QC 2426 from Hurley: Make your peace

Hurley sets a good puzzle which kept me thinking and led to a Baroque time, 17:20.

I struggled at the crossing of 4d and 8A, which accounted for a somewhat slow time. Knowledge of nuts important today, including the chestnut of stole=boa.

The word TRUCE at 20d leads me to ask the question: at your school playground, when playing a game of tick, tag or British Bulldog, and a child needed a truce to go to the loo, what magic word did you use? There are geographical, historical and even class variations. At age 8 I moved from a “nix” area (Warwickshire) to “barleys” (Cheshire).

Sadly, like most of our ancient slang, these words are being washed away by the US “time-out”

Definitions underlined in bold italics, (Abc)* indicating anagram of Abc,  deletions with {curly brackets}, other stuff in quotes or parentheses.

3 Sam meets lively Army colleague (8)
MESSMATE – (SAM MEETS)* anagram indicated by “lively”

I knew this word from HMS Pinafore: Messmates, ahoy!

7 Fruit prohibition advice not accepted initially (6)
BANANA – BAN (prohibition) + A{dvice} N{ot} A{ccepted}
8 Men only name worker, not developing well (8)
STAGNANT – STAG (men only, as in Stag Party) + N{ame} + ANT (worker)
9 Barely fair (4)
JUST – Double Def
10 Opt to change container (3)
POT – (OPT)* Anagram indicated by “to change”
11 Bearing cost of transportation (8)

The word “Carriage” used to be common on invoices, but now the word “freight” seems to be more common.

13 Simple conclusions of the data banks study (4)
EASY – last letters (conclusions) of “the data banks study
15 Lady’s outside, referring to musical instrument (4)
LYRE – L{ad}Y (outside letters) + RE (referring to, as an Email reply)
17 Type of sensation having appeal? Certainly (8)
PLEASURE – PLEA (appeal) + SURE (Certainly)
19 Colouring substance to fade, we hear (3)
DYE – Sounds like (we hear) “die” (fade)
22 Stole ultimately neat container for sauce (4)
BOAT – BOA (stole, as in feather boa) + {nea}T.

Where the boat is a Gravy Boat, because it’s supposed to be shaped like one?

23 Playing guitar — extremely timely tip (8)
GRATUITY – (GUITAR)* anagram (playing) plus T{imel}Y, where extremely means first and last letters. And tip, means  tip.
24 Bed’s favourite, everyone accepted (6)
PALLET – PET (favourite) contains ALL (everyone)
25 Reverie, free, about introduction of politic postponement (8)
REPRIEVE – (REVERIE)* anagram (free) about P{olitic}
1 Beneficial regular payment including university time (8)
SALUTARY – SALARY (regular payment) containing U{niversity} + T{ime}

And there I was getting all upset expecting one of those bizarre Oxford term names like Hilary.

2 Discharge perhaps to be of importance (6)
MATTER – I didn’t really know this first one. The OED has about 60 different definitions, and this “discharge” is about 50 down.
3 Pole providing fruit as animal feed (4)
MAST – Double def.

I guessed this from the first definition, not knowing the second, which the OED has as “The fruit of beech, oak, chestnut, and other woodland trees, esp. when fallen and used as food for pigs, etc”. It’s 1000 years old and appears in Shakespeare (Timon of Athens).

4 Rush impressed English (8)
STAMPEDE – STAMPED (impressed) + E{nglish}
5 Little time for memorandum (6)
MINUTE – Double def
6 Fish from Brazil brought up — ace! (4)
TUNA – NUT (as in Brazil nut, reversed – brought up) + A{ce}
12 Desire for food Dad’s shown on return — pretty small? (8)
APPETITE – AP (PA reversed- on return) + PETITE (pretty small)
14 Internet broadcaster’s banner (8)
STREAMER – Double def
16 Somewhat changed it? Ordinarily that’s my job! (6)
EDITOR – Hidden (somewhat) in “changed it? Ordinarily”
18 Written translation on film — it’s missing. Not immediately obvious (6)
SUBTLE – SUBT{IT}LE (Written translation on film) with IT missing. COD for me, nicely self-referential surface, it certainly wasn’t obvious.
20 Cessation of war no longer constant? Correct (4)
TRUE – TRU{C}E (Cessation of war)

I had PEACE as “cessation of war”, it has a C in it but that’s as far as it goes.

