Times Quick Cryptic No 2575 by Orpheus

Another excellent puzzle from the fertile brain of Orpheus, the scales tilting towards the tougher side of medium by the inclusion of a trio of what to me were relative obscurities (one sporting, one naval, one botanical). Lots to enjoy here for me and I hope the same for you. All done in 09:25.

Definitions are underlined in bold italics.

1 Laterally swing big stone (4)
ROCK – a fairly straightforward double definition to get us under way.
3 Compelling type in French army, perhaps? Right (8)
ENFORCER – this was a bit trickier. EN = “in French” + FORCE = “army, perhaps” (“perhaps” because a force could also be a navy or an air force) + R = “right”.  You could say that someone who compels/enforces compliance with rules is a “compelling type”. The context in which I’ve always encountered ENFORCER is as the tough member of a sports team who can be relied upon to put in a crunching tackle/pile into any fight/get sent off needlessly (see also Roy Keane). Collins says that this is US usage and doesn’t give any British English entry, and Chambers online doesn’t have the word at all!
8 Pole on board involving prime minister in salutation (7)
TOPMAST – I read “pole on board” and confidently thought “Ah-ha, this is going to be S + table”. How wrong I was; this is another type of pole and another type of board. The P checker eventually led me to the answer – PM for “prime minister” included inside (“in”) TOAST for “salutation”. My trusty Shorter Oxford says for TOPMAST “the second section of a mast above the deck, which was formerly the uppermost mast, but is now surmounted by the top-gallant mast”, but the Patrick O’Brian fans already knew that.
10 A small number study a school of Buddhism (5)
DOZEN – is a DOZEN really a “small” number? Isn’t it all relative? I mean, it’s a small number of peas on your plate but it’s a large number of glasses of claret. I suppose if you were looking at the numbers from 0 to infinity, it would definitely be a small number. Anyway, that’s the answer. The wordplay is DO for “study” (as in “We’re doing Tacitus this term”) + ZEN.
11 Feathery seeds, primarily tiny, scattered in the Wolds (11)
THISTLEDOWN – what a lovely surface , bravo. It’s an anagram, indicated by “scattered”, of T (“primarily tiny”, ie the first letter of tiny) + “in the Wolds”. Super clue and my COD.
13 Observation about evangelist (6)
REMARK – “about” = RE, “evangelist” + MARK (St Mark being traditionally regarded as the author of the Gospel of that name).
15 Invitation to compete with setter, finding part of plant? (6)
RACEME“Race me, race me” shouted Orpheus. “No” replied Templar grumpily, “I’m busy trying to solve your puzzle”. That’s the “invitation to compete with setter”, very clever. A RACEME is basically a plant’s stem with flowers coming off it (awaits brickbats from passing botanists). Another super clue. Maybe that should have been my COD. Oh well, it’s too late now.
17 Gloomy Aussie soldier, one working in the churchyard (11)
GRAVEDIGGER – GRAVE for “gloomy” + DIGGER for “Aussie soldier”. I thought that “digger” could be used for Aussies generally, not just soldiers, and both Collins and Chambers agree with me.
20 Boredom? Rotten nuisance? Not entirely (5)
ENNUI – a craftily hidden word (indicated by “not entirely”) inside “RottEN NUIsance”. It’s from the Old French. Of course it is, it’s a word that’s so French it might as well be smoking a Gauloise and shrugging its shoulders in existential despair.
21 Gymnast, say, permitted to appear in articles (7)
ATHLETE – LET = “permitted”, inside (“to appear in”) the two articles A and THE. The word “say” shows that this is a definition by example – other types of athlete are available.
22 Liberal making money studying (8)
LEARNING – L for “Liberal” + EARNING for “making money”.
23 River meals referred to in speech (4)
TEES – the River TEES sounds like “teas”, which are a sort of “meals”, the homophone being indicated by “referred to in speech”.
1 Rubbish a politician presents going the rounds (8)
ROTATORY – ROT for “rubbish” + A + TORY for “politician”.
2 Better east coast US state or European island (5)
CAPRI – I struggled with this for a bit, Geography being one of my  GK blind spots, and wanted it to be Crete. It wasn’t; it was CAP for “better” (as in the verb – “she capped his story with one of her own”) + RI for Rhode Island, which I knew only as a source of chickens but turns out to be a state in its own right. The smallest by area, apparently.
4 Crazy type, one gathering fruit from trees? (6)
NUTTER – double definition, the obscurity/looseness of the second definition being indicated by the question-mark. Nuts are fruit, and according to the SOD one who gathers nuts is a NUTTER (dating from 1483), so it’s technically a straight double definition.
5 Fussy one-time desire to tour Arab country (3-8)
OLD-WOMANISH -OLD = “one-time”; WISH = “desire”; and that goes around (“touring”) OMAN for “Arab country”. Some people may have views on the inclusion of this phrase; I’m moving swiftly onto the next clue.
6 Church woman embracing unknown artist (7)
CEZANNE – CE = “church”; ANNE is our “woman”; they “embrace” Z as the “unknown” (algebra – makes a change from X or Y). Paul Cezanne was a post-impressionist painter, bridging the gap between Monet and Van Gogh.
7 Republican leader with South African money (4)
RAND – R = “Republican leader” (as in the leading letter of Republican) + AND for “with”. “And = with” is sneaky, because “with” is so innocuous that it’s very easy to slide past it unseeing. Fortunately the definition was kind.
9 Change before race, taking turn by turn (11)
ALTERNATION – ALTER = “change”, and it comes “before” NATION = “race”.
12 Unrivalled noblewoman, about fifty (8)
PEERLESS – PEERESS = “noblewoman”, and she goes around (“about”) L, which is “fifty” in Roman numerals. Smatterings of Roman numbering and the Greek alphabet are essential elements of your survival kit in these parts.
14 Colour of new nametag (7)
MAGENTA – an anagram (indicated by “new”) of “nametag”.
16 Keep control, engaging volunteers once (6)
RETAIN – REIN = “control”, which goes round (“engaging”) TA (“volunteers once” – TA for Territorial Army, which is now called the Army Reserve and so is indicated in the past tense).
18 Going up in plane, see giant web-footed birds (5)
GEESE – a reverse hidden, inside “planE SEE Giant”. It says “going up in” because this is a down clue, so you are reading upwards.
19 Lost footing in upland moor (4)
FELL – we end as we began, with a fairly straightforward double-definition.

