QC 2567 by Breadman

Welcome to 2024, and on my “1 second = 1 year” system my target for the puzzle now creeps up to 20:24. I did not make it today.

Rattled along but saw red squares at 2d, and I don’t think I’ll be the only one with that error.

Having failed to find a Nina each time one appears I asked ChatGPT if there was a possible theme between these words. The answer was

In summary – with the information provided, I do not see enough consistency or critical mass of words relating to any one theme to confidently identify an overarching topic or meaning.

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

8 Councillor, old and restful, avoiding one game on lawn (7)
CROQUET – CR (Councillor) + O{ld} + QU{I}ET (restful) [“avoiding one” = remove the letter I]
9 Bad-tempered woman, former spouse recalled, into French wine (5)
VIXEN – EX(former spouse) [recalled = reversed] contained in VIN (French wine)

I always thought a VIXEN was a seductress or a cunning woman, rather than bad-tempered.

10 Group of stars having duck and port with knight (5)
ORION – O (duck) + RIO (port) + N [=Knight in Chess]
11 Famous scientist dreamy, wanting diamonds for wife (7)
FARADAY – FARAWAY (dreamy) with D{iamonds} replacing W{ife}
12 Place for valuables close, turning key fast (5,4)
NIGHT SAFE – NIGH (close) +E (musical key) FAST  [turning=reversed]

Not a fan of using “key” to indicate one of 7 letters.

14 Health centre son joined with father (3)
SPA – S{on} + PA (father)

A chestnut, I’m sure we had this recently, clued this way.

16 Regularly tell off mischievous child? (3)
ELF – {t}e{l}l{o}f{f}

Mischievous is more often an Imp. At my primary school (Telford School, Leamington Spa) the classes were called Fairies, Imps, Nymphs, Elves, Pixies, Gnomes, Sprites and Brownies.

18 Put restrictions on gang criminal (4-5)
RING-FENCE – RING (gange) + FENCE (criminal)

This is FENCE the noun, a dealer in stolen goods. “Criminal” not an anagram indicator today.

21 Weather feature depicted by artist in East London area (7)
RAINBOW – RA (artist) + IN + BOW (East London area)
22 One in road moved fast (5)
RACED – RD (road) contains ACE (one)
23 Article, current, on unknown Antipodean soldier (5)
ANZAC – AN (article) + Z (unknown) +AC (current)

Australian and New Zealand Army Corps, part of the allied Mediterranean Expeditionary Force during the First World War.

24 Citizen‘s aquatic vessel caught in stream (7)
SUBJECT – SUB (aquatic vessel) + JET (stream) contains C{aught}

British passports used to all say British Subject, but as of 1981 they now they say British citizen. The ANZACs mentioned above were all British subjects.

1 Sponge transformed rugs once (8)
2 Scrapping  an Olympic sport (6)
ROWING – Double def.

This is the cause of my, and probably many other pink squares today. Since BOXING is a reasonable answer.

The reason that on reflection ROWING is likely to be correct is that a double def usually has one cryptic definition, and ROWING requires a vowel change to get the other definition.

3 Smart black vase (4)
BURN – B{lack} + URN (vase)
4 Post first-class to reach Scottish island (6)
STAFFA – STAFF (Post) + A (first-class)

It’s a speck of an island off the coast of Mull, only 1/8 square mile. Was visited by Sir Joseph Banks who named the main sea cavern ‘Fingal’s Cave’. The 239th biggest Scottish Island.

5 Botanist may look thus on next page (8)
OVERLEAF – Double def

A Botanist would look over a leaf to study it, I presume.

6 Displays suede pants — around five pairs? (6)
EXUDES – X [10 in Roman Numerals, = 5 x 2 ] + (Suede)* [“pants” as anagram indicator]
7 Up in Rhyl, Noel’s alone (4)
ONLY – Hidden and reverse in Rhyl, Noel
13 Group of workers with Royal Navy support retreat (4,4)
TURN BACK – T{rade}U{nion} (Group of Workers) + R{oyal}N{avy} + BACK (support)

TUC is common, but TU for just Trade Union is rare, but it appears in Collins.

