QC 2456 by Trelawney

Straightforward today, and an average time for me: 12:35.

Just wrapped up a NOTABLE weekend with my daughter getting married on Saturday. It’s a STRETCH to make a NINA of today’s puzzle, but the ceremony was HEART RENDING and I now have a new SON, who looked a little ILL AT EASE during the service but now looks like the CAT who got the cream, bless his SOUL. The couple will honeymoon in INDIA and make their home in EPSOM. (Ok, not really, Iceland and Manchester, respectively)

Definitions underlined in bold, (Abc)* indicating anagram of Abc, deletions indicated by {curly brackets}.

7 Crate is moving — do something! (5)
REACT – (CRATE)* “is moving”
8 Lengthen a prison sentence (7)
STRETCH – Double Def
10 Remarkable aristocrat accepts thanks (7)
NOTABLE – NOBLE (aristocrat) contains TA(thanks)
11 Fashionable to help backward country (5)
INDIA – IN (Fashionable) + AID (help) reversed

Lift and Separate “backward country”, no slight is intended, though setters need to be careful about this kind of clue. Solvers not so familiar with cryptics might be tempted to fire off a letter to the Puzzle Editor complaining about INDIA being described as a “backward country”.

12 American lawman perfects listening devices (9)
EARPHONES – EARP (Wyatt Earp, famous sheriff) + HONES (perfects)

Wyatt Earp was a sheriff in the American West showing up in three famous Western towns: Dodge City, Deadwood, and Tombstone. He was involved in the famous gunfight at the O.K. Corral, during which three outlaws were killed.

14 Occasionally crafty pet (3)
CAT – C{r}a{f}t{Y}, alternate letters indicted by “occasionally”
15 Child‘s ditty not finished (3)
SON – SON{G} (ditty)
16 Uncomfortable, Bill ate a seafood sample (3,2,4)
ILL AT EASE – Contained in (“sample”) Bill ate a sea
18 Poems composed for racecourse (5)

Straightforward anagram, but new to me. Epsom Downs is the racecourse in Surrey where the Derby has been run for at least 200 years.

20 Bread is tossed for gull, say (7)
SEABIRD – (BREAD IS)* – indicated by “is tossed”

Not sure why this question mark is needed, or “say”: clue is straightforward. All gulls are seabirds, but not all seabirds are gulls, never sure what the convention is for these Definition-By-Examples.

22 Particle of dirt ultimately found in nerve cell (7)
NEUTRON – NEURON (Nerve Cell) contains dir{T}
23 Wash broken lance (5)
CLEAN – (LANCE)* (“broken”)
1 Plain-speaking genius ignoring one gothic novel (12)
FRANKENSTEIN – FRANK (Plain Speaking) + E{I}NSTEIN (Genius)

FRANKENSTEIN has come to be commonly used to refer to the creature, rather than the scientist who created him. Literary pedants are quick to point out this error, but are generally ignored, as the name has become accepted usage. The debate has become something of a meme  ( https://xkcd.com/2799/)

2 Metal carton is crushed (4 4) (8)
3 Knife crazy revolutionary (4)
STAB – BATS (crazy) reversed (revolutionary)

Oh, so not a type of knife, but the verb “to knife”. Cue sound of forehead-slapping.

4 Flower close to capstan at the back of a ship (6)
ASTERN – ASTER(flower) + {capsta}N

I have no idea what an ASTER looks like, but it is a very handy flower for setters, much more so than chrysanthemum.

5 Instructs alien to produce toy (5,3)
TRAIN SET – TRAINS (Instructs) + ET (alien)
6 Briefly examine earring (4)
STUD – STUD{y} (examine)
9 Try going viral? That’s tragic (5-7)
HEART-RENDING – HEAR (Try, as in a legal case) + TRENDING (going viral)
13 Bad weather to spoil finale of wordy prayer (4,4)
HAIL MARY – HAIL (Bad weather) + MAR (spoil) +{word}Y
14 Instrument put wine outside home (8)
CLARINET – CLARET (wine) contains IN (home)
17 Misplacing something naughty in record (6)
LOSING – LOG (record) contains SIN (something naughty)
19 Style of music from Asian capital overheard (4)
SOUL – homophone (“overheard”) for SEOUL (Asian Capital)
21 Mischievous principal (4)
ARCH – Double Def

For example, Archbishop is a principal bishop. The other meaning is rather more obscure these days.

