Times Quick Cryptic No 2605 by Wurm

A very imaginative puzzle of similar difficulty to yesterday – until I hit a dead end with my last clue.

The offending clue (rather good as it happens) being 15d: 6 minutes to get to there and then a bit over half that time again to finish. But I’m glad I persevered, on a non-blogging day I’d almost certainly have thrown in the towel before then, despite some wishy-washy resolution to improve my last-clue-itis.

A lovely puzzle, with lots of good clues, my favourites probably being 6d and the excellent 1d – many thanks to Wurm!

1 Pirate, British, to be clean-shaven? (10)
BLACKBEARD – B(ritish), and to LACK BEARD could be to be clean-shaven.
8 Deathless seabird entering wild lea (7)
ETERNAL – perhaps our most common seabird in crosswordland, the TERN, enters an anagram (wild) of LEA
9 Sinking vessel about to disintegrate (1-4)
U-BOAT – anagram (to disintegrate) of ABOUT
10 Silly sketch Rembrandt initially discarded (4)
DAFT -DRAFT (sketch), discard the R (Rembrandt “initially”)
11 One among the stars in M*A*S*H (8)
ASTERISK – nice cryptic definition
13 Post Office holding very popular image (5)
PHOTO – PO (Post Office) holding HOT (very popular). A bit of time lost wondering why PVINO wasn’t the answer, as it’s so clearly what the clue was telling us to do. About the most 22ac thing about PVINO is that it clocks up fewer than 5000 results on google… and there was me convinced it was some sort of Slavic cocktail of beer and wine.
14 Tories’ leader goes off left-wingers (5)
TROTS – T (Tories “leader”) ROTS (goes off)
16 Hoover perhaps, but no power for householder (8)
RESIDENT – remove the P for Power from PRESIDENT (Hoover, perhaps)
17 Ace, then service returned at a distance (4)
AFAR -A(ce) then RAF (one of the services) “returned”
20 Cancel yearbook with second article expunged (5)
ANNUL – ANNUAL (yearbook) has two A’s – that is, articles – expunge the second one
21 Renowned inn — meet to get sloshed (7)
EMINENT – anagram (to get sloshed) of INN MEET
22 New town theory is remarkable (10)
NOTEWORTHY – anagram (new) of TOWN THEORY. At a push – or at least in a different clue – NEW could be the definition, and “is remarkable” could be the anagrind.
1 Get on in the sack — produce baby? (5)
BREED -get RE (on/about) in the BED (sack)
2 When one may legally agree to scene of nag being shot (3,2,7)
AGE OF CONSENT – anagram (being shot) of TO SCENE OF NAG
3 Considerate   sort (4)
KIND – double definition
4 Join forces? (6)
ENLIST – cryptic definition, with the surface reading misdirecting you towards the idea of “teaming up.”
5 Game allowed to block path (8)
ROULETTE – LET (allowed) to block ROUTE (path)
6 Chain of events with disastrous end: come off it (6,6)
DOMINO EFFECT – anagram (disastrous) of END COME OFF IT
7 Small bears in horse race (6)
STAKES – S(mall) TAKES (bears – as in “I can’t take/bear it”)
12 Dodgy old boiler with no current in madam’s house (8)
BORDELLO – anagram (dodgy) of OLD BOilER, without the I (I = electric current)
13 Opening wine that goes with almost everything (6)
PORTAL – PORT (wine) goes with AL (“almost” ALL, as in everything)
15 Explosion somewhere under the bridge? (6)
SNEEZE – nice cryptic definition, referring to the bridge of the nose. Yet again, when faced with _ N _ E _ E, it looked like there should be quite a few possibilities, but I see there’s only one or perhaps two other words that would ever appear in a QC or 15×15 (annexe and inhere). My calibration for these things is just miles off.
18 Irritable   as overrun with vermin? (5)
RATTY – pretty much a double definition
19 Lover of Aeneas accomplished nothing (4)
DIDO – DID (accomplished) O (nothing). The kind of answer that makes you glad you’re doing a cryptic rather than a concise.


85 comments on “Times Quick Cryptic No 2605 by Wurm”

  1. I, too, was trying to get IN into PO, and it took me forever to think of HOT; PHOTO was my LOI. SNEEZE was also time-consuming. 8:47.

