Times Quick Cryptic No 2582 by Felix

A typically tricky Quick Cryptic from Felix today, but lots of fun. I particularly enjoyed the abstaining drunk , “Stopping going to nightclubs” and “Nine months”. I stalled a bit with my last three – 9A, 6D and 17D pushing my time out to 7:33 (about 50% over my target). I suspect others may find it tricky too, but I hope you enjoy it nonetheless. Thank-you Felix.

Of course, with Felix being our setter, there is something hidden in the crossword. It’s not hard to spot, I think…

The grid contains PEAKY BLINDER in the downs. Now Peaky Blinders is not a TV series I’ve watched so there may well be plenty more than I spotted but POLLY and CHURCHILL are both characters in the series and all the men in the gang wear a peaked CAP. Across the bottom we have RED RIGHT HAND, which I believe is the title of the music that makes the theme tune. So what have I missed?


Fortnightly Weekend Quick Cryptic. The Times has bowed to pressure and started publishing a Saturday Quick Cryptic crossword (albeit online only). But there is still no Sunday Times Quick Cryptic so we will continue the series of Weekend Quick Cryptics. This time it is Phil’s turn to provide the extra weekend entertainment. You can find the crossword  here. If you are interested in trying our previous offerings you can find an index to all 95 here.

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

1 Moderate force used in dispersing tadpoles (4-5)
SOFT-PEDAL – F (force) in (tadpoles)* [dispersing]. You find Moderate the verb as a definition by lifting and separating “Moderate force”.
6 Surpass international player (3)
CAP – Double definition.
8 French people inhabiting cabin or mansion (7)
NORMANS – Hidden in, [inhabiting], cabiN OR MANSions.
9 Pinched glove: let off (5)
GAUNTGAUNT{let} (glove) without the “let”.
10 Parrot maybe left in old college (5)
POLLYL (left) in POLY (old college).
12 One going on to choose Civil Service’s visionary study (6)
OPTICSOPT (choose) I (one) CS (Civil Service). A bit of a whimsical definition.
14 Drunk abstains until becoming weak (13)
INSUBSTANTIAL – (abstains until)* [drunk]. Nice topical surface. Are you doing dry January? Or were you and you’ve weakened? Not that I’m suggesting you are a drunk!
16 Delegate announced a function for mathematicians (6)
ASSIGN – Sounds like, [announced], A SINE (a function for mathematicians).
17 Chief measure (5)
RULER – Double definition.
19 Swindle German wife and daughter (5)
FRAUDFRAU (German wife) D (daughter).
20 Central Bulgaria: sky outdoors brings shocked reaction! (1,3,3)
I ASK YOU – Hidden in, [central], BulgarIA SKY OUtdoors.
22 Wine on the far left? (3)
RED – Double definition, the second a cryptic hint.
23 Such an invaluable assistant is just present (5,4)
RIGHT HANDRIGHT (just) HAND (present, the verb).
1 Small sibling holding up small horse, in summary (8)
SYNOPSIS – I’m not sure why I hesitated over the parsing of this before putting the answer in. It’s S (small) SIS (sister; sibling), [holding] PONY (small horse) going [up] -> YNOP.
2 Tree is what burns, largely (3)
FIRFIR{e} (what burns) without the last letter, [largely].
3 Emaciated Yankee just below summit (5)
PEAKYPEAK (summit)  Y (Yankee in the phonetic alphabet). I wasn’t sure initially what “just” was doing in the clue (which works without it), but it does improve the surface, I suppose, and “just below” is a fair, if unusual, positional indicator.
4 Stopping going to nightclubs, grabbing books in university! (13)
DISCONTINUING –  NT (New Testament; books) IN U (university), all in  DISCOING (going to nightclubs). Neat wordplay.
5 Go pale: hint leg is broken (7)
LIGHTEN – (hint leg)* [broken].
6 Briefly agitate cool war leader (9)
CHURCHILLCHUR{n} (agitate) [briefly] CHILL (cool).
7 Ruth showing up in County Tipperary (4)
PITY – Reverse hidden, [showing up in], in CountY TIPperary…. which makes our full quote of 2 straight hiddens and 1 reverse hidden.
11 Custer had one go on bear! (4,5)
LAST STANDLAST (go on) STAND (bear; put up with). I wondered what a “go on bear” might be and failed to see it, but maybe I just lack imagination.
13 General left to tuck into a large slice of bread (3-5)
ALL-ROUNDL (left) in A L (large) ROUND (whole slice of bread).
15 Great performance from Venetian queen once (7)
BLINDERBLIND (Venetian) ER (queen once). I think we are owed an   indicator to show that Venetian is a definition by example (e.g. an ? at the end). But perhaps I’m being a bit picky.
17 Clear lie about end of malpractice (5)
RESET – [End of] malpracticE in REST (lie down). My last one in with a bit of a frown, but I see in retrospect that the relevant definition is shown in Collins as 3.  Alsoclear. To restore (the contents of a register or similar device) in a computer system to zero.
18 Ace military pilots coming up from a distance (4)
AFARA (ace),  RAF (military pilots) [coming up] -> FAR.
21 Nine months? Indeed! (3)
YEAYEA{r}. Nine months is 3/4 of a year, hence the first 3 of the 4 letters. Nice one to finish with!


