Times Quick Cryptic No 2138 by Wurm

How nice to be in our lovely new surroundings! Not the easiest today from Wurm, but with lots of effective misdirection and a broad range of clues it was very satisfying – even the anagrams seemed particularly well-constructed. I was left staring at 16ac for a while at the end which took me to 11 minutes. Many thanks to Wurm, and of course to everyone involved in creating such a great new home.

1 Cat turned up with old woman (4)
PUMA -reverse/turn UP with MA (old woman)
4 Cowboy to resist an Aussie bounder? (8)
BUCKAROO – BUCK (resist) A ROO (an Aussie bounder). A corruption of “vaquero”, apparently, from Spanish vaca = cow.
8 Satisfy need at first in Tory depravity (8)
CONVINCE – N (Need “at first”) in CON (Tory) VICE (depravity)
9 Girl of the Emerald Isle leaving hospital (4)
IRIS – IRISh (of/relating to the Emerald Isle) dropping H(ospital)
10 Strong odour alerts ten charge nurses (6)
STENCH -is “nursed” by alertS TEN CHarge
11 Given illumination by our setter? (6)
SUNLIT – cryptic definition with a pun on setter: if a flower is a thing that flows, a setter is a thing that sets, which for us is the Sun. Nice misdirection about our dear crossword compiler in the surface reading.
12 Disreputable bunch regularly goes bananas (6,7)
ROGUES GALLERY – anagram (bananas) of REGULARLY GOES
16 It once involved two banks in a row! (6)
BIREME – the second of our two cryptic definitions, with a pun on “banks in a row”: BANK has a specific meaning of a “tier of oars in a galley”; and ROW in the sense of a rowing-boat.
17 Mineral doctor holding variable amount (6)
GYPSUM – GP (doctor) holding Y (variable, as in x and y) SUM (amount)
19 Drop round for starchy cereal (4)
SAGO – SAG (drop) O (round)
20 Authority initially over soldier (8)
COMMANDO – COMMAND (authority) O (Over “initially”)
21 Explosive alert in court battle (8)
WATERLOO – anagram (explosive) of ALERT in WOO (court)
22 Part inside reactor now ruptured (4)
TORN – partly inside reacTOR Now
2 Underwater menace swimming about (1-4)
U-BOAT – anagram (swimming) of ABOUT
3 Arrival at river: a few taking risks (13)
ADVENTURESOME – ADVENT (arrival) at URE (river) SOME (a few)
4 Seat in church at foot of Scottish mountain (5)
BENCH – CH(urch) at foot of BEN (Scottish mountain)
5 More tea houses where Kings Road is located (7)
CHELSEA – ELSE (more, as in anything more/else) housed by CHA (tea)
6 Indian jumbo perhaps a plane in haste diverted? (5,8)
ASIAN ELEPHANT – anagram (diverted) of A PLANE IN HASTE
7 Admired player one in Dickensian musical (7)
OLIVIER – I (one) in OLIVER (Dickensian musical)
10 One’s elevated by king — knight’s title? (3)
SIR – I’S (one’s) “elevated” by R[ex] (king)
13 Island all right in a way when Yankee departs (7)
OKINAWA – OK (all right) IN AWAy “when Y(ankee) departs”
14 Template for drawing clients amended (7)
STENCIL – anagram (amended) of CLIENTS
15 Root vegetable needs month to come up (3)
YAM – needs MAY (month) to come up
17 Dish of stew or stick with black olive starter? (5)
GUMBO – GUM (stick) with Black Olive “starter”. Starters might have been fairer but no real grumble. Edit: see Kevin’s comment below for correct parsing (and the glossary for Lift & Separate, which I didn’t do).
18 Buried? End badly in ancient city (5)
UNDER -anagram (badly) of END in where else but UR (ancient city)

89 comments on “Times Quick Cryptic No 2138 by Wurm”

  1. Pretty straightforward, although I was rather slow. I think ‘starter’ applies only to ‘olive’; ‘black’ gives us B on its own. 7:34.

    1. Ah yes, thanks -that’s much better. Always good to be reminded to lift and separate!

  2. I’ve never heard of BIREME so had no hope there. I enjoyed BUCKAROO

    I knew Okinawa (but wouldn’t have gotten it without checkers) and Ur, but I didn’t know kings road was in Chelsea, that there is a mountain called Ben, or the river Ure. I assume that river (along with Ouse) comes up fairly often. What a sorry day for my geography knowledge.

