Times Quick Cryptic No 2173 by Hurley

Some rare treats in this puzzle from Hurley, with unusual words and devices employed to clue them.  It didn’t hold me up though, I completed in just 9 minutes, so I expect to see some fast times.

1a was FOI, WOD to 6d or 20d, and hats off for the two long cricket related answers, particularly after England’s spectacular result on Tuesday.  Thanks Hurley.  Lots to enjoy.



1  Regularly daunt thin opponent (4)

ANTI – Alternate letters (regularly) in dAuNt ThIn.

3  Very enthusiastic as English tactics altered (8)

ECSTATIC – Anagram (altered) of E{nglish} and [TACTICS].

French castle talk – by water there (7)

CHATEAU – CHAT (talk) and EAU (water there = French for water).

10  What’s left after burning at end of three months (5)

EMBER – The last five letters of septEMBER, novEMBER and decEMBER (end of three months).  I’ve not seen this before.

11  Lot put off by Arthurian knight’s weapon (5)

LANCE – Remove LOT from LANCE{lot} (Arthurian Knight).

12  Time with this writer coming back in transport for two (6)

TANDEM – T{ime} AND (with) EM (ME (this writer) reversed (coming back).  Daisy, Daisy, give me your answer do…

14  Big score in club tourney Ed put together (6,7)

DOUBLE CENTURY – Anagram (put together) of [CLUB TOURNEY ED].  One of today’s cricket reference clues – the QC’s favourite sport, where a DOUBLE CENTURY by a batsman is always considered a big score.  on Tuesday we saw a different type of double-century, with one each from Root and Bairstow – Bravo!

17  Expedition long way off is, on return, written about (6)

SAFARI – AFAR (long way off) with IS (is) reversed (on return) outside (written about).

19  Vegetable, poor stuff, I hesitate to say (5)

TATER – TAT (poor stuff) and ER (I hesitate to say).  TATER is an informal term for potato (vegetable).

22  Female fighter, extremely capable (5)

ALICE – ALI (Muhammad, the boxer – fighter) and C{apabl}E (extremely).

23  Prevent entry of mischievous Peke, newly released (4,3)

KEEP OUT – KEEP (anagram (mischievous) of [PEKE]) and OUT (newly released).

24  Note politician yet to arrive, a pattern (8)

TEMPLATE – TE (note – think doh, ray, me) and MP (politician) with LATE (yet to arrive).

25  Leader heard Republican missed out (4)

HEAD – Take R{epublican} out of HEA{r}D (republican missed out).


Honour leading pairs of actors, covering last decade (8)

ACCOLADE – First two letters (leading pairs) in ACtors, COvering, LAst and DEcade. Another relatively rare device.

Instruct set of coaches (5)

TRAIN – Double definition.

4  Tricky cut once, playing this sport? (6,7)

COUNTY CRICKET – Anagram (playing) of [TRICKY CUT ONCE].

Link with temperature that is popular (3-2)

TIE-IN – T{emperature} with IE (that is) and IN (popular).

6  Bill of relatively small price, we hear, for picture (7)

TABLEAU – Homophone clue, sounds like TAB LOW (bill of relatively small price).

7  Maybe Jack’s way to send greetings (4)

CARD – Cryptic hint, referring to the playing card Jack, or Knave.

Divulge answer during party (6)

REVEAL – REVEL (party) containing A{nswer}.

13  Hated getting unusually dry inside – happy to be this? (8)

HYDRATED – HATED containing an anagram (unusually) of [DRY].

15  University moved fast, initially isolating unruly male element (7)

URANIUM – U{niversity} RAN (moved fast) and initial letters of I{solating} U{nruly} M{ale}.

16  Spice in container brought up by Margaret (6)

NUTMEG – TUN (container) reversed (brought up) next to MEG (diminutive for Margaret).

18  Article, genuine, referring to locality (5)

AREAL – A (article) and REAL (genuine).  An unusual word.

20  Recurring idea used in intro, perfect (5)

TROPE – Hidden answer inside {in}TRO, PE{rfect}.

21  Separate role (4)

PART – Double definition.

67 comments on “Times Quick Cryptic No 2173 by Hurley”

  1. Hi I finished this in 20 mins, NW corner clockwise all the way around with no real hold ups.

    I spent 5 of those minutes on my LOI, Alice. Seems easy now that it’s done.

    I also nho AREAL but the wordplay very basic.

    Hope everyone else found it as easy as me! Hurrah for Hurley!

  2. DNK the cricket terms, but the anagrams were easy enough with a couple of checkers. ACCOLADE took some time; it was my LOI and I only parsed it after submitting. 6:47.

  3. 16:26 Enjoyed TABLEAU, TANDEM and TATER most. LANCE, CARD,and ALICE went in quickly but I had to come here to fully parse them- thanks!