15 Deacon broadcast both sides of the short story (8)
ANECDOTE – (DEACON)* + T{h}E [Both sides]
17 Reportedly stabilise architectural adornment (6)
FRIEZE – Sounds like FREEZE (stabilise)
19 Most modern members of flock probing religious books (6)
NEWEST – EWES (members of flock) inside NT(religious’ books)

I had NEST for members of flock, but that leaves WE or EW

20 Person who steals a pound (6)
NICKER – Double def.

NICK= slang for steal, so a NICKER is one who steals.

NICKER is also dated slang for a pound, often used for higher numbers such as “fify nicker”. OED has “origin unknown”

21 Sheets of paper, yellowish-white, Charlie removed (4)
REAM – {C}REAM (yellow white)  [C{harlie} removed]
22 Fleece covering English gown (4)
ROBE – ROB (fleece) + E{nglish}

107 comments on “QC 2567 by Breadman”

  1. I think this is a pangram, which helped me get my LOI SUBJECT.
    I enjoyed this puzzle, although I didn’t even think of BOXING at 2d, which would have concerned me. I didn’t find it easy but biffing a couple of the trickier clues gave me the solve at roughly my average time just inside 20 minutes.

  2. 15:35. I thought of BOXING first too but luckily wasn’t satisfied it was cryptic enough, so cast around for other synonyms of scrapping. CROQUET and SUBJECT were the most fun for me to parse. I was a British SUBJECT till 1977 when I miraculously metamorphosed into a Canadian citizen.

  3. I spotted the pangram before finishing for the first time ever. Like David, I used it for SUBJECT

    1. I went back to the AI, and it admitted its oversight:
      You are absolutely correct, I clearly made a mistake in my analysis this time. After double and triple checking the list of words, it does in fact include all 26 letters. I sincerely apologize for the multiple incorrect assessments. You were right – this is indeed a pangram set of words spanning the entire alphabet. Thank you for catching my mistake and pushing me to reexamine; I clearly had more progress to make in properly evaluating pangrams. This will serve as useful learning for me to double check alphabet coverage more carefully going forward when attempting to identify full pangrams. Please feel free to provide any other feedback or point out any other issues in my reasoning – becoming a more accurate word evaluator is a top priority for me.

  4. The sense of VIXEN as “a sexually attractive woman” is in the American dictionary Merriam-Webster, but hasn’t made it into Collins. Since the primary meaning is a female fox, though, that it would be used to refer to a “Foxy Lady” seems inevitable.

  5. 6.45 for me. No problems with ROWING, guessed that STAFFA was somewhere and as usual had to come here to find out about the pangram. Thanks to Merlin for pointing out the workings of NIGHT SAFE and a couple of others that I trampled straight over the top of. Not sure about that meaning of VIXEN (did Shakespeare write The Taming of the Vixen? I rest my case) but I am sure that women I know are universally over being characterised as various types of animal. Precious little minxes, he did not add.

    1. Besides being a bird or a chick… Or a filly.. All the other animal words-for-women are derogatory 🙁

      1. Not sure that bird, chick and filly aren’t derogatory themselves! But men don’t get off lightly either, it’s so demeaning to be constantly described as a stallion…

      2. In Scotland “hen” is regular, and always affectionate.

        Then there’s “kitten” (Chambers – “2 said of a woman: affectedly playful; flirtatious”) and “tigress” (Chambers – “2 a fierce or passionate woman”).

        1. Templar, please know that I would absolutely eviscerate anyone who called me kitten, which might make them upgrade me to tigress, after which I would berate them again and never talk to them ever again after that.

            1. Hahaha I imagine we would have gotten way off course on this blog if you ever had reason to try kitten on me

        2. From Wiktionary (confirms all meanings mentioned so far):
          vixen (plural vixens)
          1) A female fox.
          Synonyms: she-fox (rare), foxess (rare)
          2) A malicious, quarrelsome or temperamental woman.
          Synonyms: see Thesaurus:shrew
          3) (colloquial) A racy or salacious woman who is sexually attractive.
          Synonyms: see Thesaurus:promiscuous woman, Thesaurus:vamp
          4) (colloquial) A wife who has sex with other men with her husband’s consent.