    More for ‘else’ I now accept begrudgingly

    The word ‘regularly’ threw me for a little bit I thought it might be wordplay, as well as the word ‘setter’ – as a user of the app I don’t know who the setter is so was I ready to grumble until I got it later on!

    1. Ben is a Scots word meaning ‘mountain’, as in Ben Lomond, Ben Nevis, etc. Some other UK rivers that show up often are Exe, Ouse, Dee. (Oops, didn’t notice you’d mention the Ouse.)

      1. Oh thank you very much. They all look very useful (for crosswords, at the very least!)

    2. Q. How can one tell when Manchester United are playing at home?
      A. When there are tail-backs on the King’s Road!

    3. The River Ure which flows through Ripon in North Yorkshire eventually flows into the River Ouse on it’s way to York. However, there is more than one river Ure…

  3. I have to report another unfinished QC which seems to be becoming a habit just lately. I completed all but 16ac in 9 minutes but its cryptic definition and (as vinyl1 has already pointed out) unhelpful checkers stumped me and after doubling my solving time to 18 minutes I gave up on it.

    1. Settled back into my usual corner chair as I rowed into the club at 30 minutes with a coffee and a shrug as I was foxed by the bireme. COD SUNLIT
      Thanks Wurm and Roly

  4. 25 minutes but technically a DNF as I used Google for BIREME.
    LOI: BIREME (with help).
    COD: WATERLOO and a smile at BUCKAROO.

  5. Started off well, but slowed down quite quickly. DNF for me, thanks to Wurm and rolytoly (and to those who worked hard on putting the new site together).

  6. This afternoon I was on the 14:00 from the King’s Road to Waterloo.

    Not an easy ride as 16ac BIREME was a tad 3dn for a QC.
    Our church had pews, but not a 4dn BENCH in sight!

    FOI 1ac PUMA and not NIKE after all!
    LOI 16ac BIREME and not NICENE after all!

    My time was woeful, let’s see what Mr. Rotter made of this?

        1. Dear Sawbill,

          This is a perfectly good question, but deserves at least a three thousand word reply, which is not possible.

          Quite well, not well, and quite good sum it up! I wouldn’t recommend it, however both of us have avoided Covid. It has put a huge burden on her indoors.
          Back in London my three children and seventeen year old grandson have all had it recently. My fifteen granddaughter has not an The poor thing has her O-levels this week.

          Honestly, I would prefer to be in Ocho Rios!


          1. I am so pleased that your whole family has survived (even if it was a bumpy journey). I am now retired so my days in Jamaica and Trinidad are over (never say never?).

  7. DNF due to an NHO re BIREME … can’t see any such thing as a “helpful checker” when such an obscure word has a cryptic clue. Think some kind of IKEA clue would be fairer in such instances. I wonder if I’ll ever have cause to know the word again beyond crosswords. Trouble is it’s an eminently forgettable word too!

    Thanks (slightly grudgingly) to Wurm and (fully effusively) to Rolytoly

      1. That’s how I knew BIREME; rather, I’m not sure I knew it, but I did know ‘trireme’.

      2. Thanks I appreciate the heads up and will try to keep that in mind … but with memory becoming more sieve-like I reserve the right to be a bit miffed one day by that too unless I can ‘build’ the answer!!

      3. And the quinquiremes of Nineveh…. I suppose there must have been quadriremes as well but I don’t think I’ve ever seen that one.

  8. Well, this was a test for a QC. I certainly found it a great deal more chewy and difficult than some of the early posters above.
    Some intriguing clues but a few were just that bit too clever for a ‘Quickie’ IMO. I crossed the line into the SCC without seeing BIREME, a clue worthy of the 15×15. I liked SUNLIT, OKINAWA, WATERLOO, GYPSUM and enjoyed the long anagrams. The ’some’ in ADVENTURESOME was slow to click.
    Thanks to Roly and to Wurm for a Curate’s egg. John jM.

  9. Yes Bireme did it for me too! Relented to help after staring blankly at it for 5 min! Would have been around the 25 min otherwise. Thanks Roly and I think thanks Warm!

