Times Quick Cryptic No 2492 by Orpheus


I whipped through this in 8:17, and then made a typo when I entered my solved-on-paper answers in the app. Gaah. And it was a crossing letter, so counts for 2 errors. Double gaah.

I suspect that the speed merchants will have a ball with this one, and that the shiny new QSNITCH will show it as somewhat easier than average.

A couple of the words are probably not in common usage – ACERB was new to me, and PERAMBULATOR probably hasn’t been spotted in the wild in my lifetime, but there were enough crossing letters and the wordplay was fair.

Definitions underlined, synonyms in round brackets, wordplay in square brackets and deletions in squiggly brackets.

1 Lacking money for crumbly biscuit (10)
SHORTBREADSHORT (lacking) + BREAD (money).
8 Vital article, as it happens (5)
ALIVEA (indefinite article) + LIVE (as it happens, as in TV).
9 Scotsman in Paris that keeps a medium-sized monkey (7)
MACAQUEMAC (Scotsman) and QUE (“that” in French, or “in Paris, ‘that'”) together contain [keep] A.

I was grateful for the crossing letters, especially the Q.

10 Case for pilot flying Tornado, ultimately (9)
PORTFOLIO – Anagram [flying] of FOR PILOT + {Tornad}O [ultimately].
12 A US attorney’s woman (3)
ADAA + D.A. (District Attorney).
13 Some pushy person —overactive! (5)
HYPER – Hidden in [some] “pusHY PERson”.
15 Bitter as a native of Belgrade, do we hear? (5)
ACERB – Homophone [do we hear] of “a Serb”, Belgrade being the capital of Serbia.

I didn’t know this word, but I knew “acerbic”, and the wordplay was pretty clear. Checking my dictionary, “acerb” dates from the early 17th century, and “acerbic” was formed by adding “ic” in the mid 19th century.

One of the joys of doing these crosswords is finding excellent words in the dictionary when looking up something else: “acerebral” is going to be forming part of my work vocabulary from now on. Yes, it means exactly what you think it means.

17 Broad sash only British infantrymen originally used (3)
OBI – first letters of [originally] “Only British Infantrymen”.

An obi is the sash worn with a kimono.

18 Broken-down car held at place of worship (9)
CATHEDRAL – Anagram [broken-down] of CAR HELD AT.
20 Wear out  pipe for disposal of waste gases (7)
EXHAUST – double definition.
21 Carbon encountered around old celestial body (5)
COMETC (chemical symbol for carbon) + MET (encountered) around O for old.
22 Way to perform or to provide access to building (6,4)
STREET DOORSTREET (way) + DO (to perform) + OR (in the clue).
1 Marksman notes owl, perhaps (12)
SHARPSHOOTERSHARPS (notes, as in music) + HOOTER (owl, perhaps).
2 Basket-maker, or stocking-seller in East London? (5)

I knew the word OSIER and associated it with baskets. I was surprised to find out when I looked it up that it doesn’t mean the person who makes the basket, but the willow shoots that the basket is made from.

It is an iron law of Crosswordland* that no-one from East London ever pronounces a leading H. And of course a “hosier” is a seller or maker of hosiery, including stockings.

* – hereby guaranteeing that there will soon be a clue that breaks this “iron law”, naturally.

3 Supporter on course with meal for speaker (3)
TEE – Sounds like [for speaker] TEA (a meal).

The course is a golf course, of course.

4 Find out about  gang fight in New York (6)
RUMBLE – Double definition. The most famous example of the second definition must be the fight between the Sharks and the Jets in West Side Story.
5 An arduous task wrapping silver in Alaskan port (9)
ANCHORAGEAN + CHORE (arduous task) around [wrapping] AG (chemical symbol for silver).
6 Fuddy-duddy type64, possibly (6)
SQUARE – Another double definition, 64 being 8 squared.
7 Walker’s  early form of transport? (12)
PERAMBULATOR – Yet another double definition.

To perambulate is to walk, so one who walks (a walker) is a perambulator. Perambulator is also the old word for a baby carriage, therefore an “early (in life) form of transport”. The word “pram” is derived from “perambulator”.

11 Quadrangle originally enclosing our croft, surprisingly (9)
FORECOURT – Anagram [surprisingly] of E{nclosing} [originally] + OUR CROFT.
14 Difficulty putting first of plugs on lamp (6)
PLIGHTP{lugs} [first of] + LIGHT (lamp).
16 Country accommodating high-class art work (6)
STATUESTATE (country) including [accomodating] U (high-class).

I think it’s time that “U” and “non-U” were sent out to pasture. Surely the social landscape has moved on from the time of Nancy Mitford.

