QC 2506 by Joker


Felt on the hard side to me, at least compared to yesterday’s where I was biffing left and right.

Following on from my comment last week, I decided to compute the average Scrabble point score for the words, to see if there was a preponderance of obscure letters. It is 1.39. One large analysis of over 400,000 English words calculated the average points per letter to be 1.15 points. So crossword Vocab has a higher preponderance of obscure letters, but not by much. At least not today’s QC.

Definitions underlined in bold , synonyms in (parentheses) (Abc)* indicating anagram of Abc, other wordplay in [square brackets] and deletions in {curly} brackets.

1 Standing deer attracting new insect (8)
STAGNANT – STAG(deer) + N{ew} + ANT (insect)
6 Endless remorse for fraud (4)
SHAM – SHAM{e} (remorse)
8 Mass slaughter mainly gains nought (4)
KILO – KIL{l} [“mainly” indicates drop last letter]+ O (nought)
9 Turning over tablet seen in puddle … it’s a big sweet (8)
LOLLIPOP – PILL (tablet) inside POOL (puddle) all reversed

Is a lollipop always a big sweet? I think the stick is the definitive attribute, maybe the clue could have been “it’s a sticky sweet?”

10 Red meat I moved a distance across plate? (8)

Since a plate is circular, then the distance across must be definition be a diameter.

12 Have a gander to hold back (4)
PEEK – KEEP (to hold) reversed

“Have a gander” is thought to simply come from the characteristic way geese seem to extend their necks when looking. Though I don’t know why this is restricted to the male of the species.

13 Lad embracing insolence as something easy to get into (4-2)
SLIP-ON – SON (lad) contains LIP (insolence)

Slip-ons are leather shoes, with a full heel which do not have buckles or laces. They were first known as “loafers”, surprisingly George VI (not know for sartorial innovation) was an early adopter.

15 British arrangement on which customs are based (6)
BORDER – B{ritish} + ORDER (arrangement)

The definition is cryptic/whimsical, although customs are based “at” the border, I can’t quite make “on” formulation work.

17 Suspicion of strike around November (4)
HINT – HIT (strike) contains N{ovember}
19 Lift to reveal ground (8)
ELEVATOR – (TO REVEAL)* [“ground” = anagram]
21 Concrete motorway consumed initially resulted in all going short (8)
MATERIAL – M{otorway} + ATE (consumed) + R{esulted} + I{n} + AL{l}

Lots of construction needed on the Motorway to get this all sorted, with a couple of diversions in there: “consumed” and “in” are not  containment indicators. “Initially” applies to the next two words.

23 Help to import Cape bitter (4)
ACID – AID (help) contains C{ape}
24 Dispatched perfume as ordered by phone? (4)
SENT – homophone [ordered by phone] for SCENT (perfume)
25 Advocate international exhibition having indemnity regularly (8)
EXPONENT – EXPO (International exhibition) + {i}N{d}E{m}N{i}T{y}
2 Worthless four imprisoned by court hearing (7)
TRIVIAL – TRIAL (court hearing) contains IV (four)

This also works with six (VI).

3 Depression of key on weaving machine (5)
GLOOM – G{key} + LOOM (weaving machine)

I’m not a fan of the “key” convention when it is a crapshoot for the first seven letters. Although LOOM was pretty easy.

4 Alone when one is left completely (3)
ALL – ALONE  subtract ONE and replace with L{eft}

This is an unusual construction where a sequence of three letters is replaced with a single letter. Leads to a great surface.

5 Not bad distributing beer to all (9)
6 Captain having small fish for breakfast? (7)
SKIPPER – S{mall} + KIPPER (fish for breakfast)

I’m not good with fish but the “for breakfast” was a friendly hint from the Joker. The word SKIPPER is nothing to do with Skipping but comes from the Dutch for a captain.

7 Fuss concerning worship (5)
ADORE – ADO (fuss) + RE(concerning)
11 Ordered a green tin for fruit (9)
14 Calm   person in hospital(7)
PATIENT – Double def
16 Feeling European movement (7)
EMOTION -E {uropean} + MOTION (movement)
18 Current judge is very angry (5)
IRATE – I (current) + RATE (judge)
20 What speculator hopes to make once more (5)
AGAIN – A GAIN (what speculator hopes to make)

Not strictly a double def, since the enumeration is different (1,4)

22 Ace breaking old record for circuit (3)
LAP – LP (old record) contains A{CE}

77 comments on “QC 2506 by Joker”

  1. 11 minutes but with one error to my SHAM{e} at 5ac where I biffed SCAM intending to return to it at the end to decipher the wordplay, but then of course I forgot.