  10. P.s. Any tips on making the layout of the blog more user-friendly on an iPad would be much appreciated. I find myself prodding the screen in a demented fashion trying to negotiate from top to bottom, especially when there are lots of posts.
    I’m sure I should be able to work it out. I can change my iPad ‘Zoom’ ‘settings’ to get more on the screen and text size can be altered but spacing remains very wide and the blog doesn’t use the available screen width. I must say that I miss the very compact layout of the previous blog software.

    1. No problem on my iPad Blighter, full width and normal spacing – maybe something in your setup?

      1. Thanks. That was what I wanted tips on. I have altered all the iPad ‘settings’ I can find but can’t get it to appear as you describe.
        I couldn’t find any changeable settings on this site either. Ah well….

    2. I used a cheapo Android tablet in testing and found selecting “Desktop site” in Chrome renders very nicely in portrait mode.

  11. I found this tough, and it took much cell searching to get to the 16a boat, but it came in eventually. I didn’t find much of the rest particularly easy either, so pleased to have completed regardless of the time required to do so.

  12. Failed again. Was sure that 1a was PUSS, with SS somehow a cryptic for Old Woman. I knew Trireme ( thanks Thucydides) and Quinquireme ( thanks, John Masefield) but not BIREME (thanks Wurm)


  13. DNF for first time in a while.
    NHO 16A… agree with Meldrew… bit tough for a QC. Struggled with SW corner as a result.
    Enjoyed 8A! Not keen on use of MORE in 5D but it was pretty much a write-in anyway.

    Thanks rolytoly and Wurm

  14. I had my usual struggle with a Wurm puzzle and thought I might be buying a ticket for the SCC. CONVINCE, CHELSEA (certain it was going to have SW in it) and LOI and COD BIREME proving particularly stubborn. NHO BUCKAROO and SUNLIT was far too clever for me to parse.
    Staggered across the line in 17.22
    Thanks to Roly and Wurm for the workout.

  15. I don’t think Wurm gets the pitch right very often- far too tricky for a quickie in my opinion. I’ve been completing the main regularly recently but dnf. Now I have read the blog I’m pleased I did not waste more time. Thanks to the blogger at least – well done to those who were on the wavelength.

  16. Pulled stumps at the 30min mark, having been left staring at s*n*i and i*e*e (11 and 13ac) for a good 5 minutes. There is something particularly dispiriting about not being able to get an answer with all the crossers in place. I did consider Sunlit at one point, but couldn’t see how it parsed. Bireme on the other hand was just too good for me – and it appears quite a few others. Invariant

  17. Much harder than yesterdays puzzle and missed my 10 minute target at 11.28. I would just about have made it I think, if it hadn’t been for the difficult to get 16across which seems to have defeated quite a few. I tried for a while to fit Locum for the doctor into the clue at 17a before thinking of gp. I don’t usually consider anagrams to be a contender for clue of the day, but I thought 12a was excellent.

  18. Gave up at 1hr30 – glad I did. Big comedown after a couple of successful days.

    SW corner unfinished with OKINAWA, WATERLOO, BIREME, SAGO left plus COMMANDO wrong (commands). Was held back on ADVENTURESOME by having PUss instead of PUMA and struggled longer than I should have on CONVINCE.

    Couldn’t parse a bunch of it and far too much of it overall now seems obscure to me. NHO UR, URE, BIREME. Tough clueing and too much misdirection for my little brain.

    CHELSEA – Think you have to be of an older (than me) generation to know of the Kings Road as I only know it from lore of reading about Bobby Moore and the 60s/70s World cup teams.

    Thanks to Roly for the explanations.

    1. If you’ve never heard of Ur, hear now: it’s the standard ‘old city’, shows up all the time.

      1. Thank-you.

        Next question: why? is it an abbreviation, actual place or …

        (Just I tend to memorise better if there’s more I can associate it to)

        1. Ur of the Chaldees – probably in modern Iraq. Said to be the birthplace of Abraham – which takes us back a bit!

    2. Oh dear .. that shows how old I am! King’s Road was very popular when I was at a Kensington college in the early 60’s.

  19. A big DNF with BIREME the main culprit, although I also failed on OKINAWA, mostly because I had bifd PETERLOO for the battle. This was on the basis of an imagined equivalence between PETER and EXPLOSIVE (probably via safes and safe-breaking). I did think of WATERLOO as an alternative, but convinced myself to go for the wrong one, and didn’t revisit. Thanks Roly.

