Times Quick Cryptic No 2412 by Hurley

Oh my goodness, I found this to be a real toughie. I knew I was in for a workout when I only had 6 clues after 5 minutes, and it was a full 20 minutes more before I put in my last answer, which I didn’t manage to parse until I was writing the explanation for the answer. I’ve never needed my dictionary quite so much when writing the blog.

I hope it isn’t just me. If all the early commenters indicate that they breezed through it with no difficulties, I shall go and sulk in a corner. But I suspect that there will be a shortage of available chairs in the SCC today.

The SW corner was where I finished, with the crossing FARMYARD and HALF being my last two in. My COD goes to LEVER, with an honorary mention to DEFT.

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

1 Furniture item some French linked with king (4)
DESKDES (some, in French) + K (king).
3 Important committee type here (8)
KEYBOARDKEY (important) + BOARD (commitee).

“Type here” as in an instruction to someone using a keyboard for the first time, perhaps?

8 Remarkably so, a plus in relation to marriage? (7)
SPOUSAL – (so a plus)* [remarkably].
10 Tell everyone after some characters have left bar (5)
LEVER – Hidden in [after some characters have left] “telL EVERyone”.

One of the best hiddens I’ve seen for a while, a lovely smooth surface reading of pub gossip.

11 Nice article about sparks (11)
ELECTRICIAN – (nice article)* [about]

The SOED’s 6th definition for “spark” is “A nickname for a radio operator or an electrician. Usu. in pl. (treated as sing.). slang“.

Not a usage known to me. Although I believe I have seen “chips” for “carpenter” used in much the same way in naval fiction.

13 Pay, alas, in retrospect, really just peripheral (6)
SALARYALAS reversed [in retrospect] + the outer letters [just peripheral] of R{eall}Y.
15 Number crossing river — this one? (6)
SEVERNSEVEN (a number) crossing R for river.

The River Severn is in the UK, separating Wales and England for much of its length, which is an excellent use of a river.

17 Group of islands having geographical change, not the first (11)
ARCHIPELAGO – (eographical)* – [change]

The anagrist is ‘geographical’ without the first letter [not the first].

20 Bring an end to deal, unnatural to some extent on reflection (5)
ANNUL – Reversed hidden [to some extent on reflection] in deaL UNNAtural.
21 The pool — new problem for motorist (7)
POTHOLE -(the pool)* [new].
22 Force give weapons to detectives in rural setting? (8)
FARMYARDF (force, as in Royal Air Force) + ARM (give weapons to) + YARD (detectives, referring to Scotland Yard).
23 Extremely distinctive, fluent, skilful (4)
DEFT – first and last letters [extremely] of D{istinctiv}E F{luen}T.
1 Daughter is persecutor (not half!) — scatter! (8)
DISPERSED (daughter) + IS + PERSE{cutor} [not half].
2 Society bound to move obliquely (5)
SLOPES (society) + LOPE (bound, as in jump or leap).

I initially thought of “slope” as in “slope off”, and thought “that’s not a very good definition”. But looking in my dictionary, the first definition of the verb is “verb intrans. Move in an oblique direction”, as in “the road sloped steeply”. [I shortened the example.]

So that’s a classic MER, the feeling that a clue is wrong, and then finding out that it isn’t.

4 Clear at work I tucked into cake (6)
ECLAIR – (clear + I [tucked into])* [at work].
5 Ready to fight, call jingoes regularly, payment to follow (11)
BELLIGERENTBELL (call) + alternating letters [regularly] of jInGoEs + RENT (payment).

When I was in my teens we would tell people we would “give them a bell”, meaning we would call them on the phone. Not sure how much this is still in use, if at all.

6 Progress  loan of money (7)
ADVANCE – double definition
7 Cook railway fish (4)
DORYDO (cook) + RY (abbreviation for railway).

Another MER at DO for COOK, but I can see that DO in the sense of “swindle” is similar to COOK as in “cooking the books”, but it feels a bit tenuous for a QC.