79 comments on “Times Quick Cryptic No 2582 by Felix”

  1. Not my day today, no real reason, looking back, everything seems fair? I think there were a few curve balls, things I hadn’t seen before, and I should come back to this one when I have time.

    It’s a public holiday today in Australia and I’m in the midst of a house clean out so I didn’t spend much time.

    I missed BOTH hiddens. They were great.

  2. 23:12. There were many clues that stretched out my time. OPTICS, RESET, GAUNT, and ALL- ROUND were the main culprits. I also spent a long time trying to parse CHIEFTAIN for war leader and trying to think of Venetian queens.

  3. I went through this fairly quickly by my standards, and enjoyed it. I was a bit worried about a Venetian queen until I realised what was going on. I enjoyed the wordplay in quite a few clues. I don’t think I’ve seen RUTH meaning pity before, but as the opposite of ruthless it makes sense (remember the ruthless Nancy Blackett?!).
    While many mathematicians indeed use the sine function, everybody is welcome to use it!

  4. I didn’t mind Venetian blind because I thought the surface worked better without a DBE indicator, and mainly because I got it straight away so it couldn’t have been that deceptive! But I’m with you on the Custer clue John, it makes no sense to have a go on a bear. 11.17 for me. LOI was DISCONTINUING, that’s quite the Ikea special, and GAUNT came late as well. Completely missed that I ASK YOU was a hidden and wondered what on earth the reference to Bulgaria was about. Thanks to both.

  5. 16 minutes. I saw the relevant clues for the theme, but never having seen the series I couldn’t take it any further. I found this quite tricky and had trouble parsing GAUNTLET and RESET along the way to DISCONTINUING which I stared at for a few minutes at the end.

    Favourite was YEA, which I was only able to get thanks to the same device appearing in a clue in a Paul puzzle in the G earlier this week.

    Thanks to Felix and John

  6. DNF. I blame an early start, but just could not see DISCONTINUING, and the first two letters of OPTICS. I thought it might be a volume of Aristotle like ethics or poetics.

    And I thought my answer of COSINE for CO-SIGN (=delegate) was pretty solid.

    NHO (well, never watched) Peaky Blinders. Well done in seeing it.


  7. Hadn’t heard of a slice of bread being a round – except inasmuch as too many will shape you thus! Otherwise, tricky but fair. RESET I took from crossers. Couldn’t parse that, but thanks to bloggers for CLEARing it up,

    1. Round – Chambers has 4 A whole slice of bread or toast. Yes I too was surprised when I first saw that definition used in a crossword.

        1. I’ve always received a rack of four half slices of toast for a hotel breakfast. I never knew I was getting two rounds.

  8. 19 minutes for a puzzle I never felt quite comfortable with whilst solving although I’m unable to account for why this should be.

    I spotted the title of the hidden theme but not until after the event, and it wouldn’t have helped me as I didn’t last more than 15 minutes into the series before giving up on it.

