Times Quick Cryptic No 2272 by Felix

A satisfying mix of easy and difficult clues in this offering from Felix.

I didn’t help myself by confidently entering wrong answers for two of the across clues, and ended up limping across the line in 32:55, more than double my target time. At the time of submission, that was good enough to place me – let me see – oh yes, dead last in the standings.

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

1 Broadcast trick that can improve the atmosphere? (6)

AIR (broadcast) + CON (trick). Not a word according to my inner dictionary, and not one that appears in my Chambers from 1990 either. Collins online has it as “air-con”. Harrumph.

I had AIRING here for the longest time, thinking of “airing a grievance”, which made 3 down almost impossible.

4 Chemical element from commercial one put in alcoholic drink (6)

AD (commercial) + I (one) inside RUM.

8 British party travel to see African river (5)

I so wanted this to have a B for British. But it’s CONservative (British party) + GO (travel).

9 Elizabethan playwright’s horse crossing down (7)

MARE (horse) crossing LOW  (down, as in depressed).

The “‘s” is a nice trick here: it looks like it is a possessive, but actually indicates a contraction of “playwright is”. I was happy that the answer was one of the three Elizabethan playwrights I can name.

10 A person returning in Apocalypse Now (3)

Hidden in the reversed (returning) ApocalypsE NOw.

11 Rulers like Victoria, half of them leading forces (9)

Half of thEM leading PRESSES (forces, the verb).

12 Guarantee Head avoids criticism (6)

CENSURE (criticism) without its head (first letter).

13 Machine in bottling factory? Fine example! (6)

A double definition.

This is the other place where I tripped myself up. I had TOPPER – an answer that was simple, obvious and wrong.

16 Spicy food very quietly eaten by eccentric pioneer (9)

PP (very quietly, musical notation) inside (eaten by) an anagram of (eccentric) PIONEER.

18 German physicist in love with His Majesty (3)

O (love) + HM.

Maybe the only person who has two units named after him. The ohm is the measure of electrical resistance, and the mho is its inverse, the measure of electrical conductance. The mho is more properly known as the siemens, but where’s the fun in that?

19 Finally cheer on home team’s privileged member? (7)

Last letter (finally) of cheeR on (at the end of) IN (home, as in “I was in all day”) + SIDE (team).

20 Cast’s brief relationship (5)

A double definition. “Cast” as a verb.

22 Trials of European, for example, on board steamship (6)

European + SAY (for example) inside (on board) SS (steamship).

The “E” was a crosser and strongly indicated from the wordplay, so I crossed my fingers on the definition, which I didn’t know.

23 Zero kit fashionable, for a start (6)

O (zero) + RIG (kit) + IN (fashionable).

1 A run around part of the Circle Line? (3)

A + R (run – cricket) + C (around, from circa). An arc, of course, can be part of a “circle line”.

2 People calling for very close matches (7)

Another double definition: the first as in people using the telephone, and the second as in “dead ringer” – someone who looks just like someone else. Nothing to do with sports: took me a long time.

3 Sort of aerosol from Australia — one kind (5-8)

OZ (Australia) + ONE + FRIENDLY (kind)

I was stuck with an N as the first letter here, so this took an embarrassingly long time to come to mind.

5 Forfeited rage, resolved to stop arguing? (5,2,6)

(Forfeited rage)* (resolved).

6 Has no right to hold up golf clubs (5)

The second reversed hidden word of the puzzle. Hidden backwards in “haS NO RIght”, the reversal indicated by “up” since this is a down clue.

7 Turbulence in realm most unusual (9)

(realm most)* (unusual).

9 Moon, or half moon, seen above gym (4)

Half of MOon, above (before, for a down clue) PE (Physical Education, also known as gym class).

As in “stop mooning around the house, do you think you’re Morrissey?”

10 Cover ripe bananas, then charge too much (9)

(Cover ripe)* (bananas).

14 Aware of Heart of Darkness: outstanding (7)

Heart (middle) of DarKNess + OWING (outstanding, as a debt).

Having TOPPER for 13 across didn’t help me here. But it’s a lovely clue, marvellous misdirection.

15 Journey starts on time: on up river (4)

Starts (first letters of) Time On Up River.