19 Tragic hero with a capital O? (5)
ROMEOROME (a capital) + O.
21 Reduction workers’ representatives overturned (3)
CUTTUC (abbreviation for Trade Union Congress – workers’ representatives), reversed [overturned].

143 comments on “Times Quick Cryptic No 2492 by Orpheus”

  1. 11:20. Pretty straightforward, only FORECOURT caused difficulty. Well, I guess “in Paris that”giving QUE took some time too. SHARPSHOOTER was my favourite.

  2. I had to wait for a while to find out what kind of DOOR it was. And I saw ‘in New York’ and immediately thought N___Y. Re OSIER: Similar clues show up often enough, at least in the 15x15s; e.g. ‘writer’=PEN. 5:49.

  3. Certainly on the milder side, I did it in 5.31 which I’m pretty sure is a PB. Like Kevin I was stuck on the N-Y construction for what turned out to be LOI RUMBLE, was liberated by POI SHORTBREAD. Didn’t think rumble was NY specific but there you go. Thanks to Orpheus and the Doof.

      1. Rumble meaning gang fight is a US usage (according to Google). Hence “in NY”. Same as Que = “in Paris that”. Nice puzzle but DNF thanks to Rumble despite having all the crossers. Grr

        1. Likewise led to a DNF thanks to RUMBLE. Annoying, as I was well into PB territory up to that point.

    1. I think often enough setters use a specific US city when indicating a more general Americanism. Chambers gives RUMBLE for gang fight as “slang, esp N American” but I was put in mind of “let’s get ready to rumble” infinitely drawn out in an American accent. Mind you, there’s definitely a rumble in West Side Story!

  4. I must be having a bad day because I needed 18 minutes for this one putting me back in my red zone (15+ minutes), and the main puzzle went off the scale.

    The unknown or forgotten monkey caused an early delay but the wordplay got me out of that one. My biggest problem was 18ac where I failed for ages to spot that it was an anagram and early checkers put it in my mind that the place of worship would be CHAPEL which would require some sort of car to be inserted. Once I’d had this thought it was hard to dispel it. It wasn’t until I eventually solved STATUE that the T-checker it provided put me out of my dilemma.

    1. Commiserations Jack – I don’t think I’ve seen you so close to the SCC since I started solving. I’m sure you’ll be back on it tomorrow though 👍

  5. All but three in 5.05 but one of those turned out to be wrong – AsERB (missed the clear homophone indictation and obviously don’t know how to spell acerbic) and I had a typo at the end of FORECOURT that took some untangling. MACAQUE took its time – I could almost hear the word but even with MAC_Q_E it took a while and I did’t know RUMBLE was a word for a gang fight I just thought it sounded good next to “in the jungle”. LOI was STREET DOOR which I don’t think I’ve heard of and the rogue R made it harder before whacking it in to finish in 11.38 with that pink square, ouch. Missed opportunity to get close to a pb, good fun though!

  6. I was slow to start, but met my 5 minute target comfortably enough. I don’t think it was really as tricky as I contrived to make it.

    TIME 4:25

  7. 9 minutes, and mostly plain sailing as that time would suggest. Would have been quite a lot faster but the last few slowed me down: Macaque (vaguely remembered but needed the Q checker), Street door (not a phrase that came readily to mind as I would say Front door), Acerb (NHO, indeed I see my spellchecker hasn’t either as it has “auto-corrected” it to acerbic), and all those needed before my LOI Perambulator. Which I may last have heard used as a word when my younger brother was in one 60+ years ago.

    Nice puzzle. Many thanks to Doofers for the blog.

  8. Found this stickier going than some, with an inability to spot anagrams being one of the issues – CATHEDRAL and LOI PORTFOLIO being prime examples.
    RUMBLE also proved elusive, although I’ve seen similar clues before, as I lazily assumed it would start ‘re’ and include ‘ny’.
    Despite all of that I managed to finish within target at 9.22 and now off to see how high my personal NITCH is 😒.
    Thanks to Doofers

  9. I’m not sure I believe this. I do usually find Orpheus’ puzzles quite gentle, but the answers to this one just flew in. A clean sweep, answering all the clues in turn in across and down order, in a new PB of 2:34. I think I’m going to have to lie down.

    1. Fantastic time JohnI 🌟

      Edit 1:16 for me on the retyping challenge. FWIW I find it quicker to overtype letters than autoskip and fill the gaps – slower mental processing to figure out what goes in. Of course, this has the potential downside of overtyping a correct answer with a wrong letter if you add a wrong answer.

    2. Brilliant! I have just typed all my answers into a blank grid and it took me 1:50. To match your time would allow me just 44 seconds for reading and thinking time. I am in awe….