          1. Being possibly responsible for getting this discussion going, I will end it the way I started: women I know are universally over being characterised as various types of animal…

  6. Glad to finish only to find I hadn’t with boxing for ROWING. Even if I had thought of rowing I’d have rejected it, up to today I thought a row was words and a scrap was fists. Other struggles all over the place, even in trying to think of a scientist beginning with F. Also managed to get a pink square for ‘turB back’. Typo yesterday, typo and error today so 0/2 for the week.

  7. A BOXING for me too, which if it isn’t a valid alternative answer is pretty close to it; not even the pangram helped decide between the two. I suspect that this is the one that caught out such legends of the QC as Verlaine and some of our very own TfTT speed merchants.

    Seeing ‘Scottish island’ usually makes me nervous but I knew STAFFA from the Fingal’s cave and Mendelssohn associations. Favourite was the FARADAY clue.

    Thanks to Breadman and to Merlin for the blog

  8. A silver star for me this morning as I squeezed in around the 19 minute mark. My initial trawl wasn’t very productive, and my heart sank a little to begin with, but as I saw some key clues – NIGHT SAFE, TURN BACK, RINGE FENCE (compound clues are always my favourites) – the rest fell into place, albeit with a good bit of biffing first and parsing afterwards. SCROUNGE took longer than it should’ve despite my spotting the anagrist. Last one in was STAFFA, which I’d vaguely heard of.
    Many thanks as usual to Merlin and Breadman. It’s early days admittedly, but at 2/2 this week so far I’m sensing some improvement in the air.

  9. 9 minutes but with BOXING for ROWING. It was my LOI so I didn’t spend long thinking about it once an answer that seemed to fit came to mind. I did note in the margin that BOXING didn’t quite qualify as a double definition but wondered if it might work as a cryptic all-in-one.

    I knew STAFFA immediately, and remembered that it has come up very recently when I posted a comment referring to the Mendelsohn overture. I looked for ‘Fingal’s Cave’ using the ‘comments’ search (sadly only available to TfTT bloggers) which failed to find it had ever appeared in a comment. I then googled it using an external site/domain search and there it was, posted by me under QC 2545 on 11th December 2023. Something not working properly methinks?

    1. Well I’ve learned something new. I thought Fingal’s Cave was part of the Giant’s Causeway. Thanks 👍

        1. Thanks DramS. Yes, it’s the basalt columns that persuaded me it was in the GC.

  10. Another BOXING. I was surprised, just now looking at ODE, to see VIXEN as ‘a spirited or quarrelsome woman’; the ‘spirited’ being new to me. A vixen is a female fox, a bitch in other words, and I imagine its use has the same origin. Glad to see ‘spirited’.

  11. I wondered why I was so far up the leader board after submitting and then saw that a lot of top quality solvers had an error – I’m sure the powers that be will allow ‘boxing’ as a valid alternative before too long and I’ll return to my normal, less rarefied, position.
    A straightforward solve starting with CROQUET and finishing with EXUDES (narrowly avoided biffing ‘exodus’) in a sprightly 6.40.
    Thanks to Merlin

  12. I’ll fight for my right to see Boxing as a vaguely all in one clue answer – I’ve seen a lot worse. I thought it weak, but not worthy of scrutiny especially so early on.
    Otherwise, a steady sub SCC solve. Liked NEWEST as I will probably be wandering amongst sheep out towards the coast today.
    Should have been alerted to pangram potential after the first two across, but not quite awake enough.

  13. A usual DNF after 25 mins for me as I was breezeblocked by SUBJECT. Is the c for “caught” some cricket reference? If so, I forgive myself as I know zilch about any ball sports. I also fell into the BOXING trap.

    I managed the rest of the puzzle in good time though.

    @Merlin, you have a small typo in “fify nicker”. Thanks for the informative blog though. Also, 2024 seconds is actually 33 mins and 44 seconds, so maybe you did make your target! You’re welcome ☺️

    1. C=caught, B=bowled W=wicket M=maiden R=run are all cricket references worth learning for crosswords

      1. And the two sides ON and OFF. And “batting” can = IN, and “extra” can mean W or LB … cricket scoring is full of short abbreviations which are catnip to setters!

        1. Thanks Simjt and Templar – will take note. Is it only cricket? Or are there other catnip sports?

          1. RU (for rugby union) is quite often clued simply as a game (though strangely RL, for rugby league, almost never is despite some of us thinking it the better game …)

          2. It’s any sport (or anything else …) which generates useful abbreviations. So chess is another – the setter can use K (king), Q (queen), R (rook), B (bishop, though bishop can also be RR for Right Reverend), N (knight), CH (check) and even OO (castling).

