QC No 2619 by Beck

This is only Beck’s 7th QC since his first in November 2022, and his first of 2024.  I found it tougher than most and needed 13:53 to complete it – some of the anagrams took a lot of teasing out, and there is one clue (10A) that I biffed and then took longer to parse than the whole puzzle took to complete.

That apart, the puzzle has I hope something for everyone – some nice and not too obscure GK, some words coined in the 21st century, which makes a nice change from the archaisms we sometimes see, and one of the cleverest hiddens I have seen.

Thank you Beck for an enjoyable puzzle.

An Anniversary:  tomorrow sees the 10th anniversary of the introduction of the QC on 10 March 2014.  I am honoured to be blogging ‘the last of the first decade’ – in that time the QC has given a lot of pleasure to many people, so a big thank you to all the setters who have created the puzzles for us.

Definitions underlined in bold italics, (Abc)* indicating anagram of Abc, deletions and [] other indicators.

1 Feeling of dismay with smile after tea (7)
CHAGRINCHA (tea) + GRIN (smile, “after” the cuppa).  I often smile after a nice mug of tea.
5 Lentil dish picked up for children’s author (4)
DAHL – The author is Roald Dahl (1916-90), whose name sounds like (ie “picked up” by the ear) the dish of lentils called Dal.  Or Dhal.  Or sometimes even Dahl, so this could even be a Double Definition.
7 Hold up  cup (3)
MUG – A much more straightforward DD, no argument about this one.
8 Literary rascal perhaps cracked up on the air (8)
ANTIHERO – (on the air)*, the anagram indicator being “cracked up”.
10 Running small broadcast leads to boredom (5)
ENNUI – My LOI and biffed from the definition and checkers.  The parsing came later – a lot later – and is made up of ON (running, as in “the machine is running/is on”) + WEE (small), with ON-WEE then sounding like (“broadcast”) ENNUI.

Devilishly complex, and hats off to Beck for this one.  Ennui is a favourite word of setters, possibly because it is the only one I know of that goes E-N-I, and our setter has done well to pull something new out of the bag for a word which has been seen several times before.

11 Beer with strange name in area of Rio (7)
IPANEMA – Constructed from IPA (India Pale Ale, a type of beer) + NEMA, anagram of (“strange”) name.   Ipanema is indeed a district of Rio de Janeiro, with a fine beach and an even finer song from the 1960s “The Girl from Ipanema”, which I suspect will be how most solvers arrive at the answer.
13 Some threw a stereo, old printers, and computers, say (1-5)
E-WASTE – A clever hidden, in thrEW A STEreo.  In this age where everything is disposable and nothing is worth repairing, old printers and computers are indeed fit only for the recycling centre, and are thus electronic waste.
15 Ship five initial pieces of extra spicy salami: eat lots (6)
VESSELV (five) + the first letters (“initial pieces”) of Extra Spicy Salami Eat Lots.
17 Computer test used in diagnostic: apt challenge (7)
CAPTCHA – An even more stunning hidden, in diagnostiC APT CHAllenge.  Captcha is the name given to the various ways in which we have to prove on websites that we are human not some sort of AI or bot; the surface is a little clunky with the colon, but one forgives our setter for this when the hidden is of this quality and originality.
18 Friend with lots of flowers about to bloom? (5)
BUDDY – A Double Definition: a flower that is about to bloom will be in bud and so could be said to be buddy.
20 Outlaw carved up hip to rib (8)
PROHIBIT – (hip to rib)*, with the anagram indicator being “carved up” and outlaw being the verb not the noun form of the word.
22 Ring of flowers put down we’re told (3)
LEI – A LEI is a wreath or garland of flowers, most common in Polynesia or Hawaii, and it sounds like (“we’re told”) Lay, as in Lay down.
23 German water found in Amstel beer (4)
ELBE – The German river Elbe, hidden in (“found in”) AmstEL BEer.
24 Exposed to risk alongside vampire killer (2,5)
AT STAKEAT (indicated by “alongside”) + STAKE (vampire killer).  The parsing is clear, even if using Alongside to indicate At was not immediately obvious to me, but a ship can be “alongside a quay” as well as “at a quay” so it is fair enough.
1 Ability to engage with Northern church (10)
COMPETENCECOMPETE (engage) + N (Northern) + CE (Church, ie Church of England).
2 Gas industry talk starting late (5)
ARGON – Industry talk gives us JARGON, from which the first letter is dropped (ie “starting late”).  I’ve not met the device “starting late” to mean take off the first letter before, but the meaning is clear.
3 Unusual recital is true to life (9)
REALISTIC – (recital is)*, with “unusual” being one of the less obscure anagram indicators.
4 In turning up one idiot, finding another (6)
NITWITNI (ie In “turning up”) + TWIT (an idiot), giving another idiot.  Of course “another” only makes sense as the definition if one reads the whole clue.
5 Boy am I dumb turning over this builder’s carrier (3)
DOH – The builder’s carrier is a HOD, which is then reversed (“turned over”).  Sometimes spelt D’OH, but we ignore apostrophes in crosswords.

