Times Quick Cryptic No 2339 by Hurley

I found this even tricker than yesterday’s Joker taking me just under 7 minutes. Lots of letter selection/deletion/substitution clues today, so a good work-out from that perspective. LOI 4D and COD to 15D… England 23 – Scotland 29, perhaps? Thank-you Hurley. How did you all get on?

Fortnightly Weekend Quick Cryptic.  This time it is my turn to provide the extra weekend entertainment. You can find the crossword, entitled “Death of a Canary”, here. Can you identify the event from 100 years ago this month referred to in the grid? If anyone is interested in our previous offerings you can find an index to all 71 here.

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

1 Dad’s succeeded, getting this? (4)
PASSPA’S (Dad’s) S (succeeded). An easy one to start, but then… [Edit: I see plenty didn’t find this easy. The “this” refers to what Dad got when he succeeded in e.g. a driving test. And “s” for succeeded comes up quite often in crosswords so I had no hesitation over that.]
4 Initially clerics live out, heading away from sister’s convent life (8)
CLOISTER – [Initially] Clerics Live Out, {s}ISTER [heading away]. I didn’t know that meaning of cloister.
8 Cultural item from Mozart, not half European? Truth (8)
ARTEFACT – MozART [not half], E (European) FACT (truth).
9 Opponent in Roman times (4)
ANTI – Hidden [in] RomAN TImes.
10 Leading couples among persons operating legally for the public (6)
PEOPLE – First two letters of [leading couples among] PErsons OPerating LEgally.
11 Old policeman used in the kitchen? (6)
PEELER – Double definition, the second mildly cryptic. Anyone else try COPPER to start with?
12 Temperature hot below — one displaying brief weather event (13)
THUNDERSHOWERT (temperature) H (hot) UNDER (below) SHOWER (one displaying). A four part charade! I see some people were surprised at this word. Isn’t “thundery showers” a common enough weather forecast? And each of them is a THUNDERSHOWER.
16 Mostly liable to go around one’s cage, perhaps (6)
PRISON – [Mostly] PRON{e} (liable) around I’S (one’s). Tricky!
17 Neat tree (6)
SPRUCE – Double definition and a bit of a chestnut, as it were.
19 Unaccompanied back in Rio — lost (4)
SOLO – Reverse hidden, [back in], RiO LOSt.
20 Rhythm provided at heart nice, blissful (8)
BEATIFICBEAT (rhythm) IF (provided) and middle letters of nICe [at heart]. Not a word I use often in everyday conversation.
21 Curiosity in charge for borrowing money (8)
INTEREST – Double definition.
22 Run with a Left objective (4)
GOALGO (run) A L (left). Not ‘R’ for run, as I expected.
2 Acknowledge period embracing Religious Education (5)
AGREEAGE (period) outside RE (Religious Education).
3 Gets pint — opens out revealing means of advancement (8,5)
STEPPING STONE – (gets pint opens)* [out].
4 Stop odd fellow, full of energy (5)
CEASECASE (odd fellow) with E (energy) inside. Not the first word for “odd fellow” to come to mind for me. The dictionary calls it “informal, dated”.
5 Powerful organisation needing work after month (7)
OCTOPUSOCT (month) OPUS (work). I see from the comments that this definition is not universally known, but I’ve seen it before…. although maybe only in crosswords.
6 Daring, ask to be moved for sport (13)
SKATEBOARDING – (dare ask to be)* [moved]. I’d never thought of it as a sport, but it’s an Olympic one now.
7 Unreasonable partner once fiddled with meter (7)
EXTREMEEX (partner once)  (meter)* [fiddled with].
10 Kitty in Italian river ahead of time (3)
POTPO (Italian river) T (time). Not a reference to my fellow blogger (hello Kitty) swimming.
13 Continue talking annoyingly about old pointed weapon (7)
HARPOONHARP ON (continue talking annoyingly) [about] O (old).
14 Raise meaning of belief oddly abandoned (7)
ENNOBLE – Alternate letters of mEaNiNg Of BeLiEf [oddly abandoned].
15 Game at Twickenham English regret (3)
RUERU (Rugby Union; game at Twickenham) E (English).
17 Non-standard language changed in the end showing bias (5)
SLANTSLAN{g} T (non-standard language) with the last letter changed. That’s a bit tricky too.
18 Feature a friend (5)
CHINACHIN (facial feature) A.

