December 13th, 2017

Quick Cryptic 982 by Hurley

In terms of degree of difficulty, I thought this was a hard QC. Personally I enjoyed it a lot - plenty of neat wordplay, some very nice surfaces (particularly liked 7dn) and a lovely hidden at 8ac. However, I would imagine it was pretty challenging for newcomers to the game.

We've had endless debate on this forum about the role of the QC and the "appropriateness" of hard puzzles, and hopefully we won't have to rehash all that stuff again today. Suffice to say that any relative newcomer who managed to complete and fully parse this puzzle should feel they are well on the way to being able to tackle a Times 15x15, and that anyone who found it beyond their current level of expertise will hopefully see it as a valuable learning experience.

All of that said, you might have all found it to be a stroll in the park and I may be alone in my assessment of it as "hard" - history suggests that these things are somewhat subjective. But somehow I doubt it. Anyway, we shall see.

Whilst one man's "obscure" is another man's "bleedin' obvious", I'd venture to suggest that 14a is a term that is not widely known outside legal (and IT industry) circles - fortunately for me I have worked in both those sectors. 7d will be well known to military history buffs, but could be a mystery to others (I happened to know it because it has cropped up in crosswords before). And 5d is one of those words that most people will probably have read but rarely, if ever, used - it certainly does not crop up in everyday conversation in the pubs of Cricklewood. But all of these are very fairly clued so should be gettable if you trust to the wordplay.

3d is a clue type (substitution of letters) that is common in the 15x15 but, to the best of my recollection, rarely appears in the QC. However, the definition is quite generous so it's one of those where you may well be able to spot the answer and then retrospectively fathom out how it actually works.

So, thanks very much to Hurley for a very nicely constructed and challenging puzzle. Look forward to seeing how you all got on.

Definitions underlined: DD = double definition: anagrams indicated by *(--): omitted letters indicated by {-}

1 Where executives fly shown by company form (8,5)
BUSINESS CLASS - 'Company' gives us BUSINESS, and 'form' gives us CLASS (as in a form/class at school)
8 Somewhat cross, I niggle composer (7)
ROSSINI - nicely hidden (somewhat) in cROSS I NIggle
9 Fashion initially marvellous computer device (5)
MODEM - MODE (fashion) + first letter (initially) of Marvellous
10 Unusual term one cited for life-saver? (4,8)
MINE DETECTOR - *(TERM ONE CITED) with "unusual" signalling the anagram
12 Type stocking extremely bizarre water ice (6)
SORBET - SORT (type) includes (stocking) the 'extremes' of BizarrE
14 European Society boast reveals money held by third
ESCROW - E (European) + S (society) + CROW (boast) giving us the legal term describing the arrangement where the purchase price is held by a trusted third party and is only to be released to the vendor when certain conditions have been met.
17 What could give sect, say, great delight? (7)
ECSTASY - *(SECT SAY) with "what could give" pointing to the anagram
19 Trace of metal for example recalled (5)
TINGE - TIN (metal) + EG reversed (for example recalled)
20 Encourage sounds of disapproval? Terrible at first
BOOST - BOOS (sounds of disapproval) + T (Terrible at first)
21 Time outsiders avoid herring, English dish (7)
TERRINE - T (time) + {H}ERRIN{G} (i.e. without its 'outside' letters) + E (English)
22 Aristocracy, no longer grand, feel reduced cost of
ENTRY FEE - {G}ENTRY (aristocracy without the G - 'no longer grand) + FEE{L} (feel reduced)
23 Opening contest shunned by beginner (4)
VENT - {E)VENT (contest minus its opening letter - 'shunned by beginner')

1 Harsh noise from pub, King’s Head (4)
BARK - BAR (pub) + K (King's 'head' - i.e. first letter)
2 More cheeky son, silly? That is right (7)
SASSIER - S (son) + ASS (silly) + IE (that is) + R (right)
3 Too trusting, don’t insist on getting name for whiskey
NAIVE - WAIVE (don't insist on) gets an N (name) replacing (for) its W (whiskey - as in the phonetic alphabet)
4 Stole small cleaning cloth — shamed finally (6)
SWIPED - S (small) + WIPE (cleaning cloth) + last letter (finally) of shameD
5 Not half common writing instruments a politician
provided as replacement (12)
COMPENSATORY - Half of COM{mon} + PENS (writing instruments) + A TORY (a politician). Not a word that springs readily to mind for many solvers, I suspect, but the building blocks were nicely set out for us.
6 A Buddhist regularly missing inspection (5)
AUDIT - Every other letter of (regularly missing) A bUdDhIsT
7 Rebel mob wants restyled military wear (3,6,4)
SAM BROWNE BELT - *(REBEL MOB WANTS) with "restyled" signposting the anagram. Sam Browne VC was a remarkable character, very much in the Boys Own hero mould - worth checking out if you are not familiar with him
11 Get together, being clever, to get around flipping
mess? (8)
ASSEMBLE - ABLE (clever) goes 'around' MESS reversed (flipping)
13 Following old routine, lady drops a daughter off?
Precisely (7)
EXACTLY - After (following) EX ACT (old routine) comes L{AD}Y (A D 'dropped off')
15 Met ruin working out duration of program (3,4)
RUN TIME - *(MET RUIN) with "working out" indicating the anagram
16 Just starting maybe you really treasure lovely
evergreen shrub (6)
MYRTLE - First letters (just starting) of Maybe You Really Treasure Lovely Evergreen
18 From outskirts of Swindon, inaccurate informer (5)
SNOUT - SN (outskirts of SwindoN) + OUT (inaccurate)

Times 26907 - TCC heat 2 puzzle 3 - no slowing down please.