    I don’t know if it’s an age thing but to me a LOLLIPOP has always been an ice lolly and I don’t recall the type that Kojak used to eat being around in my childhood. Anyway I found this entry in SOED which supports the setter’s definition: lollipop – 1 Orig. (dial.), a sweet confection of a particular kind; in pl., sweets in general. Now spec. a large sweet (esp. a boiled sweet), water ice, or similar confection, on a stick. L18.

    Are any of the letters of the alphabet really considered to be obscure?

    1. I yesterday completed a 2018 Listener in which the initial gimmick was to delete occurrences of JWYX and K from the clues before solving: the end game involved realising that those letters don’t exist in the Italian alphabet. I guess that makes them oscuri if not obscure.

      1. 5 year solve sounds about right.
        Just flying back from Rome but didn’t know that. But then I was with a bilinguist so didn’t need to. J

    2. Jack, do your God-like admin powers extend to banning Dunlop65? His contributions aren’t very edifying and today’s is really a bit much.

      1. Nothing has been posted in breach of our guidelines. If you become aware of a regular contributor whose comments you don’t care for it’s probably best just to scroll on by.

        1. Really? Is “Did not even bother to try this one.
          Just went straight to the answers.
          Glad I did.
          What a nasty one.”
          not in breach of any guidelines? Seems just straight up abusive of the setter, to me. Hey ho, your call.

  2. I too went through the top half of the acrosses with no result until HINT, and had to wait for the downs to get some rubber on the road. My time was 11.35, suggesting it was on the harder side – at least for me. It would have helped if I hadn’t put an erroneous Y in the middle of LOLLIPOP. It was a fun puzzle and I’ve got no problem with ‘on the border.’ The Eagles had a whole album named that. Thanks Merlin and Joker.

  3. A massive eight on the first pass of acrosses before ending up all green a single second under 9. Held up at the end by ADORE, SHAM and BORDER.

  4. I was surprised when I looked at the QSNITCH to see that this was rated as moderately hard because for me it was a rare sub 10 minute solve. Very much a classic Times ‘lite’ for me and my fastest ever by a long way for the QC. And I wasn’t even trying for speed.

    I nearly got caught by SCAM but it didn’t parse so I had to look again and SHAM did so in it went.

  5. Like others, started badly but picked up the pace ending in a very reasonable (for me) 13.31. Joker usually causes me problems but I thought was pretty benevolent today. Thanks Joker and Merlin

  6. Slow to start as I couldn’t make head or tail of the first 2 across clues but sped up after that until left with the tricky (for me) MATERIAL and BORDER at the end. Fortunately managed to reverse out of a lazy sCam along the way.
    Finished in 6.40 with COD to ELEVATOR.
    Thanks to Merlin

  7. Struggled on the first pass of across clues but sped up with the downs.

    Had SCAM initially but couldn’t parse and gave it further thought.

    Thank you Joker and Merlin.

    Time: 9:33

  8. A similar experience to several others today: slow start, thought about but dismissed Scam, picked up speed with the downs and finished with LOI Material in a fast-for-me 7 minutes. Much enjoyed.

    Many thanks to Merlin for the blog

  9. 5.16. A few seconds outside my target, but it seemed a lot longer as I was doing it. FOI SCAM, LOI kilo which I just couldn’t see for a while.
    Nice crossword, but it did feel a tad tougher than average.
    Thanks to Joker and Merlin.

  10. 10:46 … technically a DNF as I bunged in scam and peer hoping for a sub-10 but then corrected without any checks to find out where the issues lay. I’m taking that as a success.

    Classic Joker trick to have words like sham/scam, peer/peek available to the unwitting. ALL was one where I couldn’t parse the substitution and was wondering about AIL having the I=one but couldn’t see a definition so went with all=completely.

    No issues here with the phrasing that customs are on the border with Ireland say.

    Back-to-back days of probably my two fave setters. Joker shades it over Trelawney for always having enjoyable surfaces. For me, I always feel confident when faced with a Joker that it’s highly unlikely to involve any unknown vocab.

    Roll on the complaints about the QCs getting easier … albeit was slightly tough early on …

  11. I was pretty much on wavelength today as I only had to skip over 1a and started with SHAM. I continued in a clockwise direction and STAGNANT was my penultimate solve. MATERIAL was my LOI in a very pleasing 6:51.

  12. 9:26 (King Æthelstan of Wessex and Mercia takes over Northumbria, thus becoming first King of England – arguably he wasn’t that until 927 when he finally gained York).

    Started slowly. FOI was DIAMETER, then it all fell into place. LOI was BORDER.