95 comments on “QC 2456 by Trelawney”

  1. I suppose an arch smile could be called mischievous. I think a definition by example, as ‘gull’ for SEABIRD, requires something like a ? or ‘say’, as here (the reverse, ‘seabird’ in the clue and GULL as the answer, wouldn’t). So I think the def at 20ac is ‘gull, say’ not just ‘gull’. But hopefully jackkt or vinyl or someone else more authoritative than me will comment. Anyway, 3:43, maybe a PB, or at least as near as dammit.

    1. Kevin, you are being too modest. I know you have solved a QC in 3:17 as on that same day I myself scored a PB of exactly 2K. It must be some time ago because I have had quite a few sub 6 min solves since then but not today (although interestingly I scored 2K).

      1. Thanks for letting me know; I don’t remember these things (or most other things, come to think of it).

        1. Found it. Check out your comments on QC 1453 on 3 October 2019. Now if only I could remember my own PB! Just want to add that 3:43 for today is still an amazing achievement.

  2. Some of these, like TRAINS E.T. and HEAR TRENDING, were more simple than I was expecting and took me by surprise. Was a bit derailed by the ARCH definition and got home in 7.53. I think I got NEUTRON more by dumb luck than anything else and missed that ILL AT EASE was a hidden, but all fairly straight-forward as helpfully explained by Merlin.

  3. 8:04. As usual, slow off the blocks in the NW corner (even failing to spot the REACT anagram for a while) but everything went in smoothly from then on. The ‘mischievous’ or cunning sense of ARCH seems mainly to be a crossword land usage nowadays, as Merlin points out. I liked the surface for STAB, with the unexpected part of speech for ‘Knife’.

    Thanks to Trelawney and thanks and congrats to the father of the bride

    1. Surprised to see Collins on-line saying Arch=mischievous is American usage.
      I vaguely think of it as Woosteresque. ‘Naughty Bertie’, said Mildred archly. ??

  4. 8 minutes. Another target achieved with room to spare. Rather a good hidden at 16ac.

  5. Speedy going today, starting with FRANKENSTEIN and finishing with TRAIN SET without too many pauses in between.
    Crossed the line in 5.05.
    Thanks to Merlin

  6. A rather gentle rock around the clock for me to squeeze into the club bang on 20 minutes. Just time for a quick cup of coffee, leaving a croissant on the counter in case Mr Random pops in later. I liked FRANKENSTEIN (more than his persona in Oppenheim) but COD EARPHONES. No problem with EPSOM after schooling there and regularly running (jogging) round the course.
    Thanks Trelawney and Merlin. Glad you linked in your celebratory wedding theme.

    1. Thankyou very much, Steakcity. I did indeed pop in. The coffee was still hot and my croissant was delicious.

  7. I am usually bang on Trelawney’s wavelength and speed through his offerings, but it felt as though I was making slightly heavy weather of this as I was doing the puzzle, and in the light of others’ times and remarks, my 10 minute finish rather confirms this was not my sharpest effort. I thought the Arch DD was challenging, with neither meaning particularly obvious or common, and I did not parse my LOI Earphones, getting it from the checkers. But in general, not quite firing on all cylinders today.

    Many thanks to Merlin for the blog. And I agree that even with the defence of Lift and Separate, it is probably no longer PC to include “backward country” in a clue to which the answer is India.

  8. A smooth run through this nice puzzle, apart from an unaccountable delay in seeing my LOI, SOUL. Just over 12 mins for me. I confess to biffing HEART RENDING and failed to see that ILL AT EASE was a (clever) hidden. I enjoyed EARPHONES.
    Now to check the Merlin’s blog properly.
    Thanks to Trelawney for a fair and quick cryptic. John M.

  9. Probably one of my fastest solves ever, but nevertheless sufficiently thought-provoking to please as much as reading the blog. Only hold-up was SOUL, in spite of having crossers: others might have delayed had I not found crossers in place. COD ILL AT EASE or HEART-RENDING, FOI STRETCH, LOI SON. Thanks Trelawney and Merlin.

  10. As a beginner I found this relatively easy although my time taken is embarrassingly long compared to others on here! Clear explanations in the blog, thanks Trelawney 👍

    1. Dear Nutchatch67,
      Don’t be embarrassed. I’ve been doing these for 3+ years now, but still took 72 minutes yesterday.

      1. What Mr Random said. We need more newbies / slowies to be open about their times if we are to encourage everybody to be part of this.

        Yesterday’s was 43mins, Friday’s I quit at 45mins, Thursday’s at 42mins. A year ago, I regularly took over an hour and had barely broken 20mins more than three or four times. Today was a PB with a setter I get on well with.

