Times Quick Cryptic No 2059 by Alfie

When I saw Alfie’s name at the top of today’s crossword I thought, “We could be in for some alphabetical fun here”… and I wasn’t disappointed. You shouldn’t have found it difficult to see the theme and I had spotted it after doing just 1A and 5A… but then was thrown when 10A didn’t start like I thought it might. As for the clues – largely great QC fare, but I didn’t know the word at 24A, had trouble remembering how to spell 10D and took a while to see 19D. No time recorded but it was certainly quite a bit more than my average. COD to the clever 12D. Thanks Alfie for the entertainment and impressively worked theme. How did everyone else get on? [Edit: A number of commenters have mistakenly referred to a Nina, but that is not what we have here, it’s a theme. A Nina is a hidden word or phrase in the grid, usually created by joining unchecked letters. A theme, on the other hand, is where there are a number of answers which have something in common].

Fortnightly Weekend Quick Cryptic. This time it is Sawbill’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 Reduce length of a card game (7)
ABRIDGEA BRIDGE (card game).
5 Arrive shortly to seize doctor’s computer drive (2,3)
CD ROMCOMe (arrive) [shortly] outside, [to seize] DR (doctor).
8 Erased last trace of coffee, with decaff sent back (7)
EFFACED – Final letter of, [last trace of] coffeE, DECAFF [sent back] -> FFACED.
9 Spirit provided by good entertainer (5)
GHOSTG (good) HOST (entertainer).
10 Swiss painter king sheltered (4)
KLEEK (king) LEE (sheltered). Paul Klee. I do like his paintings. I got stuck here for a while trying to find a word starting with IJ, but how mainy painters names do you know starting with IJ… or any other 4 letter word for that matter?. As for our painter, I remember my Art teacher at school referring to him as “Foul Play”.
This is his “Around the Fish” from 1926.
11 More unwholesome food in front of funeral platform (8)
GRUBBIERGRUB (food) BIER (funeral platform). Oh. Where did the theme go?
14 Stand round day after journey (6)
TRIPODO (circular letter; round) D (day) [after] TRIP (journey).
15 Bloomer, feeding caribou’s tail to dangerous reptiles (6)
CROCUS – Last letter of cariboU [‘s tail] in CROCS (dangerous reptiles)
17 It helps to remember conmen I’m messing around (8)
MNEMONIC – (conmen I’m)* [messing around]. Aha. We’re back on theme with a great word.
18 Work required in shop, usually (4)
OPUS – Hidden in, [in] shOP USually.
20 Back Rex, for example, in African country (5)
NIGER – Reverse [back] R (Rex) E.G. (for example) IN -> NIGER.
22 Bust by Laurens, initially awfully rough around the chin? (7)
STUBBLY – (bust by L)*, Laurens [initially], [awfully].
24 Suave UCL man periodically appearing in a flap (5)
UVULA – Alternate letters, [periodically] of sUaVe UcL mAn. I didn’t know this word. Did you? “The uvula is the teardrop-shaped piece of soft tissue that hangs down the back of your throat. It’s made from connective tissue, saliva-producing glands, and some muscle tissue. When you eat, your soft palate and uvula prevent foods and liquids from going up your nose.
25 Yankee with no euro to change? I accept the terms! (5,2)
YOU’RE ONY (Yankee in the NATO phonetic alphabet), (no euro)* [to change]. Don’t get thrown by apostrophes, by convention they are not shown in the enumeration of the clue. You didn’t seriosly expect to see a word starting WX or YZ, did you?
1 Expert, one in a suit (3)
ACE – Double definition and a neat surface.
2 Describing oneself maybe as fixer, lever mostly repaired (9)
REFLEXIVE – (fixer lever)* [mostly] [repaired]. Myself and Ourselves are both also reflexive pronouns.
3 Prune weed (4)
DOCK – Double definition. Of course a dock is only a weed if you are not growing it deliberately, e.g. for soothing nettle stings.
4 Stand shaking under bottom of gable (6)
ENDURE – (under)* [shaking], and last letter [bottom] of gablE.
5 Lifting some cracked rib, eg accounts for pet budgie, say (4-4)
CAGE-BIRD – Reverse hidden [lifting some] crakeD RIB EG ACcounts -> CAGE BIRD. A little tricky that one, I think.
6 City having foremost of roles in Olympics (3)
RIO – Initial letters, [foremost], of Roles In Olympics…. especially in 2016.
7 Riots most awkward for people in cars (9)
MOTORISTS – (riots most)* [awkward]. Riots caused by road rage, perhaps?
10 Girl and daughter in football team in Himalayan city (9)
KATHMANDU – I struggled to remember how this is spelt. It is KATH (girl), D (daughter) [in] MAN U (Manchester United; football team).
12 Not up to it — except when wearing headgear? (9)
INCAPABLE – But up to it when.. IN CAP is ABLE. Nice one.
13 Exotic agora: one place you can’t enter (2-2,4)
NO-GO AREA – (agora one)* [exotic].
16 Shame about Grammar School being such a dirty place! (6)
PIGSTYPITY (shame) [about] GS (Grammar School). Another fun surface.
19 Minor carpeting upset university teacher (4)
GURU – This one had me foxed for a while. It’s RUG (minor carpeting) [upset] -> GUR, U (university).
21 Antelope never used to be picked up? (3)
GNU – Sounds like, [to be picked up] NEW (never used). It’s only recently, through a crossword of course, that I discovered I had been pronouncing the word wrong all these years, like Flanders and Swann (here). The G is actually silent!
23 Foreign money you no longer earn, finally (3)
YENYE (you no longer) earN [finally].