      1. And there I was feeling pretty chuffed with a sub-6! Well done John. I trust the stewards have requested a sample?

        1. Six espressos have shown up on the initial test – I’m afraid he’s going to be disqualified …

          1. My coffee this morning was filtered Change Please Bold Soul. Maybe that’s what encouraged me to say “Whatevs” to the green-paintish STREET DOOR and move on without thinking about it too much.

    3. Astonishing time John, well done.
      I fill the answers in by hand in the paper. Once as an experiment I photocopied the puzzle, and after completing the original puzzle I then filled in the known answers again by hand on the photocopy, allowing myself time to re-read the clue and in addition I counted out two seconds thinking time for each clue before writing in the answer. I felt this would establish just how quickly I could do the crossword if all went perfectly. If my memory serves me correctly my time was 3.20. This is nearly a minute slower than you!
      My PB incidentally is 4.14, and I struggle to get near this of late.

      1. Yes. I solve on paper but my typing is pretty rubbish so I don’t think I’d be faster online. But there is a super-league of solvers (which includes verlaine) who are also touch-typists. Top of the ratings is, I think, another erstwhile TfTT blogger mohn2 who’s average time of the 15×15 is 4:35, with a fastest time of 2:19. Astounding!

    4. Don’t often do the Quick, but today’s took me – on print-out – 3.42. Out of curiosity, I timed how much of that was spent just writing down the answers, vertically and horizontally, and it came to 2.04. So reading and thinking time was just over four seconds per clue. I also timed how long it took me to type in the answers on the club site, and it took 1.48. (Probably about twenty or so seconds were spent correcting my crap typing.) It must be a great advantage to be able to touch-type quickly – and most important, accurately.

    5. Blimey John, that’s beyond impressive! 👏👏👏👏👏👏👏👏👏👏👏👏👏👏👏

        1. Double wowsers then! I use paper and pen too but wouldn’t be able to read my writing even if I could achieve that speed. Those touch-typing bots though 😂😂

  10. 8:31
    831 Ansgar brings Christianity to the Swedes

    Red hot this morning after poor DNF yesterday. Would have knocked a full minute off my PB but for a two minute dither over the NHO STREET DOOR. I just couldn’t parse it, as I had ST=way which left me in a REET mess. Surely a STREET DOOR is what everyone calls a Front Door.

    Even so “done by Surbiton” is a good time. Was a bit anxious with a possible ASIDE for ALIVE, as an aside, “as it happens”

    Also stuck a bit on MACAQUE as I had “in Paris”=EN, and confusion with Macaw (the parrot).


    Nice blog, Doofers, and I will try and use acerebral today.

  11. On the easy side for Orpheus, so not a complete doddle for me. Almost average time so probably still just in the SCC. CATHEDRAL’s anagrist was cleverly hidden in plain sight, and with most crossers I even thought CHAPEL could be there at first: so COD.
    FOI PORTFOLIO, LOI STREET DOOR. Thanks Orpheus and Doof.

  12. 10:30ish with a corrected ACERB 🙄 Like last Thursday’s avowel/avowal debacle; my brain didn’t know what to do with the homophone when faced with an answer it never uses. My plight was worsened by visualising the longer word as ascerbic. Oh well 🤷‍♂️

    First pass of clues done in 4mins with 7 answers – all the 3-letters plus the hidden HYPER, PLIGHT and COMET. Then second pass I immediately banged in SHARPSHOOTER, PORTFOLIO and SQUARE – and then my computer bluescreened.

    During reboot I glanced down at the paper where I’d written the anagrist for CATHEDRAL and it jumped off the page – funny how that happens. On restarting completed the rest in 5:53 with last few being OSIER, ALIVE, SHORTBREAD and finally RUMBLE. Was pleased to realise “in New York” was looking for an Americanism after initially trying to use N—-Y.

    Overall I enjoyed racing through that and everything was parsed. Even noted myself getting slightly arrogant about OBI being an initialism before realising I only know it because I’ve seen it so many times. A new solver would need that bit of help so good bit of clueing.

    Well done Orpheus – 12mins last Tuesday’s, fast again today. Pitching these right in my opinion. And thank-you to Doofers for a good blog! 👍

  13. Dnf…

    Similar to yesterday, I got stuck on a 2 clue axis , with 4dn “Rumble” and 9ac “Macaque”. Eventually got the latter, but “Rumble” just wouldn’t come, even after dismissing the usual “NY” possibility.

    An odd one this I thought. Some answers went in immediately, but others took an age to solve.

    FOI – 3dn “Tee”
    LOI – dnf
    COD – 6dn “Square”

    Thanks as usual!

