Times Quick Cryptic No 2199 by Wurm

Today we have what I think is a pleasant middle-of-the-road Quick Cryptic from our old friend Wurm. I was off to a flying start with 1A, 7A and 8A and was only held up by the actress, finishing in 4:36. LOI was 21A, which I needed the checkers to see. 4D, though, is maybe a bit of a tricky cryptic definition for a QC. How did you all get on? Apologies if I am tardy in replying to comments as I’m currently on holiday with the family in…. well see below, but I may not have any mobile phone signal for some of the day.

Fortnightly Weekend Quick Cryptic. Those of you who solved mine 2 weeks ago will know where I’m posting this from 🙂.  This time it is Phil’s turn to provide the extra weekend entertainment. You can find his crossword here. Enjoy! If anyone is interested in our previous offerings you can find an index to all 57 here.

Definitions underlined in bold italics, (Abc)* indicating anagram of Abc, {deletions} and [] other indicators.

4 Company, extremely loyal, that is dog (6)
COLLIECO (company), outside letters of, [extremely] L{oya}L, I.E. (id est; that is).
7 Guard absent in electrical stores (8)
SENTINEL – Hidden in abSENT IN ELectrical [stores].
8 Prisoner in China (6)
INMATEIN, MATE (China; CRS China Plate->Mate).
9 Minor act ridiculously sentimental (8)
ROMANTIC -(Minor act)* [ridiculously].
10 Small cat in urban haze? (4)
SMOGS (small) MOG (cat).
12 Actress slim and well-to-do (8)
DIETRICHDIET (slim) – think of both as verbs, RICH (well-to-do). Marlene Dietrich was a German-born American actress and singer whose career spanned from the 1910s to the 1980s and died 30 years ago. I can’t say I remember seeing any of her films.
15 Person you deal with in scrum with toe broken (8)
CUSTOMER – (scrum toe)* [broken].
18 Horse covering miles in search (4)
COMBCOB (horse) [covering] M (miles).
20 Guy’s initial anxiety on about criminal (8)
GANGSTERG{uy} [‘s initial] ANGST (anxiety) RE (on) [about] -> ER.
22 Obsessed when losing second glove (6)
MITTEN -{s}MITTEN (obsessed) [losing] the S (second).
23 English cricket side win at last in great style (8)
ELEGANCE – E (English) LEG (cricket side), {wi}N [at last] [in] ACE (great). Lovely surface and a reminder of the Test series against New Zealand earlier this summer.
24 Verbal agreement for rise (6)
ASCENT – Sounds like, [verbal], ASSENT (agreement).
1 Put sign up for submarine captain (4)
NEMO – OMEN (sign) [put up]. Captain Nemo “...is a fictional character created by the French novelist Jules Verne. Nemo appears in two of Verne’s science-fiction classics, Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Seas and The Mysterious Island.
2 Rigs that collapsed not bent (8)
STRAIGHT -(rigs that)* [collapsed].
3 One football team? (6)
UNITED -Double definition.
4 Old saw that’s lost its edge? (6)
CLICHE -Cryptic definition – a saw being a saying.
5 Thrash black sheep (4)
LAMBLAM (thrash) B (black).
6 Phone system Bury firm marketed at first (8)
INTERCOMINTER (Bury) CO (company; firm) M{arketed} [at first].
11 Canadian police unit — some corrupt (8)
MOUNTIES – (unit some)* [corrupt].
13 Diamonds and cool stuff (3)
ICE -Double definition
14 Famous musician stuns sailor (4,4)
ROCK STARROCKS (stuns) TAR (sailor). A setters’ trick – the enumeration of the wordplay (5,3) is not the same as the answer.
16 Painter outside grand bar that’s attractive (6)
MAGNETMANET (painter) [outside] G (grand).
17 Commando in mountains on run (6)
RANGERRANGE (mountains) R (run). I was a little surprised by this but I see the dictionary has for “ranger”, “(US) – a commando”. Maybe we should have had some indication that it is an American usage?
19 Some nasty eye inflammation? (4)
STYE – [Some] naSTY Eye, and indeed an eye inflammation.
21 Make an impression and so on with Henry (4)
ETCHETC (et cetera; and so on) H (Henry, the unit of electrical inductance).