9 Was in session, ironically dismissing cricket side in mocking way (11)
SATIRICALLYSAT (was in session, as parliament) + IR{on}ICALLY [dismissing ON, a side of the field in cricket].
12 Naive love taken in by pub money (8)
INNOCENTINN (pub) + CENT (money) with O (love – tennis) [taken in].
14 Student’s ultimately doubtful source of income (7)
LEARNER – last letter [ultimately] of doubtfuL + EARNER (source of income, as in “nice little”).
16 One giving extra money for unloading truck (6)
TIPPER – double definition.

I’m much more familiar with the phrase “dump truck”, rather than “tipper”, but perhaps that’s a Britishism that I’ve forgotten in 30 years abroad.

18 Make amends? Agreed (5)
ATONE – Double definition, the second being “at one”.

With A_O_E from the crossers, I thought the “agreed” definition would be “as one”, but then the “make amends” half didn’t work. Still not entirely convinced that I’ve ever heard “at one” used to mean “agreed”, but it was at least conceivable.

19 Healthy in the end making English fine drink (4)
HALFHALE (healthy) with E for English replaced by F for fine [making English fine].

My LOI, and last one parsed, about 20 seconds before writing this. “A half” is shorthand for a half pint of beer.


66 comments on “Times Quick Cryptic No 2412 by Hurley”

  1. I did this sitting in the sunshine thinking of other things, so I don’t know how hard it really was.

    I did like 19dn, and thought it was tough for a QC.

    I think English usage would be “tip truck” rather than “dump truck”, so “tipper” comes naturally.

    1. Whoops. Checked the body a ton, the title – not so much. Thanks!

  2. I was beaten by 19d. F is an abbreviation for force in physics isn’t it? E.g. F=ma (force = mass x acceleration). An electrician in the RN was known as a “sparky”. Keeping the Jackspeak theme, “chippy” was a “carpenter”, rather than “chips”.

    1. Well when I was doing O level physics force was P but that doesn’t hold in crosswordland.
      Sparks/sparky well familiar. What’s black and shrivelled and hanging from the ceiling? A poor electrician.

  3. One of the tougher quickies I’ve come across in my brief time here, was pleased to get in at 14.01. Spent too long on DESK, being fixated by de or du and forgetting des, missed that LEVER was a hidden but got ELECTRICIAN immediately which helped. Regarding KEYBOARD, I think ‘type here’ just means ‘where you type’, ie on the keyboard, and I think ‘we are AT ONE/agreed on X’ is OK. Special shout-out to Hurley for recognising that ARCHIPELAGO lurked within geographical, splendid anagram. Had my own doubts about SLOPE def but was saved by the Doof from making an idiot of myself by complaining. Had no idea about HALF, my LOI, biffed it correctly and came here to learn why it was right. It is now my COD. Good crossword.

  4. A really good challenge from Hurley this morning. I biffed ELECTRICIAN simply from “sparks”. SLOI HALF made me ponder a little, and was rather clever. A few SCC regulars will find it tough going, but it’s definitely worth the effort.

    COD ARCHIPELAGO (top drawer !)
    TIME 4:21

  5. My time of 15 minutes would suggest that I also found this hard but on reflection any problems I had were more of my own making.

    I had lost a minute at the start as I scanned a number of clues, both Across and Down, looking for easy pickings but not finding one until I got to the anagram of ELECTRICIAN.

    After that I made normal progress through the grid completing all but two answers as my target 10 minutes approached. At that stage only the intersecting answers at 19dn and 20ac remained, but ANNUL was hiding in plain sight indicated by ‘to some extent on reflection’ and I really should have spotted it but took nearly 5 minutes to do so. As soon as that was in, HALF followed on immediately.

  6. This took me nearly 30 minutes, so very tough for a quickie, especially as I managed to do the 15×15 in 21 minutes. So the “quick” cryptic took me 50% longer than the “slow” cryptic! My only hold up that I remember was not paying attention at 19D and putting in HALE instead of HALF, which caused a delay getting FARMYARD until I fixed it.