93 comments on “Times Quick Cryptic No 2575 by Orpheus”

  1. 13:01. TOPMAST and RACEME were my favourites while the clue for THISTLEDOWN was almost a tiny prose poem. I agree with questioning DOZEN as a small number and I agree with passing as quickly as possible over the dated description of elderly females.

    1. I think the offending term was actually usually applied to males, and not necessarily old ones.

      1. It’s a term of art at the English Bar for a judge who is over-pernickety about the fine details of practice directions (usually expressed as “bit of an old woman”).

  2. I was a bit surprised, and not pleased, to see OLD-WOMANISH. I slowed myself down some by taking ‘politician’ in 1d to be MP. Biffed OLD-WOMANISH, THISTLEDOWN, and GEESE, where, typically for me, I failed to see the hidden. 7:08.

  3. I DNF, and I gave it a good go too, at over 40 minutes.

    I was never gonna get RACEME (nho), and couldn’t see ENFORCER as a compelling person (I see it now). I never ever remember the Territorial Army of volunteers either

    I also stumbled on TOPMAST despite Master and Commander being my very favourite movie of all time. (lesser of two weevils lol)

    All of that fair and good, I’ll try not to be old-womanish about it…. Lmao Orpheus has clearly never met my grandfather. Or my father for that matter. (you guys can move on, I will never)

    I found the clues tricky but satisfying to solve when I got them

      1. Oh Lindsay, I cannot watch the Office, BBC version of otherwise. My second hand embarrassment is too strong

        But I do know Gareth, it might help.

          1. I’m already peeking through my hands at the description! It’s a show where everyone is also an awful person isn’t it – I can’t watch Seinfeld or It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia etc either

            1. There are plenty of non-awful people but yeah, sometimes the cringe factor is off the scale. You have to go into the next room and watch through the door-crack. But it is so cleverly made and so funny, give it a go T! The US version is ok but never held me, it is more like a regulation sit-com and lacks the unforgiving comedic mastery of Gervais and Marchant…

  4. No time on this, I’m watching the Oz v WI test match and fielding various interruptions, but it would have been slow because a lot of this was hard and enjoyably so. Really nice puzzle, LOI was the NHO RACEME (terrific clue) and like others I gave a big thumbs up to THISTLEDOWN, TOPMAST, CEZANNE and a few more besides. Took a while to get the right ending of ROTATORY (concentrating on the wordplay would have helped) and the same for the reverse hidden of GEESE. Appreciated the expansive blog Templar.

