Times Quick Cryptic No 734 by Hurley

Friday, 30 December 2016

Do you know your A from your E?

By my reckoning this is the last QC of 2016, and it’s a privilege to blog it. This is a very fine offering from Hurley, encapsulating what the QC should be about: encouragement, hints and tips on approaches, and the learning of a few more crossword conventions. In this case I suspect the puzzle is at the more accessible end of the spectrum, since despite being permanently woozy and/or pain-filled because of a bad back (so bad that an ambulance to A&E was necessary), I managed to complete the online version in under five minutes. Very obvious anagrams, and the juxtaposition of 16 ac and 18ac provide a good launching point. Certainly a PB would have beckoned on paper. But (and this is a big but) failure to check anagrams and to distinguish between A and E would have meant a dnf (did not finish). Admittedly confectionery is not as easy to misspell as stationery…

May I please take this opportunity to wish all setters, solvers, bloggers, commentators and lurkers a Happy and Peaceful New Year.


7. Unite again? Say no! (6)

REFUSE, as in ‘fuse again’

8. Almost completely worth backing — the Spanish gardening tool (6)

TROWEL – Almost completely worth, i.e. WORT backwards, followed by EL (‘the’ in Spanish)

9. Drop odd bits from the fair (4)

TEAR – ThE fAiR, the odd letters in this phrase make TEAR, the noun rather than the verb

10. Farm plot made into part of railway station (8)

PLATFORM, anagram of ‘Farm plot’.

11.Unworried about football official sending central character off (8)

CAREFREE – CA (about, abbreviation for Latin circa) + REF(E)REE

13. Argument against stocking right sentimental stuff (4)

CORN = sentimental stuff, CON (argument against) including (stocking) R (right). Haven’t seen this as a noun, only as the adjective CORNY.

15. Check part of wine glass (4)

STEM – to check, as in stop, is to stem, and a wine glass has a stem.

16. Contents of manifest I validated for holiday (8)

mani{FEST I VAL}idated – This and the next clue are a bit of a gimme.

18. Person confined in Capri’s one rascal? (8)

Ca{PRI’S ONE R}ascal – Not a bad place to be a prisoner. Developed by the Roman Emperors Augustus and Tiberuius, the 2nd century Emperor Commodus banished his sister Lucilla to Capri, briefly, before she was executed.

20. Reportedly is familiar with section of aircraft (4)

NOSE – homophone (Reportedly) of ‘knows’.

21. Design fashionable shelter (6)

INTENT – IN = fashionable, TENT = shelter, INTENT = design, noun. ‘His first avowed intent / To be a pilgrim’.

22. Confused reply about a peace discussion? (6)

PARLEY – Anagram (confused) of ‘REPLY’ about A. So it this E or A? Parley or parlay? And what does parlay mean anyway?(this was news to me). And what about the German officers crossing the Rhine?


1.Pertinent to change one’s mind about Virginia (8)

RELEVANT – RELENT about VA (abbreviation for VIRGINIA, the US state named for Elizabeth, Queen of England). To have ‘change one’s mind’ as RELENT might be considered as pretty loose, since RELENT has meanings of abandoning or mitigating harsh opposition, or of becoming less severe (the rain relented).

2. Army supplier of two pints and exotic streamer? (13)

QUARTERMASTER – responsible for the supplying of an army, QUART = two pints + anagram (exotic) of ‘streamer’

3. Museum worker’s furtive look upset monarch (6)

KEEPER – KEEP (furtive look, PEEK, backwards (upset)) + ER (monarch). In this clue the apostrophe s indicates ‘is’.

4. A kid relaxed (2,4)

AT EASE – A concatenation and then redivision of A TEASE, where kid = TEASE. Note this is one of several army references in the puzzle.

5. Try cone once if moving sweets (13)

CONFECTIONERY – An anagram (moving) of ‘Try cone once if’. Those who BIFD this (banged it in from the definition), as I did, may come a cropper with the spelling. Always check your anagrams!

6. Expensive daughter needs attention! (4)

DEAR – D for daughter, EAR for attention. Nice surface on this one.

12. Look carefully at hole in needle (3)

EYE – double definition.

14. Car a Duke included in list (8)

ROADSTER – quaint old word for a car, A D (duke) included in ROSTER (list).

16. Limited financial penalty covers it (6)

FINITE – FINE (financial penalty) covering IT = FINITE, limited. Infinity is one of my very favourite topics, but it’d take too long to explain why.

17. Argument over energy — tricky situation (6)

SCRAPE – SCRAP (argument) over (this is a down clue) E for energy, a scrape is a tricky situation.

19. Run home? Good call (4)

RING = call, R (run) + IN (home) + G (good)

Please comment on the puzzle and the blog.

24 comments on “Times Quick Cryptic No 734 by Hurley”

  1. Cheers. Best time for a while. The long words could’ve slowed things up but the clueing was kind.

    Although I do think the QCs should be easy like this, I suppose there is an issue with biffability. e.g. I got RELEVANT from just reading the first word of the first (down) clue. But that’s not such a bad thing – it’s still interesting and informative to try and parse the rest of the clue.