17 American writer’s visited by small models (5)

POE’S (American writer’s) – this time the apostrophe really is indicating a possessive – visited by (including) S.

21 Grenade primarily a French weapon (3)

Grenade (“primarily” often means “the first letter”) + UN (a, in French).

62 comments on “Times Quick Cryptic No 2272 by Felix”

  1. Really struggled on RINGERS and CORKER where dozens of words could fit the final checkers. I thought of RINGERS, but only of bellringers, and extra competent teammates.

    I knew the bear trap of wanting “storm” in MAELSTROM

  2. RINGERS was my LOI too. I’d guessed that must the answer and that got me to ENSURE. With all he checkers I still wasn’t sure but bravely biffed. Definitely needed to have it explained to me. IRONS evade parsing for a while too. Got to CONGO via ‘conga’ as ‘party travel’ – low brow but it set me on the right track. My first all green of the week in 15.

  3. 8 minutes. After I finished I spent some time looking for a Nina or theme such as we have come to expect from this setter as 21 of his previous 23 puzzles have certainly featured one and it’s always possible that the others did too but we didn’t spot it.

    Anyway on this occasion I was unable to find anything, although I thought I was onto something when I noticed CONRAD split between 1ac and 4ac in the top row. Joseph Conrad is a writer of whom I know nothing other than his name, but I did find that Dickens was an author he admired greatly and we know that our setter does too, having given us at least 12 themed QCs featuring his novels.

    Update: I just found that in Conrad’s novel Heart of Darkness the main character is called Charles MARLOW (9ac but with no E) who is captain of a riverboat boat on the CONGO river (8ac). He also published many ESSAYS (22ac) including one called The CONGO Diary. I have a feeling that 11ac (EMPRESSES) may be part of the theme too, if it actually exists. It doesn’t quite seem strong enough on the basis of what I think I have found but there could be more that my ignorance of the writer has prevented me noticing.

    1. I think you’re onto something with the Conrad idea. Heart of Darkness was a Conrad book, Apocalypse Now is an adaptation of it, the lead character’s name is Marlow, and a lot of the action takes place on the Congo river. I bet anyone who knows more than I got from five minutes with Google will be able to find more.

    2. I went back to look at the grid, and I find CONGO and MARLOWE. Conrad’s “Heart of Darkness” takes place on the Congo (although I don’t think it’s specifically named in the story), and Marlow (no E) narrates; he figures in other Conrad work as well. I don’t see any other Nina material.

    3. Well done Jack. A few more suggestions:

      Apocalypse Now (10a) is loosely based on Heart of Darkness.

      A micro-summary of the plot of HOD could be “Trials of European on board steamship” (22a).

      Also a nod in 15d “Journey starts on time: on up river”.

  4. Super chewy and 15’8” with a near thrown-in towel but delighted to prevail.


    ENSURE was tough

    Fantastic anagram for AGREE TO DIFFER and super-smooth clueing for KNOWING and RINGERS.

    Thanks Felix n Doof

  5. 17 minutes.
    All parsed other than CONGO BIFD as I couldn’t get Do The Conga out of my head for ‘British party travel’
    Favourites, ENSURE and CORKER.

  6. I also went for TOPPER, until the grid proved otherwise. As I was sure that the down clue must include KN, the penny finally dropped as it could only go at the start.
    Nicely challenging for me throughout, just into the SCC as usual.

  7. Having started quickly I was then becalmed and ended up limping around the grid engaging in hand to hand combat with the diehard defenders. Finished in 10:47 only to see the dreaded pink square having fat-fingered MOPR. Didn’t spot the Nina. Next!

    Many thanks Felix and Doofers.


  8. A steady but very enjoyable solve. Started with CONGO and finished with the very clever RINGERS in 8.35.
    I saw the Apocalypse Now/Heart of Darkness links but couldn’t remember enough details from the film to put together the rest of the theme – also nice to have a change from Dickens!!
    Thanks to Doofers for the blog and to Jack for expanding on the theme.

  9. Bit of a struggle but got there in the end, with some biffing.
    Thanks for blog, esp parsing KNOWING, Doofers. (not sure I have seen any fun in electrical terms).
    Missed the Nina/theme, as usual.