  9. Well, I finished all green but it took a long time, not helped by Mrs ITTT rising unusually early and wanting to discuss new curtains for the lounge. I took around 4o minutes in all but it was heavy going. Still, it’s been a good week for me overall with just one mistake, PRETEXT – (it still rankles!) – earlier in the week, so almost a clean sweep. Things might be looking up.
    OPTICS, BLINDER and ASSIGN all wrong-footed me but raised a smile once parsed. I really enjoyed DISCONTINUING and SYNOPSIS.
    Thank you to Felix and John for helping to exercise my ageing brain this fine Friday morning.

  10. Quick, slow, quick today as I got off to a flier in the NW, got bogged down in the middle and then finished at a canter leading to an average time overall.
    Started with SOFT-PEDAL and finished with COD BLINDER in 8.07 and I even spotted the theme during my proof read so it I’m counting this as a red letter day.
    Thanks to John

  11. 11:30
    Unusually for me, I spotted the theme, which was less hidden than some have been. I initially did not enter PEAKY, since I did not regard it as a synonym for emaciated, more a “generally under the weather” rather than a “looking half-starved”.

    Thanks John and Felix

  12. That was a cracking good puzzle, I thought – lots of challenge and ingenuity, but gettable enough to avoid despair setting in. I really enjoyed that!

    COD to YEA, which I wrote in and then stared at for what felt like ages wondering how on earth it could be right – even though I already had the Y and the A … What a clever clue.

    This pushed me well into the red at 10:10 but I enjoyed it so much that I’m still calling this a Good Day.

    Many thanks Felix and John – excellent work explaining the intricacies of that one, John!


  13. Very slow today on a puzzle which I thought decidedly chewy. Not much on the first pass … or the second … or the third. Finally completed the grid in 19 minutes but only with word searches for Discontinuing (lots going on in that clue) and Churchill (should have got that one earlier). LOI Optics then followed; like John I thought the definition “visionary study” was stretching it, unlike John my chosen adjective wasn’t quite as cheerful as “whimsical”.

    Many thanks John for the blog, and Phil (in anticipation) for the Sunday Special.

  14. Total train-wreck today. This locomotive has derailed, crashed through the SCC lounge, out the tradesman’s entrance and has embedded itself in the building opposite. Sorry for all the mess, folks.

    1. It was very, very hard today. I nearly gave up after getting just eight clues and then staring at the grid in complete confusion! Forget it is the only advice I can give.

  15. Thank you, Pi-curious; made me feel much better – so I’m not quite alone in finding this not just difficult, but exceptionally difficult.

  16. Like others today, I found this quite difficult and took too long solving clues which were obvious once I got them. PDM for I ASK YOU – felt like saying it aloud when light dawned. LOIs were RULER and RESET. Think John is correct for 11D to include one in the definition, ie Custer had one LAST STAND so the rest makes sense. Thanks John and Felix.

  17. Found this tough but fair. Needed the blog to parse NORMANS (failed to spot the hidden) BLINDER (now my COD 😆 although also liked YEA) and CHURCHILL (doh). Much time spent unravelling DISCONTINUING, RESET and I ASK YOU. Remembered pity = ruth from previous crosswords. Took me a while but I enjoyed every second. Thanks Felix and John.

  18. Came to the QC late today, as I spent some time this morning failing to finish yesterday’s main puzzle, which was hard. Must have put me in the right frame of mind though, as I was only a little over average time, giving me a good wavelength score for what QUITCH rates as the most difficult puzzle since 9th November.

    YEA was my COD, though I liked putting together DISCONTINUING and the surface for INSUBSTANTIAL, and BLINDER having had it explained to me by John! Overall, a very good puzzle indeed. LOI was RESET.


  19. 8:41

    Felix continues to be one of my more challenging adversaries and I felt fortunate to scrape home in under ten minutes. Must admit that knowing Felix likes his ninas, I immediately thought Nick Cave when I saw RED RIGHT HAND, and then there was POLLY – Nick Cave used to be coupled with Polly (P J) Harvey – completely missed the PEAKY BLINDER reference – but then again I never watched it.

