Times Quick Cryptic No 2502 by Oink

Lots to like in this witty and clever puzzle from Oink. I made great progress through this, with only 3 left after about 8½ minutes, but then those last three took me another five minutes, for a total time of 13:25.

My first one in was GO-AHEAD and the last three were HOCK, where I was looking at the wrong end of the clue and the CHEESY/ETHER nexus. My last one in was ETHER, where I did whatever the reverse of biffing is – I put it in from the wordplay, with no idea of how the definition worked. The PDM came about 5 minutes later, with a strong feeling of “ah, old friend, it’s good to see you”. That gets my COD. Other clues I liked included CHECKMATE, YELLOW, GENESIS, BATTLE and CROAK.

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

8 Soldiers also involved in plot (7)
PLATOONTOO (also) inside [involved in] PLAN (plot).
9 A number there moving east (5)
ETHER – The last E (East) of THERE moves to the front.

Just as “flower” can mean “something that flows”, so “number” can mean “something that numbs”: in this case, ether – an anaesthetic. I’ve also seen “number” to mean the person who administers the anaesthetic, as in “one who numbs”. Definitely one worth remembering.

10 Bird by church, a small one (5)
TITCHTIT (bird) by CH (church).
11 School principal in India providing permission (2-5)
GO-AHEAD – A head teacher in the Indian state of Goa would be a “Goa head”.


12 Friend from Prague, I hear, making winning move (9)
CHECKMATE – A friend from Prague could be a “Czech mate”. The homophone is indicated by “I hear”.
14 Longing for money overseas (3)
YEN – double definition.
16 Remain without a pen (3)
STYST{a}Y (remain) [without “A”].

Oink’s trademark piggy reference.

18 Ridiculous pretence about island being focus for seismologist? (9)
EPICENTRE – Anagram [ridiculous] of PRETENCE including [about] I for island.
21 Reportedly completely understand it’s the Pope’s responsibility (4,3)
HOLY SEE – Homophone [reportedly] of “wholly see” (completely understand).
22 In hearing boy to show deference (5)
KNEEL – Neil (random male name) is a homophone [in hearing] of “kneel”.
23 Dieas one with laryngitis might? (5)
CROAK – Double definition.
24 Book  an early prog rock band (7)
GENESIS – Another double definition, “book” being a noun in the answer despite being a verb in the clue.

“Prog rock”: everything that was wrong in music in the early seventies summed up in two syllables. Not that I am opinionated or anything…

1 Move puts sick in agitated state (2,6)
UP STICKS – anagram [in agitated state] of PUTS SICK.

Luckily I picked the right end of this clue as the definition from the start: I’ll bet a fair few people looked for an anagram of PUTS SICK that means “in agitated state”.

2 British PM lacking energy for fight (6)
BATTLEB for British with ATTLE{e}.

Clement Attlee makes his second appearance in the last couple of weeks.

3 Circle round bear (4)
POOHHOOP (circle) reversed [round].
4 Name GI in error, creating problem (6)
ENIGMA – anagram [in error] of NAME GI.
5 Alleges crude English is language of the bar? (8)
LEGALESE – Anagram [crude] of ALLEGES + E for English.
6 Welsh rarebit is so  tasteless! (6)
CHEESY – Double definition.

Welsh rarebit is basically a cheese sauce served on toast.

7 Occasionally afraid daughter is dehydrated (4)
ARID – Every other letter [occasionally] of A{f}R{a}I{d} + D for daughter.
13 Hang on to Japanese wine as memento (8)
KEEPSAKEKEEP (hang on to) + SAKE (Japanese wine).
15 Annoys son? That’s unnecessary (8)
NEEDLESSNEEDLES (annoys) + S for son.
17 Cowardly to cry out ‘That hurts’? (6)
19 Office agenda concealing period of little growth? (3,3)
ICE AGE – Hidden in “offICE AGEnda”.
20 One believing he is protected by Times (6)
THEISTHE IS inside [protected by] TT (times).

T for “time” is common, so I suppose TT for “times” is fair enough, as in “more than one time”.