  14. The Quitch is running in the high 90s and I return to regulation form, coming home in 07:39 for 1.4K and a Decent Day. It would have been quite a lot faster (though nowhere near John’s simply jaw-dropping time!) had it not been for a long wrestle with LOI RUMBLE, where I was trying to make it start RE (because of “about”). Hey ho. COD to SHARPSHOOTER.

    Many thanks Orpheus and Doofers.


  15. Very fast but then stuck dead on 4d. Unwisely looked up gang fights for inspiration and found RUMBLE, so cheated, though NHO the US meaning.
    I solved the four 3-letters first then PERAMBULATOR.
    NHO ACERB without the -ic but easy to guess it.
    Thanks for blog, Doofers.

      1. No, I hadn’t. Son 1 has just explained it was the most famous boxing match ever, but I was on a ship on the Pacific with two babies at the time.

    1. I thought why couldn’t ACERB be a word too if ACERBIC is and the IC is just a suffix. But then it came to me there’s no FRANT or HECT!

  16. All but four in 11 mins which is flying by my standards, then found STATUE, was slowed by STREET DOOR and ACERB ( never seen it as a word before but fairly clued) and came to a shuddering halt and indeed a DNF with PERAMBULATOR. A smack head on wall moment when I came to the blog but it just wasn’t going to drop, for whatever reason. Ouch. Oh well, it was very good until then.

  17. Humph. All green in 50 minutes, but four NHOs (ACERB – thought the word was acerbic, evidently not? Acerbic is not in my 1950 dictionary at all! – OBI, OSIER and gang fight RUMBLE?) and three unparsed queries, so thank you, Doofers, for your explanations. I’d forgotten that the Sharks and the Jets have a RUMBLE. However, MER at SHARPS: these are not notes but accidentals.

    1. Sharps and flats are both notes. Eg key of A has 3 sharps. They are only accidentals if they fall outside the key signature eg D# in key of A. Even then D# is still a note

      1. Yes the key of A has three sharps but the sharps themselves are not notes. Yes D# is a note, but the sharp (by itself) is not a note. Here is a sharp; can you sing that note? No!
        A sharp is an instruction to raise the pitch of a given note by a semitone, whether it appears in a key signature or as an accidental. On its own it is not a note.

        1. If you raise a note by a semitone it is still a note. Unspecified in this case. “Play any sharp”. You have a choice but they’re all notes. incidentally in the key of A C natural F natural and G natural are all accidental notes

          1. Indeed. A piece of music with all the sharps or flats unsounded because “they’re not notes” would be incomprehensible.

            1. Thanks. I was beginning to doubt myself there! It occurs to me that in the key of C# all the notes are sharps and none of them is an accidental (and all the natural notes are accidentals) . Anyway I think the setter is perfectly justified in clueing ‘sharps’ as ‘notes’

            2. Yes but since we are in the realm of semantics here, I must point out that when you say “all the sharps or flats unsounded” you don’t mean exactly that (because sharps and flats, by themselves, are not pitches). What you actually mean to say is this: a piece of music, where all the notes with flats or sharps attached to them are unsounded, would be incomprehensible. Correct. Or, if you prefer: A piece of music in which all the flats and sharps are ignored, would be incomprehensible. Also correct.

          2. You can’t “play a sharp”. A sharp has to be attached to the name of a note. “Play A#!” is a meaningful instruction; “play a [or “any”] sharp!” is meaningless. You can play “any note with a sharp”, but you can’t play a sharp without it being attached to a note, either as an accidental or in the key signature.
            I won’t “reply” any further to your reply (below) – it’s clear we are speaking different languages.
            Actually having said that, I just thought of a good analogy: diacritics on a letter, for example the accent on a French E. You wouldn’t call that accent a letter, would you? It’s an instruction on how to modify the sound of that letter as it would have been without the accent. The sharp (or flat) is exactly the same.
            Regarding “50 years a professional musician” (below), no, I’m not going to pull rank and reveal my identity and credentials – that’s not what this blog is about. I’ll leave it there; the arguments stand for themselves.

            1. Yes but sharps are all notes but are not necessarily accidentals which can be either naturals flats or sharps. Anyway enough of this! We’ll agree to differ! If anyone wants a crash course in music theory let me know!

              1. No disagreement from me, Justin! I’ll pass on the music theory course though as I taught it for 20 years.

                1. Me too! Professional musician for 50 years with degree and masters. It’s a complicated subject and never thought it would generate such discussion in a blog about a QC crossword. All grist …

                  1. A sharp, of course, is enharmonically, B flat… and both are notes. Sorry. Couldn’t resist that. But sharps… well Chambers has for sharp… “A note raised a semitone” so I think out lutenist setter is vindicated.