67 comments on “Times Quick Cryptic No 2059 by Alfie”

  1. I didn’t notice the Nina, and it wouldn’t have helped if I had. I biffed INCAPABLE, parsed post-submission, and YEN, never bothered to parse; I’d originally flung in STUBBLE, which slowed me down. And not knowing how to spell KATHMANDU slowed me down a bunch.
    The ‘r’ in French and German is a uvular fricative; the ‘q’ of Qatar and Iraq is a uvular stop, like [k] but with the tongue further back; the ‘n’ at the end of Japanese words (like *nihon* ‘Japan’) is a uvular nasal [N]. 7:42.
  2. A nice puzzle completed in 9 minutes. I lost a little time over the spelling of KATHMANDU as I’d forgotten about its H. We’ve had MANU quite a lot recently but not perhaps in the QC. No problems with UVULA as a word I seem to have known forever
  3. All done and dusted in 27 including parsing all but NIGER which went in on definition.
    NHO the Swiss painter but wordplay and checking letters sorted that. Some others also required trusting in wordplay which is the bit I enjoy. I also make notes above each clue to compare with the duty blogger as I go.
    FOI: ACE

    I too didn’t notice the Nina.

  4. Just over 20 with no typos for a change. Caught out by a well disguised anagram again — argue to auger yesterday and under to most of endure today. Dismissed GNU because I seem to have been saying to wrong forever (I don’t have to say it much but if I do I’m not changing). Enjoyed finally seeing GURU, for that I’ll forgive a nina.
        1. Yes really! Chambers says: /noo, nū or (humorous) gnoo/. Who would have guessed Flanders and Swann were being humorous? As I said in the blog, it was only from a previous crossword I discovered I had been pronouncing it wrong.

          Edited at 2022-01-28 11:22 am (UTC)

          1. Really! I like many, many others prefer the humorous version. Like yourself we may have been misled by English Dictionaries such as Chambers, who had no way of dealing with the Hottentot ‘click’ in t’gnu. And so it became ‘noo’ which is a corruption and sounds nothing like the original. Richard Stallman who developed the GNU O.S. insists the ‘g’ is hard! GNU/Linux with the ‘hard G’ is now used by millions and is sometimes incorrectly called simply ‘Linux’.

            The good noos — English is a very fluid lagnuage!

            Edited at 2022-01-28 12:15 pm (UTC)

  5. Enjoyed this … especially KATHMANDU. The NINA is clever. I was expecting the word SYZYGY to appear somewhere near the bottom.

    Thanks John and team for posting my Weekend QC. To everyone on this site, please let me know how you get on. Spoiler alert … the word SYZYGY does not appear.

