Times Quick Cryptic No 2079 by Alconiere

Now here’s a rarity – a Quick Crossword from the setter Alconiere, only his 11th, although he started in 2014, and his first since this one in May 2019. That crossword had a Nina so I was on the lookout… well have a look yourself before clicking on the link below to see what I found. As for the puzzle, I found it very enjoyable although slightly towards the harder end of diffculty, taking me 6:48. I liked the whimsical “Fabulous thing to get from a bottle” and “Something on a plate”, the flying drone and the clue for the African country best. Thank-you Alconiere! How did you all get on?

[What I found (click to open)]

Well, for a start, whilst you might think the setter’s pseudonym is a reference to the Hungarian painter Tivadar Alconiere, that’s just our setter-of-many-pseudonyms up to his tricks… the name happens also to be an anagram of “Coleraine”. And we have a Nina today around the outside of the puzzle “The Penzance Smash, Basher” (my comma)… a reference to the book by former Coleraine FC player Frankie Moffat – known a “Basher”, as described in this story in the Irish Times. Now who do we know is a Coleraine FC supporter? Sorry Richard – you’ve been rumbled!

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 anyone is interested in 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.

7 Help a son that’s lost outside US city (2,4)
EL PASO – hELP A SOn without the outside letters [lost outside].
8 Taking a chance, opens new clubs (2,4)
ON SPEC –  (Opens)* [new], C (Clubs).
9 Partially complete document initially coming in ninety minutes after noon? (4-4)
HALF-DONEDocument [initially] in HALF ONE (ninety minutes after noon).
10 East London college as an alternative (4)
ELSEE (east) L.S.E. (London School of Economics; London college).
11 Volunteer troops one commanded followed (6)
TAILEDT.A. (Territorial Army; volunteer troops) I (one) LED (commanded). The TA was renamed the Army Reserve in 2012, but the name is still recognised.
13 Info that is fabulous thing to get from bottle! (5)
GENIEGEN (info) I.E. (that is).
14 English firm concerned with the environment (3)
ECOE (English) CO (firm).
15 Something on a plate: it reflects to show wild animal (5)
TIGERREG ((vehicle) registration; something on a plate) IT reversed [reflects] -> TIGER.
17 Places for badges, round, almost 10 (6)
LAPELSLAP (round), ELSe (answer to 10A) without its last letter [almost].
19 Go off with a schedule (4)
ROTAROT (go off) A.
20 Crook messed with ABM in secret planning location? (4,4)
BACK ROOM – (Crook ABM)* [messed]. I didn’t know it, and you don’t need to know it to solve the clue, but I see ABM stands for Account-Based Marketing. Eh? Maybe it is meant to signify Anti-Ballistic Missile. Or what else?
22 Self-centred person, for example, first is after love (6)
EGOISTE.G. (for example) O (round letter; 0; love) IST (looks like 1ST; first).
23 Sheep and goose heard in African country (6)
UGANDA – Homophone of EWE (sheep) and GANDER (goose) [heard].
1 Aptly, Evan withholds the odd request (4)
PLEA – Alternate letters [withholds the odds] of aPtLy EvAn.
2 RU sorted out with flea for this? (6)
EARFUL – (RU flea)* [sorted out]. As in a flea in your ear.
3 As expected, currently drone is flying (2,6)
NO WONDERNOW (currently), (drone)* [flying].
4 Zulu I found in this region (4)
ZONEZ (Zulu in the NATO phonetic alphabet) ONE (I).
5 Flower close to garden behind (6)
ASTERNASTER (flower) and last letter of [close to] gardeN.
6 Lens we’re adapting for one once seen in cinemas (8)
NEWSREEL – (lens we’re)* [adapting].
12 A Liberal idea, incomplete, however (8)
ALTHOUGHA L (liberal) THOUGHt (idea) [incomplete].
13 Driver perhaps, to proceed left, following one in black suit (4,4)
GOLF CLUBGO (proceed) L (left) F (following) CLUB (one in a black suit).”Perhaps” indicating it’s a definition by example.
16 US soldiers crossing desert, free (6)
GRATISGIS (US soldiers) outside [crossing] RAT (desert, the verb).
18 Father locks up a social outcast (6)
PARIAHPA (father),  HAIR (locks) [up] -> RIAH.
20 Test version is live: much obliged! (4)
BETABE (live) TA (much obliged).
21 Likelihood of fatal dose being taken by detective? (4)
ODDSOD (overdose; fatal dose) D.S. (detective sergeant; detective).

56 comments on “Times Quick Cryptic No 2079 by Alconiere”

  1. I was slow on this one, taking 11 minutes. On my first run through the clues at the top of the grid I didn’t get many. Then the bottom went in and I worked my way up. I also liked the “fabulous thing from a bottle”.
    1. I’m not sure what happened there. I’ve changed the blog to match the latest version.