    2. You just have to accept that your specialist knowledge will outstrip that of most setters who are trying to cover a wide variety of GK topics. Whether it’s ANDANTE=slow or SHARPS=note, 99% of the population would think the latter is correct. Sadly, my specialist subject knowledge – sports science and psychology – rarely get a look-in for me to even get to raise a meh.

      Anyway – OBI is one to remember – I reckon it’s come up at least five times over the past couple of years.

        1. No worries Jack 👍

          I was trying to say if you have specialist knowledge of a subject, setters are probably always going to disappoint with their generalities (which the average, crossword-solving, non-specialist will also think of as correct).

          Hoping that hasn’t reopened your misunderstanding! 😄

      1. Yes I agree with everything you say. Only, that when a solecism occurs, I (indeed, we) may register the point – all part of the fun?

        1. Of course you may 😃 Just as I threaten (facetiously) to send a letter to the editor for misnaming my local football team!! Was actually, mostly just an excuse to recount their failed renaming in the hope of being listed first.

  18. I thought I was going quite well until my LOI (SQUARE – obvious once MACAQUE was entered) and the time came up as 15.04. Thankfully on target (within ‘experimental error’) but a lifetime compared with some of the incredible times above.
    I BIFD SHARPSHOOTER and only later realised what a good clue it was. The NE corner was my downfall – not sure I would have spelt the monkey correctly without crossers. Like Kevin, I thought 4d was N——Y and it took a while, as did 7d.
    A good puzzle. Thanks to Orpheus and to Doofers for a good blog. John M.

  19. 7:36 (Picts under King Óengus conquer Scots of Dal Riata)

    RUMBLE was familiar from West Side Story, so the NY reference made it easy to spot.

    Thanks Orpheus and Doofers

  20. DNF after just short of 15 minutes when I gave up the struggle and pressed ‘reveal’ for RUMBLE, keen to move on and start this morning’s main task (setting up new iPhone). I was slow on MACAQUE looking for Ian to fit somewhere, our usual Crosswordland Scot, but the rest went in easily enough. Thanks both.

  21. Could get hardly any of these clues. This one was just off the scale. Much too hard.

    Milder ?

    A very nasty one I’d say.

  22. It is always a good feeling when the 1s come to mind straight away. Most of this went in smoothly although I relied on the wordplay for the spelling of MACAQUE and wondered what kind of DOOR was going to give me access at 22a. My LOsI were the half remembered OSIER and PERAMBULATOR. 8:13 for a good day.

  23. 9.16

    Not at my sharpest today. Just wasn’t sure MACAQUE was right which put me off getting my LOI RUMBLE.

    Thanks Orpheus and Doofers

  24. No time to record as I had a major distraction half way through, but probably around 20 mins. Held up parsing STREET DOOR as I was trying to make the initial ST the ‘way’. Brilliant diversion by Orpheus. I loved ROMEO and the use of 64 for a square. How random but clever.

    I do have a gripe abour OSIER. The answer was obvious from the cluing but osier certainly does not mean, and never has meant, a basket-maker as Doofenshmirtz notes in the blog. An unusual factual error by the setter.

    I also agree with blogger about retiring the use of U for upper class. It’s just lazy clue writing.

    1. If a basket is made from willow shoots, or OSIER as Doofers points out, then OSIER is a basket maker – not the person, but the material, just as tarmac makes roads.

      1. Surely not, Mr Rotter! Aren’t you stretching the language beyond its point of elasticity?

  25. Looked tricky, but actually wasn’t once I got started and the answers just followed steadily. A bit of hesitation over STREET DOOR, but it had to be.

  26. Most people seem to have found this easy, but I didn’t rate it as such. I finished in 10.50 but it actually felt slower than that. Most time was expended on my LOI which 4ac. It took me a while rumble RUMBLE, and I shall always associate the word with the Muhammad Ali v George Foreman fight.

  27. Took me ages to see RUMBLE(sidetracked by N____Y), MACAQUE and SQUARE. I did this in bed on the ipad so was maybe still drowsy after yesterday’s travels. Liked SHARPSHOOTER. FOI, TEE, LOI SQUARE. 9:35. Thanks Orpheus and Doofers.

  28. Difficult for us and dnf
    Anchorage,macaque,rumble all defeated us.
    Always enjoy the challenge though.
    Thanks as always for blog and puzzle.