  6. I thought this was going to be a very fast one but then got bogged down in the bottom half. I also thought gnu was pronounced a la Flanders and Swann so needed the crossers to get it. I did know uvula although it took some time coming. Apparently my 9 year old has a well developed uvula so can roll her rs in an odd way and make a sound at the back of her throat. We don’t use it in English but some languages like German and Hindi have sounds used making the uvula.
    I didn’t spot the Nina which may have helped. It would be good to have the name of the setter on the digital site.

    FOI Abridge
    LOI guru
    COD uvula

    Edited at 2022-01-28 08:40 am (UTC)

  7. I remember the UVULA well from a Ladybird Book of the Human Body in my childhood; it had a spectacular drawing of the mouth, all parts labelled, and the uvula hanging like a glistening pink bell. No wonder my sister became a dentist.

    I was on for a fast time with only the NHO Swiss painter evading first pass of the acrosses (I knew we’d had him before … aarrggh…) but then I couldn’t spell KATHMANDU and it took me at least three goes to get the Ms and Ns in the right places in MNEMONIC.

    FOI ABRIDGE, LOI KLEE, COD (lots of contenders) INCAPABLE, time 08:33 for 1.1K and an Excellent Day. I missed the theme, of course.

    Many thanks Alfie and John. Looking forward to the Saturday Special!


    1. As someone who paints, I can attest that the majority of illustrations and paintings in the Ladybird books were incredibly good.
  8. … and didn’t much enjoy this. My actual downfall was 4D Endure, where I completely misunderstood how the clue worked and after a few minutes of getting nowhere, left blank. On another day I might have worked at it a bit longer, but as by then I had biffed 5D Cage-bird without parsing it (very clever hidden, too clever for me), mispronounced 21D Gnu (like I suspect nearly everyone I pronounce the G), mis-spelt 10D Kathmandu (forgot the H), and had to resort to aids to find 10A Klee (NHO) I was already 4 down with 3 to play and rather threw in the towel.

    NINAs divide people, and I know some people find them very clever. I find them frustrating, because they lead setters to use obscure words, in this case a Swiss painter born in the mid Victorian era who I am sure I am going to be told is very famous and a household name, but who I don’t think ought to be required knowledge to complete a QC 100 years after his heyday! In this case the NINA didn’t even work — Alfie started it but could not finish it — so from me he does not even receive a minor plaudit for a well-executed ploy. Absent the NINA he could have clued 10A K-E- as “Chicken capital of Europe?” with the answer Kiev, and we would all have been much happier.

    Friday grumble over! And at least there is the latest Saturday Special to look forward to. And one thing I know is that this will be a fair puzzle with no obscure painters or other convoluted answers to trip us up.

    Many thanks to John for the blog and a good weekend to all

    1. Klee was born 2 years before (or was it after? I’ve already forgotten) Picasso. He’s very famous, if not anywhere near as famous as Picasso. There are, actually, quite a few famous people whose heyday was in a time before the 20th century.
      1. Back in 1971 I spent two weeks in the Hartz Mountains working with photographer Tomas Klee, the son of Paul Klee. It was the only time I witnessed it ‘raining frogs’! In the world of art Klee is highly influential, but not likely to be seen in the Ladybird Books which are an art-form in themselves.
        1. Thank you. Fascinating and stunning. Had never heard of either the Hartz or Harz mountains. I will keep my eyes open for a pademelon popping up in crosswordland in the future.
  9. Slow and steady, so what’s noo.
    Missed the Nina, sadly no setter name shown on the App, but much admired in retrospect. No real challenges and settled into my corner chair in 39 mins.
    FYI The uvula is sometimes removed (uvulectomy) in loud snorers with sleep apnoea.
    LOI REFLEXIVE. Thanks Alfie and John
    1. You say apnoea, I say apnea: apnoea, apnea, apnoea, apnea, but then I have an American doctor.
  10. 23 mins for me, although after 5 minutes of not getting anything I was starting to wonder whether it was going to be one of those days. In hindsight, none of the answers were too tricky, but Alfie’s clueing certainly kept me on my toes.