The DOH-HOD combination came up about 2½ weeks ago (QC 2603 on 26 February) where Jalna set the clue “How silly of me to overturn this carrying trough” and the answer that time was HOD.  Which excited much comment from those who thought that Hod was the wordplay to be turned upside down, not the answer.  Today’s clue from Beck is much clearer!

6 Difficulty dropping duke’s race horse equipment (7)
HARNESSHARDNESS (“difficulty”) with the D (for Duke) deleted.
9 Beery in-law’s drunk strong ale (6,4)
BARLEY WINE – (beery in-law)*, with the anagram indicator being “drunk”.  A deceptive clue, as despite being called a wine, the drink is actually a beer, usually strong, as the clue says, and sometimes very strong indeed.  Some barley wines are up to 12% ABV, which is certainly wine-strength.
12 Embitters one Republican motel owner Norman (9)
ACERBATES – an IKEA clue made up of ACE (one) + R (Republican) + BATES (Norman Bates, the motel owner in the film Psycho).  I biffed this answer, and then had to resort to the internet to check that Norman the motel owner was indeed a Mr Bates.
14 Clothing: dismay when note found inside (7)
APPARELAPPAL (ie dismay, taking the verb meaning of the word) with RE (a note in the Do-Re-Mi scale) included inside it.
16 Innocent U.S. lawyer gets overseas letter (6)
LAMBDALAMB (our stock innocent) + DA (US lawyer, D.A. standing for District Attorney), giving us the Greek letter Lambda (Λ, λ).
19 River feature’s made-up detail I ignored (5)
DELTA – (detal)*, being detail with the I deleted (“ignored”), with the anagram indicator being “made-up”.

Two Greek letters in a row, but I think only a coincidence as I cannot see any others to indicate a theme.

21 Garden tool cut off the top of footwear (3)
HOESHOE (footwear), with “cut off the top” indicating that we delete the initial S.

54 comments on “QC No 2619 by Beck”

  1. I didn’t parse ENNUI either (my LOI). But my big mistake was misremebering the beach in Rio and putting IPAMENA (which fits the wordplay just fine if it was the right word). I’ve always heard LEI pronounced with both vowels so it doesn’t sound like LAY to me. But “garland of flowers (3)” didn’t really require reading the rest of the clue!

  2. Me too re on-wee, thanks for the hard work Cedric. Ditto as regards ARGON. A bit over 10 for me, I held myself up by putting DHAL (I always get these ones wrong) and thinking there might be a part of Rio called Alemena. Then I remembered the song, ‘Tall and tanned and young and lovely…’ There are worse earworms.

  3. 11 minutes fully parsed including ENNUI, the stand-out clue here. Speed-solvers missed a treat on that one.

  4. Wot Jack said about ENNUI, he said ruefully. It’s rather misleading to call Dahl a children’s author. I don’t think I’ve ever come across ACERBATES. 7:08.

      1. He also wrote for adults – you want to read his collected short stories – or possibly you don’t – some of them are very risque and/or dark. Almost all have a savage twist.

          1. Remember he was the original writer (and presenter) of “Tales of the Unexpected” which used to air on ITV Sunday nights at 10pm.

            Many of them were written in the 50s/60s and also used on the “Alfred Hitchcock Presents” U.S. TV series. I have the book of them on my shelf.

            Dahl’s stories were pretty much used up in the first two series of T.o.t.U. but there are some good ones like Man from the South, Lamb to the Slaughter and The Lodger – off the top of my head.

  5. Without wishing to spoil the party, this brings to a close my worst week ever of 5/6 DNFs. Yes there were some lovely clues in here, eg LAMBDA, REALISTIC, CAPTCHA, but I mean – IPANEMA? ACERBATES? Please!
    I know this is mildly controversial in here, but this is so disappointing because this QC used to be such a fun start to the day with around a 90-95% personal success rate. Yes of course I expect the odd stinker to challenge me further, but 5 in a row?
    Once again I shall have to take solace in the DT 15×15 to persuade myself that it’s not just me losing my marbles 🤪
    Best wishes to all, ITTT.