  29. Just not at the races today. Having already crossed into the SCC, decided to pull stumps with loi 4d Rumble still extant as Re + NY + ml was clearly going nowhere. Not sure I would ever have thought about Rumble having never come across the gang fight meaning. CoD to the well disguised Sharpshooter, who I found hiding at the wrong end of the clue. Invariant

  30. This seemed easier than yesterday’s but I still managed to record the same time of 16 minutes. Consistent, as I also recorded this time on Monday. I parsed everything except PORTFOLIO where I did’t see the anagram but the answer was obvious once I had a few crossers. NHO ACERB but it was clear from the homophone. Was also unsure how to spell MACAQUE initially.

    LOI – 16dn STATUE

    Thanks to Orpheus and Doofers

  31. 9.5m
    I was going along like a comet until turning into a statue for the last 2, perambulator, and LOI rumble, at least no typos.

    COD romeo.

  32. 7:37. About half the time yesterday’s took me. No time to post yesterday, but yes- it was the CANNIBAL that slowed me down!
    I thought this was mostly very friendly, and as it started with my favourite biscuit, very tasty too. Only two clues really slowed me down – the same as many others! At one point, I wondered whether I might get a clean sweep, as I g0t 11 clues straight off, but then ACERB put the mockers on that one! I know not to get too opti-lusional 😅 I didn’t help myself either by entering PLIGHT in the space for STATUE, which made 18a rather challenging, and STREET DOOR took its time too.
    I went to an interesting U3A meeting yesterday about exploring the English language, where we discussed accents, and of course the fact that East Enders drop their aitches came up. Round here in the East Midlands, it’s also quite common, in fact, with the added interest that sometimes people add aitches to words beginning with vowels!
    FOI and BOD Shortbread LOI Street door COD Sharpshooter
    Thanks Orpheus and Doofers

    1. I presume there’s a market for dropped aitches. They must swept up at the end of each day and re-distributed to thems wot want to use them elsewhere.

    2. Our U3A has a talk in December from our local English dialect expert Charlie Haylock, co-author of “In a manner of speaking – the story of the English language”. The last talk I heard from him was about The Dig and working with Ralph Fiennes and the rest of the crew on perfecting the Suffolk accent for the film. He has a party piece where he demonstrates accents from all over the UK which is quite hilarious.

  33. Found this fairly straightforward. PDMs included ACERB (did not know this is synonymous with acerbic until I googled), RUMBLE and ALIVE. Knew OBI from crosswordland. Liked OSIER, although also thought it related to person not material – thanks Doofers.

  34. Got a bit stuck in NE with others. Once I realised 7d started with PER not PAR then the monkey went in.
    Couldn’t get rumble. Suspected the musical that I’ve never seen.
    Let’s get ready to rumble is oft used by boxing MCs. So no complaints. J

  35. 4:39

    Plain sailing against Orpheus today, even the lesser-known words – MACAQUE, OSIER, ANCHORAGE (luckily I’ve never heard of anywhere else in Alaska), ACERB – slotting in comfortably. Surprised that the Quitch is currently as high as 92…

    Thanks Orpheus and Doofers

  36. Have I just done a different crossword to everyone else? I found this utterly tortuous and only just managed to collapse across the line in 52 minutes.

    Maybe I’m moaning too much, as the only clues that really held me up were SHORTBREAD, SHARPSHOOTER, ALIVE, RUMBLE, MACAQUE, SQUARE, STREET DOOR, FORECOURT, STATUE, ANCHORAGE, ACERB and PERAMBULATOR. That’s all! The other twelve were relatively straightforward in that I galloped through them in about 15 minutes. Then the fun (said through gritted teeth) started.

    Many thanks to Orpheus and Doofers.

    1. That’ll teach you for drinking on a school night – maybe you needed another!

      Must admit I could have seen myself getting stuck today – especially at the end if OSIER hadn’t come to mind – although it appears that wasn’t an issue for you. Have to say I thought SQUARE would be your COD.

      FWIW my median for the 431 QCs I have recorded since start of Feb2022 is 1hr03 using the WORM* Current 170QCs timed under 40mins so I reckon it’ll require another 300 attempts to reach the 40min median given I’m currently about a 2:1 ratio. Did a recent sample – 53 sub40 / 5 over / 19 DNF.

      Anyway we both ended up on the wrong side of that today for different reasons 🙄

      * Wholly Official Random Method

      1. Maybe I should have had a beer for breakfast. Thanks for coming over yesterday evening. I very much enjoyed our conflab (confab?).

        I spotted 64 as a CUBE straight away, but (weirdly) SQUARE didn’t occur to me until much, much later.

        Today’s shenanigans have put my overall median back up to 41 minutes (actually 40.5 minutes, but I record only to the nearest whole minute and 0.5 always rounds up in mathematics), broken down as follows: Less than 40 mins = 421; 40 mins exactly = 13; Over 40 mins = 136; DNF = 198. Total since starting on 1st June 2020 = 868.