    Thanks John and Felix

  20. This is SUPPOSED to be a quick cryptic, why doesn’t Felix, whoever he or she is, stick to doing long and complex puzzles and get setters who write quick crosswords to BE QUICK. There is the main crossword for those who want to spend more time with quirky and archaic clues – I ask you, using RUTH as defining pity – probably a meaning not used since the Romans!! is anyone listening to my pleas out there?

    1. It was a well signposted reverse hidden clue (x “showing up in” y). If you had the crossers, it was surely a write in, even if you weren’t familiar with RUTH=PITY.

      This was the most difficult puzzle since early November, nothing wrong with a spread of difficulty.

      The concise is there if you want a quick puzzle, though there, if you can’t think of the right synonym, or don’t know it, you’re stuck.

    2. Yes, but.
      I liked ruth/Ruth, and I note that “couth” is apparantly alive and well and living in Scotland, usually under the pseudonym “couthy”.

    3. The objective of the Quick Crossword is to provide an introductory level for solvers that will help them graduate to the 15×15. This does not mean the crosswords always have to be easy. To my mind, anything that is easier than an average 15×15 (which this one certainly is) is a valid QC and there will be a spectrum of difficulty up to that level. Yes this is at the harder end, but that does not invalidate it as a Quick Crossword. By the way, our setter today, under one of his pseudonyms of Felix, is Richard Rogan the Times Crossword Editor, so he should know what an appropriate range of difficulty is. As for RUTH, it may not be as commonly used as it was at the end of the 19th century any more, but it is, to my mind, a perfectly good word. Indeed one of the delights for me in doing crosswords is in discovering words and meanings I didn’t know before. They are very common in the 15×15 and it is a useful skill to learn to be able to deduce an unknown word from the wordplay. In this case, knowing the word “ruthless” should assist in validating the answer.

      1. Do people really expect the QC to be an easy crossword? As far as I can tell they simply are intended gto be a quicker and easier version of The Times crossword, and that is not usually regarded by most to as an easy crossword!

        I totally agree with Johninterred. I found this hard—I can usually do the QC in 10-15 minutes but this took me close on 25 minutes—but I really enjoyed it. It had all the feel on the main 15×15 but was definitely quicker and easier by those standards.

        For comparison, while I do the main 15×15 most days, I think I have only ever done it once in 25 minutes and I gave up on yesterday’s 15×15 after 90 minutes with a handful unanswered.

        So yes, the QCs are definitely quicker and easier than the main 15×15 ones. That doesn’t mean they have to be easy

      2. Before the Quick Crossword started I would often look at 15×15 and be only able to solve two or three clues. After doing the QC for a few years I can complete it every day and often complete the 15 x 15. It has definitely served its purpose as far as I am concerned.

  21. Unnecessarily hard work. I didn’t see the theme, as the programme has never darkened my screen.

    Good luck to those of you having a go at my Weekend Special.

    TIME 7:05

    1. I have been reading the comments as they come in and feeling slightly better with every entry that agreed that this was “not an easy one”. And now I discover my time was less than 3 times Phil’s. As a time of 3 Busmen (3 buses?) counts as a Good Day for me I am Decidedly Cheered, nay even Positively Chirpy – it wasn’t just me after all.

  22. Slow throughout, leading to my worst time of the week at 21 minutes. Still, judging by some of the comments above I feel quite happy to have completed it, with everything parsed except my LOI 4dn, which was by then obvious from the crossers. Didn’t spot the nina – I never do and haven’t seen the programme in question.

    FOI – 8ac NORMANS
    COD – 21dn YEA, closely followed by OPTICS and FRAUD

    Thanks to Felix and John

  23. I made a false start pencilling in ASH at 2d and wondering if the parsing stood up. It did delay me unduly later.
    I needed 18 minutes to get to LOI 3d and a further three to find PEAKY which I failed to equate with Emaciated. But that’s crosswords for you.
    At least all done without aids.
    I have never watched Peaky Blinders either.