82 comments on “Times Quick Cryptic No 2199 by Wurm”

  1. I finished in 16:49! Great end to the week.

    Two of the minutes were spent on NEMO. I needed an alphabet trawl, because I couldn’t think of a sign or a submarine captain, but answer was obvs once it was in. I thought about a HERO sub for a moment like the sandwich, but the wordplay didn’t work

    We had the MITTEN one recently as well as China = mate. Lots of little things I didn’t know six months ago, like inter = bury, a cob being a horse, tar = sailor which would have rendered this puzzle impossible for me at the time.

    I didn’t know a saw was a saying, thanks for the explanation for CLICHE

    Foi: SMOG
    loi: NEMO
    cod: CUSTOMER

    Thanks everyone!

  2. I seem to have solved 4d CLICHE without reading the clue; not that hard to do when there’s only one unch. I dithered over ASSENT/ASCENT and had to re-read the clue. John, if you haven’t seen The Blue Angel , by all means do! 5:11.

  3. 13:12. Entered LUMP before further thought turned up obvious LAMB. Didn’t quite like diet for slim as I think of slimming as the result of dieting but see they overlap enough.
    RANGERs have quite a role in US military history from Roger’s Rangers in the 18th century( backwoods guerrillas) to the Texas Rangers in the 19th century and up to the official designations of army groups in present US Army. Thanks for explaining CLICHE and rest of blog.

  4. I found this really hard! 26:55 with more biffing than usual. Didn’t spot the hidden SENTINEL at all, and tried to overthink CLICHE, although I think “Old saw” would have been a sufficient clue. COD ROCK STAR, which made me smile.

  5. 15:38 but with a DNF owing to a single pink, ASSENT. I often get these types of clues backwards. LOI GANGSTER, as I thought “on about” would mean ending with c[irca]. “Angst” was a tough word to dredge up.

    Top half flew in, bottom took much longer.

    Not sure about ACE=“Great”. Very 1980s. Who says that now?

  6. 10 minutes. I lost some time trying to parse ELEGANCE and also trying to find wordplay for CLICHÉ before concluding it was simply a cryptic definition. I did think ‘commando/ranger’ was a bit odd but moved straight on assuming that if I looked it up later I would find it – which I did.

  7. Got MAGNET via mognet, so enjoyed that. Had ‘eleven’ where UNITED ended up and very nearly came a cropper over ASCENT where the checkers made it very tempting to bung in the other version but I noticed I’d not had a pink sqaure this week so I was super cautious. Ended up all green in 10.

  8. Done and dusted in 8 minutes, so a good end to the week and a fine preparation for Phil’s Saturday Special, which I look forward to. No real hold-ups; I rather assumed commandos were rangers without really thinking why I thought that, though if I had I might have queried it a bit more in my mind.

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

  9. A PB at 14:21 with the last 20-seconds including a change from RANGEs to RANGER and another stare at ASCENT to commit to which end of the clue was the definition. On reflection, it doesn’t look as easy now as I found it. Maybe the portcullis grid was kind with its checkers.

    Top half was something of a write-in for me although I never spotted SENTINEL and came back to it later for a BIF. Had a laugh at SMOG as I reached the lower half. Then the work began. CUSTOMER needed the pen & paper, and ELEGANCE, I spent time parsing in case it was something more complicated like ELEGANCy. MAGNET, I took the Monet route like Mendeset and then groaned when I realised why it was attractive!

    Can’t argue with a PB and 4th ever SCC escape – especially after yesterday’s 1hr11 solve.

    Thanks to John and Wurm 🙂

    Edit: noting I took 1hr57 to complete the last Wurm grid on 30th June (2168) which was sheer bloody mindedness in not wanting to be defeated by the Grid of Doom. It really is quite amazing how variable the level of a setter can be.