  2. 13:47 SNEEZE was LOI as I had trouble seeing the required meaning of bridge. ENLIST seemed barely cryptic. BLACKBEARD and DOMINO EFFECT were my favourites. Missed the parsing of ASTERISK until I read the blog- thanks.

  3. 4:01 Very enjoyable, especially BREED. Lol.

    I think SNEEZE was my LOI as well, but I took the most time over DOMINO EFFECT. At my first attempt I had the two O’s in place and kept looking for ways to justify POTATO FAMINE.

    Thanks Roly and Wurm.

  4. 11 minutes. SNEEZE was also my LOI thought of simply as a word that fitted the checkers followed swiftly by realising how the clue worked which brought a rather joyous conclusion to the proceedings.

  5. A not v. speedy 13:35. Same difficulty with SNEEZE as others and I took a few minutes to see the NOTEWORTHY anagram as my LOI. I agree with curryowen about ENLIST. BREED was my COD and one of the highlights of the solving week for me.

    Thanks to Wurm and roly

  6. Very stuck at the end and the pen and paper came out. The few seconds between seeing SNEEZE would fit and realising it would parse made the PDM all the better. Fast start with BLACKBEARD, ETERNAL and U-BOAT all going in but then just ANNUL and AFAR to make it five accrosses on first pass. DOMINO EFFECT opened things up nicely as did spotting Hoover wasn’t cluing ‘dam’. Thought I was in trouble with DIDO until the cryptic came to the rescue and I recognised a word. Might read up, probably won’t! All green in 15.

  7. Ouch! 42 minutes before the penny finally dropped with SNEEZE. Still, I can chalk it up as another win, albeit one achieved at glacial speed. ENLIST immediately came to mind at the start but also ended up being one of my LOIs since there appeared to be nothing cryptic about it at all. So that slowed me down too. This was a very hard one in my opinion and I suspect some of my friends on the Special Table will be groaning too.
    That said I enjoyed ASTERISK, once the penny dropped, and ROULETTE was a good one, once I’d got ROUNDERS out of my head. BORDELLO triggered a childish snigger. DIDO made me feel smug because her Lament is one of my favourite arias. (She was referenced on Pointless yesterday evening by the way.)
    Thank you Wurm for making my coffee go cold, and to Roly too. It was a good work out.

  8. 14’20”. I think everyone above has said everything about every clue that I thought worthy of mention, so I wish only to say thanks to Wurm and Roly.

  9. Quick going until having a similar delay to others over SNEEZE, but my major hold up was with LOI DAFT as I had typo in 2d leaving me looking bemusedly at D _ G _ .
    Finished and much enjoyed in 8.10 with COD to BLACKBEARD.
    Thanks to Roly

  10. A DNF for me as I had a typo in 12d and incorrectly answered 11a and 7d.

    11a was utter gobbledygook to me until
    I saw the answer here. Then I realised it was a very good clue.

    My verdict: enjoyed
    Pumpa’s verdict: Pumpa? Where are you? (Not returned yet from a night on the tiles.)

    1. If Pumpa doesn’t get his fair share of cat sticks at home, he’s gonna start looking elsewhere for fulfilment…. Just sayin’.

  11. I was doing okay until I was totally stumped by SNEEZE. So, a DNF today at the 26m mark.

    I don’t understand the question mark in “Join forces?” Isn’t this just a straight definition? The (teaming-up) misdirection would still be there without it, wouldn’t it? 🤔

    Happy Thursday everyone. 💕 Pi

      1. Really? Collins has it as ”join the army, navy, marines, or air force”. I’d have said that’s a pretty straight equivalent to join forces.

        1. I don’t find it; where specifically is ‘join forces’ with that definition in Collins? For me, anyway, ‘Max joined the army’ does not mean ‘Max joined forces’, and indeed, ‘Max joined forces’ is ungrammatical.

            1. But ‘join the army, navy etc.’ does not mean ‘join forces’, nor does ‘enlist’ mean ‘join forces’; which is why there’s a ?

              1. Okay. I’m still new(ish) at all this and just trying to understand. I mean, I got the answer but without seeing it as cryptic. If the clue is cryptic, requiring a QM as the indicator, it’s only very marginally cryptic IMHO.

