Times Quick Cryptic No 2143 by Orpheus

Today’s puzzle from Orpheus took me just under 11 minutes to solve, my quickest this week.  However, a gap in my GK meant that I needed some more time to properly parse 13d when I came to write the blog.  The answer was obvious, if not the means of getting there.  There was also a surprising lack of anagrams, with only one partial anagram to be found, although homophone clues seemed to make up the difference.

3d was my first one in, 9a my WOD and I think I award COD to the ‘definition by non-example’ at 4a.  I hope you all enjoyed the challenge, and on your behalf, I thank Orpheus for a satisfying puzzle.


 Gamebird that makes us shrink back with fear (5)

QUAIL – Double definition.

4  Choose a deep sound?  Not from this instrument! (7)

PICCOLO – Homophone (sound) clue – PICK A LOW (choose a deep) is how PICCOLO is pronounced.  The definition is cryptic, the PICCOLO is a high-pitched flute (an octave above the ordinary flute) so would not produce a low or deep sound.

8  Best gem worn by a man (7)

OPTIMAL – OPAL (gem) containing TIM (a man) (worn by).

Snatch whiskey and relax (5)

WREST – W (whiskey, NATO phonetic alphabet) and REST (relax).  WREST is a nice old-fashioned sort of a word – my WOD.

10  Warning given by plump woman’s ancestor (10)

FOREFATHER – FORE (warning – in golf) with FAT (plump) and HER (woman’s).

14  A pole carrying a Parisian about? (6)

AROUND – A (a) ROD (pole) with UN (a, Parisian or French) inside (carrying).

15  This writer’s friend, a jumpy African native (6)

IMPALA – I’M (this writer’s) with PAL (friend) and A (a).

17  Register award announced for business concern (10)

ENTERPRISE – ENTER (register) and PRISE (sounds like (announced) PRIZE / award).

20  Fertile spot in Samoa’s islands (5)

OASIS – Hidden answer inside {sam}OAS IS{lands}

22  Dispute profit, for example (7)

GAINSAY – GAIN (profit) SAY (for example).

23  Comfortless role in school sickbay (7)

SPARTAN – PART (role) inside SAN (school sickbay – sanatorium).  No! My school didn’t have one either.

24  Gullible individual’s initiation in church body (5)

NAIVE – I{ndividual’s} (initiation = first letter of) inside NAVE (church body).  Did you know, the word GULLIBLE doesn’t exist in any English dictionary? (The old ones are the best!).


 Jail one of several siblings talked of (4)

QUOD – Homophone clue, sounds like (talked of) QUAD (short for quadruplet – one of four siblings).  QUOD is defined as a slang term for prison in my Chambers

Culturally pretentious leader dismissed from political group (4)

ARTY – {p}ARTY – leader dismissed from political group – party.

Satirist from US city poor men abandoned (9)

LAMPOONER – LA (US city) and our first part anagram (abandoned) of [POOR MEN].

Capsule the Spanish left, swallowed by family dog, perhaps (6)

PELLET – EL (the in Spanish) and L{eft} inside (swallowed by) PET (family dog, perhaps).  I didn’t immediately equate PELLET with CAPSULE, but I guess it is OK.

5  Browbeat confused old woman principally (3)

COW – First letters (principally) of C{onfused} O{ld} W{oman}.

6  Learn by chance about this place on radio (8)

OVERHEAR – Another homophone (on radio) – sounds like OVER HERE.

Eruption? Not in holiday period (8)

OUTBREAK – OUT (not in) and BREAK (holiday period).

11  Acknowledgement of daughter employed in a legation (9)

ADMISSION – D{aughter} inside A MISSION (a legation).

12  Starving corvids circling old university (8)

RAVENOUS – RAVENS (corvids) containing (circling) O{ld} and U{niversity}.

13  Italian noblewoman’s short stories having a certain appeal (8)

CONTESSA – CONTES (a conte is a short story – new to me – so several of them would be CONTES).  Add SA (sex appeal – a certain appeal).  It follows that I bifd this and had to look up CONTES after completion in order to parse it properly for us.

16  Academic digesting a newspaper, an intimidating woman (6)

DRAGON – DON (academic) containing (digesting) RAG (a newspaper).

18  Drink served in Victoria’s time (4)

ASTI – Hidden answer in {victori}AS TI{me}.

19  Reportedly one who purchases accommodation for 5 (4)

BYRE – Yet another homophone clue (reportedly).  Sounds like BUYER.  The 5 refers to the answer to 5d which is COW, and a cow’s home is a BYRE.