  5. 10 minutes. I am another who didn’t know DIGGER could apply specifically to an Australian soldier.

    Speaking of digging, I had to dig deep to retrieve RACEME from the depths of my memory.

    SOED has an entry for ENFORCER dating back to the 16th century: a person, organization, etc., that enforces something; slang a person who imposes his will on others by violence and intimidation, esp. as a member of a criminal gang: L16.

    I’ve also heard it used in UK police dramas to refer to the heavy device that’s wielded to bash open doors as the cops raid a house.

  6. Found this on the tricky side, and DNFed on RACEME eventually. After seeing the answer, it rang the vaguest of bells, so maybe I saw it in another crossword once.
    Agree with the comments re DOZEN and OLD-WOMANISH……..

  7. While I do know what a raceme looks like (think wisteria) I made the mistake of going to Wikipedia to find out a precise definition…

    A raceme (/reɪˈsiːm, rə-/) or racemoid is an unbranched, indeterminate type of inflorescence bearing flowers having short floral stalks along the shoots that bear the flowers. The oldest flowers grow close to the base and new flowers are produced as the shoot grows in height, with no predetermined growth limit. Examples of racemes occur on mustard (genus Brassica) and radish (genus Raphanus) plants.


    And by the time I got to the end of the article (including spikes, catkins, and radixes) my brain hurt so much that the enjoyment of the lovely QC today was almost lost. I think I need to lie down for a bit!

  8. Did anyone else think of Countless and Countess – until working out it didn’t fit? Didn’t know raceme or thistledown but finished in 37:40. A sweaty performance…..

  9. Another whiff of misogyny from this morning’s setter, but aside from that I managed to complete this with one lazy mistake (GREBE) in the time it took for the redoubtable Mrs ITTT to ‘put her face on’ – about 40 minutes. So it’s the walk of shame back to the Special Table out in the corridor for me today.
    I’d never heard of RACEME, so that was a bit of a punt, and DOZEN as a small number raised an eyebrow even though the parsing was clear. I particularly liked THISTLEDOWN (what a pretty word) and ROTATORY.
    A tricky one, in my opinion.

  10. Eton makes me think of Merlin and Tina shot straight to mind with OLD WOMANISH. I found the top hard – not helped by being stumped by ROCK of all things for half the solve. Didn’t find RACEME or ENFORCER at all easy or REMARK – teased out with pen and paper. THISTLEDOWN was first in but onyl after I’d spent a while trying to see what when before ‘whistle’. Tough for me, all green in 22.

    EDIT: Obviuously not because Tina fits the definition but because of recent posts. I hope that was clear.

    1. It’s just that my old ordinary school of Winchester doesn’t often fit into many clues.

  11. Found this tough going. Couldn’t make head or tail of the NW so moved down and stared with FELL and gradually worked my way back up the grid.
    Eventually ground out the NW which just left a long alphabet trawl for the unknown (or forgotten) RACEME which, in desperation, included toying with ‘dareme’ as a possibility.
    Finished in a sluggish 12.37.
    Thanks to Templar and well played to Orpheus for an entertaining challenge

  12. DNF. Went through the alphabet twice, filling in the first and third letters of – A – EME. Eventually decided that a Dare is a good definition for “invitation to compete”. Leading to DAREME which looked plausible, and also leading to pink squares.

    Very slow to get started today.

    I was up in the Wolds on Monday ( Leics/ Lincs border) on a bitterly cold but bright day. Nice, and underrated part of England.

    I thought TOPRI, or TOPMI might be obscure Greek islands, but the TOP of TOPMAST persuaded me that another word for “better” would be better. No double-top at the top.


  13. Hazarded ‘gameme’ for the plant bit, which I’d heard of vaguely, on reflection.

    I’m sure I’ve been called OLD-WOMANISH once or twice. More power to their elbow. I’ll simply get my own back from the rich store of word power that is in the language.

  14. DNF – I put GAMETE for RACEME knowing I hadn’t worked out the wordplay but at least knew it was a word. Big NHO for me but now added to the ever-growing list!