        1. What Random and L-P said! Also, don’t be put off by those whose times might seem fast to you. I do think it’s helpful if we all own up to bad days as well as good, and most do. Even some of the fastest / most experienced solvers have a DNF every now and then!
          But the most important thing is that you enjoy having a go. Welcome 😊

          1. Thanks all for your support. I have also read about the Slow Coach Club which I would clearly qualify for 😀

    2. I wish I could say the same – only seven clues solved today. I have been trying for about four years, been through all the QC books twice, read two “how to solve…” books, been on a training course…and have only completed on three occasions.

    3. I can admire the speedies whilst having no aspiration to speed myself. A sense of achievement, regardless of time, is what engages me. The occasional quicker time is nice, though!

    4. Welcome to you and other newcomers.
      I don’t time myself because I find it more enjoyable not to. I like parsing as I go along and sometimes mulling over the clues. Wouldn’t dream of a puzzle spreadsheet, though do have a few I use for admin stuff.
      Everyone is different, and the lovely puzzlers here are a great crowd.

    5. Hear hear to all of the above. I’m new too, about 3 months into my QC career, and still very slow. It’s the trend that counts. I’m still a fully paid up member of the slowcoach club, but my moving average continues to improve, albeit ever so slowly. I regularly want to give up, but there are plenty of others to cheer you on! Don’t worry, you’re in good company.

    6. Well done for solving this. As others have said, don’t be embarrassed about your times. I often take forever compared to many solvers. As a beginner, you are simply setting a baseline from which to gradually improve. I could measure my times in hours when I started and still have days when I go over the hour mark.

  11. The Classic app version had “hackward” country at 11ac. If that was an editor’s attempt to avoid the awkward use of “backward”, then it doesn’t work very well at all. Probably just a typo.

    1. I agree -a typo. I’m embarrassed to say that I just entered the answer and didn’t even notice the error! 🙄

      1. There’s also a typo at 2d in some versions where you can choose between the answer being 4 4 or 8 letters.

  12. Agree not too difficult today, took me 11 minutes.
    I was held up by some of the parsings, including LOI EARPHONES. I had jotted it at the side on first pass going back at the end when I knew the lawman was not DA. COD to that.
    A fun puzzle.

  13. 9 minutes and all parsed as I went along, with only one clue requiring a return visit (ARCH). Sorry, two. I initially entered CATER for 7a, which nearly works, but was quickly corrected as soon as I looked at 1d. I’m not sure how I can read and type very much faster, so hats off to Kevin’s time. Thanks to Trelawney and Merlin (the Squire and the Wizard).

  14. Hooray – all green in an hour. Thank you, Trelawney, for a friendly one at last. FOI EPSOM, COD HAIL MARY, LOI ASTERN (was held up by first biffing EARPIECES). Only failed to parse STUD and HEART-RENDING, so thank you, Merlin, for the explanations.
    I agree with others that ARCH hardly = mischievous these days, but seem to remember we all had this exact conversation a few months ago, so recalled it from that previous occasion.
    By the way, Merlin, if your son is going to Iceland (congratulations!), make sure he has Cedric’s book (Sailing Free) with him to read there! It’s a good and gripping adventure story.

    1. Since Trelawney’s daughter and son-in-law are going to Iceland for their honeymoon, I doubt that reading will come high on the list of ‘things to do’.

    2. Dear Martinů, thank you very much for the mention! And delighted you enjoyed the book.

      Anyone looking to find said book on Amazon will need to search for it using the author name Gabriel Stein …

  15. This must have been a super easy QC from Trelawny today as I managed to finish in just over 9 minutes, fully parsed and even including my pen running out and having to fetch another! That is my fastest ever time by almost 4 mins. It was an odd feeling that I could not write the answers in fast enough as I was solving the next one while writing the previous one. I am sure normal service will be resumed tomorrow but for now I am enjoying the adrenalin.

    Thanks Merlin for the blog and the wedding story to fit the puzzle, and congratulations.

  16. 8 mins, no problems.
    COD Earphones.

    Merlin you have the anagrist wrong for 20a.

  17. 5:31

    Of the more regular setters, I have Trelawney down as one of the friendlier, this grid proving to be no exception. Think I could have shaved off a few more seconds doing this on the laptop rather than in bed, on my ‘phone, simply due to typing speed.

    I liked TRAINS ET, EARP HONES and HEAR TRENDING – guess it’s part of the setter’s art to see how everyday words and phrases break up differently and succinctly shoehorn those into the clues, but yes, COD to the long hidden at 16a

    Thanks Trelawney and Merlin

  18. Yes, I liked EARP HONES (made me smile once penny dropped), TRAINS ET (ditto) and HEAR TRENDING. And indeed FRANK E(I)NSTEIN. Did not solve the latter straightaway, but once it appeared so did HAIL MARY and ILL AT EASE.
    Thanks vm, Merlin, and congrats!