  7. Ouch! Very hard for me and I was ultimately undone by not seeing the relatively straightforward LEVER. Doh! So one pink square after a good 30 minutes.
    Some I could not parse at all. HALF was a (successful) punt at an answer, as was DORY.
    However I liked BELLIGERENT, and ELECTRICIAN brought a wry smile to my otherwise pursed lips.
    Still no sign of any rain here ☹️

  8. Tipped over 20m by ATONE and HALF. No problem with AT ONE for agreed, “we’re at one on this” I just forgot to look for more than one word while alphabet trawling and HALF was just hard. Started slowly only five filled in at seven minutes and fearing the worst but the wavelength mostly arrived until stalling at the end. Lovely moments of realisation for FARMYARD and ELECTRICIAN. All green in 20.15.

  9. 17.40

    Possibly my slowest ever time so not just you Mr D

    Just couldn’t see much of the wordplay and even BELLIGERENT took well over a minute at the end even with all the checkers.

    Tough though I certainly made it tougher than it was

  10. Beaten by HALF (very clever), – – – BOARD and ECLAIR even though I knew what as going on – which is just daft by me

    Tough puzzle all round. Thanks Hurley and Doof for a great blog, congrats on the fine parsing of HALF.

    EDIT – a rare day where I’ve been beaten by the quickie but got through the 15×15. I’m less down than I was!

  11. 11 Mins, biffed a fair bit, and needed an alpha trawl for LOI slope.
    Couldn’t parse atone.
    COD keyboard.

  12. Agree that this was tough, and had to press Reveal on HALF. That’s a tough clue.

    “Sparks” is reasonably common in the construction trade, more so than TIPPER.

    I think DO for cook is used in phrases like “I’ll do the potatoes before we go to church”.


      1. Which reminds me of the occasion I took a foreign friend out to dinner. He ordered steak but his English was not up to understanding “how would you like your steak done?”. I explained the options and as soon as I got to “well done” he thought he understood and said “Oh, very well done please, excellently done”. I had to step in before he got a piece of charcoal back.

  13. 9:20. I was fortunate in that the order the answers went in happened to supply helpful crossing letters, eg ANNUL and FARMYARD for HALF. I’m more familiar with “sparkie” rather than ‘sparks’ for ELECTRICIAN but the anagram left little room for doubt. I liked the ‘type here’ def for KEYBOARD and the wordplay for BELLIGERENT.

    Thanks to Hurley and Doofenschmirtz

  14. is there a seat left…? 21:23. Took me 5 minutes to get down the half and I can down a pint in 10 seconds… thanks Hurley and Heinz

  15. Tough going with LOI ATONE, HALF, FARMYARD and KEYBOARD being particularly tricky.
    Finished in 13.06
    Thanks to Doofers for the blog

  16. I found it hard, but finished in a reasonable time, probably because all the longer clues were written in more or less immediately. Very good puzzle though.

    Biffed HALF after wondering what on earth could fit the checkers and definition, so thanks for enlightenment there, but SLOPE was my LOI after an alphabet trawl.

    I liked ARCHIPELAGO, but there were very many good clues to choose from.


  17. Yes, not easy, and you are far from alone Doofers. 14 minutes for me, with a good part of that caused by first entering Hale, getting nowhere with Farmyard starting with an E and then reconsidering the drink. Hale never really parsed, but Half is certainly the winner of TCD – Trickiest Clue of the Day.

    Many thanks Doofers for the blog. I’m a bit concerned though at the thought of a road that moves obliquely; I prefer my roads to stay firmly put.

  18. A struggle; worst were several for which all the crossers were in place, but just couldn’t see them. Luckily both LEVER and HALF were biffed, leaving only SLOPE pink (couldn’t get closer than SHOVE). About an hour, though; FOI SALARY, COD both ARCHIPELAGO and ATONE. Thanks to Doofers for most helpful blog, especially explanation of HALF.

  19. I moved quickly through this until shuddering to a halt with one left … -A-F. Trawling and then tentatively biffing HALF literally doubled my time! And even then I was half (ho ho) expecting the DPS, but when it didn’t appear I then spent at least another 5 mins trying to understand the clue (which eventually I did). What a brute of a clue!