    1. I empathise with you as I know you are a competent solver, who I’ve seen post some respectable times. It’s disheartening when we get into these runs of tougher QCs.

      I made the mistake in the middle of last week of suggesting we’d turned the corner from them. It went on to become a particularly tough week and that wasn’t helped by 9NHOs flagging up.

      This week, unlike yourself, I found better until yesterday although it seems my Thursday solve was out of kilter with that of others. Today presented the first NHOs of the week and a less enjoyable solve especially following yesterday’s.

      I hope the fun starts to the day will soon come bouncing back for you. Spring is just around the corner 👍

  6. Tackled sooner than usual and sans espresso thanks to early morning dog excitements, about goodness knows what. Lots to enjoy including CHAGRIN, CAPTCHA, ENNUI and my COD (for the surface) PROHIBIT.

    Is E-WASTE really a thing? And thank heavens for bossa nova, or I’d have given up on LOI IPANEMA.

    All done in 08:39 for 1.2K and a Respectable Day.

    Many thanks Cedric and Beck.


    1. oh yes , E-WASTE is definitely a thing – too big a thing, as more and more of us keep replacing computers and phones – who needs a new phone every year?????????

  7. A few tricky clues in here and I needed the blog to find out the parsing or ENNUI – my excuse being that I always pronounce it phonetically (which I’m aware is incorrect) when I see it on paper.
    I was glad that the ‘h’ in DAHL was a checked letter as I initially spelt it with the a and h the other way round and I spent some time looking at the wrong end of the clue for LAMBDA.
    Started with CHAGRIN and finished with NHO ACERBATES in 9.06 and COD to CAPTCHA.
    Thanks to Cedric

  8. 16:33 – two I couldn’t parse (ARGON* / ENNUI**), one NHO (ACERBATES) maybe two (BARLEY-WINE), one tough to spell (IPANEMA), two moderns (eWASTE / CAPTCHA) and pen&paper required for anagrams and needing to leave for parkrun within 40mins. All in all, sadly that was more of a stressful solve than an enjoyable one especially after yesterday’s which had used up most of my processing power!

    Overall – only the 2nd week with six solves – four of them just avoiding the SCC. Today was actually the fastest by about 30secs – so that’s something to be grateful for.

    * “Starting late” – really?
    ** never heard anyone say it, so didn’t know it was pronounced that way.

    Off to parkrun … a decent runout after yesterday’s hill session for a combined QCpr of 39:20

    1. Slow down, ND, I see you came in exactly 7 minutes ahead of me- maybe the tide is turning….

      1. My first instinct was that you were talking about the 5K time. But I see not. A barely believable 0.7CO outing for me!

        I feel obliged to say if you need any help with these – my details are available from Reception at the SCC. Albeit I’m not sure how up to date they are as I only popped in twice this week 🤪

        I’m sure the universe will right itself on Monday

  9. Well, that was hard work, and took me out to 33 mins. But it’s Saturday, so I don’t mind the extra time. However, I got there all on my own. 😊

    I biffed ENNUI (couldn’t parse) and BARLEYWINE (NHO), but the rest fell into place, and as Cedric says, it’s nice to see some more modern references.

    I took DAHL as a double definition as that is how it is spelled in our household. My better half makes a wicked dahl, savoury and truly scrumptious [unintended nod to CCBB].

    And CAPTCHA stirs many recent memories of being stuck in the dreaded CAPTCHA loop, where despite repeatedly solving the mosaic picture of a moped/bus/traffic light, the system refuses to accept that I am indeed human. To be fair, my offspring also question this point.

    Have a wonderful weekend, all. Pi ❤️

  10. We found this a good mix, literally game of 2 halves. Left side went in quite quickly then struggled slowly through the right to get there in 28.48 a little beyond our 25 target. Yes Cedric, the girl from Ipanema will be today’s ear worm and the word play gave the right spelling. Thanks for the work on ennui which went in easily but unparsed. As an IT bod I like captcha and now need to find a way of dropping NHO acerbates into our conversation today!
    Thanks Beck

  11. 16:07

    Some tough clues here for a QC : BARLEY WINE ? Got ENNUI as a write in only because it’s a favourite of setters. Put HOD/DOH only in after checkers, I’ve made that mistake twice in the last month.