    Thanks Merlin and Joker

  13. Had most of this completed at the 20min mark, but CoD Border then took an age to get, at which point, pushed for time, I bunged in an unparsed Scam for a deserved DNF. If it doesn’t parse. . . Invariant

  14. Quite difficult but finished apart from KILO (forgot to check my dud biff) and also I foolishly allowed myself to be SCAMmed.
    LOI MATERIAL which took an age to work out.
    Had to start at the bottom and work up.
    Thanks vm, Merlin. Forgot to log on so my pic won’t show up.

  15. Straightforward for me, except for LOI BORDER, where I spent idle moments trying to justify BARTER. Don’t think that would have occupied VAR for long! 6.29.

  16. Sir – I wish to object to the scandalous easing of difficulty in this week’s QCs, to date. I have consequently been twice deprived of the comfort of my morning visit to the esteemed SCC, where I have been hitherto a regular visitor.
    I trust that this pandering to the susceptibilities of those who wish merely to be entertained and amused by the QC will be rectified without delay. Unleash one of Mr Izetti’s more esoteric confections forthwith.
    Yours contrarily, Disgusted of Tunbridge Wells.

    P.S. Quite enjoyed this one.

    1. I find if you just unobtrusively find a table outside at the SCC or wander by the rear takeout window you can usually be served without being asked for Proof of Time(especially when staff are extra busy during peak hours).

  17. Thank you, Joker, in friendly and remarkably unmischievous mood today. FOI our old friend IRATE, COD LOLLIPOP, LOI PEEK (NHO gander in this sense, but Mrs M had). All quite quick, only that and POI BORDER held me up.

  18. Back to my usual leisurely stroll to finish in an enjoyable 24 minutes. LOI KILO, probably as my journey revolved in a clockwise direction starting in the RHS. Spent a while pondering over MATERIAL before biffing it on the basis that all the appropriate letters were somewhere but not in their usual place.
    Thanks Joker and Merlin

  19. Lots of DNFs for me recently. Careless, rather than not being able to finish.

    SCAM did for me today. I meant to go back to it, but instead got hung up on parsing ALL, then forgot about SCAM.



  20. 6:45

    I average more than eight-and-a-half minutes for Joker, so was pleased with this coming in at under seven minutes. With seven answers entered on the first pass of acrosses, I might have been hoping for something quicker still, but one or two clues took a little extra thought – MATERIAL, BORDER, LOLLIPOP and LOI KILO.

    Thanks Joker and Merlin

  21. I was tearing through this at a very decent speed with only two to do with not much over six minutes elapsed. 15ac BORDER held me up quite a bit, but 8ac KILO was the main culprit, where for far too long I was looking for an alternative word for a mass slaughter. Eventually the penny dropped, but something nagged me about my biffed SCAM, and I’m very pleased I returned to it and the correct answer came quickly to me. I eventually stopped the clock at 9.13, but I felt I should have been so much quicker.
    Although ALL was such a short answer, I thought the construction of the clue was quite clever.

  22. On wavelength today to make up for yesterday’s Day of Shame. In fact I was on for a PB until I got stuck at the BORDER. Also chewed up some time going back to “scam” because I knew it wasn’t right.

    Anyway, all sorted in a symmetrical and satisfying 06:06 for an Excellent Day.

    Many thanks Joker and Merlin.


  23. 10 minutes today but with two problem areas. LOI KILO took an alphabet trawl; WINS =Gains, adjust and get WINO. Could not be right but hard to shake off.
    And I could not parse ALL, but nothing else seemed better.
    SCAM occurred to me a second before SHAM; happily I was in clear-thinking mode at the time.
    A good QC from Joker.

  24. Couldn’t see kilo or border – straightforward when the answer is in front of you.
    Also scam for sham. More practice needed but getting the hang of it now.

  25. I found this one straightforward with a rare sub 9 minute time.

    When I was young we had tangerines, satsumas and clementines. Now it’s just ” easy peelers”! What has happened to tangerines?

    We bought a pineapple the other day. We nicknamed it the difficult peeler.

    1. Yes … “easy peelers” what are they?!? It’s a bugger when my mother asks for satsumas on her shopping list …

    2. The old varieties are alive and well at grocers – where they’re not bagged up in difficult-to-tear-open orange string bags a la supermarket.

  26. We enjoyed this with a good time for us of 16 minutes. Much easier for us than yesterday- interesting how we all differ.
    Thanks Joker and Merlin.

  27. Looks like I’m with the majority here. Seemed hard at first look, but with the anagrams in it became much easier, apart from MATERIAL and BORDER, which were last in.