    Anyway. Breezeblocked my way home in 10:59, which in the circs I’m very happy with so this is a Good Day.

    Many thanks Hurley and Doofers.


  20. Challenging to say the least – 16 or 17 so nearly twice as long as yesterday, I thought archipelago was clever but unlike some didn’t like half or dory – both too much of a stretch I felt. Thanks setter and blogger!

  21. Found it very difficult today. Gave up after 30 mins, not getting KEYBOARD, DORY, HALF, FARMYARD, BELLIGERENT and ATONE. Resorted to the QC book (vol8) to try and redeem myself!

    1. I finished QC book 7 last week and started on QC 6 on my flight Monday. Definitely good training. If I am stumped to parse I come to Help menu here, enter clue and find the explanation. Useful in case the answer in the back doesn’t satisfy.

      1. Cheers for this. I do struggle parsing them on my own, and find myself Googling the clue which doesn’t always help. Then I try and find the orignal crossword it was on, as I notcied most (if not, all?) have been published.

        I will try using the help menu on here though next time.


        1. Sorry I was not clearer.
          Just scroll down the blog page (has menu tab at the top) past ‘Calendar’, past ‘Archives’ and just enter the clue you want text in the Search box. That takes you to the relevant blog for that QCC. I have found it quick and very helpful when trying to parse an answer in the book that does not seem to make sense. Good luck

  22. 18 minutes, not helped by initially entering FINANCE for ADVANCE, which sort of works if the two defs are ‘progress loan’ and ‘of money’, rather than ‘progress’ and ‘loan of money’. HALE was my first thought when reading healthy, so it wasn’t much of a stretch to see the letter substitution at the end. Thanks both.

  23. Well, that was a bit of a tough one, especially the NE corner. I think getting Keyboard was the way forward there, but as it was my loi a struggle was always on the cards. Far too many clues left me searching for the definition, or doubting the answer suggested by crossers – is a John Dory commonly abbreviated ? Just glad to finish after 27mins, with CoD to 19d, Half, for the parsing pdm. Invariant

  24. 12:06

    This felt tougher than the usual though NW and SE corners went in reasonably smoothly. Pieced together FARMYARD and spotted the reverse hidden ANNUL but still had to think for a minute or two to come up with HALF…

    …which left me with __V_R for 10a plus the mysterious 5d. Couldn’t make much sense of the clue for 10a so went by definition and pencilled in LEVER (parsed after completion) at which point BELLIGERENT popped out of nowhere. BELL for CALL? I wonder if it’s a London/SE thing – certainly I’ve used ‘Bell me’ before.

    Thanks Hurley for an entertaining assault course and to Doofenschmirtz for taking us all through it.

  25. Definitely tougher than most; Hurley has been saving this one to stretch us. I got nowhere at first and followed a very jumpy path around and around the grid with most of my difficulties being listed by others above. Some very good clues, though, once I settled down for a slog.
    I managed to teeter on the edge of the SCC having spent too much time waiting to get the crossers to deal with 19d. I wasted time by being slow to see ANNUL (d’oh) but then entered my LOI HALF with fingers crossed. A poor clue, I thought, even when I parsed it.
    There were some good moments but it was a strange mix of PDM smiles and ‘I suppose it has to be’ shrugs. I thought that the four clues with 11-letter answers were very good.
    Thanks to Hurley and to Doofers for his helpful and honest blog. John M.

  26. On the tricky side, but I didn’t have any real problems finishing in just over an average time for me. LOI HALF is a bit devious for a QC, I think. I liked FARMYARD. But DORY… I winced a little at DO for cook, but what really surprised me was the surface referring to a “railway fish”. “What’s one of those?”, I wondered. Thanks Hurley and Doofers. 5:41.

    1. The Brighton Line used to be famous for serving kippers at breakfast but the practice was discontinued decades ago, I believe. The thespian commuters including Sir Laurence Olivier were very upset about it.