        For what it’s worth, here are some other random stats from my data set. They use my self-developed and world-famous (in the Random household) ‘Coefficient of Perceived Difficultness’. The higher the number, the greater the difficulty. All coefficients are given to an accuracy of 1 d.p. only.

        Weekdays: Mon. = 2.8, Tues. = 3.2, Wed. = 3.1, Thurs. = 3.2, Fri. = 3.4

        Main Setters: Teazel = 3.9, Izetti = 3.8, Orpheus/Wurm/Joker = 3.6, Tracy (now retired)/Jalna = 3.2, Pedro = 3.1, Felix = 3.0, Hurley = 2.8, Mara = 2.7, Oink = 2.4, Breadman = 2.3, Trelawney = 1.7

        One question to leave you with: Should I count Margaret & Bob as the same setter as Bob & Margaret? Each has set one QC during my time.

        1. Clearly Margaret & Bob / Bob & Margaret must be counted as one entity! However if Maggie & Robert should start setting, I advise we reconsider the matter.

          It appears by failing to round I have not been applying the WORM correctly and will punish myself accordingly with 25 clues from Izetti and 10 more from Teazel. Only a small punishment as I believe the median is usually able to survive such casualness.

          Please remind me what the +/-‘s for the CoPD are. I’m not sure whether I will have all the data required but may give it a go.

          1. First, I allocate points (using lookup tables) for each attempt as follows:
            1-19 mins = 5 pts, 20-29 = 4, 30-39 = 3, 40-49 = 2, 50-59 = 1, 60+ & DNF (1 error) = 0
            DNF (2 errors) = -1, DNF (3) = -2, DNF (4-5) = -3, DNF (6-7) = -4, DNF (8+) = -5
            Thankfully, I hardly ever score worse than -2 these days (although it does still happen occasionally).

            Then, I calculate the average number of points scored vs each setter or by day or overall, which will be somewhere between -5 (all DNFs with 8 or more errors ) and +5 (all crosswords fully solved in less than 20 minutes), and multiply by 20. The result is a value between -100 and +100 and I call this a Performance Index. So, if every attempt ended up as a 60+ minute solve or a DNF with only 1 incorrect solution, then my Performance index for that setter would be 0 (zero). My PI for Trelawney is 65 and my PI for Teazel is 23.

            Finally, my CoPD = 5 – PI/20, which gives a value between 0 and 10. CoPD (Trelawney) = 5 – 65/20 = 1.74, and CoPD (Teazel) = 5 – 23/20 = 3.85 Voila! I will leave you to work out how to do all this in Excel and how to create automatically regenerated stats, tables and graphs each time a new data point is added.

            1. Okay I think I get it. It’s a while since I enjoyed employing a VLOOKUP or HLOOKUP and I suspect I will probably just manually score it each day as it seems a pretty easy +5 to -5 scale. The PI and CoPD look fairly simple to create as formulae.

              I’m assuming 5 – 65/20 = 1.74 is just a typo and not something I’ve failed to understand. Or a deliberate mistake to check I was paying attention 😉

              1. My younger daughter (who’s just had confirmation she has achieved 1st class honours in her Mathematics degree) is looking for a job as a data scientist. Maybe she could assist 😉

                1. Many congratulations to your daughter, John. I was never that good at pure mathematics, so I went off into the world of operational research (a new branch of applied maths back in the day).

              2. I accept that 5 – 65/20 = 1.75
                However, the 65 is an average of 40+ scores and has been rounded to the nearest integer. Excel uses the unrounded value to come up with 1.74, which itself has been rounded to 2 d.p.
                I hope that makes sense.

                1. Yep, I understand.

                  That wasn’t too traumatic to do. A couple of sorts of the data to allocate the scores and then a well-placed COUNTIF and SUMIF against the list of setters got me there.

                  Among setters with 10 or more QCs …
                  Izetti 5.03
                  Teazel 4.66
                  Pedro 4.22
                  Tracy 4.18
                  Orpheus 4.15
                  Breadman 4.0
                  Felix 3.58
                  Joker 3.44
                  Oink 3.15
                  Wurm 3.11
                  Mara 3.03
                  Hurley 2.93
                  Jalna 2.81
                  Trelawney 1.67

                  CoPD for all QCs = 3.64

                  No surprise with Izetti and Teazel at the top. I’ve begun to quit at 30mins on both of them for my sanity. Both August Izettis scored me -5 as I quit them both with 8 left and Teazel’s first in Sept was -4. I only have twelve -4s and -5s recorded although as I don’t have data on my first 50 or so QCs attempted, it’s a little skewed.

