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Times Quick Cryptic 1281 by Hurley

I feel happy to have finished a whisker inside 10 minutes for this, as it seemed sticky going in parts. My advice is, more than usual, to trust in the word play. There were a couple of unknowns which broke down into 'must be' and other 'knowns' which weren’t obvious as a definition but fell into place easily (e.g. Cod 14dn and loi 2dn). So, will the SCC chug serenely through the word plays or get bamboozled? Will the Formula 1 set (F1S) have always known the Spanish writer and the wise man and scream into a sub 4 minute solve or trip up over an ill-judged bif? Do let me know.


1. EXCUSE - pardon. Former (EX), copper (CU), (S)incer(E).
2. CARTON - box. Needed by (an integral part of) vi(CAR TON)ight.
8. LUNATIC - foolish. Learner (L), international body (UN), half of dogm(ATIC).
10. AGAIN - once more. A (A), profit (GAIN).
11. SCI-FI - literary genre. (S)ome (C)ommend (I)t (F)or (I)magination.
12. RED MEAT - description of bacon as an example (noted by the ?). Embarrassed looking (RED), setter (ME), at (AT).
13. EDGBASTON - Warwickshire cricket ground in Birmingham (good luck non-UK, non-cricket aware people). Anagram (excited) of BAND GET SO.
17. HEADSET - cans (an informal name for headphones/set). Top teacher (HEAD), prepared (SET).
19. SHOVE - push. Very (V) involved in footwear (SHOE).
20. ELITE - exclusive. European (E), description of low calorie items (LITE).
21. SWAHILI - language (the ! indicating definition by example - DBE). Anagram (dreadful) of WAIL HIS.
22. TANDEM - cycle. Time (T), with (AND), English (E), Male (M).
23. NESTOR - wise man (the oldest and wisest of the Greeks in the Trojan War - or any wise old man; sage). Cosy home (NEST), centre of f(OR)t.


1. ENLIST - join up. In from the French (EN), lean (LIST - as in a boat). Simply couldn’t work out why 'roll' could mean 'lean' but eventually realised it didn’t so I looked further.
2. CONSIDERATION - fee. Argument against (CON), team (SIDE), allowance (RATION).
3. SITTING - session (e.g. of parliament). f(ITTING) to get change of leading letter - in this case 'S'.
5. AWARD - medal maybe. A (A), person under protection (WARD).
6. TRADE UNIONIST - member of workers' organisation. Anagram (upset) of OUTSIDER AT INN.
7. NINETY - number. No indication of DBE - I’m not sure what the rules are. [On edit - with thanks to Kevin and John, and I hope I’ve got his right now - 21ac and 7dn are not DBE as the answers are examples of a category. 12ac is DBE as the answer (red meat) is the category of the example in the clue (bacon).] Popular (IN) and tips - ends from (E)lemen(T) captivated (captured) by New York (NY).
9. CERVANTES - Spanish writer (on look up - the chap who wrote Don Quixote 414 years ago). Happily, the answer is in the clue (somewhat) ni(CER VAN TES)t (thank you, Hurley).
14. TESTATE - with final instructions given (what a great definition). Had food (ATE) after cricket match (TEST - possibly played at 13ac).
15. THREAT - source of danger. That (THAT) is drawing inside itself Royal Engineers (RE).
16. SENIOR - older. Anagram (unfortunately) of NOSIER. Great surface.
18. SIEVE - kitchen item. Is turned upwards (SI) beside girl (EVE).


( 43 comments — Leave a comment )
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Feb. 5th, 2019 03:19 am (UTC)
Pretty straightforward; I expect sub-4 minute times from the usual suspects. CERVANTES was a somewhat infelicitous hidden, I thought--for one thing, I spotted it immediately, which suggests not well-hidden--since the pronunciation of the clue is almost the same as the (English) pronunciation of the name: -cerVANtest, CerVANteez. CARTON was a horse of etc.: my 2d to LOI, after I gave up on trying to interpret the wordplay. I must have come across EDGBASTON somewhere; anyway, I needed the checkers. 6d biffed from checkers and def. NHO 'cans' for 'headphones'. I liked the use of 'that' to clue THAT. 21ac isn't a DBE, Chris; if it had been "His dreadful Swahili!" to clue LANGUAGE, that would have been a DBE. The exclamation points here are to make the clue grammatical, or at least plausible as expressions. ("Wail!" doesn't quite cut it for me, but.) 5:37.

Edited at 2019-02-05 03:35 am (UTC)
Feb. 5th, 2019 08:45 am (UTC)
Thank you. I hope I’ve got it right now.

Edited at 2019-02-05 08:46 am (UTC)
Feb. 5th, 2019 05:09 am (UTC)
8 minutes. Raced through the top half but slowed a little towards the end with the unexpected NESTOR and both SIEVE and TANDEM requiring extra time for thought. 'Cans' for 'headphones' has come up before in 15x15 puzzles so the variation, HEADSET, went in easily enough.

Edited at 2019-02-05 05:10 am (UTC)
Feb. 5th, 2019 05:11 am (UTC)
11 minutes, not bad half asleep after staying up for the Liverpool game which starts at midnight here.

Last few were threat, headset and elite. No real hold ups apart from thinking of lite for 20a.