    1. 🏅Personal best! Wowee

      Did you finish and go ‘now what am I going to do with my time?’

      I agree that maybe the grid was forgiving, esp with Cliche that only had one non checker. Which I have learned today (thanks Kevin) is called an Unch.

      1. It definitely feels like “what next?” when these are done in 20-25 mins – whether solved or DNFed. Most of August has been in the 40-min range split into 2-3 attempts so it’s a nice problem to have. That said, already a whole day planned of running, calisthenics and having a Guinness in the hammock to take up my time 🙂

      1. Honestly. In Australia we have P plates for when you have your license but are a newbie. Is it the same in England?

        1. I believe we do Tina, or is it Lisa or Nina 😀 Optional green P-plate for “probationary”.

          But I haven’t passed my test yet and there’s a big backlog in the bookings 😉

          1. Haha I’ve been called much worse by people who weren’t paying me compliments 😀

            I really look forward to having a whole week of no dnfs. Maybe I’ll try an L plates and just power through even when I want to give up.

    2. Your perseverance is paying dividends-makes all those frustrating long slow grinds worthwhile!

    3. Well done. I really disliked today’s offering from Wurm so it just shows how things can vary. Your time is brilliant. It took me somewhere just shy of an hour.

  10. Gentle going from Wurm, who I usually find one of the tougher setters, but full of excellent clues – with DIETRICH and ROCKSTAR being particular stand outs.
    Triple checked ASCENT to make sure I’d got things the right way round and finished with ELEGANCE which I wanted to get XI into until I had all the checkers in place. Struggled a bit with the parsing of CLICHE as I assumed it was a double definition.
    Crossed the line in 7.23
    Thanks to John

  11. Fat-fingering “manget” held me up in the SE corner for a while. And I took a long time to see what “stores” was doing in 4a. Otherwise not too bad, especially now I know it’s a Wurm!

    FOI COLLIE, LOI SENTINEL, COD ROCK STAR, time 08:27 for 1.6K and a Decent Day.

    Many thanks Wurm and John.


  12. 25 minutes with the SE corner taking up a big chunk of my time and I’m not sure why now. I Also, took a while to see MAGNET as I was thinking of the wrong bar and the wrong painter Monet.

  13. 7.02

    Happy enough with the time but dithered over CLICHE and SENTINEL at the end. Couldn’t see what could fit the checkers for the former and still can’t see what losing its edge has to do with the clue. 🤔 And missed the hidden on the latter.

    Liked DIETRICH

    Thanks John and Wurm

    1. “losing it’s edge” is a cryptic hint that a CLICHE is a saying that is overused and it’s effect blunted… and to fit the surface.

  14. I wasn’t on Wurm’s wavelength and found this harder than many early posters. I ended up 3 mins over target with LOI COMB (which only came to me after DIETRICH and ROCK were filled in).
    Some very nice clues but perhaps I was a bit thick this morning after a good dinner and some fine wines with friends last night. Thanks to both. John M.

  15. Couldn’t finish this one without help. Been a bad week for me with these puzzles. Hopefully will have a better week next week.

  16. Back on track. Never properly parsed the “losing its edge” part of CLICHE, but what else could it be?

    Switched from ASSENT to ASCENT, but otherwise I was much happier with this puzzle than my failures on Weds and Thurs.

    LOI was GANGSTER, which I thought very neat.


  17. A really nice offering from Wurm which stretched me a bit finishing a few seconds outside my target at 10.05. Particularly liked CLICHE, a true cryptic clue and DIETRICH at 12ac.
    I have an old vinyl 45 of Marlene Dietrich singing Lili Marlene in German on one side and in English on the other. The German version in particular is mesmerisingly beautiful, and of course was a Second World War inspired song that the British half inched for the entertainment of their own troops!

    1. Indeed. Oliver Pritchett wrote a piece in this month’s Oldie mourning the death of British understatement. He suggested a number of modern expressions that might benefit from its return. Here’s a taster:

      He’s a hero = He’s a good egg.
      It’s iconic = It’s quite well known.
      Tragic = unfortunate.
      Decimated = reduced.
      She was devastated = She was somewhat put out.
      That’s a blatant lie = Steady on, old chap.