      Edited at 2022-02-25 08:27 am (UTC)

  2. I biffed LAPELS from the L P–didn’t have ELSE yet–and never did get around to parsing it. I wonder which 8ac was the original.5:48.
  3. Definitely the weirdest Nina I’ve ever run across. About 10 minutes for the puzzle, which did have a quirky feel.
  4. Thanks John for explaining the nina. I saw it around the outside but it didn’t mean anything to me. I remember looking up Alconiere the artist on a previous appearance not realising it was our esteemed editor.
  5. 10 minutes. I spotted the hidden thing but it meant nothing to me until I googled it.

    The clue I had for ON SPEC was ‘Taking a chance, opens new clubs’ and I can confirm that’s the one in printed newspaper.

    As mentioned by John, this is Alconiere’s 11th QC and would add that six consecutive ones appeared on Tuesdays and were blogged by Chris.

    I know of seven QC pseudonyms he uses that are definitely connected with Coleraine FC and possibly one other, but there must be more as he recently admitted here that he had set 200 QCs, which is around 60 more than I have been able to account for.

  6. 22 minutes with the L/H side falling fairly quickly, slowing down on the right.
    FOI: PLEA.
    LOI: LAPELS being the only clue parsed post-solve. I normally include parsing in my time but as this was the last, I stopped the clock.

    I didn’t spot the Nina or look for one.

  7. 12:56, a really great puzzle with many super turns of phrase, some I liked.
    REG=something on a plate; CLUB=one in black suit. Also UGANDA was a great homophone and EL PASO a classic of the ‘hidden’ type, which ended up being my LOI where I was well misdirected by “Outside US city” surely meant the letters LA would be in the middle…

    But COD to HALF DONE

    Any NINA that requires a full paragraph to explain is surely going to pass me by, I’ve never, ever spotted the most obvious one.

  8. Excellent puzzle. It took me a couple of minutes to tune into the correct wavelength but once I had it didn’t provide too many difficulties and there was lots of clever cluing throughout.
    Started with EL PASO and finished with ON SPEC in 9.28 with my COD going to HALF DONE.
    Thanks to John
  9. Just ASTERN left and an alphabet trawl couldn’t get me there. Was looking for a flower (although it makes up the bulk of the answer anyway), but might have BIFD it if I’d been looking for “behind”.


    Edited at 2022-02-25 08:48 am (UTC)

  10. ….and it’s probably the most pointless NINA of all time. I missed my target, and would expect howls of anguish later from the SCC membership.

    TIME 5:16

    1. As a paid up member of the SCC (membership is free, isn’t it?) – no howling here – as would have been my fastest if I’d got astern. Seemed like there were enough checkers and anagrams to help biff my way through.

      Might have been a different, more anguished, story on another day though.

    2. Likewise. I was about 30 mins and thoroughly enjoyed the challenge. Everything fairly clued and some lovely deceptions.


  11. I was tipped over my target by the EL PASO/NO WONDER pair, eventually coming in at 11:03. I only spotted the nina after John mentioned there was one, but it meant nothing to me. Thanks Alconiere and John.
  12. I really enjoyed this puzzle with many oohs and ahhs to finish in 28:22 and collapse into my usual chair with a cup of coffee and a week earned piece of toast. LOI LAPELS as I tried in vain to conjure up some clever arrangement of nine/ten/eleven before biffing it. I always forget the obvious clue indicator!
    Didn’t spot the Nina as they are invariably obscured on a phone which only shows part of the grid together, but would never had a chance of spotting this one or understanding it without the blog.
    Too many CODs to mention.
    Thanks John and the masterful Alconiere.
  13. Twelve minutes except for one clue. Spent two more trying to see it and gave up. DNF. FOI El Paso, sixteen on first pass. Flower doesn’t usually mean flower, so I was misdirected until all the checkers were in, then saw the aster. Did not parse else, tiger, lapels, golf club, gratis or beta. LOI = not found – no wonder. COD to else for incorporating the LSE so simply. Nina? Still puzzled. Can’t recall having seen the setter Alconiere before. Thanks, John, and Alconiere.
  14. NINA — I did go back after johninterred’s hint and saw the penzance smash basher, but it meant nothing, so thanks for the elucidation.

    On the harder side, not helped by carelessly half-biffing SEVERN as the “flower” (SEVER for close (?!) and the “N” being the behind of garden), which made ON SPEC impossible for quite a while.

    I liked UGANDA and the well hidden EL PASO, oh, and also HALF DONE.


    Edited at 2022-02-25 10:02 am (UTC)

  15. Disaster for me, I hate portcullis grids. Had to start in the middle and work outwards. Could not get the wavelength at all and finished with double my usual time. Thanks goodness it’s Friday!