  15. Yet another wipeout for me today, so a hopeless DNF after 30 mins.


    I conclude I am operating in reverse gear, given my performance trend. 😭

  16. 4:35. It felt a bit trickier than that. Nice puzzle. LOI DOZEN and I was pleased LINCOLNSHIRE didn’t fit 11A. Thanks Orpheus and Templar.

  17. Started slowly, just couldn’t see rock, but finished at a canter. Under five minutes so no dramas. I am another who had gamete for raceme, but soon sorted.
    COD THISTLEDOWN for such a smooth surface.

  18. DNF due to RACEME (or actually, an error as I stuck in ‘gamete’ knowing it didn’t parse but the only vaguely biological word I knew that would fit).
    I did pause at DOZEN to consider how why Orpheus considers that a small number but decided it is impossible to get inside a setter’s mind.

    COD to the lovely surface of THISTLEDOWN.

    Can anyone help me with why the word ‘presents’ is in the clue for 1D? Seems very clunky and does not add to the word play. I could understand if it said “Rubbish a politician supports going the rounds” as it is a down clue, but why ‘presents’?

    1. I think it works as “If you add X and Y and Z, then that presents you with the solution”.

  19. 11 minutes for a puzzle which I found mostly quite friendly but with a couple of tough clues to delay me: I DK the term digger for Australian soldiers (is it polite, is it derogatory, is it still current?), and LOI Raceme required an alphabet search: like others I toyed with Gameme and Gamete, but neither seemed quite right and when Raceme appeared it triggered the faintest of memories from schoolboy biology nearly 60 years ago. I remain baffled as to how my mind can retain and recall a word that I have almost certainly not used once in over half a century.

    Many thanks Templar for an informative blog.

    1. Digger isn’t derogatory – I think it has those positive connotations of hard work, resourcefulness, loyalty to friends etc. The kind of word that a politician might use to evoke good feelings about the Australian Spirit. I’m not sure that modern Australian soldiers are diggers, I’ve normally heard it on Anzac day and Remembrance day.

      1. The only digger I’ve heard of is the “Dirty Digger”, being Private Eye’s nickname for Rupert Murdoch.

    2. Digger is definitely still current and not derogatory – a couple of ex-pat Aussies involved in my local village cricket team regularly call each other “digs” or “digger”.

      1. It therefore passes what I hereby term the “Tina Test”: if it can be applied to a man it probably isn’t derogatory, if it can only be applied to a woman it probably is.

  20. 10:39 (death of Conrad II, Holy Roman Emperor)

    Thought “oh no not again, Tina won’t like this” at OLD WOMANISH.
    I share the doubts about whether a DOZEN is a small number.
    LOI was TEES.

    Thanks Templar and Orpheus

  21. 10.05 WOE

    Thought RACEME was too much like a GK quiz – I was also a GAMEME. Like toughish, but not that one. Also NATION for race? Thought that was a bit of a no-no?

    Otherwise lots to like but I tripped myself up as well by inserting MEGA which almost works but doesn’t

    Thanks all

      1. Yes, it’s very common as are complaints about it. It was in one of the puzzles I blogged within the past two weeks, I think.

  22. I was comparatively slow to get a foothold, but once I did it was smooth sailing. A fine puzzle from Orpheus that stretched me just enough. Good to see Templar as a blogger – I was appreciative of his efforts on my early Weekend Specials.

    TIME 4:26

    *It’s difficult to write a clue that is accessible at this level, but which would not be out of place in the 15×15. Orpheus nailed that perfectly here.

  23. 11 minutes for me including a couple on LOI OLD-WOMANISH.
    Prior to that I had to dredge up RACEME, a word I have learnt from crosswords not botany. It’s worth keeping a list of such words as they will recur.
    I too paused at DOZEN. I played golf yesterday and such a score on one hole would be a disaster.

  24. DNF, failed on RACEME and needed CCD for ROCK and CEZANNE, admittedly I could have got those latter, but I knew I had missed the train by then. A pretty difficult puzzle.
    I am an old woman but not a particularly fussy one! One wonders if the Crossword editors/setters are teasing us with these misogynistic clues.
    Liked THISTLEDOWN (an early solve) DOZEN, TOPMAST, ROTATORY.
    Biffed GRAVEDIGGER immediately – thank goodness, as few clues sprang to mind at first glance. Managed the bottom half and then ground to a halt.
    Thanks vm, Templar. I couldn’t parse e.g. CAPRI.

