Times Quick Cryptic No 2518 by Alex

I found this around the same difficulty as yesterday… until I was left staring at the last clue for a couple of minutes and impatiently clicked on the answer.

15ac being the offending clue. Rather good clue as it happens, but the sort of checkers (_E_D_E_T) that can send the impatient, out-of-ideas solver trundling up and down the same dead-end alleyway of thought with increasing exasperation. Chambers lists 17 words that fit the bill, but a mere four that don’t end -IEST: we have DEADBEAT and HEADREST, and then two Mephisto words, NEEDMENT and WELDMENT. I’d have guessed a lot more than two plausible, non-superlative words would fit those checkers, and both 4-4 compound words at that.

Enjoyable puzzle elsewhere that I was merrily biffing my way through before 15ac, and a bit of a pause at 18ac and 16d. 8.30ish for when I limply decided to throw in the towel, for what it’s worth. Poor show from me, good show from Alex, for which many thanks!

7 Regularly embattled partner (4)
MATE – “Regular” letters of e M b A t T l E d
8 Charm   way in (8)
ENTRANCE – double definition
9 Counsel failing to follow a direction initially (6)
ADVICE – VICE (failing) to follow A, D (Direction “initially”)
10 Provide inspiration for puzzle (6)
BEMUSE – and to BE MUSE for = to provide inspiration for
11 Jerseys maybe in place for turning (4)
TOPS – SPOT (place) turning = reverse
12 A quiet father is conspicuous (8)
APPARENT – A P (Piano = quiet) PARENT (father)
15 Break by front part of car seat (8)
HEADREST – REST (break) by HEAD (front). Good surface as well.
17 Insect seen in 30 day period (not November) (4)
MOTH – MONTH is our 30 day period, lacking the N for November
18 Drink from bag rejected by little sister (6)
CASSIS – SAC (bag) rejected = reversed, by SIS (“little” sister)
21 Former partner and communist returning to force (6)
EXTORT -EX (former partner) and TROT (communist) returning = reversing
22 Grand old lady in charge when holding crack (8)
MAJESTIC – MA (old lady) IC (in charge) when holding JEST (crack)
23 US agency stricken as administrator hides (4)
NASA – strickeN AS Administrator “hides”
1 Attractive workers love me (8)
HANDSOME – HANDS (workers) O (love) ME
2 Misers sadly negligent (6)
REMISS – anagram (sadly) of MISERS
3 Report about for example downgrade (8)
RELEGATE -RELATE (report) about E.G. (for example)
4 Sticks up for attempt (4)
STAB – BATS (sticks) up = reversed
5 Whistle-blower returning holding gun for yeoman (6)
FARMER -REF (whistle-blower) returning/reversing and holding ARM (gun)
6 Book a court before start of session (4)
ACTS – A CT (court) before S (“start” of Session)
13 A nice pet playing game (8)
PATIENCE – anagram (playing) of A NICE PET
14 Attest to sailor being involved in racket (8)
NOTARISE – TAR (sailor) being involved in NOISE (racket)
16 Served up duck in swanky hotel enchanting diners initially (6)
DISHEDDuck In Swanky Hotel Enchanting Diners “initially”
17 Gosh, going round university can revolt (6)
MUTINY – MY! (Gosh) going round U(niversity) TIN (can)
19 A path abroad (4)
AWAY -A, WAY (path)
20 Set out around island to find location (4)
SITE – anagram (out) of SET around I(sland)

55 comments on “Times Quick Cryptic No 2518 by Alex”

  1. 19 minutes, a big chunk of which was taken up by HEADREST, I just couldn’t think of words for ‘front’ at all

    I also had put in ‘cows’ for TOPS, because Jersey cows, and Idk maybe old English people call roundabouts cows or there’s a toy from the 40s that spins that’s a cow or maybe it’s one of those rhyming slang chinaplate/mate things. I have very little faith in my knowledge of English slang (‘boffins’ is made up, surely, 😉). Luckily I did remember that jerseys are an item of clothing.

    So far this week there has been very little new vocabulary for me so it’s been enjoyable!

    My favourite today was ENTRANCE simply because you should have seen my face when I said it out loud

    Thanks for the blog!