          3. You’ll see lots about sports that are favoured at Oxford and Cambridge : Rugby Union, Cricket and Rowing.

  14. 12:29 (Riots in Paris triggered by argument over a student’s bill in a bar)

    Luckily ROWING was the only sport that came to mind at 2d, so I avoided the BOXING trap. I enjoyed FARADAY.

    Thanks Merlin and Breadman

  15. I’m another boxer. Hey ho. 09:08 WOE.

    Thanks Merlin and Breaders.


    PS luminaries such as Kevin, vinyl, glheard and even the Lord Verlaine also with one error … I feel much better!

    1. Surely if Verlaine has Boxing it can only mean that it is Breadman who has erred?

  16. All done and parsed (and even the panoramic pangram spotted, to my joy) in 9 minutes, so I come here after what I thought was a routine puzzle to find all sorts of comments about 2d. Well, there but for the grace of God go I, because if I’d thought of boxing first I’d certainly have put it in, and I am unaware of the rules that one part of a DD ought to be in some way cryptic (and does the vowel sound change in Rowing thus qualify?). So a “completion by lucky escape” today.

    Many thanks Merlin for the blog

      1. Oops. Pangram of course, and now changed, so thank you. I blame autotext and spellcheckers …

          1. Prefix of pan- means all, hence words such as panorama, pandemic, pantheon etc.
            Suffix of -gram means something written, hence anagram, epigram

            The suffix of -graph often also means letters, as in telegram/telegraph. So a pangram could just as easily have been called a pangraph.

  17. Just inside 10 minutes for me. Enjoyable and mostly very fair so thanks Breadman and Merlin. I tend to think as scrapping as more physical than verbal, and five pairs = 10 =X is a bit convoluted for a quickie in my opinion but this is nitpicking I know. Thanks again!

    1. I was thinking of French where 80 is “quatre -vingts” – four twenties. It goes back to an old French system of counting based on the number 20,

      1. . . .which to this day causes mayhem (to my ear) when listening to telephone numbers in the French style (in pairs). Soixante-douze, for example, can be either 72 or 60 12, and don’t even try listening for a helpful pause, as there is no such beast in spoken French. The French Swiss sorted this out ages ago, and use Septante, Octante and Nonante for 70, 80, 90. Much easier.

  18. Another boxer here, who also thought it a bit weak but not so much so that I couldn’t justify it. Maybe I’ll use that as impetus to listen to the brilliant 2007 album by The National of the same name.

    Thanks both.

    1. Surely the Simon & Garfunkel track.

      I am just a poor boy, though my story’s seldom told
      I have squandered my resistance for a pocketful of mumbles such are promises
      All lies and jest, Still a man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest.

  19. BOXING for me too. ‘Two boys having a scrap in the playground’ = fisticuffs, not a warm exchange of words!

  20. 8:51
    Never knew that bit about double defs and one half being cryptic. I went straight for rowing in any case.
    Thanks, M.

    1. Not a rule, and if there are just two words, then often they are just synonyms. So if the answer was just BOX
      Fight carton (3)
      would be a possible clue.

      I don’t often get red squares on days when I blog, as the thought process of digging out the actual parsings eliminates any “close enough” errors. So I had to think of a reason why ROWING is a better answer than BOXING.

  21. 4:43. I never thought of BOXING for 2d or I might have bunged it in. Some lovely surfaces. I liked the dreamy scientist most. I didn’t notice the pangram until post-solve. Nice one. Thanks Breadman and Merlin.

  22. Typo yesterday and boxing today. And both in good (for me) times. Ho hum! Onwards and upwards.

  23. 5:37

    Glad I didn’t even contemplate BOXING – ROWING was the first thing that came to mind and it fit the cryptic. I too, didn’t have VIXEN in mind when I saw bad-tempered woman, so waited until a few checkers appeared. EXUDES is a lovely word, but I saw the five and thought V, so had to wait for VIXEN before seeing the light. LOI today was FRIEZE – only word other than FRIZZY that I could make from those checkers.