90 comments on “Times Quick Cryptic No 2339 by Hurley”

  1. I biffed STEPPING STONE, THUNDERSHOWER, & ENNOBLE, parsed after submitting. John, you’ve got a typo at ENNOBLE. Slow again, I think just sleepiness and lack of concentration. 7:33.

  2. 8 minutes, no problems. The old policeman / kitchen implement may have delayed me but I have seen it or very similar elsewhere within the past couple of weeks when it foxed me for ages, so today it was a write-in.

  3. 15 minutes and a bit. I found this pretty hard too. I became stuck on CLOISTER early on, not knowing it could mean ‘convent life’ either. After that, ENNOBLE proved a difficult nut to crack. I thought OCTOPUS for ‘Powerful organisation’ wasn’t exactly obvious either.

    Yes, SKATEBOARDING must be a sport because it’s in the Olympics. Mm…

    Thanks to Hurley and John

  4. All green in 18m of hard but rewarding work. Quite a few solved by seeing what would fit then justifying. Really enjoyed INTEREST, great PDM to finish the grid when all had seemed lost.

  5. A swift start with PASS and CLOISTER going straight in but there were some tricky clues further down, with PRISON, ENNOBLE, BEATIFIC and LOI ARTEFACT proving particularly stubborn. Relied on the wordplay for OCTOPUS as I was unfamiliar with the definition and thought that 6d was going to end in SKATING before the penny dropped.
    Finished in 9.44 with an annoying pink square for AGRRE at 1d, despite a proofreading run through at the end.
    Thanks to John

  6. I am not sure what happened here, but I recorded my worst attempt at a QC in well over 2 years, with 5 blanks, 2 pink squares (one a typo) and several MERs en route for not so much a DNF as a Did Not Compete. Either I have suddenly lost any ability I ever had at QCs, or this was a real stinker of a puzzle, or I was simply so far off Hurley’s wavelength as to be on a different planet. Almost certainly the last, but I am not sure why.

    Many of the links/synonyms seemed to me to be weak or tenuous. Cloister = convent life, what is life doing here? Cloister just means a covered walk in a convent (or cathedral). Anti = opponent, I suppose so, and I see it can be a noun, but it struck me as odd when doing the puzzle. Run = Go in Goal took a long time to see. Case = Odd fellow, keeping up the obscurities well with this one. Powerful Organisation = Octopus, what is this? If it is a reference to the energy company Octopus it is a real niche piece of GK (as well as very UK-centric). Skateboarding is a sport?? Unreasonable = Extreme, not really synonyms in my book (extremists may be unreasonable in their beliefs but that does not make the words synonyms). Prison, Beatific, Ennoble, Interest, China all defeated me – on a better day I might have got them but by then my heart was completely not in this puzzle.

    Ah well, sometimes life’s like that. Many thanks John for the blog, and thanks also to anyone who has read this far. It is sometimes good to have a good grumble – and we have the great consolation of another Saturday Special to look forward to, which will help erase this disaster of a puzzle from my mind. Perhaps I might be bold enough to suggest that if Hurley was to look at it he might see what a QC ought to look like.


    1. I came here looking for enlightenment on octopus too! Chambers has:

      2. A person or organization with widespread influence (figurative)

      I guessed because of the checkers and the way tentacles seem pretty powerful!