  19. Agree with the majority that this was pretty straightforward, and I finished well within target at 7.40.

  20. Agree with the others that this was a nice puzzle. Finished in 33 minutes.
    Liked the clever hidden in 16a and the construction of other clues some of which were parsed with an ‘oh clever!’ after biffing e.g. HEARTRENDING and TRAINSET.
    Thanks Trelawney and Merlin.

  21. Given that ARCH proved to be the right answer, this goes down as my 5th fastest solve of 2023 at 12:02, but I’m still waiting for another of those elusive sub-10s to add to my meagre collection of three, the last of which was now 14 months ago. Oh well, plenty to enjoy here with my COD going to HEART RENDING, but I also liked EARPHONES and the well hidden ILL AT EASE. Thanks to Trelawney and Merlin.

  22. No real issues for me today. I wasn’t aware of ARCH meaning mischievous, but the principal gave me the bigger hint.

    I liked 16a.

    No help from the cat today.

      1. You trawl months old comments from others to make a point? You have far too much time on your hands 🤣

        1. I simply recall ARCH coming up and went back to look at what we’d had that day and whether you’d seen it.

          Sadly you don’t see it as help, you see it as a personal attack (“to make a point”). Anyone committed to improving would have acknowledged their memory lapse.

          Anyway it seems I do have more time on my hands than you as I didn’t take too long on it 🤣

          1. I don’t see it as a personal attack, that’s why I put a laughing emoji with it. Come on man, get a grip! 🤣🤣

  23. 12 mins…

    I thought this was a fairly straight forward offering, although it took the blog to see the parsing of 9dn “Heart Rending”.

    FOI – 7ac “React”
    LOI – 9dn “Heart Rending”
    COD – 13dn “Hail Mary”

    Thanks as usual!

  24. Gosh. After a few days of failure, Trelawney has come to the rescue and helped me to a personal best of 15:40, which must be getting on for ten minutes quicker than my previous PB.

    Congratulations and thank you to Merlin for the new son-in-law and the blog respectively, and thank you to Trelawney for an approachable puzzle!

  25. 09:28 to London Paddington

    Not so much of a STRETCH for me today and some NOTABLE penny drop moment’s especially ILL AT EASE, and HEARTRENDING. Some good surfaces esp 20A.

    I agree with the comments about 11A.

    NHO EARP but The Gentleman had.

    Thanks Trelawny and for Merlin’s blog – lovely to hear about the wedding.

  26. I wasted time with LOI CAST IRON because of the strange (4 4) (8) enumeration. I was looking for an 8 letter metal and for (4 4) to have some bearing on the clue. Oh well.

    Nice puzzle with some excellent clues, despite being straightforward. Well done to Trelawney, and congrats to the newly enlarged family Merlin.


    1. Can anyone explain whats going on with that enumeration? (8) is surely just wrong? and (4 4) is missing a comma or a hyphen?

      1. It confused me as well. I agree that (4,4) would have been correct. I had “show word breaks” on, which seemed to use the (8), and wasted time looking for an eight letter metal.

  27. A real red letter day for this slowcoach coming in at 30 minutes. Particularly enjoyed EARPHONES, TRAIN SET and FRANKENSTEIN. Thanks to Trelawney and Merlin.

  28. Straightforward solve in 15 mins, all parsed. I was very slow to see the (well) hidden at 16ac but apart from that no real hold-ups. Some very nice surfaces to the clues.

    FOI – 10ac NOTABLE

    Thanks to Trelawney and Merlin

  29. Yes, nice and straightforward today. Liked SOUL, EARPHONES, HAIL MARY and HEARTRENDING. Thanks Trelawney, very enjoyable, although felt a bit uncomfortable in response to 11a. Great blog Merlin.

  30. A real confidence boost today. 24 minutes, although I thought I had run into the sand at about the 8 to go point.

    ILL AT EASE was clever, as were EARP HONES and HEAR TRENDING. DNK the mischievous meaning of ARCH.

    Many thanks to Trelawney and Merlin.

  31. 7.29 Much easier today. The top half was very quick but the SW slowed me down with some time spent trying to make NEURONE work. I didn’t notice the long hidden and biffed it at the end. Thanks to Trelawney and Merlin. I enjoyed the wedding riff.