  24. I’ve been so out of form in the last two weeks, it wasn’t a surprise to me that I finished well outside target at 14.08. But having read the comments above and the relative times, perhaps I’ll forgive myself as this was plainly a toughie, and not just for me. A clever hidden for I ASK YOU, and it took a while for the penny to drop on YEA, although I fancy on reflection I may have seen this before.
    My total weekly time was 62.25, which was even more than last weeks total. I noted at the time that it was the first time over 60 minutes for the week since I’ve been recording weekly times. Hey presto, this week I’m even slower with a daily average of 12.29! Things can only get better …… Can’t they?
    Anyway, of far more importance is my team Newport County playing the mighty Manchester United in the FA Cup on Sunday. Having supported the County for nearly seventy years (first game in 1957), this was always the dream tie I always hoped for. Wish us luck everyone, we’ll need it!

    1. Good luck on Sunday, Mr Pandy! Are you in the starting XI or just on the bench this time?

      1. I hung my boots up fifty years ago, but I’ll be in the grandstand trying to nod the ball in a la Alex Ferguson style!

  25. Enjoyed this and even (first time ever) saw PEAKY & BLINDER(s), but despite being a brummie I’ve never seen it so would never get the rest of the nina. I noticed it as like others I wasn’t fully convinced by peaky=emaciated.
    Joint CODs YEA(r) and the well-hidden I ASK YOU.
    Disco as a verb added to my cheating machine (with -ed and -ing).
    Was held up for a while by treating 1a as 5,4 not 4,5 and was unable to solve S_F_P as a word, especially with the anagrist to hand.

  26. I’ve never watched PEAKY BLINDERS so the theme passed me by as usual. My FOI, ASH was quickly changed to FIR when the NORMANS arrived. I found this quite tricky, the neurons working overtime to come in just outside my target time. INSUBSTANTIAL and LOI, DISCONTINUING took some sorting. 10:54. Thanks Felix and John.

  27. Sadly nothing enjoyable about something that’s billed as “Quick” taking over an hour. Clues invariably seemed like gibberish.

    At my 20min cutoff, I’d only got 9/25. Went off and did the lowlife Express Crusader in 15mins which meets my enjoyable standard as it’s quick even though it doesn’t bill itself as quick.

    After running some hills to get blood flowing to brain, I realised that soft-pedal in the Crusader was also the answer to 1A that I couldn’t unravel. Returned to QC and bunged in a few quickly that I should have got first time round and then spent another 40mins to come in at an aggregate time of 1hr and 30secs.

    I’ve honestly felt like many of the setters – Orpheus, Teazel, Izetti have dialled back the difficulty in recent months and we haven’t had much to complain about. But this didn’t feel good.

    Edit: none of it helped knowing there would be some NINA involved which I probably would not know. Figured it might be connected to the TV series Peaky Blinders between my attempts when I only had Peaky. Never watched it 🤷‍♀️

  28. I didn’t find the QC any trickier than a regular Friday QC. Friday is generally a slow solve day in my book so perhaps I just relaxed into it. I saw the setter was Felix and assumed there would be a theme but didn’t look for or spot it. My FOI was NORMANS and my LOI ASSIGN. I rather liked the DISCONTINUING story as it took me back a few years and I have just returned from throwing some moves at a dance fit class in the gym. COD easily goes to YEA. 9:21 and an unexpected red letter day according to the leaderboard.

    1. I felt pretty clever seeing Frog-March right away; less and less clever as one by one the crossing words failed to get any traction.

      1. Me too and after a rough night this puzzle gave me a rough, rough day! But I finished, to my astonishment. I won’t mention the time haha.

  29. Yes, I put Frog March for 1a but they had to march off fairly quickly.
    2 mistakes, failed on BLINDER and GAUNT.
    LOI a doubtful YEA.
    I did not watch Peaky Blinders, so no help there.
    But thanks for much needed blog, John.

  30. 12.14 This felt tough but it was very enjoyable. The SW held me up longest with RULER, which should have been obvious, LOI. 53 minutes for Monday to Friday is a new PB. Thanks John and Felix.

  31. I found this hard and needed an hour off to come back to finish. LOI DISCONTINUING, only thanks to DISCO + other random letters. PEAKY = emaciated?

    1. Agree re the dubious definition of PEAKY – but I just went with the wordplay and checkers.

      1. Our editor’s definitions can sometimes be a bit of stretch, but that’s just his style, I think. I’ve blogged a few of his Jumbos and you get quite a lot of them. I have to say, though, I enjoyed his definition of OPTICS today.