    1. Snap! 16.26 too.
      No holdups from top to bottom.
      Kept waiting for something to catch me out but it didn’t.
      I realise that is the best time my brain and phone finger can work in conjunction to achieve successful completion.
      Have to assume that this was definitely at the easier end of the difficulty scale, at least for me.
      Thanks Hurley and Rotter

      1. What are the odds? Well, we’ll have to see how long it takes before this synchronicity/serendipity happens again!

  4. Under 10 minutes for me with nothing I remember really holding me up. No problem with the cricket clues having grown up in UK, but I have no idea what England did on Tuesday.

  5. 8 minutes, but what has being happy got to do with HYDRATED? I had 7dn as a double definition, the first by example as indicated by ‘maybe’.

    1. I think you are happy to be hydrated when you are unusually dry inside

      1. 3:15. A virtual write in. Must have been on the right wavelength. About as fast as I can go. Would love to break 3 mins but I don’t think I can physically do it.

  6. Pressed submit with fingers crossed to gamble on a rare sub-9. I’d only completed half of two clues: LANCE where I hadn’t parsed and TATER where I’d parsed but paused as I’ve definitely heard the term I’m pretty sure this is the first time I’ve seen it written down. Seven on the first pass of acrosses followed by lots of lots of the downs. Enjoyed solving TIE-IN, just did as it said and there is was. No typos!

  7. 19 minutes with LANCE and HYDRATED parsed post-solve.
    FOI: ANTI quickly followed by ACCOLADE.
    Favourite: TABLEAU.
    I had CARD as a DD too.

  8. Praise the Lord – thanks be to Hurley.

    18:11 – second fastest time ever.

    Really helped by having two big sports anagrams. But also HEAD = HEARD minus R is about my level.
    Likewise HYDRATED – give me the word HATED and leave me to rearrange DRY inside it. Whereas REVEAL was an initial biff from the -E—L and then decrypt the REVEL + A. This has been the problem, without checkers, I just can’t do this substitution stuff.

    Couple of short hold ups with spelling ESTACTIC and trying TubER for TATER and then a rising fear of not being able to get the last few answers or spending half an hour on them!

    Didn’t take time to parse ACCOLODATE (where I was trying to put TENS / 1os in early on); LANCE, NUTMEG, SAFARI, ALICE, TANDEM, TIE-IN among others.

    Maybe the recent tough times have sharpened up my brain. It certainly feels more on it today.

    Thanks to Rotter for the blog

    1. Hi five!

      We went on the same journey from anti to Alice with a detour of nho AREAL 🙂

      So good to have a win sometimes. I think my last win was Hurley too.

  9. A definite change of pace to day. Started with the 1s and finished with HYDRATED in a top to bottom solve. Crossed the line in 6.24 with ACCOLADE my favourite.
    Thanks to Rotter

  10. A very fast 10:48 for me today. COD ACCOLADE, but that might be just a reflection of how pleased I was to spot the wordplay straight away. Struggled with the long anagrams, but C???K?? didn’t have many options. NHO AREAL, was very dubious about that, thinking it was something to do with nipples. A little research tells me that it was AREOLA that was knocking on the door of my memory.

    Thanks to both setter & blogger.

    1. I was ready and available for the Safari on the 9:15 train this morning.

      FOI 1ac ANTI
      LOI 13dn HYDRATED
      COD 22ac ALICE
      WOD 16dn NUTMEG one of football’s most mysterious words. Phil!

      Oops! This wan’t meant to be a reply. Sorry Doof!

  11. My brief return to the SCC yesterday clearly reinvigorated me and after getting the two long cricketing clues straight off the bat (apologies) the grid opened up very nicely and enabled a 6½ minute completion and an extremely rare sub 1K finish. More T20-style than 5-day cricket – though the way England are batting these days, can anyone tell the difference?

    Only hold-up was Tater, where with T—R as checkers I initially tried Tuber. But Trope put that right. Areal a slightly unusual word, as it looks like a misspelling of aerial rather than a real word in its own right, but it was generously clued. As indeed was the whole puzzle – thank you Hurley.

    Many thanks to Rotter for the blog

  12. Is it Hurley’s 200th puzzle? Jack?

    Very enjoyable – as Rotter says, a nice mix of tricks.

    FOI ANTI, LOI ALICE, COD HYDRATED, time a very rare sub-6 at 05:57 for a even rarer sub-K, thus making this the best of all days, a Red Letter Day!

    Many thanks Hurley and Rotter.


    1. Indeed it is Hurley’s 200th, hence DOUBLE CENTURY. I monitored the 100th puzzles and remember there were many such milestones all around the same time so assuming a similar rate of setting we should be getting more 200ths shortly, or possibly we have missed some. I shall do a quick check on the leading setters.