    Thanks Breadman and Merlin

  24. 6:39 for me and all correct. Luckily, I didn’t think of BOXING or I’d probably just bunged it in and moved on. LOI was ANZAC but only because I didn’t look at it until the end, not because it needed extra work to solve it.

    I seem to be 30th on the leaderboard, which never happens. If the comments here are anything to go by, there are a lot of BOXers with one error.

  25. Another one for BOXING here, and the second time already this year where there are nearly as many ref solvers excluded with errors as there are ref solvers on the QUITCH.

    I liked my LOI EXUDES, especially the “five pairs = X” device, with the potential “five = V” red herring.

    DNF in bang on average time.

  26. About 9′ but with boxing, maybe there’s an alternative leaderboard for the boxers! Apart from that there were some nice clues, I enjoyed FARADAY and EXUDES.

  27. A DNF for me as I fell into the BOXING trap. I should have listened to the cat; he said ROWING.

    I hesitated with FARADAY for a while as I thought he was an engineer rather than a scientist. I was based for a while in the RN Police office at HMS SULTAN, the RN’s marine and air engineering school. There’s a building there named FARADAY; hence why I assumed he was an engineer.

    I found this one to be a bit tricky in places. I was slow to start but picked up tempo as I progressed.

    1. In my working life, I used to visit Sultan quite often, and ‘sleepy hollow’ down the road. . .

  28. I was another who initially put in BOXING for 2dn, but it did niggle at me as being not quite right, and I returned to it at the end to find the correct answer. Having said that even ROWING gave me a few concerns definition wise, and I was pleased to see I’d taken the right option. I came in about half a minute under target at 9.29, in a time similar to yesterdays. I thought it was an excellent puzzle that had me diving around the grid in all directions, although 2dn took the sheen of it a little.

  29. 6.25 with a typo

    Wanted BOXING but rethought. Typo anyway. Liked FARADAY even though it was bunged in from one checker and a glance at the cryptic

    Nice puzzle albeit quite chewy

  30. Jumped about the grid a bit today but finished all correct having only considered ROWING. Many clues bifd then parsed, including NIGHT SAFE, REAM and ANZAC. Needed the ‘v’ from OVERLEAF before solving VIXEN, which led to LOI EXUDES. COD FARADAY – lovely surface. Interesting discussion about DDs. Thanks Merlin and Breadman.

  31. Another Boxing and in 14 mins. I actually had Rowing first but changed it as Boxing feels a better fit to the double definition. I struggled with Night Safe, wanting to find an anagram of ‘key fast’ with a couple of extra letters before the PDM. Loved Faraday and Ring-fence. Whenever I see an X, Q and Z, I start thinking ‘pangram’ and those came early for me today, although I didn’t use it to solve anything so the insight was rather wasted on me!

  32. 10 minutes with LOI BOXING having thought about it several times. But nothing else occurred to me and at QC level it seemed OK to me.

  33. A bit of a biff-fest for me today, FARADAY, NIGHT SAFE and SUBJECT all going in from the checkers only. I finished in 16 minutes, the same time as yesterday, but it seemed faster. With my first two in featuring a q and an x I thought of a pangram immediately – normally I don’t see them at all. Alas I was another with BOXING at 2dn, which seemed a bit weak when I entered it, but I didn’t revisit it. It anyway seems to me a better synonym for scrapping than rowing is.

    FOI – 8ac CROQUET
    LOI – 24ac SUBJECT
    COD – 21ac RAINBOW, although now Merlin has explained the parsing of FARADAY I can see that this is also a contender.

    Thanks to Breadman (for all excluding 2dn) and to Merlin

  34. As usual missed the pangram. Not that it would have helped me.
    I never thought of BOXING but would have put it in if I had. I think both answers are right.

  35. Spotted the Pangram early with X, Z in early – with the X in BOXING (!) Never occurred to me to think of another sport. Everything straightforwardly enjoyable. COD OVERLEAF.

  36. With time on my hands, thought I would carry through my resolve to have a go at the Quickie from time to time. Pleasingly, there were no unguessable or unparseable answers for once, and ROWING went straight in, so not caught out there. I only had the phone, so it took longer than it would have on paper, but less than the easy 15×15.