    FOI ECO, LOI ON SPEC, COD UGANDA, time 15:11 for 2.6K and a Terrible Day.

    Thanks John and Nina-man.


  16. With so many unchecked first letters, I felt I was always struggling a bit today; but I finished in 09:23 with LOI EARFUL after ODDS. Whenever I was stuck I just moved on.
    COD to PARIAH but a number of pleasing and original clues.
    Failed to spot the nina.
  17. I didn’t recognise the setter’s name, so dived in with an open mind and fairly rattled off the first seven across clues. Tigev (it + veg on plate) looked distinctly odd, but a quickly inserted Although and Gratis backed it up, so I left it in for later. The down clues seemed a bit harder, but I was still in with a comfortable sub-20 when I again turned my thoughts to parsing what was now a more familiar Tiger… and I just couldn’t. Stopped the clock in frustration at the 20 min mark, followed by a real head slap when I read John’s excellent blog. CoD to the Putin clue at 18d. Invariant

    Edited at 2022-02-25 10:25 am (UTC)

  18. A good QC from a setter who mixes write-ins and more testing clues with aplomb. I got PLEA but quickly moved away from the NW and then filled in the LHS quickly. A couple of hitches on the way back up the RHS (didn’t parse TIGER — doh!) but I liked the quirky NW corner when I got it sorted. I managed to stay inside my target at 14.58 but thought I had been quicker.
    Today confirms my disdain for Ninas (and the way they skew clues) but, apart from that, many thanks to Alconiere for some great clues (I especially enjoyed UGANDA and PARIAH) and to John for the vg blog. John M.

    Edited at 2022-02-25 10:51 am (UTC)

  19. A very nice QC …
    … with some easier clues, some more difficult and some real D’oh moments.

    I was held up by “something on a plate” giving reg (not a chap’s name this time?) in 15A Tiger, and surprised at the cross reference to another clue in 17A Lapels — not at all common in the QCs. But otherwise all done in about 13 minutes.

    Many thanks John for the blog and i look forward to the Saturday Special. A good weekend to all.

  20. 17 minutes for me, not on the wavelength after failing to recognise the Setter. I once blogged one of Richard’s Coleraine themed puzzles where the grid was full of the names of CFC players and coaches. On that occasion they were playing in a European competition somewhere in Eastern Europe the night the blog appeared — I can’t remember the details, but I think it was their debut in European football. I did recognise that theme and discussed it in the blog. Today, I saw the message around the edge, but failed to connect it with Richard, through the football club, so it was only half spotted! Otherwise a good challenge, with EL PASO being my LOI. Thanks both. Coleraine’s next match is against Ballymena tomorrow, so no European stardom for them this weekend.
  21. Finished in 23 minutes. There were just enough clues that were “easy” for me to keep it flowing but I did think it was going to be a disaster! Thankfully 17a came to the rescue to give 10a and eventually Newsreel became clear (too long on that one).
    LOI Zone
    Thanks all
  22. Something felt off-kilter about this one, and I wonder if it wasn’t a sacrifice to allow the Nina to work. The satisfaction of finding something hidden is sort of lost when it’s this obscure, but hope others got more out of it. 7:57 for me.
  23. A foray away from the SCC today, just under 18 mins, despite a nervous and sluggish start. Took a while to attune, but accelerated as I went down the grid. GENIE and PARIAH were great little clues.
  24. Seems odd to be crosswording today in view of world events.
    Found this tricky. Started SE and eventually finished NW with NO WONDER and PLEA.
    Liked UGANDA ( not ref Private Eye), EL PASO, ON SPEC.
    Some not parsed, so thanks John.
    1. I must admit that my thoughts went to Private Eye when I saw UGANDA 😅 I wonder how many people would get the reference nowadays? Hope you’re getting back to normal.
  25. … which really means that Mrs R didn’t much like today’s puzzle, although she didn’t say why. I did enjoy the challenge, but felt sort of off balance throughout. Perhaps that was because, although I finished in a good time (30 minutes) for me, several clues went in only partially parsed – TIGER, EARFUL and LAPELS are examples.

    I can’t remember where in the grid I started, but my last three were ASTERN, LAPELS and ODDS. I know that ODDS has beaten me in the past, as have clues (like LAPELS) which refer to other clues. I really must learn to spot those.

    Many thanks to Alconiere (whose last outing was just before I started this game) and John (for helping me understand how it all worked).