    I though ARGON was from Argot (technical language)

    Liked LAMBDA, was looking at clue for a long time as a definition of an innocent, like naïf. My COD for misdirection.

  12. Made heavy weather of this, and thanks to Cedric for doing the hard yards on my unparsed ENNUI (I’m not French, and I’ve never thought of pronouncing it as I’ve never used it in speech).

    That apart, I thought it was a decent challenge

    TIME 5:42

    1. Perhaps you are too young to have seen Gigi where Ennui features in the song She is not Thinking of Me.🙂. (Rhymes with Me).

  13. Dnf…

    I found this very hard, and had 4 outstanding when I hit my cut off time. The “Ennui” clue in particular seems incredibly complex. I was looking for a specific character for 8ac “Antihero”, so went off in the wrong tangent there and I’ve never heard of E-Waste. 1dn “Competence” and 7ac “Mug” I should really have got if I’m being honest. Not the best week.

    FOI – 5ac “Dahl”
    LOI – Dnf
    COD – 24ac “At Stake”

    Thanks as usual!

  14. A mixed bag some easy write in’s and some that needed all the checkers. Biffed Ennui on sight, only as it is the go to solve for anything to do with boredom but the parsing was beyond me. Thanks all

  15. Got there eventually but another tricky one for me. Didn’t parse ENNUI, now I get it it’s my COD. Like Merlin I thought of ‘argot’ when parsing ARGON. Didn’t quite work but jargon completely passed me by. NHO ACERBATES. Had -BATES for a long time but forgot one = ace (doh) and had invented word onerbates for quite some time. Didn’t know BARLEY WINE was a beer. Wasted time on ANTIHERO looking for a homophone (on the air) for ‘cracked up’ (doh again). Very enjoyable overall although brain clearly not switched on this morning! Thanks Cedric.

  16. In the extremely likely event that you missed the Nina in this puzzle, well, I’ll tell you. The four main characters from “People Just Do Nothing” are hidden in some of the acrosses: GRINDAH, STEVES, CHABUDDY and BEATS.

    1. Gosh! You are right, I did miss that. But I am not a reliable yardstick as I tend not to see even the most obvious of Ninas – which I think it was fair to say this was not.

      Thanks again for a really interesting and enjoyable puzzle.

    2. Thank-you for the puzzle today. I enjoyed the inclusion of eWASTE and CAPTCHA, and COMPETENCE appealed to my sporting instincts.

      On the other hand, “People Just Do nothing” is another thing to add to my NHO list for the day 🤷‍♀️

    3. I love the idea of a Nina, but never notice them, even when looking specifically! As I saw your comment, I stopped reading before you gave the game away and looked for about ten minutes for ‘something’, with no result, only to discover that it referred to a programme(?) I’ve never heard of! 😂
      Edit: I see from other comments below that we are a sadly behind the times bunch, apart from Pi-Curious.

  17. Well, they are coming thick and fast at the moment. Another struggle to end the week, with the final parsing of Ennui abandoned at my 30min cut off – I very much doubt I would ever have got that one, so a tip of the hat to Cedric. I see from Beck’s post that we have been blessed with another Nina, which explains why this was more than a bit chewy in places. . . CoD to 2d, Argon – very neat. Invariant

  18. NHO People Just Do Nothing, for a start.
    But I did struggle through to finish this QC, which I much enjoyed, in parts.
    I got Bates fairly early on but it took ages to biff ACERBATES. That helped with POI IPANEMA. LOI LAMBDA, admittedly witty. Yes, just put ENNUI automatically without parsing.
    Agree that I reckon to pronounce both vowels in LEI (on my not terribly numerous trips to Hawaii.)
    Thanks vm, Cedric.

  19. I found this tough and as I’ve NHO People Just Do Nothing, didn’t spot the nina. No problem with ENNUI, but I failed to parse ANTIHERO as I was looking for a homophone for far too long and then biffed it. NITWIT took far too long. IPANEMA needed NITWIT and ACERBATES (another late arrival) before the penny dropped. LAMBDA and AT STAKE were last 2 in. Spent too long with the DA at the top! No trouble with BARLEY WINE, an old mate of mine used to put one in his last pint of the night as a sleeping draught 🙂 A very sluggish 18:54, just across the road from the SCC! Thanks Beck and Cedric.