  10. Tough and a bit odd in parts. No surprise that the flow was distorted by another b****y nina/theme.
    Thanks, doofers. I also entered the SCC and share your pain.
    I restored some self respect by doing the DT online Cryptic in less time than this. John M.

  11. Agree this was a nice mix thanks setter and blogger! Maybe being a bit slow but how is corker a double definition please?

    1. It’s a corker of a clue.

      A bottling factory might well have a machine which puts corks in the bottles, and such a machine might be called a “corker”.

  12. I enjoyed this puzzle. This is one of the rare occasions when I spotted the Nina whilst solving. This did not help me much, as none of the other Conrad related themes I was looking out for, such as Kurtz or Typhoon made an appearance. I can only name two Elizabethan playwrights, but luckily Marlowe is one of the two.


  13. 7.28

    Missed the nina.

    OZONE FRIENDLY was my LOI after staring at the checkers for a bit

    Thanks Felix and Mr D

  14. Disjointed solve over 3 efforts – daughter required picking up from school due to illness, and then an arrival at the front door meant a trot downstairs.

    I thought it a very good puzzle, on the harder side, with many good surfaces. OZONE FRIENDLY WAS MY LOI. Liked ESSAYS and AGREE TO DIFFER.


  15. Couldn’t get started at the top left but once I moved on things went better. Eventually sussed aircon, which I didn’t much like, which enabled ozone-friendly. 15:28.

  16. 7:54

    No real hold-ups – didn’t spot the possible nina though!

    Thanks Felix and Doofenschmirtz

  17. On Felix’s wavelength for a change. FOI AIRCON and LOI the FRIENDLY part of OZONE FRIENDLY. Fortunately I got RINGERS and CORKER straight away. I looked for a NINA but didn’t spot it. 7:12 for a very good day and just a smidge over 1K.

  18. Didn’t spot the nina, but didn’t know the book anyway. No trouble with the puzzle though. From AIRCON to ESSAYS in 6:46. Thanks Felix and Doofers.

  19. The theme was lost on anybody who, like me, has never read any Conrad. However, this was one of those fortunate occasions where its presence didn’t make for weird clues, and consequently I enjoyed it.

    TIME 4:23

  20. Another very tough one. Really struggled with RINGERS and CORKER and took an age to see it could only be (OZONE) FRIENDLY. Phew.

  21. AIRCON FOI, followed by quick, but erroneous progress – I also went for the obvious TOPPER, which then took an age to resolve when KNOWING wouldn’t resolve itself. I ended up at 18 minutes, three over target, and was so annoyed at my error that I forgot to look for the expected theme. I’m not sure I would have spotted it in any case, despite having a pen and ink drawing of Conrad hanging on my first floor landing. Thanks both.

  22. I found this difficult but enjoyable. After 14 minutes I was left with only 13A to solve but I was looking for a word for a machine ‘bottling’ (i.e on either side of) a word for a factory. When I couldn’t think of one I gave up. An excellent clue, though.

  23. A very enjoyable QC today although DNF after 30 mins due to OZONE FRIENDLY. I had all the checkers and knew the first word was ozone from the clue but just could not get the second word. I work in the aerosol industry so I think I was trying to be too literal (I won’t get into the arguments about why ozone friendly is not a ‘sort of aerosol’ in my world!!!).

    COD to AGREE TO DIFFER. I love it that it is an anagram of ‘fortified rage’ and have shared that interesting discovery with Mrs Prof.

    Thanks Felix for an excellent puzzle and clever nina and to Doofenschmirtz for the blog.

  24. At one point I thought I was on for a PB they were going in so fast, but my pace slowed and then the dreaded loi curse struck with 12ac, Ensure. Even with the crossers it took an alphabet trawl to sort that one out, resulting in what seemed like a disappointing 14min solve. Overall, I thought this was an excellently judged QC – less Dickens and more like this please, Editor. Invariant

  25. This was hard but fair, though not helped by starting in the wrong square and typing OOVERPRIE for 10d, making the SW very slow. 19 minutes.

  26. According to Chamber’s thesaurus and crossword dictionary trial = Assay. Yet here the answer seems to be essay. This caused me some issues in resolving.