21 Fraud fishy people must use (4)
HYPE – Hidden inside fishy people. I don’t see a “hidden” indicator here, though? I’d have chosen “pushy” rather than “fishy” for a better surface:

Fraud pushy people always keep hidden (4)

75 comments on “QC 2426 from Hurley: Make your peace”

  1. Hi Merlin, I wonder if at 11ac (CARRIAGE) the DD is (a) bearing and (b) cost of transport. I found it a bit confusing and generally I found parts of this very hard. My biggest problems were in the NW with SALUTARY (LOI), CARRIAGE and LYRE. I prefer your HYPE clue, and I’m not convinced that hype and fraud are the same thing. That Timon of Athens reference explaining the second definition of MAST completely slipped my mind. After a fast start I finished in 18.27, pleased to finish because for a while I thought I might not. Good puzzle, thanks both.

    1. I agree re CARRIAGE – the way a person carries themselves, ie bearing. That’s how I read it.

  2. I submitted off leaderboard because I didn’t think MASH could be right, as indeed it wasn’t. And I knew MAST, too. I parsed CARRIAGE as LindsayO did. And I also didn’t care for hype=fraud. I think that ‘must use’ suffices as a hidden indicator.

    1. I wish I’d submitted off leaderboard, but not because of MAST. I’m another who didn’t like “hype = fraud”, but my downfall was a stupidly biffed “pressure” at 17A.

  3. Another slow untidy solve from me, but I got there eventually in 12 minutes. I also wasn’t happy with ‘hype = fraud’ but both Collins and SOED have it covered:

    Collins: hype a deception or racket (English) / deception or fraud (American).
    SOED: hype cheating, deception; a confidence trick, a swindle; persuasive talk; promotional publicity, esp. of an extravagant or intensive nature. M20.

  4. I assumed there would be a literal reference to support the setter but in current usage I know it only as overblown PR, exaggeration etc, like the last part of the SOED entry. Thanks jackkt

  5. I enjoyed this one, coming in all green in a leisurely 26 minutes. It was a slow start but once the SE corner was completed things began to fall into place. I got very bogged down with my LOI, MATTER, and STAGNANT made my brain hurt too. NHO MAST as fodder, so another new piece of vocabulary is now stored away for future use. Otherwise all went well this morning. I especially enjoyed LYRE, GRATUITY and SALUTARY.
    Thank you Hurley for restoring a little self confidence after yesterday’s offering, and thank you Merlin for the explanations.

  6. 13 minutes. Slow to get going, including missing the not very difficult MESSMATE anagram till near the end. Same MER at HYPE for ‘fraud’ as others but as pointed out by Jack, it’s in the dictionaries, including Chambers, in this sense.

    Two self-described clues today (a new clue category): EASY was easy and SUBTLE was subtle.

    Thanks to Hurley and Merlin

  7. OK start with six acrosses going in on the first pass and then the bottom filled up but the top and the NW in particular saw me slowing to a crawl. Got both MAST and MATTER but didn’t know what half the definitions of the double definitions were doing so the checkers were crucial. Finally made it to the end all green in 20.

  8. Again, so close to being my first parole outside of the SCC, but uncertainty over the definitions of MAST and PALLET held me up. I should have just biffed them, but hindsight is always 20/20 vision. Enjoyed this one nevertheless. Thanks Hurley and Merlin.

  9. I found this tough, and although all green in 15 minutes, it was very far from all parsed. Discharge = Matter seems to me to be quite a stretch, and I DK the relevant meaning of Mast. Hype = Fraud has already been commented on, and I did not even see the parsing of Pleasure (it went in from the checkers and a vague “well it sort of means that”).

    Well, that last one was certainly my failing not the setter’s, and I should have got it, but some of the others are more dubious I think. One enjoys having one’s vocabulary expanded (within reason), and Hype = Fraud clearly comes under this heading, but Mast = food for pigs seems to me to veer towards the “very obscure, not used in real life”. And given that (a) if Hurley really wanted to use Mast there are other ways of cluing it, and (b) the words Mash (also used for animal feed), Mask and Mass also fit MAS-, so offering many plausible options for those who do not know the arcanity of that particular meaning of Mast, I think the clue is a poor one and arguably out of place in a QC.