      1. The irony with Decimated is that its original meaning is Reduce BY one-tenth, whereas these days it is more often used to mean Reduce TO one-tenth. I was always told that the phrase comes from the Roman Legions and the punishment for mutiny – each group of 10 soldiers (“decem”) had to draw lots and the unfortunate loser was murdered by his mates. A dreadful punishment for the person drawing the short straw but actually not a lot less awful for his friends.

      2. Don’t forget our “world-class” footballers … the ones who are good enough to play for England

      3. I recently worked with a chap who originally hailed from Leicester and to whom everything and everyone were either brilliant or diabolical- no middle ground.

      4. not to forget the media’s inflationary favourites:
        crisis = a little difficulty
        impacted = had a small effect upon

        1. I find the hyperbolic language of any sport commentary, advertising, or many tv docujollies for celebs. etc very irritating. Bring back understatement please!

          1. Yes, and not to forget the overhype on the hot weather.

            We’re all going to die = You may care to loosen your collar.

            1. That’s one after ‘gentlemen may remove ties’

              Without getting into the row/argument/debate/discussion(? take your pick) about so-called ‘snowflakes’ isn’t it time we wound back to a less sensationalised (and polarising) use of our glorious language and vocabulary? It’s wonderful how it evolves in wordage and usage, but not everything has to be extreme – it leaves little left for a true crisis or major-change event. A family tragedy is very probably ‘a crisis’ for them but the casual use of the word in news bulletins/newspapers is unreasonable, verging on the illiterate. ‘Impact/ed’ is a similar case – probably made worse by turning it into a verb. Gosh, it’s hot – time to make another cuppa…

              1. The one that’s driving me insane (no hyperbole there then!) is to gift 😱 Whatever happened to give, donate or present? I read something in the Times very recently about how some historical character was gifted with something – a title or some riches perhaps. I can’t remember the detail but I was appalled at the usage. Even if it’s relatively common these days, it wouldn’t have been at the time of the gift (the only acceptable use of the word in my book!). I’m going to put the kettle on now…

                1. Seconded. I believe it is known as verbing or denominalization, and I find it very irritating as well. I heart you for that comment.

          2. These days, the moment they start talking hyperbolicly about upcoming sports or any other TV event; I lose interest. But then I measure things by their actual quality, not how big they are. It has become a (bad) habit of the world to spend life predicting what is coming up rather than just letting it play out and celebrating it for what it is.

            Think it was J0hn Motson who said when he commentated, if there was an exciting passage of play, he always left himself the ability to go “one higher” for when there was an actual goal scored in extraordinary or crucial circumstances.

  18. Finally over the line in around 25 mins with NEMO my LOI by an embarrassingly long way. Was not thinking of a literary captain but rather an official term for a submarine captain, and couldn’t get ‘Leo’ out of my head for ‘sign’ 🙄 Otherwise much to like including DIETRICH (my COD), GANGSTER and ASCENT. Many thanks all and congrats to Lisa and L-Plates for brilliant times. In awe of how quickly you’ve got going – it’s still taking me (a not as new newbie) forever! That said, I’m still really enjoying the process 😃 Many thanks to Wurm, and to John for the brilliant blog.

    1. Thanks SLT … I put some of my improvement down to getting the book of QCs and working through that, along with The Guardian Everyman on Sunday for extra practice.

      On submarine captains, I used to work at an organisation where the big boss had been one. Despite being an upper-class, English public school type, he portrayed the typical “open door”, “I’m a friendly chap” bonhomie that all these bigwigs try to create and one day I found myself walking along the corridor with him. In my inimitable, talk-to-anyone, no-respect-for-status way I started chatting to him and then had to hold back from asking “So … what was it like being a U-boat commander …” 😀

  19. 7:29 but with a careless ASSENT. I’ll put it down to numerous interruptions during the solve distracting me. Thanks Wurm and John.