  2. Like Tina, I thought of COWS for 11ac, and wasted some time establishing that it was wrong. I also took time to see DISHED of all things. HEADREST was my LOI, for a very sluggish 8:24 and just about the worst NITCH.

    1. Oh were you like me and looked at the clue for Dished and saw the word ‘duck’ and gone ‘ooh! I know that’s a zero in cricket!’ pat yourself on the back and then realised it wasn’t needed at all?

      I feel validated that you too thought of cows

      1. I think it would be hard not to think of COWS! I did too, but it was an instant nonstarter, as it spells nothing backwards.
        HEADREST was my LOI too, and the one that held me up the longest.

        1. My “immediate thought” was Pots, short for potatoes. The first Jersey Royals new potatoes of the year are always an eagerly awaited treat. But I couldn’t make Stop (ie pots reversed) fit the clue.

  3. 10.42 for me, I thought this was a terrific puzzle but quite tough. I also tried COWS but when I saw it was SWOC backwards I rethought. A number of clues here took a bit of thinking about, such as HEADREST, MUTINY, CASSIS and MAJESTIC, but there were some elegant constructions and I don’t think we should be spared having to nut out the answers just because it’s a QC. FOI MATE, LOI TOPS, COD…um…MAJESTIC. Thanks roly and Alex.

  4. 12 minutes. My solve may have been slowed a little because I was looking for a theme or Nina. For some reason I thought Alex had given us these in the past, but on checking my records later I found I have nothing recorded against any of his (?) four previous offerings.

    I looked more than once at ‘force / EXTORT’ because to extort means to obtain something from a reluctant person by nefarious means, one of which may be by force, but ‘force’ on its own doesn’t seem sufficient. The definitions in the usual sources appear to agree with me, although Collins Thesaurus has them as synonyms as does Collins Cobuild (for what that’s worth).

    1. “Force” can also mean “coerce,” which is awfully close to “extort.” Both “force” in this sense and “extort” are transitive verbs.

  5. Tough but fair. I failed with COWS too but managed to parse all other clues, albeit in over 35 minutes. Some good brain gym to start the day though. I was very pleased to have worked out NOTARISE, even though I didn’t know what it meant beforehand, and MAJESTIC was my favourite clue of the day.
    We appear to have been relatively untouched by Ciaran overnight, as far as I can see, but I fear for those down on the coast. It was a wild night!
    Thanks to Roly and Alex.

  6. Great QC today. I found it quite tough—with the bottom left taking me as much time all the rest put together—but equally it was one of those days when looking back it is hard to see why I found it found it so difficult. The mark of a great crossword for me.

  7. DNF, when the COWS come home.

    I also tried to get a O=duck, with maybe a D and a H{otel}, which led to HOSTED, then TASTED, then SEATBELT actually fitted all checkers and the definition. But no.


  8. 12/24 after 20 mins, but decided to struggle on to finish in 40.

    DNK that yeoman was a farmer.

    Only got DISHED from crossers, completely missing the initials on each word. Spent ages trying to fit O (duck) and RITZ (swanky hotel) into a 6-letter word. 🤦‍♂️

  9. DNF in 10:31, another one who put COWS in 11a, despite having no idea what SWOC might mean. I have now looked it up, and neither the South Wales Orienteering Club, or “strength, weakness, opportunity, challenge” analysis match the required meaning of “place”.
    L2I were HEADREST and DISHED.

    Thanks Roly and Alex

  10. Made good progress with most of this and then hit a wall with DISHED🤦‍♂️and LOI HEADREST, where I couldn’t work out what the definition was so ended up looking for types of seat. Is it unusual for the definition to be longer than the wordplay?
    Very nearly biffed ‘advise’ at 9a but maybe I’m finally learning my lesson re. haste and speed! (Cue a bunch of careless mistakes in the near future 😒)
    Finished this excellent puzzle in 9.21 with my favourites being HEADREST and BEMUSE.
    Thanks to Roly

  11. Did this at work as busy day ahead. Attempting QC in a noisy office makes it even harder than usual, so just glad to finish. I don’t bother with a time when solving at work, but, even in ‘normal’ circumstances, I would have been deep in SCC territory.

