an intermediate step, I like the Cryptic Jumbo on a Saturday, long definitions eventually fall as the many checkers appear.

    Well done to Felix in combining double Cs with one THOUSANDTH yesterday. In the light of such genius I feel bedimmed.

    1. You missed out the rather important last part of the rule – “when the sound is E”. Skein is pronounced “skayn”, so this is not an exception to the rule but an example of it!
  26. Easier than recent puzzles giving me a time of 11 mins fully parsed. Solved more than usual on a first run-through leaving relatively few for a second look and most of those fell quickly as there were a lot of checkers in by then. Good puzzle – thanks to Orpheus and to John.

    FOI – 1ac TOAST
    LOI – 23ac SHARPNESS
    COD – 12ac OMNIBUS

  27. ….but MER at the clue for EATEN. ‘Dined’ would be ‘ate’, but EATEN is properly ‘having dined’.

    TIME 3:35

  28. Drat! I think I got so excited about being able to complete a QC within my target of 9 mins that I failed to check the spellings and ended up with a pink square in ACKNOeLEDGE. Perhaps this is payback for not understanding the word ‘perspicacity’. SHARPNESS was my LOI and went in from the checkers. No problem with SKEIN though. 7:55 with a rare for me typo.

    Edited at 2022-01-14 12:57 pm (UTC)

  29. This was my second fastest Orpheus ever. I have broken 30 minutes with him only once since I started in June 2020, but my time today was smack on 39 minutes. Also, it would have been 7 minutes quicker if I had known the meaning perspicacity (perspicaciousness?).

    I didn’t really like LINE for band, and I never fully parsed PROTEST. However, I am very pleased with the outcome.

    Mrs Random crossed the line in 26 minutes, although she was held up for a while by BALINESE, EXAMINE and CARESS.

    Many thanks to Orpheus and John.

  30. I also fairly flew through this in 8 minutes, then spent 2 on my LOI BALINESE. But I must admit to a bit of biffing – I didn’t parse ACKNOWLEDGE at all and SHARPNESS confused me as I didn’t lift and separate the right parts 😕
    A group of friends and I once designed a quiz based on collective nouns for birds – some are quite curious, some delightful: eg a mural of buntings, a gallup of redpolls, a bazaar of guillemots and an ostentation of peacocks for starters. I wonder what the collective noun for a group of crossword setters might be – especially a subset which is celebrating some milestone or other 😊
    FOI Toast
    LOI Balinese
    COD Tabloid
    Thanks and a TOAST to Orpheus, and thanks too to John
  31. Probably should have done this quicker but got distracted — in the end came in at 25 mins.

    FOI — 9ac “Radio”
    LOI — 23ac “Sharpness” — thought at first it had something to do with sweating 😅
    COD — 16dn “Whoops”

    As far as 19dn is concerned, the less I hear about that establishment the better.

    Thanks as usual and congrats to Orpheus for 50 years!

    Edited at 2022-01-14 02:48 pm (UTC)

  32. Pretty straightforward – LOI Eaten but it was surely ‘ate’ at 19d, for all of those who hated school. COD 13dn Balinese. WOD 12ac Omnibus.
  33. Interrupted by a long phone call which slowed us down. Otherwise steady progress which was not helped by bunging in reckoning for 7ac and eyor as hidden for 21d. Careless. Nice puzzle though.
  34. though I doubt it was my Sharpness, but I loved this clever clue. Complete in 24 min a GN5 like yesterday. Praise for long service by Orpheus and helpful entries by everyone every day. An idle challenge, write a sentence using all the answers to the clues, never tried it but you could get quite a long way with the words in the crossword today.
  35. Firstly thanks to all our setters but especially those celebrating anniversaries
    Great set of clues but best of all whoops
  36. This was a bit of a roller coaster for me. First it seemed easy, then it got a bit trickier, then it seemed easy again, before my last two (SHARPNESS and CARESS) took a while. I finally stopped my watch on 23:47. However, I have just found I forgot to come back to 5d, for which I had put in the not very satisfactory HIGH, so it’s now a DNF. Oh well, thanks anyway Orpheus and congratulations on the 50 years, and thanks John.
  37. Wow, the top half flew in no problems, record time under threat. Then the bottom half proved interminable. Finally limped home with SKEIN and BALINESE over 5 minutes over target.
  38. Work meant I was only able to attempt this QC today. The delay was worth it. Great challenge to end the week.


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