Liked headset but Cod senior.
Feb. 5th, 2019 06:02 am (UTC)
Quicker than yesterday but only just at 17.20. Almost all of that in the SW. Didn't spot THREAT was almost all in front of me in the clue - know RE was in the middle but didn't couldn't see how to make the rest of the word until deep groan. I often cause myself trouble where AND is defined so lost a lot of time on TANDEM which I'm sure will have been a write-in for many. Never heard of NESTOR but we had NEST similarly defined recently and what else could be centre of fort. In the NE slowed down by AWARD, nicely placed to give the most useless checkers.
Feb. 5th, 2019 07:30 am (UTC)
Starting in the NW this seemed relatively straightforward and I had no hold-ups at all until the SW. The Spanish writer was a gimme but HEADSET for Cans was new to me. NESTOR only emerged from the cryptic but once there, it seemed OK. My last two were ELITE and SIEVE ( I had tried Slice but could see no girl in there). 11:50, which is quick for me. David
Feb. 5th, 2019 07:53 am (UTC)
I Initially had MENTOR for 23A, but half-way through the Downs the Greek name floated up from my sub-conscious and I corrected it. I tried making 21A end in -ISH before spotting we had the compilers' club favourite African language. LOI SITTING where I was looking for a synonym of "fitting" to change the first letter. Doh!

In answer to your query at 9D, Chris... As Kevin pointed out about SWAHILI, NINETY defined by "number" is not a DBE, whereas "Ninety, perhaps?" as a clue for NUMBER would be. The rule is that if the definition is "a thing" e.g. ORANGE and the answer is "the type of thing" i.e. FRUIT, the DBE is signalled by the use of maybe/perhaps and/or a "?". Or that's how I think it works. I hope others will correct me if I got that wrong! 5:22.

Edited at 2019-02-05 07:55 am (UTC)
Feb. 5th, 2019 08:45 am (UTC)
Thank you. I hope I’ve got it right now.

Edited at 2019-02-05 08:46 am (UTC)
Feb. 5th, 2019 07:57 am (UTC)
16.09 and MENTOR biffed for NESTOR, which I should have seen having read the original albeit nearly 40 years ago. Mostly found speedy going and was hopeful of, at least, Formula 3 but stuck for several minutes on RED MEAT as LOI. Bit suspect as a definition, even with the question mark, in my opinion. Spot on, Chris, with the word play comment. I think some clues slid in so easily that in others the trickery was missable e.g. RED MEAT: I was hooked on red setter.
Feb. 5th, 2019 08:38 am (UTC)
Ebbed and flowed with this one. To my shame as an Englishman I was a little slow to get Edgbaston. I've never heard of cans but put in headset and hoped I was right. I thought capitalizing bacon was a bit naughty - I was wondering if an historic Bacon was a red head :)
Feb. 5th, 2019 08:55 am (UTC)
22 minutes, so just over my target. I might have beaten it but I mis-spelt NINTEY. Very silly, it looked wrong when I put it in, and every time I looked at it, but I was stuck on my last two Red Meat and Headset until I saw the mistake.
Feb. 5th, 2019 09:01 am (UTC)
16 minutes for me, so a reasonable time as far as I’m concerned. It was the NE corner which slowed me down - Carton, Award, Red Meat and Ninety in particular, but as always, once I got one of them then the rest fell out quite quickly.
Feb. 5th, 2019 09:21 am (UTC)
Well, I certainly clicked with Hurley today. After a run of SCCs, I skated through this one in 9.24. I biffed a few but did parse them all within that time. Nice to know there is still something going on 'upstairs'. I liked HEADSET and thought CERVANTES was cleverly hidden. THREAT and TANDEM took more time than most. LOI was CONSIDERATION. Thanks to Hurley for a good start to the day and to Chris (and supporters) fir a good blog. John M.

Edited at 2019-02-05 09:58 am (UTC)
Feb. 5th, 2019 10:04 am (UTC)
I started strongly and thought I may be on for a sub 10 minutes until getting snarled up in the SW corner which took a while to unravel needing all checkers for my COD headset (I was looking for an anagram of teacher until sieve went in). Then went over to my LOI which should have been NESTOR but I mistakenly went for Mentor and, given it was the last, happily (but too hastily) stopped the clock at 15 minutes pleased to be well under my norm of 20ish.

Then I read the blog and saw the error. Half wished that I'd not read the blog now :-) thanks Chris for enlightening me!
Feb. 5th, 2019 10:13 am (UTC)
I pressed submit today 99% sure I was going to have pink squares come back to me but having spent 2 or 3 minutes with my cursor hovering over the submit button trying to think of alternatives to MENTOR I just thought 'sod it'. It was particularly annoying as I have studied the Iliad but my mind was completely blank.
Other than that a relatively straightforward puzzle where my only other hold ups were with 15d/17a.
Thanks for the blog
Feb. 5th, 2019 10:55 am (UTC)
I was definitely on the wavelength of this one, breasting the tape in 7:04. I too toyed with Mentor for 23ac, but couldn't make it work. Nice puzzle. Thanks to Hurley and Chris.

Feb. 5th, 2019 11:06 am (UTC)
This looked like it would have been my first sub-10 minutes, but a little slow to finish up the SW corner. Completely biffed NESTOR. Finished at just over 15 minutes in the end, which is still a PB, I think.
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