  32. And for me tough but enjoyable. Needed two sittings.

    Loved the misdirection with Venetian Queen and many of the surfaces.

    Must be tough or everyone’s enjoying the warm weather as there are fewer comments than usual at this time.

    Thanks John and Felix.

  33. 20:18. The most difficulty we’ve had in quite some while. Wasn’t looking for a theme, certainly never spotted it and it wouldn’t have helped even if we had. Good value on the whole though. COD the rather well hidden I ASK YOU (spent too long looking for ways to use the GA in Bulgaria!). Thank you, Felix and John.

  34. Completed on paper estimate 20 mins, my best effort to date. Boffed many of the clues only parsing later.
    LOI Blinder
    COD Synopsis (gave me so many checkers)

  35. 40 mins…roughly

    Just done this in the pub, with a few distractions and interruptions, so hand on heart can’t vouch it is totally accurate.

    Definitely on the tricky side, but I have to doff my Peaky Blinders cap to Felix for some excellent clues. 1ac “Soft Pedal” (one for the pianists), 4dn “Discontinuing”, 23ac “Right Hand” and 21dn “Yea” were all worthy of deference.

    Wasn’t sure about “Round” for a slice of bread, and for a short while thought it had some money connotation about buying drinks, but it seems like I was over thinking. Similarly, nho of “Peaky” for emaciated – a bit ill perhaps, but not a bag of bones.

    FOI – 6ac “Cap”
    LOI – 9ac “Gaunt” – took an age
    COD – 15dn “Blinder” – probably a chestnut, but it made me chuckle.

    Thanks as usual!

    PS. Never into Peaky Blinders, so the references flew over my head like the low flying jet that roared over earlier in the day.

  36. 20:18

    Never seen Peaky Blinders so the theme passed me by. Was on for a 15 minute solve but ground to a halt on LOI OPTICS which required a 5 minute alphabet trawl.

  37. All correct, but not all fully parsed, in 26 minutes – pretty fast for me. I started with NORMANS and managed to populate the grid at a steady pace throughout. Mercifully, I did not endure my usual long drawn-out agonising over the last few clues and I finished feeling contended and upbeat about things.

    Some clues were parsed after I had stopped, although I never did parse my LOI (BLINDER) and I still have no idea why Ruth = PITY.

    Many thanks to Felix and John.

    1. I don’t know why Ruth = pity but it makes sense if you think of the opposite – someone who is ruthless has no pity for their prey.

      Fantastic time on your part for a QC which most people generally took 50+% longer than normal 👍

      Ps First in the draw for the 5th round 🍒

    2. Take it from me Mr R, that is one of your best performances – chapeau!


  38. I accidentally saw the first line of John’s introduction before I started the crossword today, and I do wonder if seeing ‘typically tricky’ put me off before I even started, because this was my worst performance for quite some time! 17:07 in fact. BTW the error was all mine – I don’t usually look at the blog or the Quitch before starting, since I don’t want to be influenced, but I was checking out an older entry. My Bad (as I said I wouldn’t say the other day 😂)
    I had particular problems with the hiddens today, but generally everything was quite hard. Plenty of PDMs of course, and I’m glad I didn’t throw in the towel. No clue as to the nina naturally, and none the wiser really, as I’ve never watched it, but thanks to John for the enlightenment. I think it’s interesting that, although it’s meant to be one of the Beeb’s most popular series, practically no-one here today seems to have seen it!
    FOI Cap LOI Optics COD Polly
    Thanks Felix and John

    1. Interesting observation about Peaky Blinders and us folks here. It gets me wondering. What might the majority here enjoy watching?

      1. I used to watch a lot of TV. Now I lack the time because my evenings are taken up with the QC and Quintagram!

      2. We don’t like gangsters. Mainly go for Scandi noir or D. Attenborough progs, i.e. foreign people killing each other or nature red in tooth and claw.

      3. Only Connect? Certainly one of our favourites, although we may get a handful of answers at best 😅

        1. Yes, I like Only Connect but can only do some of the Walls and most of the vowels these days.

      4. I put my TV on for the first time this year last Sunday to watch a couple of old Columbo stories. Usually it only goes on for live sport.