  26. I struggled to get on wavelength. My FOI was GENIE quickly followed by ECO so I solved the SE first and finished back in the NW. In hindsight I think the only clue I didn’t parse was LAPELS. 11.55 for a pretty poor day.
  27. Last post got lost in the ether. Fingers crossed for this one… Ambled happily over the line, fully parsed, in 30 mins. Struggled to get on Alconiere’s wavelength to start with but then it all began to fall slowly into place. FOI EL PASO, LOI ASTERN, loved EARFUL, PARIAH and UGANDA. Never think to look for a Nina and certainly wouldn’t have spotted this one! Thanks to John for explanation. Loved the slightly different feel to this puzzle. Thanks Alconiere.
  28. About 8 and a half minutes of steady solving, with quite a few ticks and smiles dotted around. I particularly liked the surfaces for EARFUL, NEWSREEL and PARIAH, but 23a got the LOL moment. I’m embarrassed to admit that I couldn’t parse ELSE – so easy when explained. I was trying – of course – to drop an H from something and only got it when I solved LAPELS.
    I got 13a very quickly because this popped up a couple of days ago when I was going through some old puzzles: in #1081 by Corelli 9a was Bottled spirit: that is to follow dope. It also made me smile then.
    Going off at a bit of a tangent: I guess our editor has different names for different ninas – football, Dickens etc. Corelli usually does musical themes – hmm, I wonder? I shan’t bother looking for the nina when Alconiere’s name appears in future if it always relates to football – I know very little about the English game, let alone Northern Irish! Fortunately it didn’t spoil my enjoyment today.
    FOI El Paso
    LOI Else
    COD Uganda
    Thanks Alconiere and John
    1. Yes,I think you are right about Corelli being another of RR’s pseudonyms.

      I can’t see music as one of his themes with only Captain C’s Mandolin (QC1017) and a song called Lucky Stars (QC2019) qualifying, but he did cover Little Dorrit in QC1514 which ties in nicely with all of Felix’s Dickens puzzles. Corelli’s 26 puzzles gets us to a total of 167, which is still some way short of 200.

      1. I must be getting in a muddle – maybe it’s just because I associate Corelli with music! The name does have quite a few relevant letters though 😅 I still wonder whether Alfie and Noel are among the missing pseudonyms. This challenge certainly takes us beyond solving crosswords!
        1. I’ve had my eye on Alfie and Noel. We know for sure that they are one and the same setter because RR (the editor and man behind the pseudonyms we are discussing) confirmed this a while back. They have each set 8 puzzles to date, the majority of them with themes so I am inclined to add them in to the 200+. That gets us to 183.
  29. I enjoyed this and thought there were some nice, quirky clues. Saying that, it took me 27 mins to get there.

    15ac “Tiger” and 17ac “Lapels” both went in without being properly parsed and, as also noted above, I went “on spec” with 8ac “On Spec”.

    Saw the odd Nina but had no idea what it meant.

    FOI — 1dn “Plea”
    LOI — 2dn “Earful”
    COD — 18dn “Pariah”

    Thanks as usual!

  30. Last post got lost in the ether. Fingers crossed for this one… Ambled happily over the line, fully parsed, in 30 mins. Struggled to get on Alconiere’s wavelength to start with but then it all began to fall slowly into place. FOI EL PASO, LOI ASTERN, loved EARFUL, PARIAH and UGANDA. Never think to look for a Nina and certainly wouldn’t have spotted this one! Thanks to John for explanation. Loved the slightly different feel to this puzzle. Thanks Alconiere.
  31. Pleased to finish in 29m after steadily working our way around. Lapels put in without realising the connection with 10a. Nice variety of clues.
  32. We really loved this puzzle. So much to enjoy. Sadly our enjoyment of the puzzle didn’t translate into a fast time but who cares — we did finished in 16.35


    Thanks John and mysterious Alconiere

  33. Anyone else having trouble with the app? Firstly thrown by every word I put in being a jumble of letters, which I eventually twigged was the “skip filled in squares” having turned itself on, then got “completed” in a time of NaN:NaN, with the puzzle showing as partially complete with the clock still running.
  34. Found this tough, eventually finishing in 28 mins with not everything parsed. Don’t know if it was the late afternoon solve, unfamiliarity with the setter or just a Friday afternoon wind-down but I was way off the pace. Got very few across on a first read-through and basically solved from the SW in an anti-clockwise direction, finishing in the NW. Never saw the nina (unsurprising) but wasn’t looking for one. Thanks to John for clarifying the parsings and to Alconiere.

    FOI – 13ac GENIE
    LOI – 7ac EL PASO
    COD – 23ac UGANDA

  35. Sorry if I missed it but I didn’t think you guys and gals would need prompting on 9-letter anagrams.

    The puzzle(s) therotter refers to would be those before Irish Cup Finals. Coleraine’s first ever European game was against Dinamo Kyiv in 1965. That would have been grotesquely fitting today 😞

  36. Only got to this today but we’ll worth the wait. Although I’m still slow by the standards of most, I’m finding that I now see the structure of clues much more clearly (although there was some biffing as well). Good way to end the week. Thank you for the blog!


  37. Never did finish. 5dn had to be SEVERN(Flower). SEVER(close) + N so no chance of getting ON SPEC !

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