      1. Ah. Thank you. The clue moves from “niche GK” to “slightly obscure”! A bit of a shame really, I was quite pleased with the connection with my power company …

    2. I am with Cedric on this one. His phrase: ‘simply so far off Hurley’s wavelength as to be on a different planet’ summed my position up very well.
      A weird mix of very easy and very odd and challenging clues to me, at least (but obviously not to the usual supersolvers above).
      I share many of Cedric’s doubts and unhappiness. I would add to those my own plausible error that completely scuppered the NE corner: Copper (policeman and kitchen utensil) instead of Peeler. I think ‘Copper’ is fair as a utensil for cooking – copper pans are still widely used. A ‘copper’ was not just used for washing and, in any case, washing was/is done in the kitchen in normal-sized houses without a separate laundry.
      I will not list all my gripes. I did finish this alleged QC but ended up well into the SCC.
      A well-meaning raspberry to Hurley for once and a round of applause to John (apart from his comment on 1a) and others who found this relatively easy. Not a good end to my week. John M.
      Note, To be fair, I enjoyed clever clues like ARTEFACT, BEATIFIC, CLOISTER, HARPOON but not enough to change my overall view.

      1. Yes, I put COPPER too on exactly that logic (though I did have a slight doubt, because it’s not really an “old” policeman). Fortunately when I did the downs OCTOPUS was clear and that sorted me out.

    3. To be honest, when I saw Octopus, I thought Spectre from James Bond. I always believed it was a general term for a shadow type organisation.

      1. You echo my 007-related thoughts entirely. And am I the only one who wanted to put a ‘u’ in ‘beatific’? For me ‘harpoon’ was a pleasing PDM once I realised that ‘continue talking annoyingly’ involved looking for two words instead of one!

    4. Oh dear. But good to see people’s gripes. Coincidentally, there is an answer in my crossword that also appears in this one. I wonder if you will find my clue any better?

  7. DNF with same comments as above declarers. Ran out of time but in truth, unlikely to finish even if time was in plentiful supply.
    Thanks John for the explanations that, as always, seem so reasonable when the clothing is off.
    Thanks Hurley too for raising the bar a few notches above my reach today.
    Bon week-end.

  8. Tricky indeed, at least in part. No grumbles, though as someone said upthread, ARTEFACT was a bit clunky, though at least the cluing removed the temptation to spell it ARTIFACT.

    CEASE was my LOI, I remembered CASE from a recentish puzzle. The harder clues for me were mainly in the bottom half I thought: BEATIFIC, INTEREST, SLANT, CHINA. I would pick a COD from them.


  9. I felt like a Kiwi batsman groping his way through an over of swing from Jimmy Anderson (ie completely at sea). That was tough!

    I still don’t understand the parsing of PASS (LOI and finally entered unparsed with a shrug, on the basis that the wordplay worked even if I just couldn’t see the definition). John airily saying that it was terribly easy and giving no other explanation didn’t enlighten me much, either. Why is it “this”? Or to put it more fully, why is a PASS something that equates to Dad succeeding? I’m a bear of very little brain about this I’m afraid.

    Otherwise held up by the suspects others have already identified. Limped home in 13:22 for 1.8K and a Bad Day. A very good work out!

    Many thanks Hurley and John.


    1. I parsed PASS with the idea that “getting” a PASS is how one marks success. So “getting this” refers back to “succeeded”. Although in what world “succeeded” is abbreviated to “s” I don’t know, Debrett’s maybe?

      1. Ah I see, thank you Merlin. That makes sense. Funnily enough I was associating “pass” with a lack of success, because of “passing” a question in Mastermind! (And yes, “s” for succeeded appears in Burke’s and family trees. I was stumped in yesterday’s Biggie by “see” turning out to mean “V” – I guess as an abbreviation for “vide”. It’s a big bad jungle, the 15!)

    2. Nice cricket analogy. I’ll update the blog to explain PASS better. I see not everyone saw the answer as quickly as I did!

  10. I think Cedric is right, by QC standards this was a stinker. I was quite relieved to finish with all correct and parsed in 12.12,with ENNOBLE being my LOI. I suspect some of the newbie solvers may find this rather dispiriting.

  11. I found this tricky, but less so and in a different way from some recent puzzles; here it was in stretched definitions, eg CASE for ODD FRLLOW ot EXTREME for UNREASONABLE, ,though not unreasonable clues as such. FOI PASS LOI. BEATIFIC, COD HARPOON. Thanks, Hurley and John

  12. …and 18 minutes again for Rotter – third day in a row! I expected to be slower to be honest, as I had some real struggles with this one. EXTREME was LOI, but by no means the hardest – I just looked at it late. I wanted the weather event to be THUNDERSTORMS, but the clue definitely called for a singular event, INTEREST took far too long to see the DD. Satisfying to complete in the end though. Thanks Hurley and John.

