January 21st, 2021

Times Quick Cryptic No 1793 by Hurley

I feel a little surer of declaring this on the easier side today, particularly after a tough week of QCs thus far.  Only one piece of fairly esoteric General Knowledge got in the way of an ‘easy’ assessment.  I think this should encourage most of our newbie solvers and produce some fast times from the more experienced hands.  It took me just inside 10 minutes (at the easy end of the Rotterometer scale).  I’m sure you will let me know if you disagree with my assessment.

SIGNATURE was my FOI, KEYPAD my LOI, and my general impression was one of quiet satisfaction and steady progress throughout.

Yesterday, we saw what our friends across the pond made of the inauguration of the new POTUS.  I really hoped for calm and quiet, but feared that may not have been the case.  As it happens, as I write this, my fears were unfounded, and things seemed to go smoothly enough, and I thought that Biden's message was appropriate, and, hopefully, conciliatory.  My big fear was that we would see something alomg the lines of what happened on this very day in 1793 (see the number of this puzzle), when, after being found guilty of treason by the French National Convention, Louis XVI of France was guillotined in Paris as a consequence of the French Revolution.  I sincerely hope that no such violent uprising follows in the USA, and that Biden can do what he appears to be promising, and that the US population get behind him in that endeavour.

Politics over, let's get back to the crossword!


1  Certain to include bizarre giant identifying mark (9)
SIGNATURE – This is an anagram (bizarre) of [GIANT] inside SURE (certain).
6  Copper, British – he’s young (3)
CUB – CU (copper, chemical symbol) and B{ritish}.  Could be either a young boy scout or any of many young male animals.
8  In from France, joke with editor, busy (7)
ENGAGED – EN (French for ‘in’) with GAG (joke) and ED{itor}.
9 Delay sales booth (5)
STALL – Double definition.
10  Not bright, extremely dopey, to cross Welsh river! (5)
DUSKY – D{ope}Y (extremely means take extreme letters, first and last) surrounding (to cross) USK (Welsh river).  My first thought was DOSEY, but I couldn’t think of a River Ose!
12 In truth referring to supporter (6)
REALLY – RE (referring to) and ALLY (supporter).
14  Be wet – then area unfortunately showing effect of climate (7,6)
WEATHER-BEATEN – Anagram (unfortunately) of [BE WET – THEN AREA].
16  Set of buttons important at home (6)
KEYPAD – KEY (important) and PAD (home).  My Last One In, misled by the cryptic definition of a KEYPAD.
17  Some bikinis and shorts in beach area (5)
SANDS – Hidden answer (some) in {bikini}S AND S{horts}.
19  Australian individual, a gas! (5)
OZONE – OZ (Australian) and ONE (individual).
20  Indicate approval of a Parish Priest and Archbishop (7)
APPLAUD – A (a) P{arish} P{riest} and LAUD (William LAUD, Archbishop of Canterbury from 1633 until arrested and eventually executed in 1645).  I think the General Knowledge regarding William LAUD is a step too far for a QC, but the answer is definitely biffable.
22  Northeastern team’s first score (3)
NET – N{orth}E{astern} and T{eam’s} (first letter).  To NET is to score in a number of sports, including football, basketball and netball.
23  One with leading role moved fast to trap a bird (9)
SPEARHEAD – SPED (moved fast) trapping (surrounding) A (a) and RHEA (bird).  SPEARHEAD as a noun is the front of an attack, defined here as ‘one with a leading role’.


Resign from raising pets, not happy (4,4)
STEP DOWN – STEP (pets, reversed or raised) and DOWN (not happy).  To STEP DOWN from a post or position is to resign it.
Performance of US serviceman, good (3)
GIG – GI (US serviceman, derived from Government (or General) Issue), and G{ood}.  Whilst very common these days, GIGs were unheard of in my youth, where we referred to them as a HOP, DANCE or a SHOW.
Furious article on golf railway (5)
ANGRY – AN (article) on G (golf in the Nato phonetic alphabet) and R{ailwa}Y.
Student’s unusually guarded nature (13)
UNDERGRADUATE – Anagram (unusually) of [GUARDED NATURE].
5 This guy Sue, uplifted, thanks before Church (7)
EUSTACE – SUE reversed (uplifted) to give EUS, followed by TA (thanks) and CE (church, i.e. C{hurch of}E{ngland}).
6  Cleaner brought over the French bronze – a fake (9)
CHARLATAN – CHAR (cleaner) ‘over’ LA (French for 'the') TAN (bronze).
Frank, off to protect learner (4)
BALD – BAD (off) around (to protect) L{earner}.
11  A pact goes wrong – he’s blamed unfairly (9)
SCAPEGOAT – Anagram (wrong) of [A PACT GOES].  SCAPEGOAT has a biblical origin (Leviticus 16) and refers to a goat, on which, once a year, the Jewish high-priest symbolically laid the sins of the people.  The goat was then allowed to escape into the wilderness, which I find rather poignant.
13  With a team completely on top? Indeed so, for a change (3-5)
ONE-SIDED – Anagram (for a change) of [INDEED SO].
15  Poor leaders in his August papers – like every silly season? (7)
HAPLESS – First letters (leaders) in H{is} A{ugust} P{apers} – L{ike} E{very} S{illy} S{eason}.
17  Wonderful evening meal: one starter of prawns less (5)
SUPER – SUP{p}ER (evening meal dropping one p – starter of P{rawns} (less)).
18  Rent but not from Royal Navy (4)
TORN – TO (not from) and R{oyal} N{avy}.  Nice to see the Senior Service getting a mention.
21  Part of pay, especially?  Yes (3)
AYE – Hidden (part of) {p}AY E{specially}.