      Reporting back, all the 200 milestones that were pending have now passed with the exception of Tracy’s . He will reach it on his next appearance. They were all noted here: Hurley, today; Izetti on 1 July; Joker on 31 May; Teazel on 23 June. Also with a very high number is Richard Rogan, the crossword editor, who sets for us under many different pseudonyms some of which I have not identified so I don’t have a total for him.

        1. It was probably the 200th nina that I’ve failed to spot 😂

          Mind you, I’ve started down that slippery slope by having a pangram in my last Weekend Special….

        1. Indeed. I have Mara at the 200 milestone yesterday, which went unnoticed and I can’t see anything in the grid that might have drawn our attention to it. Orpheus is on 199, so 200 next time out. Thanks.

          1. I’m back down the rabbit hole Jack! I’d agreed with you on Mara’s 150th at QC 1640 but looking at the Mara list here there are only 49 recorded since then which ties in with my list of Mara’s last one being 199th. Not sure what I’ve missed. Agree Orpheus on 199th.
            Oh the joy of numbers!

            1. Thanks, John. I’ve not checked the whole thing, but at first glance it appears that our archive is missing QC 2123 blogged on 28/4/22. I have sent a query to the development team.

              1. John, as mentioned above I’ve accounted for the discrepancy in the puzzles in the archive and satisfied myself that QC2172 (6/7/22) was Mara’s 200th but I’m not clear why you mention that you agree with me that QC1640 was Mara’s 150th. Have I said that somewhere? My records have his 150th as QC1626, and QC1640 as his 151st.

                1. Thanks Jack, I’ve obviously lost a Mara somewhere in the past and my comment about his 150th was my error, I thought I’d marked it as agreeing with you but now realise that I’d noted QC1626 as his 149th and disagreed with your list. Because the archive was missing 2123 it then appeared to confirm my counting- so two wrongs don’t make a right!

                  1. John, our excellent development team have now recovered the missing Mara blog (2123) and restored it to the archive.

                    1. Thanks, do appreciate all the time you put into the record keeping and replying to questions.

  13. Unusually fast time for me of 10m 41s (being relatively new to cryptics, which I started to understand and attempt to solve, during the first lockdown). Helped today by renewed interest in cricket because of recent stunning wins by England. Parsed a few down clues (1, 6, 13 & 15) only when all cross-checkers complete. Iratevower is crossworder! Oh dear.

  14. Congratulations to Hurley for a very good 200th puzzle. I slowed in the upper reaches, worked up from the bottom, and finished in the NW with ACCOLADE, REVEAL, and LOI LANCE (my COD). I enjoyed a number of clues, including EMBER (neat).
    Two and a half minutes under target, for a nice change, despite an interruption from a phone call.
    Thanks to Hurley and to rotter. John M.

  15. Finished this amusing puzzle and enjoyed it. LOI ACCOLADE, cd not quite parse. NHO AREAL but had to be. Liked many, inc. LANCE, TABLEAU.
    Thanks vm, Rotter, and congrats, Hurley.

  16. Started with ANTI and kept going. NHO AREAL, so waited for the crossers. HYDRATED was LOI. 5:48. Thanks Rotter and congratulations Hurley.

  17. DNF as I had THERE for AREAL, article=the, referring to =re, locality=there.


  18. Slightly stumped by possibly the easiest clue. A bit of a d’oh! when I saw all I had to do was take the R out of heard to get HEAD.

    TATER and ALICE also slowed me up.


    Congrats to Hurley on the double ton.


  19. Good day today. Managed to finish this one with no aids. I did use a dictionary to see if there was such a word as “areal”, as I had worked out the answer, but was unsure if it was a word or not. I think I can class that as a solve with no aids.

    Not timed, but probably about half an hour all told, not including letting the cat in, feeding him, letting him back out again, only to have him crying to come back in ten minutes later.

    A family size bar of chocolate is in order I do believe.

      1. I think one of our posters was handicapped by a cat who insisted on contributing at the keyboard during the solve.

  20. I seem to have mislaid my cricket hat…perhaps because I don’t own one. I was slow to see the long ones (and they weren’t particularly difficult) but I still managed an on target solve. I wasn’t sure about TATER and I only saw HYDRATED after trying ‘hardyted’. 8:20 and congratulations to Hurley.

  21. Lots of positive comments today from everyone, and relief from many I think for an easier offering from Hurley after a few tricky ones. 7.22 for me, and I too found it on the easier side. Congrats to the setter on his double century.

  22. A fairly fast 12 mins for me…

    The long anagrams that formed the cross in the middle of the puzzle took a little unravelling, but other than not seeing the parsing for 1dn “Accolade” the rest went in pretty steadily.