  13. I thought this was going to be easy at first, but it got harder as I went on. But it wasn’t that bad; a bit harder than yesterday as noted by our blogger.
    I finished in 16 minutes; LOI was ENNOBLE. Not all parsed but no big worries.
    I’m fairly relaxed about “approximations” as the dictionary always seems to have an extra meaning or a verb/noun combo; so CLOISTER and OCTOPUS were shoulder shrugs.
    COD to BEATIFIC, not easy but an example of how the setter tells you precisely what to do -if you can understand it.

  14. DNF my clock ran out with INTEREST still a couple of letters away. Spent too long checking for words ending with G after SLANT/SLANG confusion.

    I got THUNDER SHOWER by assuming that “under shower” was just “temperature hot below”, and did not realise the TH was not accounted for.

    “Case” for fellow as in headcase, nutcase, spacecase :all fine words.

    COD SPRUCE : very tidy double definition

  15. 10 mins, would have been quicker but got stuck on interest, where the in charge had me looking for IC. No other problems, nice puzzle. COD pass.
    Alternative for interest clue: Italian team is french curiosity.

  16. Just avoided the SCC in 19:48 but sadly I had a typo – PEOPLC – which I didn’t spot. FOI AGREE, LOI CHINA. On the whole this was a steady solve so not too unhappy. Thanks John and Hurley.

  17. DNF. Beaten by ENNOBLE, CEASE, PRISON, and HARPOON. (Case = old fellow?)
    NHO ThunderSHOWER, just Thunderstorm, but biffed in the end.
    Did pencil in OCTOPUS as it had to be. Also managed BEATIFIC and ARTEFACT eventually. And CLOISTER.
    But don’t know why I had to look up weapon as HARPOON was obvious. Oh dear.
    Put CHINA as Cockney friend but cd not parse. Chin=feature?! Liked PEELER though.
    Thanks, John, for much needed blog.

  18. ‘The Octopus’ was a muckraking novel (1901) by Frank Norris, which is likely the source of the meaning (Collins def 2) “a powerful influential organization with far-reaching effects, esp harmful ones “.

  19. Unlike most others above I thought this was an excellent puzzle – challenging but very satisfying when the pennies finally dropped. I was probably fortunate that I solved the two long down anagrams early which helped with several of the across clues.

    I too have NHO this meaning of OCTOPUS but as I already had the O and the S it had to be that. I entered PASS and CEASE with fingers crossed but this confirmed that AGREE was correct and then when I finally solved PEOPLE I was confident that I was on the right lines.

    My LOI was PEELER. Ironic really as I am just about to peel carrots and potatoes for tonight’s meal!

  20. Yes, tricky again today. Limped home in 24:12 and pleased to finish. Struggled with BEATIFIC, ENNOBLE and PEELER and didn’t parse PEOPLE. Wasn’t sure about OCTOPUS but wordplay clear. Liked HARPOON. Thanks all.

  21. I’m glad it wasn’t just me who found this tough! From PASS to SLANT in 12:03. Well off the wavelength. Thanks Hurley and John.

  22. 10:28

    Pencilled in COPPER but almost immediately thought of PEELER. Felt on the slowish side, but the clues gave up their secrets eventually. Had to write down the letters for STEPPING STONE. Didn’t parse CLOISTER until I’d finished.

    Thanks Hurley and John

  23. This was a difficult but enjoyable QC. Difficult because it really got me thinking. Enjoyable because the clues were not “nonsense” to me. I did have to take a break after 30 minutes as I was becoming letter blind. When I returned it took me another 16 minutes to finish.

    I have never heard of OCTOPUS relating to a powerful organisation, but it was obvious from the letters already present.

    Yes, I too first thought COPPER (and ROZZER) for 11a. I also put in CAT for 10d as I saw “kitty” and understood that “time” = T. I just guessed there was a river in Italy called CA. Then when I had the answer for 10a I realised it wasn’t CAT. I’ve heard of the river PO before from the QC, and eventually it came to me.