    I accept that Hurley is covered by the approved dictionaries on the various unusual meanings so no grounds for formal complaints, but I do hope that the QC is not going to go the way of professional Scrabble, where the oddest “words”, which no-one has ever used in earnest in the last 100 years (if ever), are included and permitted because they feature in some approved list.

    Grumble over, and I shall now call “pax” (which was my schoolboy word for seeking a truce). Many thanks to Merlin for the blog.

    1. As so often, one man’s obscurity is another’s well-known fact … as a boy I was taught about “mast years” (years in which trees suddenly produce so many nuts that the animals which feed on them become sated and can’t eat them all, so that some are guaranteed to survive and become seedlings). So MAST was very familiar to me – once I’d finally rejected “mash” as not having any connection to “pole”, of course!

      1. The term “mast year” still seems to be in use – I learned it recently (2020?) when the horse chestnut trees around here were dropping conkers like nobody’s business.

    2. I think mast is less obscure than Cedric implies. When solving, I wondered if it was actually a rare triple def. with pole, fruit and animal feed all applying independently, but after reading Merlin’s excellent blog and checking my Chambers I see that the fruit and animal feed are connected in a single definition, so maybe I am wrong.

  10. Oh dear, I pencilled in Pressure very faintly for 17a and forgot to go back and check. Like others, I was worried about LOI MAST, but it had to be.
    Quite slow today, jumping or tottering around the grid. FOI MESSMATE didn’t help as much as I hoped.
    I don’t think of HYPE as fraud but guess it is a word that has changed meaning somewhat.
    TUNA made me smile.
    Thanks vm, Merlin.

  11. Found this tough going, mainly due to some ‘interesting’ definitions. As someone who often parses after seeing the answer I always find these types of puzzle the most difficult. The upside is the pleasure of numerous PDMs that come as a result.
    A minor gripe over HYPE for fraud but other than that an enjoyable solve despite finishing way over target in 16.32.
    Thanks to Merlin.

  12. Headed to the club but no time to stop for a coffee as a busy day ahead due to visit to Buckingham Palace to meet the King. Must give the shoes yet another polishing.
    Enjoyed the puzzle albeit somewhat distracted. COD SUBTLE
    Thanks Hurley and Merlin

      1. Thanks very much. He was charming and very engaged, as was Edward, Duke of Edinburgh. A memorable day out.

  13. Took over average time for all the reasons others have stated above. FOI MESSMATE, LOI MAST, COD one of the few clues that was EASY in this.puzzle! Thanks. Hurley and Merlin.

  14. I was really pleased to find that I had finished just within target at 9.49, as I think this was fairly tough. My LOI SALUTARY took the longest time to solve, and I was especially pleased to recall from somewhere the more obscure definition of MAST.
    I’m always happy to see Hurley’s name attached to the puzzle as I think he maintains such a high standard of clueing. More often on the tougher side of average perhaps, but always fair in my opinion.
    In South Wales as children playing tag, our word was “Cree”. I’m not sure how it would be spelt, but this was our ‘truce’.

    1. In Cardiff in the 1960s, we also had “Cree”, but used it more to define a safe haven that you could take temporary refuge in during a game of tag, as in “that drain cover is Cree”.

      1. I’ve checked with my eldest son who started attending school in the early 1980s (27 years after me), and they were still using “Cree” then! Your more specific definition is spot on now I think about it.

  15. I think that Hype is just about ok because it is clearly hidden in the word. I’m not always convinced by the justification ‘it’s in the dictionary’ because lots of obscure or outdated usages survive in reference works. I prefer the quickie to avoid the obscure. Thanks all!

  16. Blitzed almost all the acrosses in 3-4 minutes and thought I was on for a flier, but alas came to a shuddering halt on the downs despite all the checkers; MATTER, MAST, TUNA, STREAMER, SUBTLE and LOI TRUE all caused no end of head scratching. I was so unsure of MATTER that I intended to submit off leaderboard, but so much time had passed by the time I got there that I forgot, and it turned out to be right. Phew.