    Another QC that I really did not enjoy at all.

      1. I also had a problem with Essays but with the E S and Y there was no other word that fitted, so it was my LOI. To me an Essay is a piece of writing, not a trial but thanks to sltrach for the english lesson.

  27. All done in 11 with only Ringers not parsed – never got the “dead ringer” meaning so grateful for the explanation. But it could not be anything else. LOI Ozone friendly – the Ozone went in almost straight away but the friendly took a real hunt through the alphabet even with all 4 checkers (and the obvious L in 7th place being a virtual fifth).

    As for the American writer, it is just as well the answer was Poe as he is one of the very few I know. But then “American writer” usually is Poe …

    Many thanks to Doofers for the blog

  28. A good mixture of write-ins and head-scratchers today. I started off reasonably well on the acrosses and even better on the downs and then started filling in the gaps until I was left with 22ac and 3dn. These took an age (although I knew the first part of 3dn had to be OZONE) and it wasn’t until 22ac fell, giving me the last letter of 3dn, that I was able to complete. 19 minutes with everything bar RINGERS parsed was the final result. I also considered TOPPER at 13ac but did’t put it in as I wasn’t sure. Missed the theme, but that is quite normal!

    FOI – 4ac RADIUM
    COD – liked 13ac CORKER and 1dn ARC

    Thanks to Felix and to Doofenschmirtz for the blog, especially the explanation of 2dn
    COD –

  29. Deflated! This was a real struggle for me. Apart from ONE, I couldn’t get started. Eventually, some of the Down clues in the lower half of the grid started to go in, but it felt like wading through treacle throughout.

    OZONE FRIENDLY, AGREE TO DIFFER, CORKER and MARLOWE (of whom I have never heard) all arrived very late on, but I then DNF’d with bArIUM for RADIUM. This was particularly frustrating, as I had previously solved all three components of the clue (AD, I and RUM) correctly and had correctly rejected ‘adrIUM’ as a chemical element. So, a DNF in 48 minutes and it now feels like I have wasted my time.

    Many thanks to Felix and Doofenschmirtz.

    1. Bad luck Mr RC. It was definitely a wade through. As I say, below nothing came easy but nothing too obscure in the cluing. I too struggled to get the AGREE-TO-DIFFER until late even though I had the anagrist – “agree-to-disagree” kept popping into my thoughts.

      Let’s hope for better on Thursday after two tougher days in a row.

    2. Don’t get too down hearted. You did brilliantly yesterday and this was a tricky one. Tomorrow is another day…

      1. Thankyou. Any residual gloom has lifted, as I unexpectedly won a game of chess against a friend this afternoon. Swings and roundabouts.

  30. Narrowly avoided the SCC today – LOI RINGERS (hadn’t understood the ‘dead ringers’ meaning. FOI was AIRCON but this went in tentatively. Wanted CONGO to be ‘Bdogo’ for quite a while – oh dear. Didn’t spot the Nina – never do! Liked CORKER. Enjoyable. Many thanks to Doofers and Felix.

  31. Scraped in a few seconds under 30mins. First pass gave ARC, RADIUM, IRONS, MAELSTROM, ONE, OHM, EMPRESSES, OVERPRICE, FLING, GUN. Then it was a steady slog round. Nothing came easy but it was all well clued to get you there.

    LOI RINGERS and now realise I didn’t parse the 2nd def. I thought of “ringers” as when a team get in better players posing under an alias. I’m sure the etymology is the same overall.

    While I was surprised at AIRCON as a six letter word, I’m more surprised by the number of experienced solvers who have never heard of air conditioning. I thought it came as standard in cars these days.

    Didn’t spot the NINA although know that Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness was the source material for Coppola’s Apocalypse Now. Tried watching that a couple of years ago but didn’t keep my interest.

  32. 22 mins, but then a dnf as I put Barium for 4ac. Annoying really, as I knew the “commercial” aspect was a little iffy.

    The rest was fairly enjoyable, although I never did parse 6dn “Irons”. Now I see it’s a reverse hidden word great sighs can be heard around the house.