21  Determined group (3)

SET – simple double definition to finish with.

59 comments on “Times Quick Cryptic No 2143 by Orpheus”

  1. 17:24. Enjoyed coming across old words like BYRE and GAINSAY.FOI-PICCOLO LOI-PELLET, COD-LAMPOONER. Thanks for blog.

  2. On one hand I didn’t have to deal with any pesky anagrams.

    On the other hand, at least anagrams can be worked out eventually even if I’ve NHO the answer.

    I’ve NHO Byre, and I wrote it in because it sounded like Buyer but was very confused about where the 5 came in. I didn’t know you could refer to other clues like that.

    I also NHO Quod, it doesn’t even look like a word, so getting OPTIMAL was tricky without the O and not knowing which ‘man’ it was going to be today! I don’t love name clues because you always get the name after the biff and not the other way around

    I also didn’t know Contes = short stories or that a mission was a legation, or what nave was but they were easier biffs

    I was very pleased by the Ikea type clues today like Forefather and Enterprise

    FOI: cow
    LOI: Spartan
    COD: forefather
    I also want to mark this one as one where I didn’t give up and reveal letters, I just walked away and came back later ‘L-plates’ style and was able to see more answers that way.

    Thanks to everyone involved!

    1. Anagrams are just fine – IKEA just ain’t. The revamped IKEA in Shanghai is a shadow of its former self- and now closed. I miss the gravlax and Swedish berry confit.

    2. I agree that giving yourself a little break often clears the brain fog, and the answers seem to pop out at you (well, fairly often) when you come back. I also agree that arbitrary (never Random!) names are frustrating, although a few are worth remembering. Di, Sal and Al are all regular visitors! You seem to be getting on very well – congrats 😊

      1. Mrs R would say that Random names are more than just frustrating. Her Mr Random is “invariably annoying” – and that’s when he’s on his best behaviour!

    3. Well done Tina

      Breaks def worth a go if you have the time. NAIVE and ARTY popped out in the first 5 mins of my evening go around.

  3. I’ve failed to achieve my 10 minute target on 5 of the last 6 Quick Cryptics. This was another to add to that score, and once again it was two remaining intersecting clues (1dn and 8ac) that were responsible.

    As I had the Q-checker from QUAIL, the sibling at 1dn immediately had me considering QUAD and QUIN (-tuplet), neither of which seemed likely for a word meaning ‘jail’. I had foolishly overlooked the homophone element at that point but even when I eventually took notice of it and considered QUOD, I didn’t know the word so it didn’t go in with any feeling of confidence. Fortunately the O-checker it provided led me to OPTIMAL at 8ac and I assumed that QUOD simply had to be correct.

    12 minutes total.

    I knew CONTE as a short story from the name of the actor Richard Conte who I first came across as one of The Four Just Men in the 1959 TV series.

    1. I was surprised to see that you, and Vinyl, didn’t know QUOD, but now I see that nobody knew it! I wonder how I knew it now; 19th century novels, I imagine.

      1. Early 20th C for me, Wodehouse and classic crime. Generally upper class slang in my memory. I suppose I always assumed it was somehow derived from being restricted to boarding school quads, without ever bothering to think about it much. Quick google suggests it was the quadrangle in Newgate Prison, rather than school, but probably not much difference 🙂

  4. Every now and then a crossword can make me feel a bit dim. NHO QUOD for jail, realised I can’t spell PICCOLO, didn’t know what corvids were, and I’m clearly not hot on my Italian noblewomen (and managed my now inevitable typo with a double a at the end). Didn’t really know BYRE for barn but I do know Byres Road in Glasgow and the wonderfully named shop, Byres Market. One to forget, got there in the end, some post-submission unravelling (thanks Rotter) but 20m and a pink square. Next!

  5. Slow start leading to a 23-minute finish.
    LOI: BYRE which I just couldn’t see until getting GAINSAY.
    COD: too many but favourite WREST.

  6. Chugged steadily along with the occasional pause, rather like my morning train getting through London Bridge.

    FOI & COD PICCOLO, LOI OPTIMAL (was thinking of Tom not Tim), time 10:07 for 1.4K and a Decent Day.

    Many thanks Orpheus and Rotter.


  7. DNF

    Just could not see QUAIL – trying to make more of the w/p than there was. That made QUOD impossible as it was a NHO. 8 minutes bar those two but threw the towel in after another 4 or 5. Bit annoying as I did know everything else including contes (from a similar clue in the past)

    Thanks all

  8. Yet again, a slow start from the top. A jumpy solve that tipped me into the SCC again (but all parsed). I didn’t enjoy it – just a bit too ‘clever clever’ for a QC. Perhaps I am just grumpy and angry after the torture of listening to the news on ‘Today’ this morning (especially the ****** politicians who cannot or will not answer simple questions and insist that black is white). Thanks to rotter for a good blog.