    21dn “Gnu”, 25ac “You’re On” and 10dn “Kathmandu” all led to hesitation (the latter also to do with the spelling).

    Does anyone still use CD-Rom’s? Always remember inserting my Microsoft Encarta into my tower PC and being amazed by the small video clips and images — seems almost archaic now.

    FOI — 5ac “CD Rom”
    LOI — 11ac “Grubbier”
    COD — 10dn “Kathmandu”

    Thanks as usual!

  11. DNF in seventeen minutes with no chance of getting the one letter I was missing as I had stubble, not stubbly. E?N for a currency – alphabet trawl to nothing, so DNF. Did not know Paul Klee was Swiss. A strange mix of write-in and erudition. You can spell Kat(h)mandu how you like since it is written in another script and we are transcribing it into ours. COD reflexive. Missed the Nina, as usual. Thanks, John, and Alfie.
  12. 50+ mins for a DNF. If you don’t know your 4-letter Swiss painters, you don’t know them and have to be good on your wordplay. And if you can’t spell MNEMONIC …

    The joy of my learner’s journey saw me beginning to make silly errors putting in STUBBLE without checking the anagram letters as well as diving in with BIRDCAGE, NO-GO ZONE and REFERENCE.

    Pleased to get GURU quickly, remembering UVULA and for persevering for an extra 20-mins to dig out GRUBBIER, TRIPOD, REFLEXIVE, CROCUS, INCAPABLE, OPUS.

    FOI ABRIDGE, COD KATHMANDU (mainly because I was sure I didn’t know any Himalayan cities until ManU appeared)

    1. Welcome L_plates. Good to see you are up and running. Plenty of guidance here before you go solo.
      Did you have to negotiate a provisional licence from horryd I wonder.
  13. Just inside target today at a few seconds under 15 minutes, so I am happily returned to normality after being soundly thrashed by Teazel yesterday. Oldblighter isn’t here yet, so looking forward to seeing how he got on. As soon as I saw Alfie’s name I was on the lookout for an alphabet theme, and he didn’t disappoint, but I didn’t actually spot it until I had nearly completed the grid, so it didn’t help.

    LOI KLEE the unknown painter, but with the checkers available it was an easy guess. Otherwise, my only real delay was choosing between KATE and KATH as the girl in KATHMANDU, and KATH was the clear favourite. I like the word MNEMONIC!

    Thanks Alfie and John

  14. 25 mins that felt longer, but an engaging puzzle. A few write-ins, but a lot that needed some cell activity that isn’t my forte first thing. Missed the Nina, which would have helped a lot with CD-ROM and KLEE particularly.
    I was puzzled by GNU, so thanks for the explanation. Once I had G?U it had to be!
    Several words had to be dredged from the back of the mind, especially UVULA, but the clueing was helpful and fair throughout and saw me through.
  15. Various tricky clues, nearly forgot Paul KLEE, biffed GURU (LOI) and only dimly remembered UVULA. And also struggled to remember how to spell MNEMONIC!

    The clever NINA passed me by too. Pity as the puzzle wd have been a bit easier in parts.
    FOsI ABRIDGE, ACE. Fortunately I had enough crossers to help spell KATHMANDU.
    Thanks all, esp John

  16. 17:38 today; LOI ENDURE which took several looks.
    Like Kevin, I had STUBBLE ( and was trying to justify ECU) and couldn’t spell KATHMANDU. As POI was TRIPOD I did not have the T in place. Khatmandu or Katmandu seemed more likely somehow.
    I completely failed to see the nina but enjoyed this rather quirky puzzle.
  17. As usual, I missed the theme, but wasn’t particularly slowed by it. ACE was FOI and KLEE brought up the rear. 7:55. Thanks Alfie and John.

    Edited at 2022-01-28 11:35 am (UTC)

  18. Time not a lot better than yesterday at 27 mins. This was tricky I thought. Several answers biffed, so I was happy to come here and be enlightened by John. I was confidently writing in Katmandu only to find it didn’t fit, leading to a bit of a hiatus. Didn’t think I knew any Swiss painters but once I had k-e- I was able to dredge up Klee from somewhere in the subconscious. Knew uvula and mnemonic, so no problems there. A fine puzzle on which I think I should have done better.