    Lots to enjoy but COD to PLEASURE, I think. All done in 10:17 which is over target but I’m still going to rank this as a Good Day in the light of comments above.

    Many thanks Hurley and Merly.


    PS growing up in Norfolk we were so tough that we didn’t have a word for truce, we just carried on.

  17. Not easy and I was held up for over 1/2 minute at the end trying to make MASH work before I remembered MAST. As Templar has already mentioned mast years are periodical occurrences of a bumper crop of nuts. We had one in 2020 as this article says. MATTER = discharge was some way down my list of synonyms, but fair enough. HYPE = fraud was an unknown, though. Thanks Hurley and Merlin. 5:37.

  18. Just on target at 15 minutes, but some tougher stuff here, along with some gimmes. See my answer to Cedric above re the possible triple definition for MAST, which I thought a good clue. The gimmes included EASY, TUNA, POT and DYE. Thanks both.

  19. 16:32 (Charles I issues charter for foundation of Maryland)

    Held up by the SE corner, my last two being BOAT and SUBTLE. The last one certainly was not immediately obvious.

  20. Another toughie. I thought I would whip through this before leaving the house for an appointment. Fat chance. I left the house with 3 to go – SALUTARY, MATTER, CARRIAGE.
    Came home and just couldn’t face it so I looked at Merlin’s blog.
    I think current setters are pushing the boundaries of the definition of many words (including ‘Quick’) and am nearing the point where a rival daily cryptic beckons instead. That would be sad because I have been doing the Times QC since number 1.
    I hardly recognise it most days.
    John M.

    1. I almost agree but rival blogs are nowhere near this one – and one won’t even let you post a time! So I’ll stick with it. I do like that other crossword though.

      1. Thanks, Mendesest. I agree about this excellent blog but I am genuinely concerned that a group of setters are gradually taking the QC a little closer to the 15×15 on many occasions.
        I always thought that there was a second, easier Cryptic for a reason.
        Firstly to give newer solvers some encouragement and a chance to develop Xword skills (and to give some of us more experienced solvers a chance to start the day with a pleasurable, accessible solve).
        Secondly, to give newer solvers a good grounding and encourage them to move to the 15×15 if they develop the skills. The 15×15 is always there for all of us when we need more of a challenge (I do it from time to time – but not every day because it tends to eat up too much of my morning).
        The fast solvers have fun vying with one another to shave seconds off their quick times. Of course, the QC is not much of a challenge for them, on the whole, but their input is usually enlightening (and reassuring, at times). Many new solvers find the QC tough at first but it has been wonderful to see so many persevere and ‘find their feet’ over the last 2000+ puzzles (overtaking some of us relative plodders).
        I know that it is not easy for our clever setters to maintain a level that suits the majority for most of the time and I really appreciate what they do. However, I sense a shift.
        Of course, it could be down to my own declining powers and, if so, I will keep my counsel in future.
        Sorry for the long post. John.

  21. I found this tough and three clues in particular held me up. LOI was SUBTITLE and prior to that STREAMER. The third was a doubtful PRESSURE which I now see is wrong.
    Should have paused to parse properly. As it was it took me 29 minutes.
    I knew MAST and was happy with everything else.
    Hurley beat me today.

  22. A struggle today; NHO MATTER as discharge, nor MAST as fruit for animal feed (I too tried to make MASH work), nor PALLET as bed (the word did occur to me but not only as the sturdy, flat wood structure used to move and ship products), otherwise green (eventually). Thanks to Merlin for the instructive blog, and to the good commentators above who help to justify the three (to me) obscurities.

    1. As the boy said when his pimple was squeezed dry “I Guess It Doesn’t Matter Any More”.

      I’ll see myself out…..

  23. 13:01

    Not straightforward today, though my mind was on work for some of the time. After a mid-puzzle struggle, I managed a run of three or four answers which broke the deadlock, leaving just the NW corner where I had only BANANA in place – had pencilled in STEERAGE at 11a but didn’t think that was right. MATTER and CARRIAGE eventually gave up SALUTARY (as there wasn’t much place else that the UT could go) and then another minute on the relatively simple LOI JUST.