  2. 7 minutes but with a wrong answer at 5dn where I fell into the elephant trap re “confectionery/-ary” by failing to engage brain, consider alternatives and parse the anagram properly. I’m fully aware of the correct spelling as it (along with “stationery”) is easily remembered by thinking of the shops where one buys the product – “confectioners” (and “stationers”). A or E in “parley” can be remembered by thinking of the French for “to speak” (if one happens to know it”) but unfortunately that’s no help if the word you are trying to spell is “parlance”.

    I was more careful elsewhere today however where a little more time for thought saved me from “invent” at 21ac (alert! could “vent” really mean “shelter”?) and the completely made-up “strope” at 17dn.

    Edited at 2016-12-30 05:33 am (UTC)

    1. Me too BUT “STROPE” = “The combination of the words Straight and rope, which means highly potent Marijuana” (from “The Urban Dictionary”); so not completely made up if that makes you feel, like me, just a little better (the definition and not the strope of course!)
  3. Much easier than the last few days, which I think have been some of the hardest QCs I’ve come across. LOI was keeper, and not familiar with this as a museum worker. But I assumed furtive brow had to be peek. All in all, completed with the half hour mark, so decent but not great for me. Gribb.
    1. I tend to agree. In my experience keepers usually work in zoos or parks (or goals or at wickets!), but Collins has keeper of museums which I would have thought was a curator, but perhaps there’s a difference I’m not aware of.

      Edited at 2016-12-30 08:33 am (UTC)

      1. I took a group of students to the Museum of the History of Science in Oxford, and explained that we would have a tour given by the curator. He patiently explained that although he is in charge, he is known as the Assistant Keeper – I wonder if this is just an Oxford thing?
  4. 25 minutes, so quick for me. Although I had an a in confectionery.
    Set at the perfect level.

  5. Very gentle end to the year I thought, with, as the blogger points out, a little bit of everything. Like the blogger I thought RELENT a bit loose, although clearly if one relents one changes one’s mind.
    Happy New Year everybody.
  6. Mostly straightforward, but I got off on the wrong foot by confidently putting REJOIN for 7a and had to rethink once I got to 2d. Some lovely surface. COD to 6d as both my daughters are expensive and need attention. Thanks Rob and Hurley. 05:12.
  7. Well, the right hand side absolutely flew in, but I misread the last word in 2d and spent ages trying to think of some sort of steamer. At that point, the answer could have ended in -ship, which only made things worse. I must get a new pair of glasses ! Good puzzle and a pleasant 35 mins solve. Invariant
  8. There are several posts whose subtitles might be Keepers – such as of important clothes. The most memorable was the obituary of a professor (about 30years ago) who was apparently Keeper of the Queen’s Sponges – a title to die for. I hope this was a collection of seabed exotics, and not hygiene products . . .


  9. I would have been sub 20 minutes but got bogged down with 13a and 14d, having just slotted most of the other answers in. No particular reason as the cluing was very clear.
    I was another who put an ‘a’ in confectionery!
  10. I was persuaded to have a go at the QC today and I enjoyed it but needed advice about the crossword conventions. I also mispelt 5D! This might be quite compulsive (QC).

    Edited at 2016-12-30 02:45 pm (UTC)

    1. Judith, welcome to a wonderful world (I have no authority to offer this welcome).

      I am only worried by your surname; without judgement, if you are being suckered into this by a father, husband, son etc. please run away now. Otherwise …..

      1. Well spotted sawbill. Rob Rolfe is my husband. He has been trying to get me to have a go at the QC for ages, and I finally succumbed! No need to run away (yet).
        1. Judith, relax … I have found that solving cryptic crosswords is like marriage – the first fifty years are the worst ( with apologies …)
  11. A very gentle end to the year which brought about a sub 10 minute solve (only my second). I was another who toyed with invent for 21a, but I couldn’t make it parse. LOI 3d having not heard of that type of museum employee before.
  12. We found this gentle after rather a slog over the last few days, we also failed with incorrect spelling at 5d. Many thanks to setters and bloggers over the year for their wit and wisdom, we found it most enjoyable. Happy new year to all. Elin and Ian.
  13. Not much to add to previous comments. I initially wrote Invent at 21a but immediately felt it did not work. I also had Strope ready for 17d in case nothing else occurred to me.
    The clueing throughout was very fair which made it all clear once I thought it through, including Keeper which I paused over (something starting BEE was being considered). 17 minutes in all, quite a few of which were dealing with the aforementioned problems. David
  14. What a blissful end to the year, thank you Hurley. I finished it! Such a relief after the earlier ones this week which almost made me give up. However, I am definitely improving slowly, and the blogs make it so much more interesting and helpful. So Happy New Year to everyone,


  15. There are several posts whose subtitles might be Keepers – such as of important clothes. The most memorable was the obituary of a professor (about 30years ago) who was apparently Keeper of the Queen’s Sponges – a title to die for. I hope this was a collection of seabed exotics, and not hygiene products . . .


  16. Failed with 19d and that prevented 21a so a dnf to the year. COD 8a FOI 7a LOI 9a and took me about 45minutes! Must improve on the turn of the year…
  17. For those of you who like Izetti’s style of clue, he is the setter in today’s 15×15. Invariant
    PS Happy New Year to one and all.
  18. Just found this helpful site. Thanks very much. I often can’t fathom out the answers even when I look at the solution!
    I was told to remember ‘stationery’ by ‘e’ for ‘envelopes’.
    Happy New Year.

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