                1. I think strictly speaking it should be “join the forces” for enlist, so the question mark is there for a definition that wouldn’t appear exactly in the dictionary, like “lack beard” for “clean shaven” in 1ac. But then is the question mark really needed in 1d? Punctuation is there in clues to misdirect just as much as to be helpful (to indicate a DBE, for example) so really the simpler approach is just to ignore all punctuation completely!

                  1. Yes, you’d typically say, “join the forces”, sure, but it’s often acceptable to leave out an article for brevity when writing, isn’t it? “Keep feet off seat” etc. So I’m not sure that’s the reason for the ?. I took it to mean “the answer to this clue doesn’t mean ‘join forces’ in the obvious sense” but, upon reflection, it’s a cryptic crossword so that’s kind of a given. So I don’t know.

                    1. Well that’s a far nicer description, so yes to that!

                      (Advice remains the same: ignore all punctuation!)

  12. 5:22 with a minute or so ending with an alphabet trawl to get my LOI, SNEEZE. Nice one. COD to BREED for the laugh. Thanks Wurm and Roly.

  13. I am very middle of the road today. COD to BREED ✅. LOI SNEEZE, taking quite a lot of time to see it ✅. Tried to get VIN into PHOTO ✅. Thoroughly enjoyed the puzzle ✅.

    All done in 09:22 for 1.1K and a Fun Day.

    Many thanks Wurm and Roly.


  14. 19:16 (All changed, changed utterly: A terrible beauty is born.)

    I found this very hard. I was held up by all the problems mentioned by others. I had to write out the letters to get AGE OF CONSENT. I then spent several minutes staring at -N-E-E looking for an explosion, failing to see one, before eventually forcing myself to think what bridge could mean, and finally seeing SNEEZE.

    An excellent challenge, and pleased to eventually finish it.

    Thanks Wurm and Roly

  15. As Templar says … But I also join those who wondered about Enlist (is is cryptic at all, and why the question mark?), and I am afraid I don’t understand the parsing/cleverness of Asterisk – answer biffed, but there are three asterisks in M*A*S*H and they are among the letters M,A,S,H. So why/how “One among the stars”?

    All this pushed me out to 13 minutes – it is proving a slightly chewier week. Many thanks Roly for the blog.

    1. There are stars included in M*A*S*H. Among those stars at least one is also an asterisk. One of the others is, of course, Hotlips Houlihan

      1. At risk of pedantry, fictional nurse Hot Lips wasn’t a star in M*A*S*H, but actress Loretta Swit was.

  16. Probably my fastest ever solve at 5.49 including (necessary) checking time. I sort of share the concern over ENLIST, but you can join forces without enlisting, which strictly speaking would be join the forces. The Labour and Liberal parties joined forces to defeat the Tory bill (those were the days).
    SNEEZE was my last in too, after solving all the across clues in the first pass. Cutesy CDs have their place, but respect for our gang of setters precludes me from naming that place.

  17. What a very good puzzle!

    ASTERISK, BREED, SNEEZE(LOI), BORDELLO, ROULETTE, DOMINO EFFECT. In fact they were nearly all very neat. The PDM after I’d tried all the vowels at the front of ?N?E?E, and then tried S, was quite the thing. Congrats Wurm & thanks rolytoly.


  18. Had all bar one in 6-something but the one – SNEEZE – would not yield, so after many more minutes I surrendered. I will plead, in mitigation, that this was approached after an early morning start and a 10-hour drive from Melbourne to Sydney. And right now I am looking down the harbour on a beautiful evening with a nearly full moon sitting over the heads and it’s just a crossword puzzle, who cares…thanks to Wurm and Roly.

  19. 20 mins with about 8 of that spent on my two LOI, SNEEZE and ENLIST. I was going to write much about SNEEZE Jackkt has summed it up perfectly for me.
    Lovely puzzle, big smile for the purate lacking a beard but actually being named after his beard. Wonderful stuff.
    Thanks Wurm and Roly.

  20. Am not very good early in the morning these days (already having been to the station and also dropped off car at garage) but managed to finish all correct after a struggle with eg LOI STAKES, Obvious in Retrospect. Made heavy weather as I first thought of Bluebeard and couldn’t get past him. Biffed SNEEZE, BREED, U BOAT.
    Yes, started at the bottom. And what would we do without that useful seabird, the Tern.
    Thanks vm, Roly.