    Many thanks for the excellent blog.

  12. 9.13

    It was MAJESTIC that held me up at the end – crack for joke/gag has eluded me before. HEADREST was tough but emerged from the checkers.

    Thanks all

    1. Ditto for me – with MAJESTIC, I was reasonably confident it ended in IC so had the TIC ending and just guessed it for ‘grand’. Felt a bit more confident when that let AWAY and DISHED go in.

  13. 10 minutes for this very neat puzzle, enjoyable despite being an awkward grid with so many unchecked first letters. Neither Tops (after a brief consideration of Pots) nor Headrest caused too much hold-up – my biggest delay was Majestic, where jest took a long time to emerge.

    Many thanks to Roly for the blog

  14. Roly there’s a typo in the blog for MAJESTIC. Old lady is MA not MS.

    I found this tough. I didn’t solve headrest, totally undone by the excellent clue. I also failed on CASSIS even though I knew it ended in sis and started with an anagram of some sort of bag. I also failed on TOPS.

    Could someone help me with how Sticks means Bats? I biffed it thinking maybe a baseball bat is called a stick perhaps?

    1. Collins sense 4

      in British English
      1. any of various types of club with a handle, used to hit the ball in certain sports, such as cricket, baseball, or table tennis
      2. a flat round club with a short handle, resembling a table-tennis bat, used by a person on the ground to guide the pilot of an aircraft when taxiing
      3. cricket short for batter3
      4. any stout stick, esp a wooden one

  15. Same problems as everyone else I think – despite a rattling good start, I slowed up. MAJESTIC, DISHED (!), and LOI HEADREST were the main culprits.

    Very good puzzle though, smooth surfaces and plenty to make you think. Quitch says my time was as expected for the difficulty level – at least that’s what I take a WITCH of around 100 to mean.


  16. I thought this was a good puzzle . I agree with jackkt about extort, but overall I thought it was very clever. Thanks all!

  17. Horrible, horrible grid – my first letter dependency does not appreciate the dreaded portcullis. So I looked for any clue that would give me a couple of first letters if solved, and after failing to crack APPARENT I started with CASSIS and went from there.

    (On APPARENT, shouldn’t it be “father, say” in the clue? Other types of parent are available.)

    I thought I was going to get properly stuck but then everything came in a rush until I was looking at -O-S (which was obviously COWS but equally obviously wasn’t COWS) and -E-D-E-T. I was sure that that was going to start with LEAD for “front” but the penny dropped eventually.

    BEMUSE was COD but my favourite creative writing today is not a clue but part of the blog – “the impatient, out-of-ideas solver trundling up and down the same dead-end alleyway of thought with increasing exasperation” is absolutely brilliant and encapsulates exactly what I do at least three times a week!

    All done in 09:10 for 1.1K and a Decent Day.

    Many thanks Alex and roly.


  18. Struggled mightily, but got there. Not much biffing possible today. Already worn out my brain. FOI MATE, LOsI CASSIS & MAJESTIC. SW corner was especially tricky, I found. Not helped by putting SEATBELT to start with, which almost DISHED my chances.
    Thanks vm, Roly.

  19. Jersey! Thought of the cows and the potatoes but failed to think of the garments. Put cows in and marked it as unparsed! 15 minutes complete with error. Couldn’t parse MAJESTIC, thinking that crack was something to do with drugs and therefore accounted for the e. Never mind – tomorrow is another day!

    FOI – 7ac MATE
    LOI – 15ac HEADREST – what else!
    COD – 1dn HANDSOME

    Thanks to Alex for a fine puzzle and to Rolytoly for an equally fine blog

  20. Cows 🙁
    Trying to be a speedster, I only read the first word of the clue.
    Thanks, r.

  21. Happy to complete in just under 9 minutes, with the same bovine and sedentary hesitations as everyone else. I added a very last minute correction of NOTORISE when I remembered I couldn’t spell and the anagrist was determined to correct my fault.

  22. 10:40. Like many above I saw COWS immediately and struggled with HEADREST. I thought REST would come at the start (thinking of restraint as seatbelt maybe?) When I saw that the grid revealed FARMER MUTINY I thought, aha,there’s a Nina based on The Peasants’Revolt (Wat Tyler-1381 and all that)!