    1. Dear Rotter. Were the BIREMES out of commission by the time you joined the navy?
      I too was looking at PETERLOO because of the ‘safe’ connection. But I returned to station. Midshipman Meldrew

      1. Well done Horryd, I should have known better. I had heard of BIREME and trireme, but they just didn’t occur to me. I was also in a hurry to head off for a game of golf, so had little patience with it this morning. I’m looking forward to tomorrow’s challenge where I hope to do better.

        Glad to hear you and your family are OK and surviving out in the deepest Orient.

  20. DNF. Too hard for me. Failed on BUCKAROO (NHO), BIREME (very obscure, though, come to think of it in days of yore I attended a dull lecture on the Gk Trireme). Shd have got PUMA. Once lived near the Kings Rd so got CHELSEA. Shd have biffed WATERLOO and GYPSUM. Luckily I’ve been reading a novel about Japan, so solved OKINAWA (COD).
    Thanks, Roly.

  21. I was off to a quick start with PUMA, U-BOAT and ADVENTURESOME. I wanted to put CHELSEA in from the King’s Road bit, but didn’t see the parsing until I had all the checkers. I was held up by staring at _I_E_E for a while, but then enlightenment arrived. 8:45. Thanks Wurm and Roly.

  22. “Jambalaya, crawfish pie, filet GUMBO….” (Fats Domino, rather than the Carpenters). And this was quite a spicy dish to set before us. I was fortunate in knowing BIREME, and crept just inside my target, rather than “finally meeting my WATERLOO”.

    COD BIREME (but then I knew the word !)
    TIME 4:58

      1. I can’t help but give the Carpenters some leeway. Poor Karen had such a beautiful voice but hated the limelight and always just wanted to be off to the side playing the drums. Eventually she stopped eating and her body gave up.
        I never seek their music out -as it’s definitely on the “gooey” side -but if I happen upon it I always stop to spare a sad thought for her.

  23. I thought this was going to be a Wurm (phone doesn’t show setter) because it felt such a tough solve. Battled through it and guessed that a BIREME might exist on the basis of the trireme … great relief at the “congratulations” message!

    FOI STENCH, LOI BIREME (natch), COD WATERLOO, time 11:06 for 1.6K and a Decent Day.

    Many thanks Wurm and roly.


  24. DNF today after my best time yesterday. Knew it was too good to last! NHO BIREME (although have come across trireme – totally stumped by clue so not even thinking along boat lines) and biffed SUNLIT (very clever misdirection). Grudgingly accepted ‘more’ = else in CHELSEA. A real struggle today, but enjoyable as ever. Many thanks rolytoly for the explanations and Wurm.

  25. Done in 23:39 after rejecting puss and kangaroo and realising The Sun Also Sets (pace Hemingway).Found GYPSUM, WATERLOO, and CHELSEA(else=more) clever.Thanks for blog!

  26. Bit of a joyless slog but I guess they can’t all be up my street. Stuck with it for the whole 28m with grim determination and an increasingly cold cafe coffee.

  27. Dnf…

    However, I did manage to have only one left at my 30 min cut off – which, of course, was the never heard of 16ac “Bireme”. A big fat 🟥 for that.

    Tough going throughout though, with quite a few leaving me scratching my head at the parsing. I also thought 1ac might be “Puss” and nearly biffed ‘Kangaroo” for 4ac.

    Had to feel for Random Chap, especially after his comments yesterday…

    FOI – 2dn “ U-Boat”
    LOI – dnf
    COD – 13dn “Okinawa” – had a bit of a tussle working out what went where…

    Thanks as usual!

    1. Many thanks! It turned out exactly as I had predicted. It usually does.

      1. In my golfing days, I always said “the day you play your best round of golf is usually the day before you play your worst”

    2. I went down the PUSS / KANGAROO route for a while. Somewhat unconvinced about the latter as I was sure 5D began and ended with TE-A (turned out to be CH-A).

      Like you, Mr RC’s words of warning were on my mind …

  28. Nice to be back although I’m sad to say that this was a DNF. I have missed the blog and as a consequence my attempts at the QC have been sporadic. Although I’m a bit rusty I would never have figured out BIREME . Ah well, I got OKINAWA from the wordplay.