  21. I’m with the majority with SNEEZE as LOI. Biffed STAKES as I could not see how Bear can mean Take until I read the blog, and then obvious. Thanks Wurm and Roly. .

  22. DNF

    Just couldn’t see SNEEZE. My alphatrawls are half-hearted at the best of times. I made a bit more of an effort here (4 minutes) but without luck as I assumed the word began IN or ON

    10 minutes to get to that one so my Nitch would have been brightly coloured even if I had solved it

    No complaints though – lovely puzzle with BREED amusing and SNEEZE very good

    Thanks RT and Wurm

  23. 4:59

    There is more than one category of SNEEZE – there is the tiny ‘achoo’ which surely fails to do its job and dislodge the offending particles irritating the schnozzle; and then there is the mighty explosion which, unless one is very careful, splatters nearby folk going about their business – unfortunately, I am of the latter variety and so, even though it was my LOI, the word came to mind fairly quickly. Other varieties of sneeze are available such as the ‘Double’ (one sneeze followed extremely quickly by another), the ‘Trumpet’ (expulsion of air through the mouth with a loud “OOOOH”) and the ‘Big Bad Wolf’ (huffing and puffing before sneezing as if trying to blow the whole house down).

    Thanks Wurm and Roly

    1. Excellent disquisition on the humble sneeze. I would add one more-the induced but very satisfying sneeze from inhaling a pinch of snuff.

    2. A fine micro-essay!

      Then there’s the multiple sneeze that runs in some families (e.g. mine). One starts as a 3-sneezer, and with age progresses to 5-sneezing. So far. Never an even number for unknown reasons.

  24. 13:35
    Same story, 5 mins for all except asterix and LOI sneeze, my alpha trawl had all the vowels at the start and k but not s! A bit sneaky bridge for nose, but I suppose under the hooter wouldn’t work..
    COD Asterisks/stakes. Didn’t like enlist.

  25. An excellent puzzle from Wurm. I was ready to give COD to RESIDENT until that superb PDM at the very end.

    TIME 3:57

  26. 10 minutes for me. LOI SNEEZE.
    Like so many above I returned to 15 Down with all the checkers. Got the answer pretty quickly but I have been in the Annoyingly Stuck on the Last Clue camp before.
    Some good clues including BREED.

  27. Different experience to others. PDMs on PHOTO (wanted in/so to be in the mix) and PORTAL (never think of port as wine for some reason), but saw SNEEZE straight away. LOI was NOTEWORTHY. BREED made me smile and is COD. Thanks br and Wurm.

  28. Cruising along nicely for a comfortable finish within my 60 min target and then caught a cold at 15d so a DNF for me.

  29. DNF – stuck on 15dn and at 20 minutes I decided to use an aid to get to it. No particular problems with the rest (although I couldn’t parse RESIDENT).

    FOI – 8ac ETERNAL
    LOI – DNF
    COD – 1ac BLACKBEARD, closely followed by 14ac TROTS

    Thanbks to Wurm and Rolytoly

  30. I think the answer SNEEZE must break some kind of record in the QC as being virtually everyone’s LOI. I was certainly no different with the elusive clue, it taking approximately two minutes for the penny to drop before I was able to admire the setters craft. I was well outside target today at 13.09, but despite the disappointing time I was left feeling that I had completed a really good puzzle. Well done Wurm!

  31. What Lindsay() said but got all bar sneeze in a decent 26 mins rather than 6. Another coffee with much staring, then a couple of hours work, to let things sink in then back for another go. Nada. In the end a DNF. COD was Blackbeard, saw it straight away (yay) and made me laugh out loud

    Thanks Wurm and Rolytoly

  32. Unusual for me to try the QC before afternoon tea at the earliest, but seized this opportunity. I am yet another 15d LOI merchant. Several enjoyable clues eg 1a B-lack beard/11a Asterisk/19d Dido and others made this good fun despite looking tricky on first read-through.
    FOI 1a Blackbeard
    LOI 15d Sneeze
    COD 12d Bordello
    Thanks to all.

  33. A steady enough solve before hitting the 15d brick wall. Even after thinking that the clue might refer to the bridge of the nose, Sneeze still required a (full blown) nudge of the table for the pdm. Very relieved to find a couple of window seats still available, given the length of the queue. Invariant

  34. Pleased to get this done relatively swiftly, for me anyway. Saw SNEEZE when -N -E -E was in and twigged BRIDGE was to do with nose. Great clue! (Unlike ENLIST for JOIN FORCES – hardly cryptic at all.)