    FOI – 1ac “Anti”
    LOI – 1dn “Accolade”
    COD – 11ac “Lance”

    Thanks as usual!

  23. 6.44 but as the finger came down on the submit button I saw COUNNY…

    Never mind – nice puzzle – COUNTY CRICKET was excellent

    Thanks Rotter and congrats to Hurley

  24. 11 minutes with LOI ALICE needing all the checkers.
    Failed to parse LANCE and ACCOLADE. Thanks for those.
    NHO of AREAL but it must be a word.
    Congrats to Hurley on his double century.

  25. “ALICE ? Who the **** is ALICE?” as Roy ‘Chubby’ Brown memorably asked.

    AREAL was unknown, but clearly parsed.

    A very nice puzzle, congrats to Hurley, and thanks to Rotter.

    TIME 4:01

  26. Happier today! 9 minutes. I’m struggling massively with biggie today though.
    I noticed the cricketing crossers here but forgot about the recent rash of double centuries for many of our setters, so the theme was still lost on me. I liked CARD and TABLEAU.
    FOI Anti LOI Accolade COD Alice (today’s earworm – one of the many Chinnichap hits of the early 70s. But I reckon Blockbuster was the best – that will always get me up for a bop!)
    Thanks and congrats to Hurley and thanks Rotter

  27. Yes, a much gentler puzzle from Hurley today and finished sub-20 for the first time in ages. All parsed pre-submission apart from LANCE. Knew TATER courtesy of Sam in Lord of the rings. Double-checked AREAL was ‘a real’ word (sorry), otherwise no problems. Many thanks all.

  28. At last a more approachable puzzle and a finish, although a guess needed for AREAL.

  29. Had some 90s death metal blasting this morning on the way to an unexpected PB, which was surprising since I normally solve in silence. Also happy to get the two long cricket-crossers given I’m not sure I even know the rules of the game. Thanks Rotter for the blog.

    FOI: anti
    LOI: Alice
    TIME: 4:30

    1. Well done, elsinore72! A fantastic PB with blasting death metal? Some achievement, I would say. Like you, I normally try to solve in relative quiet, but maybe I’ll try your method.

  30. Well that was a welcome change. A PB for me on 12.02 so I’m happy (if not hydrated). Couldn’t parse ACCOLADE or LANCE without the blog so thank you for that.

  31. What a lovely puzzle! Thanks Hurley for a QC that was accessible to a relative newbie. Really enjoyed this one. Lots of fun clues like 1d and 10a.

  32. Nice to have an easier puzzle, all finished in 20m approx which is good for is. Had not come across areal before but the wordplay left no alternative. Thanks Hurley.

  33. Both Randoms had back-injury appointments with an osteopath, this afternoon. I managed to cross the line in 29 minutes while Mrs R was on the slab. A sub-30 is very good for me, so I am very pleased with finishing the puzzle before being summoned. Mrs R then completed her attempt in 17 minutes whilst I was at the osteopath’s mercy. Conclusion: we came home feeling a little fragile and enjoyed a nice cup of tea and some peanut cookies.

    No hold-ups for Mrs Random, but I found some of the lower half of the grid a little tricky. I had NHO AREAL or TROPE, was somewhat doubtful about TATER, and struggled to find SAFARI. Prior to getting SAFARI, I thought of MALAWI (just because it fitted _A_A_I) and invented YAWASI (IS AWAY, on return).

    Many thanks to Hurley and Rotter.

  34. A pleasant change in that it was finished as a write in
    Dnf yesterday but all good Tuesday

  35. An enjoyable puzzle and at 12:36 my 12th fastest (and fastest Hurley) solve ever. LOI was REVEAL. COD to EMBER. Thanks Hurley and Rotter.

  36. Blimey, an easy puzzle from Hurley who is usually my nemesis! I don’t time myself but I was certainly out of the SCC today.

  37. Areal is/was in common use for geographers who deal in areal distributions when mapping. More or less equates to spatial, normally ( in my uni) pronounced same as aerial except by one senior lecturer who always said aaa-re-al, so that us lesser mortals could spell it.
    I don’t usually bother to post as it tends to be very late in the day and most things have been said. My previous posts on the old websites seemed to get lost in the ether

  38. Came so close to my first finished QC but was ultimately stumped by ALICE. Is that British slang or was I just unaware that clue of “female” could mean any woman’s name?

    Anyway, quite a fun one! I was even able to fill in both cricket answers despite my total ignorance of the sport. I loved the clue for CHATEAU very much!

  39. I thought Hurley had come over all Bristol, adding L to the end of words-
    Areal, windol, ideal, Asdal etc. !!!

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