        I generally watch older stuff that’s available on catch-up services and this week have been working my way through “The Fifty Years War: Israel and the Arabs” on BBC iPlayer which is a 1998 documentary series. Very good as it has interviews with many of the leaders and uses their voices to give their perspectives.

        I have started rewatching many old TV series – Red Dwarf, Cheers, Dr Who, Episodes, The Young Ones, One Foot in the Grave, The Office, Back to Life, Yes Minister, Not Going Out. Partly because I know they’re good, partly to see how they stand up. Often though I never get all the way through all series, either because they hit expiry date or because bingewatching becomes too samey and overload.

        Over Christmas I tried to watch some of the classic films – White Christmas (truly awful), The African Queen (fantastic performances by Bogart/Hepburn), The Big Sleep (confusing), Mulholland Drive. It’s A Wonderful Life. Plus the 2022 film – “The Father” which won Anthony Hopkins another Oscar last year – and is very, very good.

  39. Several months ago I decided that I would not make any critical comments on here about the difficulty of any QC on the basis that (a) the setters never seem to take notice, and (b) if I ever want to attempt the proper crossword (don’t laugh), I need to be challenged.

    That said, it was particularly galling to come up against such a hard QC when I needed a 33-minute (or better) time to meet my weekly goal of 5 solves in 2 hours.

    This took me 45 mins and just served to illustrate how bad I am when given anything difficult. I could barely get started and, after getting 8 clues, hit a brick wall. I slowly pieced it together, but finished depressed and disappointed.

    I achieved my weekly goal just once last year and I really thought I might achieve it again today.

    My final result for the week was 5 solves in 2 hours, 11 minutes, with 2 SCC escapes. I take no pleasure or satisfaction whatsoever from those figures and I will have yet another miserable weekend contemplating my inadequacies. The sad reality is that I don’t have a snowball’s chance in hell of ever progressing to the big puzzle.

    At this precise moment, I am very glad that I don’t have access to the new Saturday QC (paper solver only).

    Thanks for the blog John.

    PS I had no trouble with the Quintagram. That makes my woes with the QC even worse!

    1. Good grief Gary! You finished! That’s a result for anyone. I remember when I was first attempting the 15×15 and would get only 2 or 3 clues (before the QC existed). Your experience today is a bit like mine with yesterday’s 15×15. It’s annoying but actually very common to get stuck with a few clues left and take an age to finish (as I did yesterday). But my pride was intact as I managed to finish without using aids. You should be just as proud. Finishing, no matter what the time, is something to be satisfied by….unless you have ambitions of the Championship.

      1. Thanks John. Being a bit hard on myself as usual. I’ll leave the Championship to others!

  40. I appear to be the only one who biffed Frog March for 1ac. was disappointed to find it didn’t quite work!

    1. If you check the comments above you will see you are not the only one to try that.

  41. Phew. I found this pretty d….d hard. On the basis that I can learn more I am not one to give up and so persevered, on and off, for hours. NHO Ruth=Pity – Dictionary says it’s archaic (but must be even more archaic than I) so the reverse hidden wasn’t obvious and I just bunged it it as the only word I could think of. Then saw pity as a reverse hidden but was no more the wiser. Will be looking forward to Sunday’s puzzle!

  42. It’s 1am here and I got in from work half an hour ago and tried to finish this QC off, having attempted it during the day.

    Unfortunately I had to DNF it with 8 left unanswered. I actually did answer 7d correctly after spotting the reversal. I even got 14a correct.

    Didn’t get 4d or 6d among others.

    Tough QC but I enjoyed it.

  43. DNF as I found this very difficult. I too am not going to make any further comment on the perceived difficulty of this crossword as I agree it is apparent that the setters take no notice.

    1. I refer you to my reply to Dr C J Harris above. It is not that setters take no notice, but editorial policy. The Times Quick Cryptics vary in difficulty to give a graduated introduction to doing the 15×15 crosswords. My advice would be to use the blog to learn about the clues you couldn’t solve so you can solve similar ones in future.

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