  9. l was on the 17:30 ferry from Cowes to Byers Road, Glasgow- never again!

    Mr. Blighter is spot on with his observations. Britain has been Brexited, Bothered by Covid and now Borissed! Bewildering!
    LOI 2dn ARTY-FARTY clue!
    COD 12dn RAVENOUS corvids
    WOD 1dn QUOD

    NHO Contes but Contessas, l’ve known a few and all with SA!

    1. A comment that has to be reread several times to unpack all the wit it contains-bravo!

  10. Lots of problems with our feathered friends today – in more ways than one. Started in the NE with Piccolo and worked clockwise round the grid, discovering along the way that I never really knew what gainsay meant. Took an age to think of Raven for some reason, and likewise Quail wasn’t exactly on the tip of my tongue. As for Quod (yet another ‘bird’), I’m fairly sure I have never come across this word before, and without Optimal would never have guessed the right answer. All told, a 30min struggle, but at least a finish. Invariant

  11. Steady going today. Started with PICCOLO, having drawn a blank on 1a. I was grateful for the generous clueing of the NHO QUOD and gave up trying to parse LOI CONTESSA. Particularly enjoyed LAMPOONER, GAINSAY and BYRE.
    Finished in 9.32
    Thanks to Rotter

  12. Beaten by the QUOD/ OPTIMAL pairing. It is rare for me to come across a word that I don’t know in the QC, but QUOD for jail is one such. Considered quin and quad, neither parsing, although at least a quad(rangle) is an enclosed space. The rest was fine, and tomorrow is another crossword.

  13. I rarely start in the NW and often finish there. Today was no exception.
    Under 8 minutes to the NW having had no hold-ups. ARTY took me a while and eventually I saw QUAIL.
    OPTIMAL would not come; I was looking for a verb-to best. Sorted that out and finished with NHO QUOD for jail. 13 minutes in the end.
    Another good QC from Orpheus. COD to PICCOLO.

  14. Way off of the setter’s wavelength today. Most difficult QC for me in a long time. Took an age to get going. Agree with others about the lack of anagrams as they usually help me a lot in the first pass.
    Although I completed it (on paper) I had to resort to Chambers and other aids to such a degree that it was technically a DNF.
    Thanks Rotter and Orpheus.

  15. Enjoyed this – 60% easy but rest hard going. LOI 13D as thought NHO corvid until RAVENOUS appeared from crossers. FOI QUOD- remember Stanley Holloway singing about Sweeney Todd, who was dragged to QUOD and condemned to be switched off at Tyburn. However I originally misspelt it QUAD until I saw my COD OPTIMAL after a struggle. Thanks Orpheus and Rotter

  16. I found this very tough – the first clue, 1A, went in fast enough but the next one to fall was not until 15A. Eventually I struggled to a finish in 17 minutes only to have a DNF for a typo.

    Like others I had not heard of Quod – and I think I would have spelt it Quad anyway if I had – and had to get it from the O from Optimal. Also NHO Conte as a short story, so Contessa was biffed and not parsed at all until I read Rotter’s blog. The rest came eventually but very slowly; not entirely sure why as Orpheus is a setter I am usually much more on wavelength with. Not my best performance today …

    Many thanks to Rotter for the blog

  17. I found this tough and went over my target. OPTIMAL was held up for a while by QUAD, until I reread the clue and saw the homophone element. LAMPOONER was FOI. PELLET and FOREFATHER brought up the rear. 11:20. Thanks Orpheus and Rotter.

  18. Very, very slow, but enjoyed despite DNF. Failed on GAINSAY, BYER (forgot 5 could mean reference to a clue.). PDMs with answers like PICCOLO (COD), RAVENOUS, WREST, FOREFATHER, ADMISSION, ENTERPRISE.
    A difficult one. Thanks vm, Rotter.