21 Stagger, having no head for drink (4)
HOCK – {s}HOCK (stagger) without the first letter [having no head].

I tried to solve this the wrong way around initially, trying to remove the first letter of a drink to get a synonym for ‘stagger’.

22 Duke supporting family? That’s generous (4)
KINDD for Duke below [supporting, since this is a down clue] KIN (family).

I’ve seen D for Duke plenty of times here in Crosswordland and never really given it any thought. But now I have thought about it, the only place I’ve seen it used in the real world is in the phrase “D of E award”.

72 comments on “Times Quick Cryptic No 2502 by Oink”

  1. I liked that moving E the other way gives the other kind of number. Cute, oink. thx doofenschmirtz

  2. 11:24. HOLY SEE and BATTLE were favourites. UP STICKS took the longest to solve. I didn’t think GOA was part of India but I see I was harking back to pre-1961 Geography lessons(must get hold of up-to-date atlas)!

  3. 9 minutes. Straightforward for me but I’m sure others did not find it so.

    There’s a possible second signature clue at 21dn as although HOCK as a cut of meat could theoretically come from a range of animals, when it appears on menus it usually refers to pig, and ham in particular.

  4. 9.02. Good fun, no real problems although I was held up by POOH (hoop backwards, I get it) (now) and for some reason I was looking for a PM starting with B and got nowhere for a while until the British Clem arrived to give me BATTLE. Thanks to Oink and the Doof. Perhaps one thing we can say in prog rock’s defence is that it spurred the punk/new wave revolution which gave us some excellent music.

  5. 8:10 which was lucky – agonized over HOCK as I was only familiar with a ham hock and the German word ‘hocken’ (‘to squat’). Vaguely imagined it might be a kind of cider, but Wiktionary tells me it is “a Rhenish wine, of a light yellow color, either sparkling or still”. Also agonized over ETHER due to missing the old ‘number’ chestnut, which apparently I was familiar with in theory but not in practice!

  6. 5:01

    Very straightforward grid from Oink. A plethora of Acrosses on the first pass made the Downs quite easy – UP STICKS, KEEPSAKE, HOCK all went in without a lot of thought. I had put in THREE but quickly corrected once 6d and 7d went in. For the record, I like a lot of Prog Rock, but as with any genre, there is the good, the bad and the bl**dy awful.

    Thanks Oink and Doofenschmirtz

  7. Me too. I didn’t hesitate to enter THREE at 9A which was clearly right… until it wasn’t, when I saw 5D was LEGALESE. Ha ha. Fairly gentle today, I think. Thank-you Oink and Doofers. 3:42.

  8. I was another who backed out “three” once I saw LEGALESE. As usual, a witty and enjoyable puzzle from our porcine pal

    TIME 3:56

  9. A gentle but high quality offering from Oink. BATTLE, ETHER and LOI CHEESY put up brief resistance in what was otherwise a top to bottom solve.
    Finished in 5.31
    Thanks to Doofers

  10. Very enjoyable puzzle, though my geologist’s training balked somewhat at equating focus and epicentre (focus is the centre of the earthquake, epicentre is the point directly above the focus on the Earth’s surface).

    1. How did you get to the table? By a Carpet Crawl?

      N.B. One of our esteemed setters, Wurm, takes his name from the final section of Starship Trooper by Yes.

  11. Within my target time of 10 mins but by no means a straightforward challenge.

    Enjoyed ETHER having fallen into the THREE trap.

    Thanks to Oink and Doof

    Time: 8:44

    1. Hello Jumeau. On the basis that this can’t be a linguistic coincidence … don’t tell me that you and Dvynys are jumeaux?!

  12. 7.06

    Like our blogger got completely the wrong end of my LOI HOCK which delayed me a fair bit, as did the chestnutty POOH.

    Echo the praise for this very consistent setter who always delivers a smile or two (HOLY SEE in this case)

    And thanks of course to Doofenschmirtz

  13. Yet another “three” here, but otherwise delayed only by HOCK (where like Doofers I had the definition at the wrong end) and LOI POOH (was looking for “bear” as in “put up with”). A typically witty and generous puzzle from our porcine chum.