Yours Aye! (as we used to say, or sign-off in the RN)

  • glheard

Times 27880 - horses for courses

Time taken: 15:59.  I struggled with this one, and crawled my way around the grid, relying heavily on checking letters, and in one case I only have half of the answer, but I hope I can figure it out before I'm done writing this up.  Since I am solving a little later than usual, I had a look at the SNITCH, and there is quite a distribution - those of us who are usually in the 10ish minute range found it hard, and those with longer solving times found it easier, so there may be some benefit to being on the setter's wavelength.

Hope you did well!

Away we go...

Postscript (added Thursday about 4pm GMT).  As many of you know, I live on the East coast of the USA, so at the time comments come thundering in, I am passed out, so I only get interactive with early comments. I'm going to add a postscript of comments on comments when I blog.  It seems the clue causing the most difficulty is 4 down, where I had a bit of an advantage.  One of the things you need to memorize for the US Citizenship exam, which I took in 2014, is the names of the recognized Native American tribes and languages, so CREEK came quickly. Similarly CREEK meaning estuary is listed in Collins as a chiefly American usage, though I think it is the case in Australia that the terms are interchangeable.  For those of you wanting the author Kingsley Amis, who will return to crosswords soon enough, I would be surprised if the Times clued an author by their first name unless that is their most common pseudonym. Collins also confirms NICE as "calling for great care, accuracy, tact etc".  I often mess up LICENCE/LICENSE but I don't think there's any way you could come up with NSE from the last part of the wordplay.

1 A source of energy and relative growth (9)
CARBUNCLE - CARB(carbohydrate, a source of energy), and UNCLE(relative)
6 Most important horse is fed carefully at first (5)
FOCAL - FOAL(horse) containing the first letter of Carefully
9 More than a couple of Italians running late (7)
OVERDUE - OVER(more than) and DUE(two, or a couple, in Italian)
10 Address mostly full of comic potential in epic style (7)
HOMERIC - HOME(address) then remove the last letter of RICH(full of comic potential)
11 Keep time or we go wrong (5)
TOWER - anagram of T(time), OR, WE
13 Novelist, not English, has new name for town (5,4)
KINGS LYNN - The novelist is Charles KINGSLEY (Hereward the Wake, Westward Ho!).  Remove the E(English) and then N(new), N(name)
14 Real logic dealt badly with hidden meaning (9)
16 Nielsen, perhaps omitting start of chorus from ballet (4)
DANE - remove the first letter of Chorus from DANCE(ballet), referring to the Danish composer Carl NIELSEN
18 Card from company doctor (4)
COMB - CO(company), MB(doctor) - card can mean to comb wool
19 Memorial for Bradley? (9)
HEADSTONE - This was one of my last in, and now I see - Bradley HEADSTONE is a character in Our Mutual Friend, which is one of many Dickens pieces I have not read
22 Statement offering little put detail awkwardly (9)
PLATITUDE - anagram of PUT,DETAIL. Nifty clue!
24 Gold jaguars Inca regularly displayed (5)
AURIC - alternating letters in jAgUaRs InCa
25 Reduced voucher against wine (7)
CHIANTI - remove the last letter of CHIT(voucher), then ANTI(against)
26 Test chemical engineers by proxy (7)
REAGENT - RE(engineers), and AGENT(proxy)
28 A number really get Information Technology (5)
DIGIT - DIG(really get) IT(Information Technology)
29 Note former cane plant with yellow flowers (9)
GOLDENROD - G(musical note), OLDEN(former), ROD(cane)
1 Island area or cape — climbing country (7)
CROATIA - AIT(island), A(area), OR and C(cape) all reversed
2 Eggs coming inside from hen (3)
ROE - the middle letters of fROm and hEn
3 Anger after nude running showing a lack of necessary maturity (8)
UNDERAGE - RAGE(anger) following an anagram of NUDE
4 Estuary language (5)
CREEK - double definition, the language being that of native Americans of the southeast
5 European friend keeping very good herbal remedy (9)
ECHINACEA - E(european), CHINA(friend) containing ACE(very good)
6 Go very hungry dividing food around a million (6)
FAMISH - FISH(food) surrounding A, M(million)
7 Hot dish suggestion — learner’s left to seek approval (5,6)
CURRY FAVOUR - CURRY(hot dish) and FLAVOUR(suggestion) missing L(learner driver)
8 Freedom from parasites requiring careful attention getting rid of one (7)
LICENCE - LICE(parasites) and NICE(requiring careful attention) missing I(one)
12 With good intentions, PM’s lacking style going round poor (4-7)
WELL-MEANING - the prime minister is Arthur Wellesley, Duke of WELLINGTON. Remove TON(style) and insert MEAN(poor)
15 Finding new home for unfortunate neighbours losing billions (9)
REHOUSING - anagram of NEIGHBOURS minus B(billions)
17 Exploit computer key to copy both sides of advert (8)
ESCAPADE - ESC(computer key), then APE(copy) containing AD(advert)
18 What’s outstanding in New England? Better eastern seafood (4,3)
CAPE COD - CAP(better), E(eastern), COD(seafood)
20 Very active Conservative splitting left (7)
EXCITED - C(conservative) inside EXITED(left)
21 Songbird left where it could be trapped? (6)
LINNET - L(left) and it could be trapped IN NET
23 Record single rising — around number four in chart (5)
ENROL - LONE(single) reversed, containing the fourth letter of chaRt
27 Mistake taking rook with queen (3)
ERR - R(rook) with ER(queen)