                  1. Well done LP – interesting reading.

                    Looks like we concur more than we differ. Teazel, Izetti and Orpheus at the more difficult end of the spectrum. Trelawney, Mara, Oink and Hurley at the other end. And a bit of a mish-mash in between.

                    My other stat from yesterday was that (for me, at least) Friday QCs are definitely the hardest, Monday’s are the easiest and the other days are more middling. The differences are not huge, but with 868 data points they are significant.

                    1. Have been revamping the spreadsheet, cleaning up my data and splitting out into 2022/2023 sheets this morning.

                      You definitely have a clear improvement with Monday’s. My weekdays don’t have much variation in their range at 3.63 – 3.86 … 2023 is a little wider at 2.49 – 2.87

                      Most gratifying is to see the improvement in CoPD but I guess it’s to be expected …
                      2022 – 4.64
                      2023 – 2.65
                      All-time 3.75

                  2. To complete the set, my CoPD progress has been as follows (figures in brackets are the no. puzzles):
                    2020 (154) = 4.72
                    2021 (261) = 3.31
                    2022 (260) = 2.71
                    2023 (194) = 2.21
                    Total (869) = 3.14

      2. … and, based on my form over the past few months, I predict that my overall median time will finally drop below 40 minutes (a long term goal) on Wed. 20th Dec. A nice Christmas present to self, if I can do it.

    2. I know the feeling Mr R, but well done for persevering. A solve beats a DNF, whatever the time.

      I hope tomorrow is a little kinder to you.

      1. Exactly! In a competition (heaven forbid!), an all-correct 52-minute solve just might get one into the next round, whereas a superfast 1-letter DNF would not. Bring on tomorrow!

        1. Well maybe not this year, (although you could come along to The George to meet some fellow solvers and enjoy a beer or two – I’ll be there), but when you take part in the Times Crossword Championship, you will get 1 hr to complete 3 15×15 puzzles. An all-correct 90/90 clues would get you to the next round, but a 1-letter DNF in one of the 3 (89/90) could get you through too.

          1. Actually, Mrs Random and I do join forces occasionally to tackle the 15×15. This typically happens on long car journeys, when I’m driving. We would expect to crack at least half of it and sometimes even finish or almost finish it without recourse to aids (other than working as a team, of course).
            Good luck in the The Times competition. Your PB today indicates you’re coming into form.

  37. 10.12 This was quite quick for me but it didn’t feel easy. I’m dreadful at American state capitals but “anchored down in Anchorage” has stuck in my mind for (having just looked up the release date) 35 years. ACERB was a punt and LOI ALIVE took two minutes. Thanks to Doofers and Orpheus.

    1. Juneau is the capital of Alaska. Thanks for giving me the opportunity to use one of the few bits of general knowledge I’ve managed to retain.

  38. Managed the Quintagram today and that perhaps provided me with the impetus to make a decent fist of this. Very surprised to take only 10 mins. Had I not dithered over STREET DOOR, that elusive 9-minute solve would have been achieved. One day it may happen.

    Great blog as ever.

    1. Great work that man. Two fast times this week already. The pressure of the clock removed hopefully by not timing yourself yesterday.

      If I’m honest, I don’t think a 9minute solve may happen. I know it will.

      1. Thanks L-Plates. A good day for us both. You are absolutely right about the clock yesterday. It took all the pressure away.

        When I had the chance to read yesterday’s comments, I agreed with what you had to say about CANNIBAL. It was my LOI and would have had me in despair had I been timing myself.

        🤞for a good QC tomorrow.

  39. Joined those who had trouble with 4d rumble. Do remember the phrase rumble in the jungle. Forget the boxing match. Otherwise we found it on the easier side.

  40. Completed without help from the cat today, which is a good job as I just had to stop him fighting another cat. 🐈

    None of the clues gave me any real headaches. Which is unusual.

      1. Almost a headache free day. Just got back from a pre-op assessment at the local hospital. The pre-op nurse said my blood pressure was a little high and the surgeon might elect not to operate until it’s lower. I won’t find out until Monday, the day of the op. Sigh.

  41. Late to this after golf. LOI STREET DOOR after 10 minutes.
    I assumed ACERB must exist.

  42. 14:13

    Something of a biff fest today with answers going pretty quickly but not necessarily parsed. Never figured out MACAQUE. LOI RUMBLE.

  43. As DeearHector above, biffed a lot of it, but managed put in FOURCOURT which held me up. Entered ACERB without much conviction, stared and stared at PERAMBULATOR as LOI.

    So another one completed. Time almost respectable at 20 mins, a PB.

  44. Mostly straightforward for me. Finished with STREET DOOR on 14:11. Thanks Doofers and Orpheus.

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