  20. 9:44 on the mobile including one stop at a peage. FOI COLLIE and LOI ELEGANCE. ‘Saw’ CLICHE STRAIGHT away. Thanks all.

  21. Actually the Rangers are a new British Regiment that was formed last year and are a branch of special ops, for commando like actions. Already deployed.
    Like Special Forces they are highly trained and covert.

  22. Another hot day, and another slow 25min solve. None of the clues were particularly difficult. In fact some, such as Mounties, were absolute gifts, but I spent far too long on others – Sentinel only went in following a late application of the ‘when all else fails, look for a hidden’ rule. Hopefully cooler weather and quicker times next week 🤞 Invariant

  23. Rather a struggle, but finished after leaving and coming back to it. SENTINEL (didn’t spot it hiddn in clue at first) and CLICHE (unparsed, but only 1 letter left to guess!) last in.

  24. 6:33 today for what I felt was an average QC in terms of difficulty but where for some reason I struggled with the anagrams (which normally tends not to be the case) e.g. 2 d “straight” and and 9 ac “romantic” should have been gimmies. I had no problems with the parsing – it was a well designed and fair puzzle.
    Particularly liked 4 d “cliche” and 12 ac “Dietrich” – foreign words can often lend themselves to creative wordplay in English.
    The SNITCH for today’s 15 x 15 now looks rather formidable I have to say!
    Thanks to John for his blog and to our German nematode friend for the puzzle.

  25. After fast start, Very Slow today. Stuck on LOI ELEGANCE (was trying to fit in XI -but it was LEG side , of course )and RANGER (was trying to fit in RM, NHO Ranger commandos) but I go there in the end.
    Also stupidly slow to see ROCK STAR and COMB.
    MOUNTIES seemed too easy but it fitted. FOI COLLIE.
    Liked DIETRICH, ASCENT, MAGNET, among others.
    Thanks vm, John.

  26. Back from holiday. I solved this smoothly enough but have not gone back to timing on the clock just yet.
    Could not parse LOI ELEGANCE but otherwise no real problems. I did think hard about ASCENT because, as mentioned above, it’s easy to trip up on these.

    1. LEG is the side of a cricket pitch by the batter’s leg, sometimes called the on side. It is the other side when the batter is left-handed. The opposite half of the pitch is called the off side. I am not sure it is right that this knowledge should be as important to crossword solvers as it is to cricket fans!

  27. After yesterday’s disaster, pleased to complete in about 15 minutes, better than average for me. All parsed, except for CLICHE, and I was not really sure of the submariner. On the former, on reading the blog, I can see where John (and presumably Wurm) are coming from, but although a CLICHE may have been used so much that it should have lost its edge ages ago, people, irritatingly, continue to use it and thereby successfully make their point, which wouldn’t succeed if it really had lost its edge!
    FOI COLLIE, LOI ELEGANCE, which I found tough, COD DIETRICH, whom, like others, I never saw, so am somewhat puzzled by how she came to mind so quickly.
    Thanks Wurm and John, for the enjoyment.

  28. 16 mins…

    Very enjoyable I thought with quite a few clues that made me chuckle. Have to admit, I wondered about Commando = Ranger, but couldn’t see what else it could be. Had a similar debate about 24ac “Ascent”, but assumed the verbal coming first had to relate to the “agreement” element.

    I liked 21dn “Etch”, 10ac “Smog” and 22ac “Mitten”.

    FOI – 4ac “Collie”
    LOI – 4dn “Cliche”
    COD – 16dn “Magnet”

    Thanks as usual!

    PS. Hope you’re enjoying Irela…sorry, Scotland John! 😀

    1. Thanks. Having a lovely week based in Comrie. A week in Scotland in August without any rain… and nice temperature too. Plenty of lovely walks, esp. Glen Lednock. Back to baking Suffolk tomorrow.