    ENNOBLE. Another word, like ENNUI, that I know from these QC.

    So, tough but fair and enjoyable.


  24. 22 mins…

    I didn’t find this too bad, although I struggled with the parsing of 4dn “Cease” – DNK case = odd fellow.

    Main issues were originally thinking 12ac should be “Thunderstorms” and trying to unravel 20ac “Beatific”.

    Skateboarding is in the Olympics so I guess it can be classed as a sport.

    FOI – 2dn “Agree”
    LOI – 20ac “Beatific”
    COD – 5dn “Octopus”

    Thanks as usual!

  25. Very hard and only finished by seeking some help. BEATIFIC, PRISON, INTEREST, ENNOBLE, ARTEFACT all stumbling blocks. Biffed OCTOPUS, but no idea why it is a poweful organisation. Glad to see I wasn’t the only one to struggle!

  26. 10:30. Better than yesterday, worse than the day before! I got this all sorted bar 1 clue in 10 minutes, popped that in (21a INTEREST) and discovered that I did in fact have one more to do, which was 3d CEASE. It took me a while to get card out of my head for the odd fellow!
    I’m with many of the commenters above and there were several MERs as I worked my way through. I frequently find myself way off Hurley’s wavelength, but somehow it didn’t seem to be so bad today.
    THUNDERSHOWER is a curious word – rain and snow showers, yes. A shower of thunder? I’m not so sure. Also, I think I would always separate the words. Then again, thunderstorm or snowstorm are usually written as one, so I’m thoroughly confused 😅 Much like our weather!
    I’d never heard of OCTOPUS as a powerful organisation (as supposed to our energy supplier) until it appeared in a crossword quite recently, but at least it stuck, so didn’t cause an issue today.
    FOI Pass LOI Cease
    Thanks to Hurley and John

    1. I’ve updated the blog on THUNDERSHOWER. I didn’t bat an eyelid at the answer, thinking of the common weather forecast “Thundery showers”. Isn’t that what each of them is called?

      1. Logically yes! I had a look and thundershower is in Collins etc, so I’m happy to accept it – I just don’t think I’ve seen it before. Makes a nice emoji too ⛈️

  27. I started well, and halfway through the across clues though I might be heading for a clean sweep, but then slowed right down. PRISON and ENNOBLE were my last two in, to finish in 18:41.
    Like several others, I had not come across this definition of OCTOPUS.

    Many thanks.

  28. Isn’t it funny how brains work. I found this one tough but doable, unlike Mara’s from the other day which made me think I’d completely lost my QC abilities (such as they are).

  29. Yesterday was a DNF but today all correct, although PRISON, PEOPLE and SLANT went in unparsed but I was confident of the definition in each case. From the comments, definitely a Marmite puzzle but I like Marmite and I liked this puzzle.

    Not a fast solve but steady and never stuck. First in PASS, last BEATIFIC (a strange word for me) and COD INTEREST.

  30. I have found all of the puzzles this week very difficult. I cannot profess to be good at the QC, but I normally expect to get 3/4 right and finish on a good day. This week I have barely got a foot hold. Two steps forward and one step back I suppose. Keeps me humble…

  31. Well, nice to end the week with an easy one, just a shame Hurley didn’t oblige. A real stinker of a puzzle that needed two sittings, together with several pairs of crossed fingers. Loi Beatific still doesn’t look like a real word, and I have never, in my entire life, heard anyone refer to a Thundershower. Are we going to have a Thunderdrizzle in next weeks 15×15 ? That clue was as clear a case of a GR that you are likely to see. Invariant

    1. THUNDERSHOWER – see my comment in reply to Penny above. The answer seemed fair enough to me.

      1. Quite. The singular of ‘thundery showers’ is surely ‘thundery shower’, not thundershower.

  32. Not easy, but very pleased to finish – all correct and all fully parsed – in 38 minutes, especially given the views expressed by many of the more accomplished solvers above. I found the lower half of the grid more intractable, but finally cracking BEATIFIC unlocked it and gave me the confidence to believe that I could finish. BEATIFIC, CHINA, SLANT, INTEREST and PRISON were my last few clues.