Some time ago I suggested, when the answers to a particular puzzle prompted the idea, that we had a little competition to see who could create a short but readable story using all the words in the grid. I had one entry that was so good, it obviously put others off having a go!
The answers to this puzzle seem like another interesting set of words to go into a short story, so entries are invited! There might even be a prize.

This one seemed to me to be the easiest of the three in the second heat, it took me just on the 20 minutes and had no obscure Shakespearean prostitutes (after last week's Doll Tearsheet stumped me). Nevertheless had I been in London and entered the competition I think I'd have preferred to have been in heat 1. Next week we'll be into the deeper end of things with the final three.

1 People left child generous little gift (6,4)
WIDOWS MITE - WIDOWS are people left (by bereavement) and a MITE is a child. My FOI.
6 Vestment returned by bishop let out (4)
BLAB - ALB = vestment, reverse and add B for bishop.
10 Pardon felon, finally turning to stand (7)
WHATNOT - WHAT? = pardon? N = felon finally, TO reversed. A whatnot being a 'stand' usually with shelves, like a French étagère.
11 Voluntarily exposed no end of bosom (7)
UNASKED - UNMASKED = exposed, remove the end of bosoM.
12 Inspector polishes up English speech (9)
DISCOURSE - DI = inspector, SCOURS = polishes up, E(nglish).
13 Sweet tin disappointingly empty (5)
CANDY - CAN = tin, D Y = disappointingly, empty.
14 Small amount of money that’s found in the sea (5)
SQUID - S = small, QUID = amount of money, a chestnut clue.
15 Criminal cut and ran, say, for refuge (9)
17 Virgin for one seized by less intelligent dealer (9)
DISPENSER - DENSER = less intelligent; insert ISP = internet service provider of which Virgin may well be one in UK.
20 As a precaution, not taking all native people (5)
INCAS - IN CASE = as a precaution.
21 Bugle call outside a sort of bar (5)
TAPAS - TAPS is the last bugle call of the day, meaning lights out; insert another A.
23 Around noon, a son late rising again (9)
RENASCENT - Noon a son = N A S , insert into RECENT = late.
25 Penalty is roughly presented in numbers (7)
APLENTY - (PENALTY)*. So easy it was easy to miss it.
26 Principal begging head to leave (7)
27 Hawk that is blown by the wind (4)
KITE - Cryptic double definition.
28 It’s worse if anything, they say, to be wiser (4,6)
KNOW BETTER - sounds like 'no better'.

1 Amazed wife married without love (5)
WOWED - Insert O into W(ife) WED.
2 Imaginary people in book: loads used in new edition (4,5)
3 Light morning activity creating favourable impression (6-8)
WINDOW-DRESSING - WINDOW = light, DRESSING a morning activity.
4 Heard legends about one god or another (7)
MITHRAS - MITHS sounds like MYTHS, insert RA an Egyptian God, to get a Roman / Iranian one.
5 May child perhaps cross? Near disastrous (7)
TAUREAN - TAU being a form of T-shaped cross, then (NEAR)*. The zodiac sign Taurus being April 19 - May 20.
7 Compare what one-kilogram bags brought over (5)
LIKEN - Hidden reversed in O(NE KIL)OGRAM.
8 Extras including current bit of breakfast and child’s cot (5-4)
BEDDY-BYES - BYES being extras in cricket; EDDY being current, B being a bit of breakfast. Assemble.
9 See what I can do; room for more later (5,4,5)
WATCH THIS SPACE - Cryptic definition. But see Verlaine's alternative view below as to the definition. Either seems to work.
14 Two features of old record are misleading (9)
SIDETRACK - SIDE and TRACK being things an old record had.
16 Fancy his metal changed (lead only)? (9)
ALCHEMIST - (HIS METAL C)*, the C from changed; Definition &lit.
18 Keep remarking about pair coming out in mist (5-2)
SPRAY-ON - SAY = keep remarking, about = ON, insert PR = pair.
19 Starts to become exhausted and lose time (4,3)
RUNS LOW - or RUN SLOW = lose time.
22 Guide one through area of ground (5)
PILOT - Insert I into PLOT.
24 Energetic person say caught by slowing up (5)
TIGER -  Insert E.G. = say, into RIT.  short for ritardando meaning slowing down in musical terms; reverse all 'up'.