  19. When I first started doing these, I found Orpheus one of the trickiest setters – more recently I have felt that I am more on his wavelength but today was like old times. I also didn’t know QUOD, and couldn’t parse OPTIMAL. I saw Al then I got stuck! Perhaps I should withdraw my advice to Tina 😅 I did remember CONTE from previous puzzles.
    Still, lots to enjoy – I do like Orpheus’s style. IMPALA made me smile.
    11 minutes FOI Quail LOI Overhear COD Forefather
    Thanks Orpheus and Rotter

    On edit: just popped over to look at the 15×15 blog, and discovered that a definition of quid (in 11d) is one I never knew. Jokingly, I was going to ask if there was such a word as qued – but it turns out there is! Quud doesn’t seem to exist though 😅

  20. Tough going again on this one, and for the third day running outside my target of 10.00 at 15.38. I had taken about 9 minutes to get all but 1ac and 1 dn, and eventually put QUOD in more in hope than anything.
    As I have previously noted, some of the times posted each day can be spectacularly low, and I am in total awe at the speed of solve. I am a pen on paper solver, and I’ve often wondered how much of a disadvantage this might be in terms of achieving fast times.
    Today I tried an experiment to see how quickly I could finish the crossword if I had a nigh on perfect solve. That is to say if the answers came to me virtually immediately, and I completed the crossword in the same order the clues were laid out. Having earlier completed the crossword, I of course knew each answer, but nevertheless went through the process of reading each clue again and allowing a 2 second solve time for each clue before writing in the answer. The result of this was a solve time of 3mins 20seconds. I can now appreciate that my fastest solve time for the quick cryptic achieved a few years ago at 4mins 24seconds was not far off as good as it’s going to get!
    It also confirms what may be blindingly obvious, that to key in the answers on line is the only way to obtain the outstanding times posted by the likes of Verlaine. As a two fingered typist I don’t think I could even improve much if I adopted this method!
    My best bet for improvement appears to be with the 15×15 where my best time is 14minutes 14seconds achieved a few months back. However my 45 minute target is usually a lot more realistic!

    1. Watching Verlaine – and Jeremy – live stream their solves is a fascinating way to spend an astonishingly short period of time.

  21. “Some Might Say”* that this was quite tricky, but apart from taking QUOD on trust I had no problems – and no typos !

    * A song by OASIS

    TIME 4:07

    I’m in the middle of filling out a grid for a future Weekend QC, the idea being that I don’t put in any solutions that I then find I can’t adequately clue. I’m not telling you which of the answers in today’s puzzle was the last word I wrote in at bedtime last night – but my thought on clueing it was pretty well the same as that used by Orpheus ! I can probably get away with it, given that it won’t appear for 5 weeks….

  22. Undone by a failure to see the 1s down and across and only part kicking myself for it as NHO QUOD, but would have biffed it with QUAIL which I should have got. I like a good IKEA clue and enjoyed those here – thanks Orpheus and Rotter.

  23. Started well with both the clues across the top and then came a long gap until I got a few of the across clues in the bottom third. More success with the downs but it still left me with rather a void in the middle. Got there eventually in 22 minutes, having looked up quod to check it was correct. NHO this or conte for short story.

    FOI – 1ac QUAIL
    LOI – 1dn QUOD
    COD – either 10ac FOREFATHER or 22ac GAINSAY

    Thanks to Orpheus and Rotter

  24. A question re SA as an abbreviation of sex appeal (and a frequently tricky substitute for ‘it’ in Times QC): in what context is that SA abbreviation used outside of crossword clues? Thanks in advance

    1. I remember SA being so used many years ago, but have not heard it recently. Crossword setters have long memories, and many such things become chestnuts.

    2. Sorry, just catching up with the blog comments after a day out.

      I heard / learned SA as an abbreviation for Sex Appeal long before I came to cryptic crosswords. I can’t be certain or specific, but SA and IT were interchangeable in my mind, and I’m sure I came across them in newspaper reports back in the ’60s or ’70s. I’d be pushed to think of a usage example, but they definitely existed in real life. Perhaps I read the wrong newspapers!

  25. I wasn’t a fan of this one. I couldn’t parse CONTESSA so just went with it and I have NHO QUOD. I didn’t know that GAINSAY meant dispute….strange how you can know of a word but not it’s meaning. I finished up in the NE corner with QUAIL and QUOD my LOsI in 12:10.

  26. Dnf…

    Should have got 1ac “Quail” (nearly put Crawl), but NHO of “Quod” for 1dn. Similarly, I’ve seen “Byre” before, but forgot it (didn’t help that “Gainsay” never popped into my head either). Whilst I got 13dn “Contessa” (often popular in crosswords) I couldn’t parse it and from reviewing the blog above it seems I also misparsed 11dn “Admission”. So, overall a bit of a mixed bag for what I thought was a quite a tough puzzle.

    FOI – 4ac “Piccolo”
    LOI – dnf
    COD – 12dn “Ravenous”

    Thanks as usual!