    All done in 05:56 which is quick for me, so I have to declare today an Excellent Day (even though while I was typing this a robin flew into my study through the open door, 3d-ed on my desk and flew out again).

    Many thanks Oink and El Doof.


  14. Blithering idiot.

    Had carelessly biffed CHOKE for CROAK, so when I put in KEEPSAKE, I had CHOKK, which was not spotted prior to submission. Also delayed by POOH and HOLY SEE. Not my best day. Oink 1, me 0.

    Only slightly mollified by a PB on the concise.


    1. Very, very, very nearly did the same. Only just spotted the KK’s together out of the corner of my eye before submitting.
      Sincere empathy and sympathy.

  15. Finished and enjoyed. I was temporality stuck on so biffed LOI ETHER, because I forgot the crosswordese ‘to numb’.
    POI STY , very dim of me not to see it straight away. FOI CHECKMATE.
    Lots of wit today. Liked PLATOON, EPICENTRE, HOLY SEE, CROAK, GO AHEAD, among others.
    Thanks vm, Doofers.

  16. 5.45 – I can’t go much faster until I learn to type. So quick that I nearly stumbled at the end, seeing Duke at the beginning of the clue and already having _E_T, KENT was the obvious answer. I even spent time then trying to justify it from the rest of the clue. I could have been a contender!

    Now, on another matter. Simply this. Dave “Fluff” Freeman, “greetings pop pickers” “more Quo, Floyd, Crimson….”. And I defy you not to like this, the finest games promotional video ever made, courtesy of ELO and almost everyone in Birmingham.

    1. Don’t understand how you can have -E-T for 22d when the crossers are K-N-? What have I misunderstood?

      1. The only thing you have misunderstood is my capacity for looking stupid! having said that, K-N- just screams KENT with the headword in the clue Duke!

  17. Tricky grid, tricky puzzle for me.
    LOI was EPICENTRE (failing to see anagram fodder) after LEGALESE.
    Lots of clever clues and something to trip up almost anyone. My favourites were GO AHEAD and HOLY SEE.
    15 minutes in the end after a fast start.

  18. I found this one to be fairly straightforward finishing in a better than average time of 7.35. Took me a little while to get my LOI which was CHEESY, no idea why. I was initially racking my brains to think of a British Prime Minister minus an E before the penny dropped.

  19. Got there in the end though lacking some parsing, so thank you, Doofers, for the explanations. FOI CHECKMATE, LOI CHEESY (just took ages for the PDM). It had to be ETHER (‘cos already had LEGALESE and ARID) but I stared and stared at it, wanting it to be THREE – keep forgetting that ETHER is a number though we had exactly that quite recently. NHO ridiculous = anagram but now we know. Could not see HOOP, or “round” (= O?) = reversed, but POOH had to be. Thank you, Oink, in your cosy STY.

  20. 8 minutes despite falling into the THREE trap initially, obviously quickly corrected. PLATOONN was FOI, then the wrong THREE before I started with all the top downs, which forced a rethink. Finished with HOCK, with everything else falling neatly into place. Thanks Oink and Doofers.

  21. 11 minutes for this nice puzzle, in which I fell into most of the traps Oink set and quite a few I seem to have set all by myself. Three for Ether, Choke for Croak, tried them all … But other words and crossers put me right in each case.

    I got Hock before Sty and wondered if that was the piggy clue (ie ham hock), but then Sty came along. So we might even consider this a bonus day from Oink with two porcine references.

    Many thanks Doofers for the blog.

  22. Another held up by THREE and CHEESY. Otherwise from PLATOON to GENESIS in 5:24. Thanks Oink and Doofers. PS I’ve just discovered I can speed up my typing by hitting the return key on my PC after each entry, which takes me to the next across clue(then the downs after the last across) without having to use the mouse. A change to my usual solving method as I normally cluster around the letters I get from solving a clue.