  29. After the joy of an excursion out of the SCC yesterday … the reality of a DNF today.

    I reached just three to go (or so I thought) inside half an hour, but I threw in the towel after 63 minutes with 16a (BIREME) still unsolved. Actually, much of the second half-hour was spent trying to get CONVINCE and ADVENTURESOME. The latter was made all the more difficult by my error at 1a where, for far too long, I had PUSS instead of PUMA. Trying to find a word to fit S___N_U___O_E proved impossible, of course, and S_V_N_U___O_E was just as awkward.

    Eventually, CONVINCE, PUMA and ADVENTURESOME were entered into the grid (in that order) and I embarked on the hunt for a word to fit _I_E_E. After 10 minutes or so I found RIBEYE, but knew that it was incorrect and gave up, feeling somewhat deflated.

    Mrs Random has today’s pleasure ahead of her, as she is visiting her parents today. She has significantly less patience with these QCs than me, so I can’t imagine her pondering more than a minute or two over BIREME.

    Many thanks to Wurm and rolytoly.

  30. dnf on bireme. Didn’t help starting with Puss like Merlin.

    Bireme was a poor clue, choosing cryptic definition for a quickie, I think I would have preferred owcaa considering it was 6 letters.

    Has been clued a few times in the 15×15 and mephisto.
    Wurm should have gone for something similar to mephisto 2920 by Tim Moorey:
    Two thirds of large army unit in ancient vessel.

    Or Large engineers no good for warship.

    COD stench.

  31. Back to earth after a good time yesterday. Struggled throughout with this one with very few falling at first run through. Had to use aids to get bireme after staring at it for quite a while – I was thinking the banks perhaps related to river banks. Doubt I would have got it even though I have heard of it before, as the crossers were less than helpful. Time 25 minutes after using a crossword solving site for bireme.

    FOI – 2dn U BOAT
    LOI – 16ac BIREME
    COD – 8ac CONVINCE

    Thanks to Wurm & Rplytoly

  32. BIREME and SUNLIT were my two favourite clues, though if you’ve NHO BIREME, more or less impossible. Maybe “Military engineers who swing both ways in an old boat” (6) would suit in a less august organ than The Times. Though that probably illustrates why I don’t set clues….:)

    Definitely on the harder side though, PUMA last in – I resisted PUSS.


  33. Hello, everyone,

    Thank you very much for organising the new website. Great job.

  34. I spent five very happy years working just off the Kings Road, so CHELSEA was a gimme. I thought some of these were quite user-friendly (BENCH, U-BOAT, TORN) but had problems with the same ones as everyone else. Fortunately BIREME just popped into my head after a couple of minutes pondering, but it was a bit of a slow solve at over 14 minutes.
    FOI U-boat LOI Bireme COD Asian elephant
    Thanks Wurm and Roly

  35. 12.48

    Tough. Very slow for me but still in the 80’s on the Leaderboard so clearly a toughie

    Struggled with PUMA ADVENTURESOME (really?) but even though it was my LOI and needed a bit of thought I did know BIREME

    Thanks Chris and Wurm

  36. Agree with many of the comments above that this was at the more chewy end for a QC. I did finish, but LOI Sunlit was a guess given the checkers and only parsed post completion, and several others went in with fingers crossed. 16 minutes in all which is towards the slow end of my usual range.

    Many thanks to Roly for the blog

  37. Slow today – from an all time (for me) fast yesterday (2.10) to a positively sluggish 5:20 on this one.

    Far too much time spent on Bireme than was really necessary, given that Trireme is a regular visitor, somehow just couldn’t make the mental leap. I blame caffeine deficiency at the time.

    Liking the new site – if for no other reason than the absence of people trying to sell me things I don’t understand, and in all probability don’t need, using an alphabet I don’t understand…

  38. Too hard for me, had to resort to aids for several clues and biffed a few as well. My head hurts.

  39. At a local pub celebrating finishing my second of three final exams. Couldn’t get CHELSEA or BIREME (I have heard of TRIREME). Is it the math? Is it the beer? Who can say.

  40. I found this harder than average. I normally start by trying to do as many across clues as possible before starting on the downs. I only managed two, and one of them turned out to be wrong. I finished it, but only by cheating several times: I looked up words beginning with “Advent” in the dictionary; looked up Kings Road on Google and saw the word Chelsea; looked up islands beginning with O in Wikipedia (NHO Okinawa); and looked up words with the pattern _i_e_e on a crossword solver. Good thing the answer began with a B.

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