    Well, I have found this week’s QCs an awkward bunch (almost three and a half hours, in total), but I came through with a 5-0 scoreline, which sends me into the weekend with a good feeling.

    P.S. Mrs Random hasn’t had her attempt yet, partly because she has just returned from a visit to our GP surgery and the local pharmacy. She says she is just about to warm up her iPad in the microwave and then wear it on her face for 10 minutes. Maybe I should leave the house while she does that.

    Many thanks to Hurley and John.

    1. Don’t count your chickens just yet (😉😉) but are you heading for a 20/20? BTW the eggs were delicious – I made shakshuka with them.
      I think this week has been very variable, so congrats on the 5/5. I had a shocker yesterday but finished eventually. I hope Mrs R’s iPad survived the microwave 😅

      1. Hi Penny,
        Just 18 chickens now, as one died suddenly a week or two back.
        Shakshouka: Due to a sad lack of worldly ‘wiseness’ I had to look it up. Sounds yummy, even though I thought it was an anagram.
        20/20? Nowhere near, unfortunately. Perhaps 7/7 at the moment, following two successive DNFs the previous week.
        Mrs R’s eye is all puffy at the mo. She does now have some ‘Oinkment’ and her heated eye-pad also soothes things for her.
        All the best to you and Mr B, and good luck with next week’s brain scramblers.

  33. 5:10 this morning. One of Hurley’s trickier puzzles of late, although I don’t share some of the reservations expressed by earlier contributors regarding quality of clues. Apart perhaps for “thundershower” but the anagram led to only one answer.
    As ever, each to his own.
    Liked 13 ac “harpoon”.
    Thanks to Hurley and John.

  34. Much the same experience s yesterday with the top half going ib pretty easily and then chunks of the bottom half leaving half a dozen to puzzle over after getting home from a coffee. Had to think again for Copper but only a moment’s pause to find another starting with a P. MER for Octopus but it went in with a shrug. Took too long to parse 21a Interest. Didn’t see the hidden at 9a. Thanks to John for helping with some of the parsing where I had not fully resolved them.
    FOI 1a Pass
    LOI 21a Interest
    COD 6d Skateboarding – another shrug…
    Anyone having difficulty with the original Times app in their iPad? Mine has been loading and then freezing after a few pages. The new site works fine. I do prefer the original version.

  35. Slow progress, needed help to get 13d harpoon, but otherwise all done eventually. Peeler was not a problem, took us back to history lessons many years ago for the 19th century.

  36. Yes this was difficult but unlike yesterday’s it was somehow enjoyable when finally figuring out the parsing and finding it confirmed on this blog.

  37. Believe it or not the only one I got wrong was 1a PASS. Even with the parsing explained it still doesn’t make sense to me.
    I liked this puzzle with lots to work out. Thanks Roly and John.

  38. Apologies for the lack of responses to comments during the day. I neglected to forewarn of this in the blog… I’ve been walking with friends on our 3rd day of the 93 mile Angles Way, from Thetford to Great Yarmouth… Diss to Harleston today, about 14 1/2 miles. Thanks to all who stepped in to respond where needed.

  39. I am nearing burnout with this run of QCs since recording my top 5 time on Monday of last week. It has been 38mins (quit with 2 left), 28mins, 38mins (quit with 3 left), 28mins … 43mins (2 attempts), 41mins (2 attempts), 38mins, 59mins.

    Hurley is my favourite setter so to be faced with today’s solve was disheartening. I gave up at 27mins with seven left in the lower half of the grid and went for a 9-mile run at the beach (which was much more enjoyable. Then copied stuff from old laptop to new PC, did a Telegraph crossword in an hour and eventually dragged myself back to this. My lack of enthusiasm to give it a second go, speaks volumes. Took 10-mins to get a foothold with BEATIFIC, another 5-mins for SPRUCE and so on through SLANT, HARPOON, INTEREST, PRISON and ENNOBLE. Ended up taking long on these last seven than the first half with a completion time coming in at 54+ mins.