Times 27,881: War of Words

Super puzzle that kept me busy for almost 10 minutes, partly due to me making a rod for my own back by bunging in an optimistic SPACE BAR at 9ac; 14ac also took a while to swim into full focus at the end, as good cryptic definitions are wont to do. The creativity on display in every clue is exceptional, with not a single one that's entirely predictable or exactly as you'd expect on first glance, prove me wrong if you can. Big kudos to the setter, and let's hope this is the kind of crossword we can expect on a daily basis now that the Biden era is here, I say!

1 Most lucky mother’s self-introduction, returning to be hugged by kid (8)
JAMMIEST - reversed I'M MA, "hugged" by JEST [kid]

5 Island house — unfinished hut on poles (6)
HONSHU - HO, + HU{t} on N+S

9 Dress code’s solution perhaps for one often depressed (5,3)
SHIFT KEY - SHIFT [dress] + KEY [code's solution, perhaps]

10 What has London banks acting badly during trial, mostly (6)
THAMES - HAM during TES{t}

12 Record not the first for Middle America? (5)
ENTER - {c}ENTER [middle, in America]

13 Secretaries tease one persistently snappy crowd (9)
PAPARAZZI - PA PA [secretary x 2] + RAZZ I

14 Rabbit escaping from hawks? (8,4)
FIGHTING TALK - cryptic def: hawks are those in favour of war or fighting, and the rabbit is the words they emit

18 Low mental age not normally needed for sport (4,4,4)

21 Lens closed twice, capturing elephant zapping insect (9)
TELEPHOTO - TO TO [closed x 2], "capturing" ELEPH{ant}

23 Came to A&E impaled on cooking utensil (5)
AWOKE - A and E "impaled on" WOK

24 Returns home with invitation to attend? (6)
INCOME - IN [home] with COME!

25 Those new to management of eg estate occupying old riverside (1-7)
L-DRIVERS - hidden in {o}LD RIVERS{ide}. Estate as in a type of car

26 Border community needing assistance commonly when old (2,4)
EL PASO - 'ELP AS O. On the Mexican border, near Ciudad Juarez

27 Water, or where to buy something to hold it? (5,3)
ADAM'S ALE - or you could buy something to hold water at A DAM SALE

1 What’s central to Beijing, according to China (6)
JASPER - {bei}J{ing} AS PER. A "fine hard porcelain" as well as a gemstone

2 Man turned up with sentry, polishing off the odd half (6)
MOIETY - reversed IOM, plus {s}E{n}T{r}Y

3 One books royal contest, with audience (9)
INTERVIEW - I NT E.R. VIE W [one | books | royal | contest | with]

4 About to get off, having experienced vacation in quiet part of Washington (6,6)
SLEEPY HOLLOW - SLEEPY [about to get off] + HOLLOW [having experienced vacation]. That's Washington as in the writer Washington Irving

6 Not the one to upset Rosemary, perhaps, in short (5)
OTHER - reversed TO + HER{b}

7 Admits a last letter translated for dissident press (8)

8 Make off before the judge stands (2,6)
UP STICKS - UP [before the judge] + STICKS [stands, as in tolerates]

11 Well fixed, like some hinges (6-6)
SPRING-LOADED - SPRING [well] + LOADED [fixed, as in supplied with money]

15 Am using my 22 here? (9)
GYMNASIUM - (AM USING MY*) ["pumps"], semi-&lit

16 Take hardly any time to find girl (8)

17 Large crowd up for exciting tournament (5,3)
WORLD CUP - (L CROWD UP*) ["for exciting"]

19 Absence of archdeacon on a religious devotion (6)

20 Is seen when swimming (or drunk?) (6)
NESSIE - (IS SEEN) ["when swimming" or "drunk"], &lit

22 Questions that deal with inflation (5)
PUMPS - double def, as in interrogates / things that inflate