    Went with the definition for MAST, though on reflection, I have heard of it as animal foodstuff probably from one of these crosswords, at some point in the last five or six years…

    Thanks Hurley and Merlin

  24. Many of the same comments as above for my slow finish in 40:41. However I’m taking @Templar’s advice from yesterday and not beating myself up too much. Thanks Hurley and Merlin.

  25. Given the comments above, I am very reieved to have successfully negotiated my way through this puzzle from Hurley in just 25 minutes. No interminable hold-ups, but some definitions were either unknown (Discharge = MATTER, Fraud = HYPE) or buried deep in the far reaches of my brain (e.g. fruit as animal feed = MAST).

    I had NHO MESSMATE, but the anagram was obvious and quite easy to work out, so it was my FOI. My LOsI were STREAMER and TRUE, both of which required alphabet trawls. Having to resort to an alphabet trawl always makes me feel I have failed, somehow. It’s a consequence of not having the ability to crack the code, or the required vocabulary or GK.

    Many thanks to Hurley and Merlin.

    1. Feel the same way about resorting to alphabet trawl. Leaves one feeling no better than the infinite number of monkeys (who could finish the QC in a less than an infinite number of attempts)

      1. Hello Mr Plates,
        Have you come across Hilbert’s Hotel paradox? If not, you may find it interesting to look it up.
        P.S. I will be visiting my parents again in Christchurch tomorrow. They live just behind the Captain’sClub hotel by the quay/River Stour. Fortunately, it does not have an infinite number of rooms.

        1. Hilbert’s Hotel paradox – brain well and truly blown. No wonder my ‘A’ level maths ended in disaster!

          Only last week, I read the Captain’s Club have had their planning request to extend to add an infinite (or maybe it was an extra 35) rooms declined by BCP. I’m sure your parents are relieved.

          Maybe next time you’re down we can meet up for a coffee ☕

          1. Dear LP,
            Good plan re: coffee meet-up. ITTT and I did the same a while back and it was good to put a face to a pseudonym. We have at least two topics of conversation – QCs and AFCB.
            I will reply to one of your posts at some point to make the arrangement.

            1. I shall look forward to it. I believe you mentioned triathlon coaching at one stage, so as an endurance run coach I will be interested to hear your experiences there.

              And of course, there are the trials and tribulations of looking after ageing parents to discuss – or maybe not.

              If all else fails we could go pratmigan spotting! 🤣

    2. Well done Mr R, 25 mins is excellent for this QC, and we all do an alphabet trawl now and then.


  26. Pulled stumps at the 30min mark with the NW corner thinly populated. Regular income might have prompted Salutary, but I had gone down the less travelled rent/lease route for payment. As for Matter/Discharge, I think that clue demonstrates why Izetti, say, is regarded by most as hard but fair, whereas Hurley falls a bit short. Invariant

  27. Yep, tricky. Not helped by trying to do in the office, and getting interrupted a couple of times. I took nearly twice as long as my average time…

    SUBTLE was my LOI after trying and failing to shoehorn the vowels and Y in between B and L. I knew MAST from beechmast – when I was a kid, our next door neighbours had a huge copper beech in their garden which dropped tons of mast over the wall into our garden. Had to dredge it from memory though. I liked STREAMER for its simplicity.


  28. 25 mins…but another dnf, because I also put “Pressure” for 17ac, thinking ‘pres’ was slang for presence or appeal. Ok, a bit tenuous, but it kind of made sense at the time.

    Overall – I thought this was tricky and there were some quite cunning clues. 6dn “Tuna”, 3dn “Mast” and 20dn “True” come to mind.

    No matter what the dictionary says, I also think “Hype” doesn’t equal “Fraud”. If it did, then half of the population would be in prison.

    FOI – 10ac “Pot”
    LOI – 3dn “Mast”
    COD – 20dn “True”

    Thanks as usual!

    PS. In Cumbria we didn’t take toilet breaks when playing games…you just knuckled down and got on with it 😂

  29. I really got nowhere with this unenjoyable “QC”. I felt it was way too difficult to be classed as a QC.

  30. Very difficult and failed with MAST as fruit/food and put PRESSURE for PLEASURE without thinking hard enough about the first half of the word. Hey ho. Took ages with the rest.

  31. A step or two up the ladder of difficulty today! A sluggish 13:25 for me starting with POT and finishing with SALUTARY. Lots of lateral thinking required. Just about remembered MAST. Thanks Hurley and Merlin.