    FOI – 1ac ABRIDGE
    LOI – 4dn ENDURE
    COD – 12dn INCAPABLE

    Thanks to Alfie and John

  19. ….into the puzzle gave Alfie great pleasure, but, as usual, it was wasted on me. For once, it didn’t really spoil the puzzle. I knew Paul Klee (pronounced as in Cassius Clay).

    My attempt at a top-to-bottom solve foundered at TRIPOD, and I was another who entered ‘stubble’, that being the cause of my LOI.

    TIME 4:51

  20. NHO KLEE so DNF. The rest went in fairly readily, although a couple needed some thinking about – like the spelling of KATHMANDU and GURU.
  21. The world of art and artists is rather badly represented hereabouts. I can recommend a fine exhibition on at Somerset House presently. I have recently viewed Dutch, French, Japanese and Chinese impressionist shows in Shanghai and Kyoto. And Bob Dylan’s metalworks in Pudong!

    The most entertaining free art shows are held weekly at auction houses, all over Britain. But do please wear a masque!


    LOI 5ac CD-ROM tsk!


    WOD 10ac KLEE

    But 17 lethargic minutes.

    Edited at 2022-01-28 12:28 pm (UTC)

  22. I must have taken nearly as long over my last three (Klee, Endure and Guru in that order) as the rest of the puzzle. I only vaguely remembered that Alfie was one of our ‘special’ setters and in any case completely missed the Nina, even though I thought Klee was a bit of a stretch for a QC. Stopped the clock just north of 25mins with Niger stubbornly resisting my parsing efforts. CoD to my distant cousin, 12d, Incapable. Invariant
    1. I’ve updated the introduction to add “A number of commenters have mistakenly referred to a Nina, but that is not what we have here, it’s a theme. A Nina is a hidden word or phrase in the grid, usually created by joining unchecked letters. A theme, on the other hand, is where there are a number of answers which have something in common” . The theme here is words that start with consecutive letters of the alphabet. Alfie has cleverly included them in the grid in alphabetical order. There are no words that start IJ, WX or YZ (although there is QR CODE) so it was never going to be possible to use the entire alphabet. That, to my mind, does in no way make the theme not worth it.

      Edited at 2022-01-28 02:14 pm (UTC)

  23. All done in about 5 except for ?U?U.

    Gawped at it for about 3 1/2 minutes, bunged in TUTU in a huff and submitted.

    Well done Alfie for bamboozling this solver with “Minor carpeting upset” = GUR. Doesn’t look like anyone else had the same problem!!

    Obvs missed the theme/NINA.


    1. I didn’t even see Rug until revealed in the blog, just biffed GURU as it seemed more likely than Tutu.
  24. … but it required quite a struggle. I finished in 40 minutes, but the final 18-19 minutes or so were spent on my last four clues – INCAPABLE, GRUBBIER, KLEE and ENDURE.

    I found INCAPABLE difficult because … well, I’m just incapable. I had never heard of the funeral platform. Nor had I heard of the “very famous” (as someone said, above) Swiss artist – Not around here, he isn’t! My LOI (ENDURE) held out for so long because I didn’t spot that it was mainly an anagram.

    So, the normal process continues, here at the Random’s. No doubt Mrs R will return from her lunch-out with a friend and knock it off in no time.

    many thanks to Alfie and John.

  25. Stumbled at the end, convinced that 2d was going to start REFER… which made the unknown painter even more difficult to work out. I also spent time looking at the wrong end of the clue for TRIPOD and almost forgot to answer LOI GURU. All considered I’m quite happy with finishing in 11.10, even though it was over target.
    Thanks to John
  26. A pig of a puzzle. For me not enjoyable. But you need some hard ones and this was certainly right at the top end of difficulty.
  27. Started late after half a day in the car. Generally OK but, like others, I began to get the feeling that things were being forced — yes another ruddy nina. Why oh why? I wish setters would avoid them.
    Anyway, I was within target by a over minute but ended up with a dnf because I answered 11a as CRAB (food) and BIER making CRABBIER for ‘more unwholesome’. Is that such a terrible answer? Thanks, John. John M.
  28. Really enjoyed this puzzle — got our little grey cells working. We were a little slow at 16 minutes but pleased to complete it. As usual, we completely missed the theme…


    Thanks John and Alfie.