  23. Like others, LOIs were MAJESTIC, DISHED and HEADREST. Also initially thought of COWS. That’s one of the best things about these blogs – seeing solvers on the same wavelength! Thanks Alex and Roly.

  24. Let’s just say that I found nearly all the down clues easier than most of the across ones, but if this had been a Bob & Margaret puzzle I would be very suspicious. Anyway, I had already drifted into the SCC, naturally via a corrected Cows, by the time I was onto my last two: Majestic and Headrest. A quick coffee break unlocked Headrest, but Majestic still put up a struggle until lift and separate kicked in to reveal that Great was in fact the target. CoD to 10ac, Bemuse, little things. . . Invariant

  25. It seems just about everyone thought of COWS for 11ac, and I certainly wrote it in with a shrug, but fortunately remembered to return to it at the end before stopping the clock. A further 30 seconds or so were required for the penny to drop with TOPS. I also didn’t help myself by biffing WARDER for 5dn, probably thinking of the Yeomen of the Guard in The Tower of London. It was only when 10ac seemed impossible that I successfully reassessed it. In the end I stopped the clock at 9.58, a whisker inside schedule, for my fourth consecutive sub 10 of the week. Is there a Friday stinker due to bring me back down to earth?

  26. 15 mins…

    I found this much easier than yesterday, which just shows how we all differ. Main hold up was a pointless debate about whether 9ac was “Advice” or “Advise”, especially as the parsing could only point to the former. My last one in, 3dn “Relegate”, also took a bit of mental unravelling.

    FOI – 7ac “Mate”
    LOI – 3dn “Relegate”
    COD – 17dn “Mutiny”

    Thanks as usual!

  27. Felt as if I was fighting through storm Ciaran to reach the SCC, but made it with numerous delays and diversions. Saw TOPS easily enough when I got to it, but mostly I had to grind them out. COD to MAJESTIC, groans for STAB and HEADREST when the light came on.

  28. I was another for the COWS instant answer to 11ac, not bothering to look again – so a technical DNF! Took ages to get HEADREST, MAJESTIC and CASSIS too.

  29. 6:32

    Pretty speedy but hesitated with 18a/16d crossing, trying to parse 11a correctly and LOIs 10a and 4d in that order. All answers were either 4, 6 or 8 letters.

    Thanks Alex and Roly

  30. I struggled during my first pass through the Acrosses (only four solved), but managed to get all-but-one of the Downs at the first attempt. Amazing, as I have never before come close to a clean sweep in either direction. The remaining across clues then gradually made themseves APPARENT, although some (e.g. CASSIS and HEADREST) put up some resistance.

    I had toyed with COWS and EXTORT on the way through, but they both took some time to parse. LOI (ADVICE) prevented me from escaping the SCC, as I first had to persuade myself that ADVIsE was incorrect. Total time = 22 minutes, so a good day for me.

    Many thanks to Alex and Roly.

    On edit: Having finally come back to read Roly’s blog more thoroughly, I find that I did not have such a good day after all. I somehow managed to make cOwS parse at 11a (TOPS), so it has to go down in my records as a DNF. A self-inflicted error, if ever there was one, and very annoying, given my good (for me) time.

  31. Another who immediately thought COWS before dismissing the idea and returning when I had the crossers. At this point I reconsidered COWS, but then thought of TOPS and breathed a sigh of relief. MATE was FOI and DISHED LOI. 8:10. Thanks Alex and Roly.

  32. DNF. Hit reveal for LOI TOPS when ‘cows’ proved incorrect. Everything else went in smoothly enough although I didn’t parse CASSIS immediately and had the same problem as others in trying to insert an ‘o’ in DISHED. Googled yeoman as the biffed FARMER didn’t seem quite right (but it was). Needed blog to parse NASA -hadn’t spotted the hidden. Enjoyable. Many thanks RT and Alex.

  33. 11:51 My struggles were with BEMUSE, HEADREST, MAJESTIC and LOI RELEGATE. COD to BEMUSE once I got it. Thanks Roly for the entertaining blog.