  27. I don’t remember such a tough one from Hurley before, but he (or she?) thought we should be stretched today. Like many others I suspect, I missed my target time finishing in 12.10. However, looking at the other times submitted so far, I think I should be satisfied with that. Rather aptly BELLIGERENT took a long time to get and was my LOI.

  28. Enjoyed this but DNF due to just not seeing the key bit of keyboard despite an alphabet trawl and HALF which many found tricky.
    Thanks as always to all the bloggers and setter.

  29. 45 minutes in and I still had 4 to go, so a DNF from me. SLOPE I had thought of but hadn’t entered because it just didn’t quite seem to fit the definition. Before I had farmyard, I was expecting HALe but even after getting the F I couldn’t spot that HALF was correct – DOH! KEYBOARD and ECLAIR were the other failures. Just a bad day which I shall try to forget. Thanks Hurley and Doofers for the explanations.

  30. That was certainly trickier than average. I only just scraped under my target with HALF holding me up at the end. DESK was FOI. ELECTRICIAN and BELLIGERENT probably helped me quite a lot. 9:47. Thanks Hurley and Doofers.

  31. Add me to the group that found this tough going. HALe became HALF once I solved FARMYARD. ATONE was my penultimate solve and only parsed on completion of the grid. My LOI SLOPE required an alphabet trawl and even then I wondered whether slope could be a verb. 12:56

  32. Needed help to think of KEY so KEYBOARD LOI and COD.
    Biffing BELLIGERENT, SATIRICALLY, ELECTRICIAN and ARCHIPELAGO early on helped. In fact I made relatively good progress until stuck on last two, as mentioned.
    Thanks for much needed blog, Doofers

  33. 14.34 This felt very slow. I did like the anagrams for ELECTRICIAN and ARCHIPELAGO. With bellicose stuck in my head BELLIGERENT took far too long and I finished up with FARMYARD and HALF.

  34. What an awful QC this was. I got absolutely nowhere with it. Very difficult and unenjoyable.

  35. Dnf…

    15 mins for everything apart from 19dn. Just couldn’t see it, and spent an age alphabet trawling until I could be bothered no more. I don’t often say a clue is too sneaky for the QC – but this was borderline I thought.

    Oddly enough, I did initially think of Hale, but couldn’t see how it would fit with 22ac “Farmyard” – obviously, it makes sense now that I’ve read the blog.

    I would argue 21ac is also a problem for cyclists.

    FOI – 1ac “Desk”
    LOI – dnf
    COD – 3ac “Keyboard” – a bit of a chestnut, but always makes me smile.

    Thanks as usual!

  36. Tough but fair. Previous entries cover my experience generally. I was impressed by the geographical clue. HALF nearly floored me but I have claimed my place deep into the familiar surroundings of the SCC.

  37. Reading the comments above, it looks like it wasn’t only me who found this tricky. Firmly ensconced in my usual place at the back of the SCC, the last two – DESK & HALF probably took as long as the rest of the puzzle!
    COD to 17A and congratulations to Hurley for finding the anagram in geographical.
    Thanks to Doofers for the excellent blog

  38. 22:00. Yes, very difficult- just got to SLOPE, HALF, ATONE and KEYBOARD after much suffering. Sparks as ELECTRICIAN was a guess on the possible precedent of “Chips” and TIPPER also was a guess. Enjoyed pub money most.

      1. OK, L-P, how does this sound? You were .97 CO, while I was 1.03 LP(all numerical values conveniently rounded off to 2 decimal places!).

        1. That’s what I had. Simply divide my time by yours and vice versa 👍

          After the past two days being so close, I feel like with that 1:1 will be achieved. It’s written in the stars … ⭐🌟✨

          1. Yes, the odds against it happening must really be going down as our solving times get closer and closer.

  39. Steady solve. All correct a minute or so inside my target 30 minutes. Best time this week!
    Liked the 4 longer answers.
    LOI – HALF
    NHO – SPOUSAL, but it had to be from the wordplay

  40. Hurley must have got out of bed the wrong side as I have never known him tobe so mean, but it was all scrupulously fair. I suspected trouble when SOME FRENCH was not the obvious DU. ELECTRICIAN was my fastest; SPARKS is common builders’ slang. Finally ran out of time and came here to see what I’d missed. Thanks, Hurley and Dorfs.