  23. 13:30
    Well under my 20min target, so very pleased.
    Not sure whether I chuckled or groaned at GO AHEAD, CHECKMATE, KEEPSAKE and YELLOW. But either way, I very much enjoyed them.
    Biffed POOH, then understood the clue afterwards.
    Just plain guessed ETHER with no understanding of why – a big Thank You to Doofers for explaining.
    Struggled to see past CHOKE for CROAK – as with hopkinb above, would have been a DNF if I’d put KEEPSAKE in before CHOKE, (spotting the two K’s together saved me).
    FOI: 10ac TITCH
    LOI: 23ac CROAK
    COD: 11ac GO AHEAD
    Thanks for making me smile Oink and thanks for making me wiser Doofers.

  24. A record for me. Got all the acrosses bar 2 then all the downs on the bounce and then quickly the last 2. So pretty happy.

    1. Pleased you’re still here and having a go Dunlop.
      I had to guess ETHER and got lucky. LEGALESE didn’t come to me straight away and I’d not heard of THEIST but got there from knowing the more widely used ATHEIST.

  25. That was a lot of fun – Oink confirming his place as my favourite setter! There wasn’t a duff clue in my view and I loved GO AHEAD, GENESIS (well A Trick of the Tail anyway), and KEEPSAKE. Like others, I fell for the old double meaning of number and went down the path of trying to fit THREE in place of ETHER, but ARID put paid to that.
    Talking about small birds, we have a robin that is totally unfazed by anything, and has taken to perching on a window sill looking into our sitting room. Have just seen Templar’s comment about robins – at least ours is remaining outside so far! But it is so brave that I wouldn’t be surprised if it came exploring.
    6.43 FOI Platoon LOI Hock COD Yellow
    Thanks a lot Oink and Doofers

    I found the biggie quite approachable today (23 minutes – my best completion in ages), so it might be worth having a go 😊

    1. Thanks for the tip – will have a go! [ On edit – crikey Penny! That was well above my competence level, especially in the SW. I’m seriously impressed!!] (You’re lucky that your robin has stayed outside …)

        1. If we are talking about robins, can’t resist reporting that our local robin comes for his (her?) breakfast every day as soon as we open the garden door – and eats out of Mrs M’s hand. He (it? ‘they’ doesn’t work) sometimes comes for lunch as well. Best is when sparrow dares to venture onto the dinner table, and invariably gets dramatically dive-bombed by proprietorial robin. Great meal-time entertainment!
          Yes, a few weeks ago our son left a copy of Chopin Etudes out open on the piano, and robin came in and 3d’d on it ……

      1. Dear Templar: Yes – although I wouldn’t put it past it to try and find a way in! I’ve had to keep the window shut just in case.

        Dear CW: I hope you got a picture – that does sound adorable!

        Dear Martinů: Robins AND sparrows – can’t beat that 😅

      2. Perhaps it was just a lucky day – or Oink put me in a good mood 😊 I must admit to two or three biffs though!

    2. A Trick Of The Tail: Maybe our setter should have re-christened himself today as ‘Squonk’.

      1. MrB’s favourite track on that particular album – and I could imagine a pig going ‘squonk squonk’!

    3. Thanks Penny for the heads up on the ‘biggie’.
      Not a clue (excuse the pun) for over 12min. Persevered for only my fourth 15×15 solve in 61:33
      (It did however, involve copious use of Google for synonym trawls.) 😊

      1. Many congratulations on what has been a great day for you – well out of the SCC and a good time for the biggie too 👏

  26. Fell for THREE, and felt particularly aggrieved, when as a chemist I wrangled ETHER. Harummph.

    None of the rest gave any real difficulty, bar HOCK which held me up for a while, so the dreaded DNF was avoided.

    1. Well done. It’s worth persisting. Soon you’ll crack the QC and then look forward to each one, if my experience is anything to go by.

  27. 19.23 All done in nine minutes except for POOH, ETHER (I was also distracted by THREE) and CHEESY. I finally twigged to the latter and chucked in the other two with a shrug. Flower always makes me thing river now so maybe number will finally stick. An entertaining puzzle. Thanks to Doofers and Oink.

  28. 18 mins…

    Initially put “Cheese” down for 6dn, which made 14ac a bit of a puzzler for a time. Enjoyed the smaller clues, like 3dn “Pooh”, 21dn “Hock” and 10ac “Titch”.