    With regards to 2dn “Ringers”, I assumed it did indeed have something to do with sports ie. the concept of a ringer coming in to play for you. A bit tenuous I guess, but I thought it kind of worked.

    FOI – 1dn “Arc”
    LOI – 8ac “Congo”
    COD – 14dn “Knowing”

    Thanks as usual!

  33. 18:55. Many difficult clues for me- I was fairly certain capper was the answer instead of CORKER -maybe I’m just too modern but I didn’t even think of corks when I read bottling factory! Enjoyed re-reading clues and seeing all the Conrad/Heart of Darkness allusions. Thanks for explaining CON= British party.

  34. After seeing Upstart Crow at the theatre on Monday, my son and I were talking about Shakespeare’s contemporaries – between us, we could only come up with Kit Marlowe, Ben Jonson and Thomas Middleton (not forgetting Robert Greene of course)- but that didn’t help with the theme anyway! Nothing that looked especially Dickensian either, but, as Phil says, the theme did not disrupt the flow, and I enjoyed this one, finishing in a smidge under 10 minutes. I’ve never read any Conrad either – not my cup of tea – although I do know a few titles.
    I didn’t question AIRCON – it looked fine to me – and the surface for MOPE made me smile. After the struggles I’ve had doing this on my phone over the last couple of days, I’m glad to be back home with a print-out 😊
    FOI Aircon LOI Corker COD Agree to differ
    Thanks Felix and Doofers

  35. I found this a struggle and finished in 14 mins – landing at 8am at MAN may not have helped. Needed all the checkers for LOI Ozone Friendly. I didn’t spot the Nina but enjoyed the tussle, thanks.

  36. Good puzzle and gratefully spared the Dickens (not at all well read here despite having a set of the original newspaper editions hand-bound into sets) but only for Conrad, of whom I know even less! Was delayed with 1a where I saw Broadcast as an indicator… I got started in the NE and then SE and forced my way across to the SW and finally broke the NW with 8a Congo and 1d Arc.
    FOI 4a Radium
    LOI 2d Ringers
    COD 3d Ozone Friendly.
    Helpful blog and discussions today, so thanks to our blogger and setter.

  37. I usually start with the QC and go on to the 15×15, but today I’ve done it the other way round. I don’t know whether it sharpened me up a bit for this, but I finished in 8.35 nearly a minute and a half inside schedule.
    By no means a breeze, but not overly tricky, and an enjoyable crossword for me. CORKER my last one in, which was my COD.

  38. I solved this quickly (by my standards) for the most part, but some tough ones towards the end put me in my usual place in the SCC. 2dn, 13ac and 14dn took some getting! More enjoyable than yesterday but still hard.

    The clueing was very fair, with 22ac my favourite. Dragged up essays from somewhere? Is ‘essai’ the French for try or have I imagined it?

    Thanks for the blog Doofers – bit tougher than last time!

  39. Found this quite tough and a dnf with 7 clues to go, all on the W side funnily enough.
    COD was 9d – Mope. Very clever.
    Thanks for helpful blog and liked the Nina. Every day is a school day.

  40. I did pretty well with this one, completing it, and thought the clues interesting and clever – who could ask for more! I have read Heart of Darkness – a very dark and unsettling book, to be recommend to those who don’t know it, and was familiar with the scientific clues which can baffle me being on the Arts side of things not the Sciences. Also aware of pepperoni, corks, and Kit Marlowe!
    I think I liked Empresses best. Thanks to Felix and blogger.

  41. Punching a bit above my weight today as I went through this with no real hold ups at all. LOI was ESSAYS as I wasn’t really sure of the definition and I dithered a bit over it, which took me just over 12 minutes, my 12th fastest ever solve and my quickest since July. Thanks Felix and Doofers.

  42. 15:11

    Pretty straightforward but took a while to get OZONE FRIENDLY upon which the SW corner fell into place.

  43. I’ve only heard of the book (and the film) so didn’t think of looking for a theme.
    FOI AIR-CON, LOI TOUR – I was trying to think of a river to fit checkers.

    BTW, apart from HENRY & YNREH for inductance and its reciprocal, there is FARADAY an electrolytic unit as well as FARAD & DARAF (capacitance so he wins with three.

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