  35. Got SNEEZE – didn’t we have it quite recently, again clued as “explosion”? The one I just couldn’t get was ROULETTE, trying to make “game” into RU. But going back to SNEEZE: how does “somewhere under the bridge” work, please? I suppose “bridge” = nez, but then ….. ?

    1. The bridge of the nose is the upper part and the sneeze comes out through the nostrils which are in the lower part.

      1. Oh. So you mean, nez does *not* = bridge of nose, and the letters NEZ in SNEEZE are entirely irrelevant?

        1. I would think nez means the whole nose not just the bridge of the nose. I missed seeing the letters of nez in sneeze and maybe they are significant. Of course I’m someone who totally failed to see that those three symbols in M*A*S*H were very relevant to the solution of that clue!

      1. Yes, you’re absolutely right; that’s what I was thinking of. Thank you! Just the remembered connexion between explosion and sneeze enabled me to get it.

  36. BLACKBEARD went in first, then reasonable progress ground to a halt with 4 left to do. SNEEZE didn’t take too long, but I had to resort to pen and paper for NOTEWORTHY and DOMINO EFFECT, then STAKES took an age for the penny to drop. 11:18. Thanks Wurm and Roly.

  37. A bad start, failing to get either of 1a or 1d, but then picked up to kick me out of the SCC with 19:04. No doubt I’ll be safely back inside tomorrow.

    Thank you for the blog!

  38. 18 mins…

    Enjoyable but tricky offering from Wurm. Luckily, 15dn came to me in a moment of inspiration once I had a few checkers. From vague recollection, I’m sure I’ve seen it before somewhere.

    FOI – 1ac “Blackbeard”
    LOI – 6dn “Domino Effect”
    COD – 15dn “Sneeze”

    Thanks as usual!

  39. Help me please. I cannot see “asterisk”. Where does stars and MASH come into it?
    In the words of the bank robber threatened by Dirty Harry – “I gotta know” Thanks

    1. Actors like Alan Alda / Donald Sutherland / Gary Burghoff were stars of M*A*S*H.

      The clue wants an ASTERISK from the title, not the name of an actor.

  40. 15:05 … strange solve where I had a rather blank grid for the first 8-9mins with just 8 answers filled out albeit I hadn’t included ASTERISK because it seemed too obvious and couldn’t remember BORDELLO.

    Then I tentatively tried ENLIST (which didn’t seem very cryptic) and it all just tumbled in from there (with DOMINO EFFECT needing the pen&paper to cross off the letters as did NOTEWORTHY).

    I was all but done in the next 5mins with just SNEEZE leaving me to stare for the last 1-2mins.

    Liked BLACKBEARD – who I thought of immediately but couldn’t then parse until I’d moved to the downs and then had to go back up and fill in!

  41. DNF – couldn’t get SNEEZE
    Way too cryptic for my simple mind. Managed to get everything else eventually. Took me about an hour on and off (including a bus ride into Salisbury)
    Cod 5d
    Thanks Wurm and Roly

  42. 7.24 I found this much easier than yesterday’s. Sharing curryowen’s misgivings, I wasn’t confident about ENLIST. My fingers unhelpfully typed AGE OF CONCERT, which made RESIDENT a little trickier than it should have been. As Martinů noted, explosion meaning SNEEZE has cropped up before so that went straight in. Finished with PORTAL. Thanks rolytoly and Wurm.

  43. Didn’t get sneeze or trots. I liked Dido although I knew the definition.
    Was relieved to have got Blackbeard early as I really wanted to put allies rather than enlist.

  44. So many entertaining clues! For some reason SNEEZE didn’t take too long but I had a mental freeze looking at __I__ EFFECT and the remaining letters simply wouldn’t arrange themselves nor could I retrieve the phrase. Finally I retreated, got U-BOAT, and the rest solved itself. LOI TROTS, I was a bit proud of myself for seeing it as we don’t say that over here. Nor do we say “go off” for “rot”, now that I think of it.

    A very pleasant solve and at 24 minutes around my current par. Perhaps my eternal par. But I’ll take it.

  45. 16:35, joining the hordes with LOI SNEEZE. Very enjoyable, thanks to Wurm and rolytoly.

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