  37. 7:51 for this (and 23 mins for the biggie) – one of Templar’s EXCELLENT DAYS! Rowing came to mind but I can see why boxing caused such problems – and is possibly somewhat unfair without having a checker. LOI EXUDES – played around with V for a while before seeing what was going on – great clue. Thanks all.

  38. I’m in the lucky escape camp, as boxing never came to mind – in any case, I’m usually so glad just to find an answer that fits, that finessing to what might be a better one is a very rare event. Anyway, all done and dusted in 16mins or so, with loi Overleaf resisting by offering a tempting verso in the mix. CoD to the very neat 11ac, Faraday. Invariant

  39. Luckily, I didn’t think of bOxING until I came here. However, I think it’s a better answer than ROWING and I don’t follow Merlin’s explanation. Breadman has erred today by not spotting there are two perfectly plausible answers.

    In all other respects I found this a well-pitched QC. 29 minutes for me. CROQUET and ORION were my FOsI and NICKER, RACED, SUBJECT and ROBE (all down in the SE corner) were my last few in.

    Many thanks to Breadman and Merlin.

  40. Fast and fun today. Very enjoyable, in fact. I didn’t fall into the Boxing trap as ROWING was the first sport that occurred to me, once I went back to check my LOI.
    Must have been on the wavelength for a change. Cd not parse FARADAY, as I always forget about letter swapping. Liked RINGFENCE, NICKER, ANZAC, among others.
    ELF for mischievous child is only found in Xwordland, I reckon.
    FOI SCROUNGE – helpful.
    Thanks vm, Merlin.

  41. Bird. If you read novels from the Graham Greene era then a bird was a bloke. Bit like cove.
    Cricket dismissals. There’s now only 10 to remember as handling the ball has been subsumed into obstructing the field.
    30 today while eating a pizza so probably 20. But another boxing casualty. J

  42. I’m so thankful I never thought of boxing at 2d. I started reading Merlin’s blog and wondered what all the fuss was about. I found the QC pretty straight forward and was ONLY thrown by the inclusion of my home town Rhyl in the clue for 7d. Rhyl hasn’t got a lot going for it so I’m not at all surprised that Noel’s alone. FOI CROQUET and LOI ANZAC and yet again missed the pangram. 7:28

  43. 5.40. Very glad I only saw rowing and not boxing.

    A few of you put boxing but seem to be magnanimously accepting that it’s not a great answer, but it looks absolutely fine to me. What am I missing?

    1. I thought boxing first but wasn’t satisfied. I saw boxing as a formal, organized sport, gloves, rounds, rules, Marquis of Queensberry etc, whereas scrapping sounded more like no-holds barred, street-fighting. I realize both scrapping and boxing mean fighting, so BOXING is perfectly acceptable, but fortunately my misgivings led me to cast around for a better solution!

  44. No problem with ROWING as remembered Doofenschmertz’s blog on QC 2562: RUGGED being pronounced in 2 ways makes it a heteronym. Every day a learning day!

  45. I am hoping to meet an intelligent, loving, even-tempered, interested and interesting woman in Crosswordland soon, for the sake of the poor setters if no one else.

  46. 21.56 WOE. I found this tough with STAFFA, FARADAY, RACED and NICKER the last few in. BOXING didn’t seem like a great answer but we’ve had worse so I put it in with a shrug. Thanks Merlin and Breadman.

  47. Hello Merlin
    Can you please clarify what you meant by “… and ROWING requires a vowel change to get the other definition.”? Doubly puzzled by the clue and your trouble. Thanks.

    1. I think he means the sound of the vowel ie. ‘Row’ as in fight/scrapping changed to ‘Row’ as in using an oar.

  48. Dnf…

    16 mins, but alas I did put Boxing for 2dn – should have known it would have been a ‘posh’ sport.

    Good puzzle though, and enjoyed 11ac “Faraday”, 6dn “Exudes” and 24ac “Subject”. I also wonder why Elf is classed as “mischievous” – although that might be a modern day thinking, as opposed to those depicted in, say, Enid Blyton books (the Magic Faraway Tree and all that).

    FOI – 3dn “Burn”
    LOI – 2dn “Boxing” (incorrect)
    COD – 6dn “Exudes”

    Thanks as usual!

    PS. I know in these enlightened times, it’s probably not the thing to say, but as a young boy at primary school I’m not sure I’d have been happy to be in the “fairy” class.

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