  20. A nice, fun puzzle with a couple of slightly unusual bits of vocabulary. However, I had a couple of crossers for ACERBATES, and acerbic indicated the first part of the word, so no trouble there. Unusually, I didn’t end up with a clue that I couldn’t crack, which often happens – I whizz through nearly all of it, then grind to a halt. Very grateful for the hidden in CAPTCHA, as I’m fairly convinced I’d never have thought of it, despite being a nemesis of mine. I couldn’t have told you BARLEY WINE was actually an ale, so again, grateful for the anagram. Thanks Beck, and Cedric (no, I didn’t stop to parse ENNUI – very good!)

  21. An enjoyable solve that came in just under my par time. I saw the famous ENNUI, scratched my head over the parsing, and then laughed. COD. I also smiled at NITWIT.

    Although I knew exACERBATE and ACERBic, ACERBATES was a new one on me, never would have got it if I hadn’t been thoroughly traumatized by Psycho as a young person. BARLEY WINE was another NHO, but it had to be.

    Thanks Beck and Cedric!

  22. Children’s football was hat free – must mean spring has sprung. Came to this after making countless BLTs for lunches and enjoyed it. Struggled to untangle BARLEY WINE and didn’t parse ENNUI and enjoyed the moment with I saw I needed ACE from ‘one’ and ACERBATES appeared. All green in a shade under 21.

  23. 23:33. Hard struggle but some lovely clues- especially enjoyed BUDDY, COMPETENCE, and IPANEMA. NHO CAPTCHA, EWASTE, or ACERBATES(though I did know exacerbates). Thinking of the saga of my life I always see myself as an ANTIHERO, whereas acquaintances more often use the term NITWIT.

    1. I can’t begin to imagine anyone would think of you as a NITWIT. Not even a nit or twit but more likely something of a wit.

  24. 16:10 (premiere of Shakespeare’s Macbeth)

    A fast start, then hit the buffers with 8a, where I read “cracked up on the air” as indicating that I needed a homophone of something meaning “cracked up”. I ended up pausing, and coming back hours later, at which point I still needed to trawl for words that fitted before the penny finally dropped.

    Thanks Cedric and Beck

  25. 14.23 With a good chunk of the time on the last three, NITWIT, IPANEMA and the NHO ACERBATES. ENNUI was biffed. Thanks Cedric and Beck.

  26. DNF

    Had to guess the last 2 letters of the NHO ACERBATES. Guessed wrong. Tried AREPBATES without any confidence. Otherwise would have bee 14 minutes.

  27. 22:02 here, with a lucky mental coin-flip between ACERBATES and AREPBATES for my LOI. If “acerbic” had come to mind, that would have been a big help.

    COD to ANTIHERO: I’ve seen “on the air” so many times as a homophone indicator that it was a lovely PDM when I realized it was the anagram fodder today.

    Thanks to Cedric and Beck.

  28. Crikey! Another real toughie. I got home in 34 minutes, which is not bad for me, but only because of some lucky guessing (e.g. IPANEMA). LEI was another NHO, as was ACERBATES. ENNUI was simply unparsable, and AT STAKE and LAMBDA were my last two in.

    Please can we start next week with Trelawney, Mara, Hurley and Oink?

    Many thanks to Beck and Cedric.

  29. 10:37

    Felt somewhat slow today and like Cedric had a problem parsing ENNUI – got it only after completion. Similar with the seemingly obvious APPAREL. Liked IPANEMA, E-WASTE and CAPTCHA.

    Thanks to Beck (sorry, the nina was miles over my head) and to Cedric for the elucidations

  30. So glad to hear that I wasn’t the only one perplexed by ennui – thanks for the parsing!!

    I didn’t get LAMBDA – I reckoned it was a greek letter but I can’t rattle off the alphabet, if I’d looked at it, I might have picked up on lambda – but I was falling asleep at the stage.
    QC – doing it’s job. I do it in bed as a way to turn my brain off from the day’s whizzing thoughts, and sometimes fall asleep pen in hand!!

  31. Didn’t do this on Saturday as out in a craft beer taproom – which perhaps made barley wine come to mind a little more easily. After DNF on Thurs/Fri, I found this surprisingly friendly. And got through it in 16 minutes although leaving ennui unparsed and guessing at Lambda.

  32. Congratulations to The Times and our esteemed blogger for my years of mental exercise and enjoyment here. I rarely venture to the Biggie, happy as I am here (and oft in the SCC), although the occasional excursion makes me appreciate here all the more. Here’s to many more.
    A friendly exercise today, avoiding the SCC in celebration.


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