  32. Started well on this but a small number of clues (all mentioned above) held me up for a long time after that. Eventually ended up taking 28 mins, although I didn’t think that this was as tricky as yesterday’s which was completed in 27 mins!

    FOI – 7ac BANANA
    LOI – 11ac CARRIAGE
    COD – 4dn STAMPEDE

    Thanks to Hurley and Merlin

  33. 12.18 HYPE also struck me as dubious, and I nearly went with PRESSURE for 17a but this was all straightforward except for the LOI. MAST for pole and MASH for animal feed were both candidates so I spent time trying to decode the non-existent cryptic definition. Templar above reminds me that I have heard of a mast year so it shouldn’t have been so hard. Fortunately I guessed right. Thanks to Merlin and Hurley.

  34. We said SQUITSIES in Chelmsford. Had to learn FAINIES sharpish when I moved to North London aged 8.

    Found this hard. Had to stop earlier and come back to it. Went down the STEERAGE, PRESSURE routes. I should know by know that if you struggle to parse it is probably wrong.

    Thanks for the interesting comments above, to Merlin and Hurley.

  35. 16:10. STREAMER and REPRIEVE were obvious once solved but both remained invisible to me for some minutes. SUBTLE and SALUTARY were favourites. MATTER and MAST came to me right away; I think the latter was learned reading Rosemary Sutcliffe historical novels as a boy. In one set in the Middle Ages(Knight’s Fee?) she explicitly explained that the acorns the pigs were gobbling up were called “mast”.

  36. 38:34, all green but I needed Merlin’s help to understand BOAT and HYPE (and I join the queue of people who aren’t entirely happy about the latter).

    I think my COD is TRUE, as it reminded me of my first-ever correctly solved clue (“Colour that is constant in salt water (5)”) earlier this year.

    Thank you Merlin!

  37. Just 3 attempts to finish this in 1hr15. Unsurprisingly there’s a whole bunch of things in there which I rolled my eyes at… mostly covered above 🙄

    1. Tough day L-Plates, but next test match almost upon us. Sounds like a green seamer at Lords so I’m optimistic!

      Hope you have a better day tomorrow. 🤞

      1. Run of three tough days but it became about ekeing out the successful solve. Think the pattern of the weeks tends to be easier on Weds / Thursday with a probably stinker on Friday. (Looking at blog title seems I’m correct about Weds but may well leave until my mood is right).

  38. “Kings” was the word in the most northern corner of England (north of the Tweed).

  39. “Little time for memorandum” is a triple def, no?

    I found this quite hard, and agree with the comments about really obscure meanings being out of place in a QC.

    “Matter” made me go “yuck”, because of the various discharges I had the privilege of dealing with in my medical days. When I was a boy we used to talk about having matter in your eyes during conjunctivitis, and so did John Lennon (“yellow matter custard, dripping from a dead dog’s eye”).

    1. Dear Mr L,
      Thankyou for reminding Mrs Random and I about JL and The Beatles. Great line, great song of course, but we wish we hadn’t read you post until after our dinner, the main component of which will be the last of the locally grown asparagus and Hollandaise sauce (or yellow matter custard?).

      1. When you are a doctor you become utterly blasé about bodies and the various things that can go wrong with them. Your patient needs to know that you are not shocked by the problems that they bring. But I confess that since retirement, a number of years ago, a little squeamishness has crept back in.

  40. Finished in two long sittings today. Held up by BOAT, TRUE and MESSMATE. Dredged MAST up from somewhere and entered HYPE very tentatively (not having spotted the hidden but having all the crossers). My hands-down favourite was PLEASURE. Comments have been mixed but I liked this rather challenging QC. Thanks all.

  41. This took me 31 mins and I quite enjoyed the test. This, for me, was the type of challenging QC that some of the speed solvers say is good for those of us in the SCC. I wouldn’t want it too often, but I liked being pushed. An entirely subjective view of course, and I would have been saying something else but for a successful alphabet trawl that gave me MATTER.

    First solve in 3 attempts. Would I be right in thinking that some of the clues are the kind of thing one might see in the ‘proper’ crossword (which I dare not look at)?

    Great blog as always 👍

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