  25. Tough today. Held up by OLD-WOMANISH, DOZEN (penny finally dropped once I had CEZANNE), TOPMAST and RACEME. Didn’t know about ‘digger’ being Aussie anything tbh. Didn’t spot ENNUI was a hidden so this was also bifd. COD THISTLEDOWN. Thanks all. Quite a challenge today, so very enjoyable.

  26. 8.02. Quite tricky I thought, with a bit of an alphabet trawl at the death to come up with RACEME, which rang an extremely vague bell and fit the wordplay a little better than GAMEME, my other contender.

    Thanks Templar and Orpheus

  27. Very hard. Sought help, but still failed on RACEME. Struggled to get OLD-WOMANISH, ENFORCER and ROTATORY. Exhausted. Time for coffee.

  28. I found this very tough as my time of 16.47 confirms. It took me some time to get OLD WOMANISH which then left me with 15ac as my LOI. It took two alphabet trawls before I arrived at an unsatisfactory looking GAMEME, so a DNF for me. Had I thought of the unheard of option RACEME, I would have gone with that.

  29. FFS, couldn’t get into the club, so did it online – all fine, then transferred across to club in same time, but included a fat-fingered PERRLESS.

    RACEME LOI, and probably NHO and probably COD.

    6:58 but.

  30. 11 minutes. I was fortunate in that ROCK and CAPRI started me off and I (just) remembered RACEME towards the end. Same MER’s as others, more than made up for by some v. good clues, my favourite being the GRAVE DIGGER.

    Thanks to Orpheus and Templar

  31. 15:00
    No official time because of interruptions but roughly 15 mins. Found this on the hard side.
    LOI raceme. Nutter was a bit weak.
    COD magenta.

  32. Very tricky! No idea how THISTLEDOWN occurred to me, given that I don’t think I’ve ever heard of it and I had very few of the checkers in place at the time. Be that as it may, it opened up the NW corner for me and enabled me to finish in 31 minutes.

    ENFORCER was my FOI, but I then had to wait until GRAVEDIGGER for my next. In fact, most of the top half of the grid remained empty for 20+ minutes and I feared the worst.

    I did not see GEESE as a reverse hidden, had no idea why study = DO (in DOZEN) and struggled to find OLD WOMANISH, CAPRI and ROCK. My LOI was TOPMAST, a word I can hardly ever have come across.

    Thanks to Orpheus and Templar.

    P.S. Dear Templar: If you include infinity in your number scale you should also extend it the other way to minus infinity. A DOZEN wouldn’t then be such a small number.

  33. I don’t know about tilted towards the tougher side of medium, to me it seemed more like trying to walk up a bobsleigh run in slippers (pun intended). Every time I thought I was at last tuned in, Orpheus switched wavelengths. When combined with a token wrong end (Topmast), alpha-trawl (Tees) and tricky GK (Raceme), this meant my relief at finishing before my 30min cut off was heartfelt.
    On the other hand, the Rock/Capri double act pdm, the smile at an odd answer 🙄, and Templar’s excellent blog all combined to make it an enjoyable challenge. Invariant

  34. Sorry Orpheus but the inclusion of two intersecting clues ruined what could have been an excellent puzzle for me. DOZEN is not a small number and the inclusion of study for Do weakens it further. As for my LOI OLD-WOMANISH, like Templar, I am moving swiftly on but suffice to say I am not happy. 11:18

  35. 9:48 but…

    A decent grid slightly spoiled (imvho) by the probably widely-unknown RACEME – the clue itself was quite good if you knew what the answer was – I didn’t, so looked it up – might have been more friendly to have the odd letters as checkers.

    No problems with the rest, though as with others, expected some comment about 5d.

    Thanks Orpheus, and Templar for the great blog

  36. DNF (submitted after 43:29). Pretty horrific from me today, but looking at the answers I had either NHO the word itself (RACEME, TOPMAST, OLD-WOMANISH), or part of the wordplay (DIGGER, PEERESS) so lots to try and remember for the future.

    I also got 20a slightly differently – I read it as an anagram [rotten] of NUISANCE with a few letters missing [not entirely], which also seems to work. Clever if that was intended, having multiple ways to solve it.

    1. I’m afraid that won’t work: If the solution were an anagram of NUISANCe, it would, but there’s no way to get NUIsaNcE from the clue.