  34. I was left feeling very disappointed with this QC. I felt that some of the clues were too misleading.

    Needed the cat’s help on a couple of the answers. But 15a stumped us both and the cat ended up hissing at it, which is my cue to give up and DNF.

  35. 31:56
    After a flying start I really struggled with this one, fearing a DNF for the first time since having the confidence to post.
    It was the SW corner that really slowed me, never seen MS for an old lady, and guessed MAJESTIC having the T&C and being familiar with IC for in charge.
    HEADREST was the other problem as I had separated ‘part of’ from ‘car seat’ so struggled to see how a HEADREST could be a ‘car seat’.
    FOI: 7ac MATE
    LOI: 15ac HEADREST
    COD: 10ac BEMUSE
    Thanks to Alex and ROLY.

  36. When I first attempted to access the puzzle on the Club site earlier, all I got was a load of gibberish and no grid. I was quite miffed to come back and find the clock already showing 10 seconds, so I’ve knocked that off my submission time for blogging purposes.

    This was an excellent offering from Alex, and I got all but my LOI in two passes. I was obviously drawn to cattle, but thankfully couldn’t see any way of parsing it, and when I thought of jumpers the light dawned

    TIME 3:26 (adjusted)

    * I might have given COD to ENTRANCE, but it was exactly the clue I included in one of my own recent “weekend QC” puzzles!

  37. DISHED and cows took ages. Knew TOPS and didn’t think I used it but I reckon I must have irritably told children to put their tops on before leaving the house so I’ll have to put it down to just being slow today. All green in 19.

  38. 19.52 A slow failure today. MAJESTIC, HEADREST and RELEGATE took a good while and I was another COWS biffer at the end. It took another minute to see what the pink squares should have been. Thanks to Alex and rolytoly.

    P.S. Is the monthly leaderboard in the crossword club working for other people? It’s been broken for me for a couple of weeks now.

  39. A mix of easy and rather tricky not helped by the grid.
    Finished with 2 errors: could not solve CASSIS even though I had sis as the finish and left in COWS even though I knew was wrong as by the I’d reached the 1h limit.
    I thought clues like HEADREST were very challenging as there are so many possibilities.
    Good blog thanks.

  40. Another who fell for the COWS error but failed to return to it although it didn’t parse. LOI 15a Headrest – took ages to change the order of break/front. Liked 19a Be/muse… so a DNF. Disappointing, as I should have gone back to 11a but I’d finished my Costa and there was a break in the rain to get back to my car and then forgot before coming here.
    FOI 7a Mate
    LOI 15a Headrest
    COD 21a Extort

  41. 20 minutes for me which, despite my optimism bias of setting myself a target of 15 minutes, is probably about par. I was going for the island of Jersey initially rather than cows. Last 2 of majestic and dished were frustratingly slow to go in nd cost a couple of minutes.

  42. I was on track for a PB until HEADREST, which defeated me. Very annoying. But most of it went straight in which was very satisfying.

  43. Dnf due to headrest and tops.
    Just couldn’t see it and see it thwarted many.
    Liked a lot of the other clues though.

  44. DNF

    A toughie! Jerseys _o_s biffed COWS. But the worst was FARMER. Got the ARM bit but had RAT for the whistle blower so couldn’t make a word apart from TARMAR which was never going to be a yeoman.

  45. Biffed cows like many others, goes with the job. Couldn’t see headrest, bemuse or acts.
    Tough but not as bad as yesterday.

  46. Another DNF, but feeling less sad because two of the unsolved answers were RELEGATE and HEADREST which seem to have caused problems for lots of others. And no COWS here (Though thoughts for the island of Jersey and the storm damage).

  47. The first few went down like nine pins and I thought I was on for quite a speedy solve, but it wasn’t to be! The last few slowed me down and I finished in 10:34. I was also sure the Jerseys had to be cows, the MAJESTIC old lady took her time to appear, and HEADREST definitely wasn’t ….BELT!
    I think Alex is stealthy setter – s/he lures you in with a few gimmes like MATE, ENTRANCE and REMISS and then takes the wind out of your sails with clues like the ones mentioned above. Apologies for the mixed metaphors 😅
    FOI Mate LOI and COD Bemuse
    Thanks Alex and Roly

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