  29. No real problems here today. I eventually saw 7a Sentinel and then spotted the hidden. Liked 12a Dietrich, 20a Gangster, 21d Etch and 16d Magnet (my preference over Monet). A definite MER at 17d as an Americanism, but others have suggested this is ok. I noted yesterday the BBC website had used splendored rather than the English spelling…for what are we paying our licence fee to the BritshBC!
    FOI 4a Collie
    LOI 17d Ranger
    COD 7a Sentinel but since it’s a ‘hidden’, maybe not!
    Will try to resist the Saturday puzzle until tomorrow.
    Thx all.

  30. Sort of feel slightly diddled as I got 24a wrong. I read it as Verbal agreement = Rise, but of course the agreement part was doing a different job! So DNF – and I was on for my best time this week at just over 8 minutes too. A couple more seconds spent thinking about that one wouldn’t have made much difference really, as I don’t time myself exactly.
    All the same I enjoyed this one, especially as it’s the very wriggly Wurm 😅
    FOI Collie LOI Gangster C8D Rock star
    Thanks Wurm and John

    Big congrats to Tina and L-Plates – lovely to see that all your hard work is paying off 😊

    One last thing: someone recommended Sainsbury’s whole nut choc a few weeks ago. I succumbed yesterday – and you were right! It’s delicious, and good value too 😋 So thank you – sorry I can’t credit you personally!

  31. I thought this was a very fair QC. I still don’t understand how people can complete these crosswords in a couple of minutes or less. I think I need to stop working out the anagrams in my head and find myself a pen and paper. The only time I have resorted to that was yesterday. I expect it would improve my times quite a bit if I did that. However I generally like the challenge to my brain. Couldn’t parse ELEGANCE and took a while to get CLICHE. Well done to all the PBs today – I’m afraid I’m not joining you.

  32. Really enjoyed this offering from Wurm which was pitched at just the right level for a QC imo. I had it all finished in 17 minutes which seemed to me to be quite slow and I felt I should have done better. I seemed to be over complicating some of the easier ones which slowed me down. I had it all parsed except for ELEGANCE which I couldn’t figure out at all, so thanks to John for the explanation in the blog.

    FOI – 4ac COLLIE
    LOI – 5dn LAMB
    COD – 4dn CLICHE, closely followed by 12ac – DIETRICH

    Thanks to Wurm

  33. Here’s a question as I am new to this. How are you supposed to recognise cockney slang if there is no indicator. I thought 5his a really bad clue but then what do I know. Also found this hard.

    1. A good point about CRS. But there are some common words derived from Cockney Rhyming Slang that are just treated as synonyms in crosswordland without an indication. China for mate is one of the commonest. You can read about the topic here .

  34. ‘Falling in love again, never wanted to. What am I to do ? I can’t help it’. From the original German language version by Marlene DIETRICH, but do try to check out Alan Price’s excellent English version taken at about twice the speed of the original.

    A gentle offering from Wurm that was soon put to bed.

    COD CLICHE (a 15×15 refugee)
    TIME 3:29

  35. Nice puzzle for a hot day. Finished in about 20 m, but misspelt sentinel, and had assent for 24a. Careless. Loi elegance. Thanks Wurm.

  36. 34 minutes, but a DNF due to ASsENT. I got it quite early and didn’t pause long enough to verify the parsing.

    NHO the submarine captain, and a RANGER is definitely not a commando as far as I’m concerned. I couldn’t parse the …ER bit of GANGSTER, and I was very unsure of CLICHE and ICE. Too many uncertainties today, so not very enjoyable, I’m afraid.

    Mrs Random sped through it in exactly 20 minutes without pausing to check any of her ifs and buts. She is blessed with the ability to guess correctly in any situation.

    Many thanks to Wurm and John

  37. I’m with you Mr Random. As usual I couldn’t get on the setter’s wavelength and had trouble seeing how many of the clues worked. The problem I have with setters who are normally difficult is that I look for something more tricky than is required. I’m amazed at some of the times from solvers who are often in my time bracket, so perhaps I was just a bit thick today. A very hard slog to follow on from yesterday!

    Thanks for the blog. I needed it more than one today for the parsing.

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