  37. 18.20 This was tough but enjoyable. Nothing but RAND in the top half on the first pass. The bottom was easier and I slowly worked up to LOI TOPMAST. Thanks Templar and Orpheus.

  38. So many words just flew in to the grid (unusual for me), and then stuck, stuck, stuck – for no reason (except the very unfamiliar ROTATORY, a little hard for an American since we don’t say “rot!” or have Tories here). The very definition of a breezeblock.

    Will add my enthusiastic vote for THISTLEDOWN.

    In case anyone at the editorship cares, as a woman of course I find the existence of the term OLD-WOMANISH insulting, but it’s part of the language and culture. If no crossword ever included anything distressing to anyone, we’d have a pretty limited vocabulary.

  39. I was very slow to get started, but eventually got over the line in 11:44 only to find that my carelessly biffed GREBE had 2 pink squares. Sadly I’d briefly looked at the letters going back from the G in the clue and totally missed GEESE. Well hidden or I’m losing it!! Thanks Orpheus and Templar.

  40. Could have been 11:25 if I hadn’t failed on LOI OLD-WOMANISH. I forget now exactly what I put in before pink squaring but it began with ODD (as in ‘the odd’), ended in WISH and I think had some rather improbable variant on OMAN. With Mrs T assisting alongside, our gobs were well and truly smacked when we surmised the expected answer and anticipated much discussion in the blog! Entertained by the diversion anyway so thanks to Templar and Orpheus.

    Edit: No problems with RACEME btw, a term which I knew anyway but I believe it also cropped up very recently, perhaps in the Concise or Sunday or Monday’s GK?

  41. Hard to get started, so a not-very-Q C IMO.
    I thought an ENFORCER was a bailiff? Apparantly I am wrong.
    For ENNUI I, like nop above, missed the hidden and wrongly assumed it was an anag of some of nuisance but not all. I was surprised by the device; I should have known it wasn’t that. Doh! I do miss those hiddens quite often.
    Took far too long to find 1a ROCK.
    RACEME known only from crosswords, but it comes up very often considering how specialist it is (IMO). The wordplay was kind IF you recognise RACEME without of course knowing or caring what it means, or how to pronounce it. Would have rejected GAMETE had it occurred to me as I know what it means, as anyone who has had fertility problems would.

  42. Fell into all the traps as everyone else.

    Not sure whether anyone else has mentioned this today but:

    I know the dictionaries do not officially class NUTTER as derogatory, but it is used as such generally. Such labels are stigmatising for those with mental illness and perpetuate negative emotions towards people who are struggling.

    Obv annoyed to see more misogynistic words.

    The are estimated to be 1 million words in the English language. We are not short of alternative words or definitions.

    Thanks Templar and Orpheus I enjoyed the rest of the puzzle and have learned some new stuff.

  43. Gosh I finished this!
    Of the order of 40 minutes- at least 15 of which spent on my last two – Enforcer and LOI Old-Womanish…
    I thought that I didn’t stand a chance but slowly different answers came to mind. So, reluctantly, I have to say that it was a good crossword – just very difficult imo.
    Old-Womanish was bad on several levels though.
    Thistledown – what a lovely word!!
    Thanks all!

  44. Did this before going out for the day in 11:50. I didn’t focus much on the surfaces at the time as I was in a hurry, but reading through just now, I realise there is much to enjoy (bar the same MERs as others)
    No problem with RACEME – I immediately think of lilac and wisteria when I see it. Some neighbours have an unusual white wisteria with the longest racemes I’ve ever seen – absolutely beautiful.
    Re DOZEN: I guess 12 students would be quite a small class – it certainly would have been at my kids’ school! Not at Eton or Winchester though 😉 And re GRAVEDIGGER: I’m sure the only diggers at Times Towers are spotless 😂
    FOI WOD & COD Thistledown LOI Enforcer
    Thanks (and apologies) Orpheus and thanks Templar for another great blog 😊

  45. DNF

    NHO RACEME. Understood the clue but ended with GAMEME. A good puzzle otherwise but so frustrating to fail on the final clue.

  46. 19:46 here, just dodging the SCC. Luckily I opted for RACEME rather than the equally NHO and equally feasible DAREME.

    Thanks to Orpheus & Templar.