  28. Like Z, I got stuck for a minute or so on LOI, BORDER, where I tried to justify BARTER for a while. Sadly it was all in vain as when typing LOLLIPOP into the grid, I managed to type LOLLOPOP, overwriting SKIPPER as I went. Drat! 7:34 W2E. Thanks Joker and Merlin.

  29. Is there a pinned post about the crossword champs on 21 Oct and potential meet in the pub?
    Not sure whether to travel down for a few drinks.

  30. All done in under 25 minutes with only Border, Material and Kilo giving any difficulties. Thanks Joker for a very nice QC.
    Irate has to be one of the easiest clues ever.
    I was about to ask how 4d ALL works. At first I thought that ‘one’ left ‘alone’ to leave AL and could not see where the ‘L’ came from. But on closer reading of Merlin’s blog I see that ‘one’ is or becomes ‘l’ for left. Very clever.

  31. 11 minutes, and no problems. SCAM just wouldn’t parse, and SHAM came quickly. My L2I were GLOOM and KILO. STAGNANT needed some checkers, but no other difficulties. Thanks Joker and Merlin. Now waiting for boiler service, and then the heating is finally going on!

  32. 12:03. Another who thought SCAM looked promising until it didn’t. I seem to be the only one who thought the same for SNAP-ON. Thanks for parsing of MATERIAL. Growing up we used the terms LOLLIPOPS and suckers interchangeably.

  33. Struggled to get a foothold then all fell fairly easily. FOI KILO, LOI PEEK. Several biffed then parsed. Liked the surface for STAGNANT. Dare I say I’ve been missing learning a new word or two of late but otherwise very enjoyable. Interesting to hear about the origin of skipper. Many thanks Merlin and Joker.

  34. Fairly straightforward for me today. All done in 12 minutes. Didn’t bother to parse TOLERABLE or ELEVATOR as both were by that point obvious from the crossers. Managed not to fall for the ‘scam’!

    FOI – 6ac SHAM
    LOI – 12ac PEEK
    COD – 6dn SKIPPER. Also liked KILO

    Thanks to Joker and Merlin

  35. 6.50

    Little to add. Another SCAM to SHAM with KILO delaying me at the very end.

    ALL was very good.

    Thanks Joker and Merlin

    1. Seems fair enough. An abbreviation for kilogram, and kilogram in Collins (sense 2) is “the basic SI unit of mass”.

  36. 13 mins…

    I didn’t find this too bad overall. I’m still not sure about 4dn “All” though. Are we saying the “left” element acts as both the instruction to remove “one” and to include the extra “l”? Or am I missing something?

    I initially thought “Sham” for 6ac as well, but then I’ve been stung by those clues before, and as I couldn’t parse it I waited until a pdm appeared later.

    FOI – 3dn “Gloom”
    LOI – 6ac “Sham”
    COD – 10ac “Diameter”

    Thanks as usual!

    1. No, the “left” isn’t doing double duty.

      “Alone when one is left completely” breaks down as “when the ONE in AL-ONE becomes L for left, then you have AL-L”.

      Hope that helps!

  37. No-one else seems to have had PEEP for 12ac. I see now that it’s PEEK ie “keep” (hold) reversed (back). At the time I thought PEEP did “hold” (its meaning) when reversed (back). Neat, I thought. If this was the Championship I would appeal

  38. Arrgh.

    The first DNF in weeks; never really saw PEEK as the reverse of KEEP so put in PEEP for much the same reason as kapietro above. Flew through the rest in what would have been a PB, so feeling a bit 18d with myself.

    Onwards and sideways.

  39. 9:05 for a rare sub-10 minute outing. As others found, none of the first three acrosses went in quickly, which had me a bit concerned, but then I spotted LOLLIPOP and things went well from there until my LOI MATERIAL.
    Thanks to Joker and Merlin.

  40. Did not even bother to try this one.
    Just went straight to the answers.
    Glad I did.
    What a nasty one.

  41. Slow start quickly speeding up and finishing in 9 minutes. Loi diameter. Interesting snippets in the blog (especially the history of slip on shoes which used to fly off, with poor consequences, when playing football).

  42. Coming late to the blog today and have not perused the comments so apologies if I repeat. Very enjoyable QC but totally fooled by Joker with KILO. I could not get beyond ‘mass slaughter’ so failed on my LOI. Very clever misdirection.

  43. A bit over 13 1/2 minutes. Harder than yesterday. Stuck on BORDER at the end which I still only sort of understand. Like kapietro and Eugene, PEEP crossed my mind for 12a but PEEK fitted the wordplay better; kapietro’s palindromic interpretation (luckily) didn’t occur to me. There’s also PEER of course to complete the four-letter PEE_for “look” trifecta, but that didn’t work here either.

    Thanks to Joker and Merlin

Comments are closed.