  32. Arch. Does anyone remember the Batman TV programmes of the 60s? Way ahead of their time. Anyhow the Joker et al we’re described as his arch enemies. This may cover two possible definitions. J

  33. 6.24 with a typo

    Quickish but a bit behind my reference solvers.

    Nice crossword

    Congrats to everyone on their good times

  34. 13:09, FOI STRETCH, LOI ARCH, COD TRAIN SET both of which took me far too long to work out and cost me a PB which remains at 10:20 (2422 and 2290)

  35. After my QC disasters of last week I have made target. I had to correct a half biffed earpieces. I debated ARCH for a while and my LOI SOUL needed an alphabet trawl. 7:27 for a very good day in QC land.

  36. I warmed up with yesterday’s Hurley and that came in at 42:56 🙄 About half of that spent on my last two down in the SW corner.

    Had a quick walk out to the kitchen, ate a Tunnock’s choccy bar 😋 and made a cup of tea for post solve of today’s Trelawney.

    What a difference.

    Wasn’t particularly quick out the blocks with only REACT, CAT, NOTABLE and then FRANKENSTEIN in top half. FYI writer Mary Shelley buried in churchyard in central Bournemouth.

    Things opened up in the lower half with a bif of CLARINET which seemed to be in the same place as in a recent QC. Helped out by chestnuts of ASTERN, NEUTRON and remembering the HEART-RENDING trick from one last year.

    Delayed by my last two of SOUL and ARCH which added a couple of mins but I was home and dry for a new PB of 10:30 💥

    Trelawney is def my fave setter. Has now given me my four fastest times 👍

    (Yesterday’s CQ 3:33, today’s 2:12)

    1. Well done. Positively quicksilver.
      Not a fan of marshmallow but can recommend Sainsbury’s own Whole nut chocolate for simply the best.

      1. Many thanks 👍

        Like you not too fussed on the marshmallow. This was the caramel wafer biscuit. Not that much of a chocaholic outside of the Tunnocks although most cake is fair game 😋

      1. I’m sure you will. Your progress has been good thus far and with more experience there will be more chestnuts to fall straight into place 👍

    2. My third chapeau of the day, not only for the PB but also the CQ times. Great stuff!! 👏

  37. Enjoyed this, lots of nice surfaces and a lovely ‘hidden’ at 16a – my COD.

  38. 9:54 (death of Eric Bloodaxe. )

    Very straightforward.

    Thanks Trelawney and Merlin.

  39. A bit under 8 minutes. I was fairly whizzing along until I got stuck at 5d, which I simply couldn’t see, even with all the checkers! I even had the SET part. Bearing in mind that we have huge amounts of Hornby in the loft, I am absolutely baffled as to why it took me nearly two minutes to work it out 😂 It’s not as if we haven’t seen variations on train / instruct / teach / coach etc dozens of times either!
    Anyway, other than that, much the same as all the comments above, inc discomfort at 11a.
    FOI React LOI Train set COD Cast iron
    Thanks Trelawney and Merlin. Sounds like you all had a wonderful day on Saturday 💍🥂

  40. Thank you Trelawney! This permanent member of the SCC enjoyed this QC, and if I’d timed carefully I might have claimed escape from the SCC. splendid QC 😀

  41. Very enjoyable. Didn’t take the time to parse my LOI, EARPHONES, but all green in 8:54, a fast time for me. I was also held up by the strange “(4 4) (8)” enumeration for 2d, which made me think that “(4 4)” was part of the clue.

    Thanks to Trelawney and Merlin.

  42. Finished in 16 mins but held up by ARCH. I remember this word holding me up previously in a QC (see the comment from L-Plates), and again found it hard today. Must have added 4-5 mins to my time, leaving me rather frustrated thinking about what might have been. Some real corkers today, with the laurels going to ILL AT EASE – what a great hidden!

    Congrats to all of you with PBs or other notable times. Great to see so many of you having a fantastic day 😊

    Thanks for the excellent blog Merlin, a joy as always .

    1. Well done yourself GA.

      Don’t concern yourself about what could have been – let it exist – it is what it is. You had one a week or two back where it was all but done in 8mins. My big takeaway from your performance (and mine) is you will fly one some time soon. Just stay curious as to when that will happen …

      However it won’t be tomorrow when Izetti turns up. Or is the editor saving that for Friday?!?! 🤔

      1. Thanks L-Plates. Yes, I’m confident that there will be one glorious day when it all clicks.

        I fear an Izetti is lurking. My guess is Friday but, whenever it arrives, I am determined to crack it this time (although it may take a little time).

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