    FOI – 1dn “Up Sticks”
    LOI – 21dn “Hock”
    COD – 16ac “Sty” – not only a piggy reference, but an amusing clue as well.

    Thanks as usual!

  29. Quite a number of clues (especially the downs) solved on first pass and it was looking like a quick time. However the SE corner did for me, probably taking as long as the rest of the puzzle put togethere. Ended on 22 minutes without having been able to parse ETHER (forgot the number trick but at least I didn’t consider ‘three’ as an answer) or THEIST. Took forever to see the hidden ICE AGE and struggled with the EPICENTRE anagram.

    FOI – 8ac PLATOON
    LOI – 20dn THEIST
    CODs – 11ac GO AHEAD, 12ac CHECKMATE and 13dn KEEPSAKE

    Thanks to Oink and Doofers

  30. 7:23 (death of St Frideswide, patron Saint of Oxford)
    I was OK with ETHER, as I was looking for something with anaesthetic properties as soon as I saw “number”.
    LOI was POOH, as circle did not lead to hoop very quickly.

    Thanks Oink and Doofers

    Edit: Time should have read 7:27 Apologies to St Frideswide

  31. Don’t tell anyone, but I may just be emerging from my Slough of Despond. 26 minutes today and a very enjoyable experience it was. I fell into the ‘THREE’ trap of course, but seeing that 5d was an anagram without a T and finding ARID forced me to scrub that idea and move on. I found ETHER when I came back to it later, but I had to come here to find out why it was the solution. Very clever!

    Any crossword that includes GENESIS, POOH and CHECKMATE scores highly in my opinion.

    Prog-Rock: My favourite genre of music. Music to listen to, rather than to dance to. Varied, expansive, longer pieces, changes in key and time signature – similar to classical music in those respects. Some contemporary PR bands also include elements of Celtic folk, jazz and even opera in their compositions. Something for everyone – even Doofers!

    Many thanks to Oink and Doofenschmirtz.

  32. For 9A I had THREE. It was “a number” that made me think that, and by moving a letter E (east) I was able to make THREE. However, it soon came to light that I had that wrong.

    The cat helped me with two of the clues, but other than that completed without too much sweat and tears. Better than yesterday as I really wasn’t feeling the love. Was very unwell, but feeler better today.

    1. I suspect that you must have caught my cough from the virus particles I shed in the SCC at the end of last week. Apologies. Copious quantities of Night Nurse managed to provide some relief by rendering me semi-conscious. Get well soon.

  33. 4.17. Glad I didn’t think of THREE for 9 across. You’ve been doing this too long when you automatically equate “number” with ether rather than an actual number!

  34. 18:42

    Was flying through this and thought a sub 10 was possible at one stage. Only problem, a number there moving east, I simply moved the middle e to the end to make THREE. I was convinced this was right and lost ages trying to figure out 5,6 and 7 dn. The penny finally dropped with ARID and the last 3 then fell into place.

  35. Out all day and tried to do this puzzle this evening, but failed on 3, so a DNF. Just could not see CHEESY, HOOP or ETHER, although the last was the only word I could think of that fitted! Doh!

  36. A better day and I avoided the SCC (15 mins). Fell for the THREE trap like many others, and also put COUGH initially for 23ac. These errors removed any chance of beating the 10 minute barrier.

    I am currently marking some letter writing assessments for students on the vocational course for solicitors. I must have written ‘Avoid the use of legalese’ a dozen times today. Remarkable that it should then come up in a QC.

    Thanks for the blog.

  37. A late solve today. Very enjoyable. Held up for a while by ETHER and POOH, otherwise fairly straightforward. If I have time I will try the biggie today – thanks for heads-up Penny. Thanks all.

    1. I tend to hesitate to go as far as actually recommending the biggie – one man’s meat and all that! But I enjoyed today’s 15×15 so hope you did too 😊

  38. A fun romp from one of my favourite setters (and from everyone’s comments I seem not to be alone in this). All done in 13:27. COD to ETHER. Thanks Oink and Doofers.

  39. Wasn’t there an almost identical clue as this a few days ago with the same answer ?

    22 Duke supporting family? That’s generous (4)

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