  41. I’m afraid I don’t much feel like discussing the finer points of Hurley’s offering today, as I spent 54 tortuous minutes only to find my sEaBOARD should have been KEYBOARD. And that was after spending 10 minutes grinding out my LOI (HALF), despite never managing to parse it. Result = DNF.

    I’ll be in a better mood tomorrow – I promise!

  42. Phew! I thought I’d done this in 13:08 this morning, only to discover when I came here just now that I’d forgotten to do 2d. By then my brain was addled, having spent the afternoon putting together a slide show for a U3A group, but MrB came to the rescue. So it could have been a joint effort in about 14 minutes. However: as I can’t spell SATIRICALLY (I swapped the first I for a Y) and didn’t go back to parse it, it’s a technical DNF I suppose.
    There were some fun surfaces here though- I liked KEYBOARD, ELECTRICIAN and ATONE in particular.
    FOI Desk LOI Slope (although I thought it was HALF!) COD Farmyard
    Thanks Hurley and Doofers

  43. 37 mins of incompetence on my part. Yes it was tricky, but, after reading the excellent blog, I realised just how poor my performance was. Missed some anagram indicators and hiddens – unforgivable. I avoided a DNF at least.

    I did think that this QC contained some of the best wordplay I have seen. It was perfectly fair in my book.

    Up to 80 mins for the week so little chance of hitting target.

    Loved the blog Doofers, many thanks. 😀

  44. 21:37 is decent for Hurley these days. Had thought going into it, if I could achieve 30-mins I’d be happy, so while the Escape streak ends – it’s going well this week.

    Same issues as others – stuck on ADVANCE, LEVER, DORY (meh) in NE and FARMYARD/HALF (LOI) in SW. Reached those somewhere around 15mins and as the SCC came into view, I focused on a successful completion rather than time. As it happens, I almost immediately then spotted ADVANCE and the dominoes toppled.

  45. Great performance L-Plates. I have little doubt that your days in the SCC will draw to a close by the end of the year. You are achieving a level of consistency that is, I think, a true sign of progress. There will of course still be bad days, but today’s QC was the best test of real solving ability that I have seen. To almost avoid the SCC shows how far you have come.

    1. Thanks GA 👍

      I’ve been doing a few extra curriculum crosswords – my mother saves me the Daily Mail cryptics 🤐; I take a look at The Guardian’s Everyman on Sunday and Quiptic on Monday (both free online) plus I had a book of Telegraph’s last Christmas. There is also The Times Cryptic Quintagrams which are a workout for solving clues without checkers.

      All of that practice is beginning to result in familiarity with the vocab crosswords use, as well as branching into non-Times vocab.

      For what it’s worth, I try not to hold myself to any standard on the other stuff or keep records. Just looking to get a solve. This is partly why my QC results give angst when it all goes horribly wrong!

      1. The old adage about practice makes perfect comes to mind. All the extra stuff you do is clearly paying off.

        I do the odd extra bit occasionally, particularly the Quintagram that you mention. I find that very hard.

        Keep up the good work tomorrow!

  46. Not often I beat the blogger, but today was one of those rare occasions. Would have been quicker too had it not been for the alphabet trawls I engaged in for both SLOPE and ATONE. Ended up with 20:53, which was several minutes faster than yesterday which most people found easy. Go figure. As for DO=COOK, I had no problem with it because you can say “I’m going to do/cook a roast for dinner”. COD to ELECTRICIAN. Thanks Hurley and Doofers.

  47. Finished late in the US day which is just as well since most of the club attendees have left by now and my corner chair beckoned to enjoy a glass of wine and a tasty snack.
    Could not parse HALF in common with others above and HALE (E) was obviously wrong.
    Thanks Doofers and all.

  48. Not so much DNF as BFS. (The B stands for “barely”, the S for “started” and the F for, oh I don’t know, “flipping”.)

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