  29. I think I’d call that a Nina to be honest 🙂

    Plainly when you have an idea like that you realise instantly that it’s not going to work all the way through so it was just a question of doing the ones that work ..

  30. The Uvula, The Gnu, and no P in queue (or Y in Japanese currency). By the way from early schooldays I remember P G Wodehouse’s comic poem about the Gnu, maybe it was satire at the time, not quite PC now … Good Gnu, which is no help with our pronunciation! My Guru came in at the end, all parsed and solved, 25 min and back to a GN5. Thanks to Alfie and today’s encyclopaedic blogs for a bonus.
  31. This little piggy took me 8:23 mins. COD CD-ROM. WOD KLEE.
    Is Dandelion and Burdock the drink for weeds?
  32. All correct bar Kattmandu- and I didn’t spot the theme. Ah well.
    Another week beckons!
  33. Back home so on paper again – definitely my preferred medium, but less exact on the times! So 11 minutes approx for this one. As soon as I saw Alfie’s name, I knew we were in for a theme, but I’d forgotten what it might be – of course, it’s always alphabetical with this setter! I didn’t bother to look until afterwards though.
    No problem with KLEE’s name although I’m not very familiar with his work – as a new member of a U3A art appreciation group, perhaps I’d better get learning 😅
    I liked REFLEXIVE and INCAPABLE, and PIGSTY really made me chuckle. Despite getting INCAPABLE here, I struggled with a similar word when tackling the biggie today!
    FOI Ace – just saw it as it came out of the printer!
    LOI – Endure – I tried for ages to find something meaning shaking to pop under the E
    COD Rio – for its super surface
    Thanks Alfie and John
  34. Oh so easy, apart from STUBBLY, couldn’t see why it wasn’t STUBBLE until I had YEN. Alas, a DNF due to a spelling error, put KLEE.
  35. I would like to think my knowledge of natural history is better than most, but I confess I have always pronounced the G of GNU. I am therefore very thankful to Alfie for putting an end to this particular ignorance. As for the rest, trickier than usual, but not as tough for me as yesterday’s DNF. Final time:30:41. LOI ENDURE, COD to PIGSTY. Thanks again Alfie and John.
  36. A pig of a puzzle. For me not enjoyable. But you need some hard ones and this was certainly right at the top end of difficulty.
  37. Proud of myself for working out Klee (never heard of him) but misspelt Kathmandu and put stubble rather than stubbly. Still v enjoyable.

    Gary A

  38. Finished correctly.
    Worked on this all day on and off (total time 55 mins.)
    Very tough I thought.
    I liked the ‘KLEE’ clue – but I had not known that Paul Klee was born on Switzerland. His work is unique – influenced by Expressionism, Cubism and Surrealism. Very enigmatic.

    Perhaps Orson Welles’ quote about the dullness of the Swiss is wrong :
    “In Switzerland, they had brotherly love, they had five hundred years of democracy and peace – and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock. “

    Have a good weekend, all.

  39. Would have been a vg time but turns out I cant spell that one that’s got lots of ms and ns.

    Incredibly — but also typically — the theme completely passed me by

    Mrs D is a great fan of Klee (there’s a picture in the Tate Modern of ships she did an essay on once) so that helped

    The reversed rug was a moment of inspiration but I had had caffeine so a double helping of help this morning 🙂

    Thanks all

  40. Thoroughly enjoyed this QC which I managed in 14:18 which means that from my point of view it is set just right. Thank you for providing it, Sawbill! MM
  41. 10D reminds me of Mad Carew, who famously and very unwisely stole a green eye from the little yellow God, to the North of Kathmandu (ie Nepal), to give to his lady love, the Colonel’s daughter, in the 1911 music hall monologue. My father, b. 1897, could, and often did, recite the whole poem. Carew came to a sticky end.

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