  47. Dnf…

    Nah, this didn’t do anything for me, and I was way off the mark, with at least 9 clues not completed. From reading the blog, there’s a couple I probably wouldn’t have got: “Raceme” and “Enforcer”. I did think of “Dozen” for 10ac, but it didn’t feel small enough, and with no checkers from 5dn, I left it. 11ac “Thistledown” has been on here before, but for some reason it wouldn’t appear in my brain.

    On a good note, I completed a romp up Coniston Old Man in crystal clear blue skies and crunchy snow. Pretty cold at the top mind (about -8 degrees), but definitely worth it.

    FOI – 13ac “Remark”
    LOI – Dnf
    COD – 19ac “Fell” – luckily I didn’t lose my footing.

    Thanks as usual!

  48. I know you’re all sick of me telling you how useless I am. Well, after you read what follows, you might see where I’m coming from. At least you can have a good laugh at my expense!

    I spent 1 hour, 50 minutes on this. It took me about an hour to get all but RACEME. I spent 50 minutes on this one. I spotted ME for setter and had both RACE and DARE. However, neither looked right, so I went for GAMETE, which was at least a word I knew. To spend all that time and fail in this way was shattering.

    I feel frustrated, depressed, exhausted and thoroughly beaten down by the QC. I continue to go backwards, despite trying my utmost. I’m honestly finding it hard to motivate myself to carry on, as the daily humiliation is getting too much to bear. Even when I solve a puzzle, I find it incredibly hard, whatever the Snitch says!

    I dare say I will be back tomorrow, but frankly I’m dreading it. I’m at my lowest ebb with this because I can’t see any way to arrest my decline, let alone improve. Perhaps I simply lack the mental furniture for this and should just accept that the QC is a game I’m not equipped to play?

    Thanks for the blog Templar.

    1. RACEME was a genuinely tough clue for the QC – no shame in falling at that hurdle, and many of us either guessed a bit luckily or happened to have the GK. We’ve all made far worse errors; not so long ago that I invented a PAGIEONE in the main puzzle when the answer was the rather more familiar BARITONE. Still makes me wince!

      To me, cryptics are like a cross between learning a language and figuring out how to see a magic eye puzzle. Every clue you solve gets you a little further forward, and there’s usually something you can learn from a clue you didn’t get (even if it’s “Pfft, I didn’t think much of that but at least I’ve learnt a new word, fine, next”). Eventually that translates into a complete puzzle.

      Of course, if you’re simply not enjoying it, give yourself a couple of days’ break and come back when you’re feeling refreshed. But no-one here is sick of you or laughing at you. Hope to see you back tomorrow, or next week, or whenever you feel like it 🙂

        1. Hi Gary – Yesterday’s puzzle was … horrendous! I always come here for the explanations of answers and often find myself shrieking. Shrieked long and hard yesterday – eg RACEME – for heaven’s sake! I too struggle with the ‘ Times Quickie ‘ … I’ve been trying for oh let’s see – about 4 years now! I’ve only ever finished one once, and that was mostly because it was full of anagrams. I can recognise an anagram but usually cheat with the help of an anagram solver online. But please don’t tell anyone! Also shriek a lot at a lot of solvers telling us they solved a puzzle in 6 minutes or 20 secs or similar. ( You know who you are! ) I’m not despondent though – am DETERMINED to finish one puzzle one day and will have a bottle of Bolly ready for such an occasion. Not holding my breath! You are among friends – nil desperandum!

          1. Thanks Sandy. I think we share that determination to get there in the end. Hopefully it won’t be too long before you can uncork that bottle of fizz!

    2. Gary – I feel very concerned that you’re struggling so much. I’m not sure what to say, but it seems you’re getting increasingly stressed. Please try not to beat yourself up so much. I think others have suggested that you set yourself a sensible time limit – say 30 minutes – and stop after that. If you haven’t completed the puzzle, so be it. It’s not worth upsetting yourself so much. Best wishes Penny

    3. Hi Gary. I do agree with Penny – do try to stand back and realise that the QC just isn’t worth getting stressed over! Be kind to yourself – maybe try a time limit, or take a little break altogether, or switch to the Concise or some other puzzles for a bit? There is literally no purpose to a puzzle other than self-entertainment, so if you’re not enjoying it then give yourself some time out. All the best.


      1. Thanks Templar, much appreciated.

        PS I think your blogs are excellent. I was stricken with covid for the first one, so it rather passed me by, but yesterday’s was great.

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