  27. Orpheus doing his/her best to put off newbies. Following on from Phil… Whatever… Or maybe just need cigarettes and alcohol.

    Dnk/forgot contes, corvids, legation, byre (although I remember the homophone coming up before), quod. So pleased to finish although over budget.

    LOI outbreak.
    COD outbreak

  28. Struggled with this one and had to refer to Chambers for assistance. NHO Quod, Contes and needed to check which birds are classed as Corvids (could only think of crows).
    Definitely not on the setter’s wavelength today and, although I finished, I needed to come on here to unravel the parsing of several clues. A tough one!

  29. I don’t know if this counts as disputing the assertion re “gullible” but I found a mention in my Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology. It doesn’t have its own entry but appears in bold type under that for”gull”.

  30. Another very difficult QC. Had to look up CORVID and NHO QUOD. Most clues took me a while to solve – only go6 6 on my first run through. Very pleased to finish it!

  31. QUOD erat demonstrandum

    For those who may like to know, Quod originated as a slang term for Newgate prison but was later used for prisons in general, inmates and even police stations (Chambers Slang Dictionary).

  32. 25 mins and all parsed except CONTESSA and QUOD – thank you Rotter for the informative blog. I really learned a lot today; NHO quod, Conte, did not know the correct spelling of piccolo until I needed the O for 6d, NHO sex appeal abbreviated to SA.

    It’s nice to learn from doing an enjoyable puzzle.

    I didn’t much enjoy all the homophones clues (I counted five today) which I sometimes find a lazy way of cueing. Although to be fair if I get the answer maybe that means it is a good clue?

    Lots of good clues today. I particularly liked IMPALA. NAIVE but COD to AROUND.

  33. Found this rather tricky. Finished in around 25mins but cheated by looking up QUOD, legation and BYRE (very puzzled by ‘for 5’ until read blog). FOI ARTY, LOI ENTERPRISE, didn’t really like clue for DRAGON (outdated), COD SPARTAN. Struggling to get out of the SCC these days… are the QCs getting harder or is it me?! Many thanks Orpheus and Rotter.

  34. Crikey!

    I somehow finished all correct in 39 minutes, but with six clues either unparsed or unknown/NHO. Those question marked clues were:
    QUAIL – DNK quail for fear, although I do know quake.
    QUOD – NHO the word.
    PICCOLO – Not fully parsed.
    CONTESSA – NHO conte for short story.
    BYRE – Couldn’t work out what the 5 was referring to.
    GAINSAY – DNK its meaning.

    Given all of the uncertainties above, I was much relieved when I read Rotter’s blog.
    N.B. Mrs Random ‘snuk’ in one minute under my time today, and so secures the family point yet again.

    Many thanks to Orpheus and Rotter.

  35. Joined those who had trouble with 1a and 1d. Also needed help with 3d, lampooned.

  36. Failed due to misspelling of Piccalo. NHO QUOD, but was guessable. SA & IT are definitely due for retirement. Snapchat savvy kids have 100s of words, abbreviations, emojis for “sex appeal” which would be fine as replacements.

    SAN also very Billy Bunter-ish. BYRE is commonly used in James Herriot’s books. COD RAVENOUS.

  37. 1hr40+ DNF – 1A/1D unsurprisingly + 19D.
    30-min morning attempt for about half; another 50-mins this evening to finish filling the boxes.


    Don’t think I’ve ever said that was too difficult for a QC but today’s the day.

    Thanks to The Rotter for the blog breakdown.

  38. One of the most difficult QCs I can remember. Seemed to be a lot of old fashioned words more likely to be found in old books than current conversation (QUAIL, WREST, GAINSAY, BYRE, LAMPOONER) and CONTES I thought was a French word. I needed aids for many of the clues and couldn’t parse several.

  39. DNF

    Still 3 unanswered as the clock passed 30 minute, not helped by spelling QUAD with an A for 1DN. Failed with OPTIMAL and PELLET. OVERHEARD too, so that’s actually 4 not done.

  40. I thought this was tough. Took ages to get going but then the light bulb went on. NHO quod but did know contessa (thanks to Ian Fleming – James Bond married a contessa who was then bumped off by Blofeld).

    A brilliant blog by The Rotter. The Terry Thomas photo always makes me smile.

  41. Completed in circa 25 minutes.
    Same problems as all reported before. LOI Quod – NHO but had to be
    Needed the blog for Contessa!
    I’m not normally a fan of the old words, but today’s were generally getable (?) by clueing or the letters…
    Thanks all

Comments are closed.