    Always happy to add another completion to my list but I also feel like The Times do not want people like me to be sullying their Puzzles page 😕

    Have a good weekend everybody 👍

    1. Dear LP,
      It’s always good to have to struggle from time to time. Hurley is usually quite kind to those of us in the SCC, so we should allow him to toughen things up occasionally.
      Good luck next week.

  40. Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear, DNF 69 mins attempt. Outfoxed by ennoble, peeler ( put copper). NHO thundershower (guessed). Also guessed beatific (it fits!).

  41. Another one so 15×15 experts could have an ego trip. Another DNF, another throwing hands in the air in dismay. Yes some clues were nice for newcomers, but others so obscure (see lots of the comments above). I take it this was designed so most of us would fail (see also Cedric’s comments)

    1. I wouldn’t go that far. I think it’s more a case that setters are so experienced they sometimes have difficulty in judging just how troublesome their clues can be for newbies (or even old hands)

      1. Our responses crossed. Speaking for myself, I don’t think it’s that the setter is so experienced
        that they have difficulty judging. (In my case it maybe insufficiently experienced). It’s more that they don’t know what the solver doesn’t know. All they can do in the QC world is to try and avoid obfuscatory obscurantism and signal any advanced wordplay constructs in as unambiguous a way as they can. Sometimes, as with, for example, PEOPLE today its a matter of the solver finding the answer via the definition and then working out the wordplay. I do that a lot! [Edit: And I am the blogger of the esoteric Monthly Club Special which requires it in spades!].

    2. Sorry to pick on you Dave, but your comments are the most extreme of those who have complained today. It’s OK to be grumpy about some clues where you found the definition a bit of a stretch (as Cedric did) or wordplay a bit tricky. But it is disrespectful of a professional doing (in my opinion) an outstanding job in providing a crossword to puzzle (which is the whole point) with clever, but not impenetrable, clues that provide delight to those who can solve them. Several of our commenters today have referred to PDMs (Penny Drop Moments) when they finally see how a clue works, and that is the the setters aim. To create a crossword “designed so most of us would fail” is a ludicrous concept. Any setter who did that would not get the job in the first place or soon be sacked. As for 15×15 experts having an ego trip. Sorry? Yes there are plenty here (like myself) who also do the 15×15 but we don’t do the QC for an “ego trip” but because we enjoy the craftsmanship of a good crossword regardless of its level of difficulty. Today’s crossword was at the harder end of the spectrum of Times Quick Cryptics, but all of the clues were fair and none of the vocabulary was obscure in comparison to what you might find in the 15×15. IMO this crossword, as a bridge to tackling the 15×15, is a great example. It is of a similar difficulty to an easy 15×15 and gives the solver some nice examples of the sorts of wordplay you may come across. It is not easy for a compiler to get the balance right on the level of difficulty and I think our Quick Cryptic setters do a brilliant job. Perhaps you might like to try my own Weekend Quick Cryptic (see link in the intro to the blog) and let me know if you think it is designed so most here would fail.? You might even enjoy it. I hope you do, because that is every setter’s aim.

  42. Some interesting comments.

    I had to do this at work so concentration was hard. As a result, I limped along and completed this QC in fits and starts. Had I been timing myself properly, I would have been deep inside the SCC.

    For all that, this is my first week of 5 straight solves this year and I will take comfort from this achievement.

    Many thanks for the blog John and I hope you all have a great weekend. 😀

        1. PS Just re-read your comment from yesterday. Having spent the entire day and most of the evening in stuffy classrooms, what I wouldn’t have given for an hour or two on the beach (although it would be walking in my case). Sea air is unbeatable.

    1. Great to see a third 5-0 among our improving less experienced solvers. Well done to you all… it has been a tricky week.

  43. Monday was good but I’ve had a terrible crosswording week otherwise. I only finished this one by coming back to it this morning (Saturday). HARPOON, PRISON, ENNOBLE and INTEREST were the hold outs, the last three due to misparsing. I look forward to next week, it surely can’t be any worse!

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