Quick Cryptic 1844 by Mara

Posted on Categories Quick Cryptic
This was a five-minute romp, and very wecome given my post-birthday hangover. It’s probably the easiest one I’ve ever blogged, despite the slighly unhelpful grid. Loads of double definitions. I did enjoy the freak of nature in 20d


8 Hiker, person walking past river (7)
RAMBLER – AMBLER (person walking) after R
9 Ultimately, meat beat fish (5)
TROUT – T (last letter of meat) + ROUT
10 Twisted insult (5)
WOUND – Double definition
11 Tree: talk about one (7)
12 It’s a paint that’s mixed up for starters (9)
ANTIPASTI – anagram (‘mixed up’) of ITS A PAINT
14 Shilling haircut? (3)
BOB – Double definition
16 Important access tool (3)
KEY – Double definition
18 Native of Borneo weaving a Tongan rug, shortly (9)
ORANGUTAN – anagram (‘weaving’) of A TONGAN RU (‘rug’ shortly)
21 Significant skill of narrator? (7)
TELLING – Double definition
22 Country embraced by Afghan, apparently (5)
GHANA – hidden word afGHAN Apparently
23 Points attained, twenty (5)
SCORE – Double definition
24 Cook learns nothing in Italian city (7)
SALERNO – anagram (‘cook’) of  LEARNS O

1 Disadvantage in ward, it’s suggested? (8)
DRAWBACK – cryptic definition. ‘ward’ is ‘draw’ back
2 A horse for a price (6)
3 Halfwit left stuffing fish (4)
CLOD – COD with L inside
4 A scarf unravelled, for scrap (6)
FRACAS – anagram (‘unravelled’) of  A SCARF
5 Position in forest and in garden (8)
STANDING – hidden word: foreST AND IN Garden
6 Study marvellous talk (6)
7 Southern sailor is a celebrity (4)
13 Around motorway, shocking periods anticipated (8)
PROMISED – anagram (‘shocking’) of PERIODS around MI
15 Block above a mean house (8)
17 A shade cowardly (6)
YELLOW – Double definition
19 Impressive summer period (6)
AUGUST – Double definition
20 Samovar, say, freak of nature? (3,3)
TEA URN – anagram (‘freak’) of NATURE
21 Ending on benefit, request job (4)
22 Female put on a charity event (4)

64 comments on “Quick Cryptic 1844 by Mara”

  1. A strange solve for me as I got nothing on my first run through until BOB, so I thought it was going to be a tricky solve. The bottom half then went in smoothly and on revisiting the top someone seemed to have changed the clues from ones I couldn’t make head or tail of to ones that were relatively straightforward. I finished in the NE with LOI STANDING in 7.41.
    Thanks to curarist
  2. 18 minutes; slower than it should have been, but the NW corner held me up. Loved DRAWBACK once the penny finally dropped! I too enjoyed the freak of nature. Thanks to blogger and to Mara for an enjoyable puzzle.
  3. 6 minutes here (fully parsed). Paused momentarily to check the anagrist and avoid ANTIPASTo at 12ac, and came close to biffing SorentO at 24ac.
    1. I thought I done quite well to be all green in 13 but then I saw Kevin’s time rather further up the leaderboard — currently 7th! Only four on the first pass of acrosses so plenty of work still to do but then made fair progress, particularly enjoying FRACAS emerging from unpromising looking anagrist. Ended up with WOUND where different pronunciations of the same word held me up yet again — until I had three of the five letters from checkers — helped by finally getting KEY where the K helped massively with DRAWBACK — and that gave the W for WOUND! A Good end to a good crosswording week! Happy Easter!

      Edited at 2021-04-02 07:00 am (UTC)

      1. No. 9 on the leaderboard, but 7th among real solvers: Abramovitz and Gunnergray are neutrinos. 3:48.
        1. I’ve always assumed abramovitz was genuine — impressive to bother to reenter so consistently over such a long period! I shall start to take pleasure in his typos.
          1. Go to the SNITCH and click on ‘neutrinos’ at the top of the page; you’ll get a list and an explanation of how Starstruck determines who is.
              1. Near the top of the page on the right, you’ll see LINKS, one of which is ‘Crossword SNITCH’. Click on that and all will be revealed.
      2. I agree, Mendeset. A really fair bunch of quick cryptics this week. Very enjoyable. Maybe the crossword editor does read the comments.
        Happy Easter to all!
  4. … with a 12 minute solve. It would have been faster but my LOI 6D Confab slowed me down — I am not familiar with this spelling and always thought it was Conflab with an L. A quick internet search reveals both are acceptable though.

    Nearly put in Appetiser for 12A, before I decided that perhaps checking the anagrist might be wise. But otherwise few hold-ups and several write-ins — unusual for a Mara puzzle for me.

    19D August reminds me of the time when cricket still had amateur players at the top level (we are talking about 60 years ago so I am showing my age here a bit). The headmaster at my school was a very good cricketer and made use of his long summer holidays to play cricket for Somerset as an amateur. Seeing a reference one day in the club’s notes to their “August amateurs”, he felt this was great respect … until someone pointed out that the emphasis was not on the second syllable, ie augUST, but the first!

    Many thanks to Curarist for the blog, and a good weekend to all

    1. CONFAB is a shortened form of “confabulation”, so the L would be an unwanted insertion. It’s another instance of common usage taking over from common sense, as in “I should of” or “they were talking ten to the dozen”.
  5. So thanks Curarist – there were several here I was not sure of. 32 mins.
  6. 31m58s. FOI 1d DRAWBACK. When I first asked someone about cryptics decades ago, two examples he gave me were “ward” for “drawback” and “draw” for “backward”. LOI 20d TEA URN. COD the aforementioned 1d. A very enjoyable solve. Many thanks to Mara and to curarist (along with belated birthday wishes). A happy Easter to all.
  7. At last! Either a genuine QC or my brain has kicked in for once. Just over 9 mins (all parsed) which makes a great change for me. A good start to the long weekend. I quite liked RAMBLER and AUGUST and must confess to solving DRAWBACK from scratch with the help of crossers (my almost wipe-clean memory is a handicap, especially for chestnuts like this). Thanks to Mara for a gentle, enjoyable and confidence-boosting outing and to curarist for the blog. Now to do the Private Eye Cryptic. John M.

    Edited at 2021-04-02 09:39 am (UTC)

  8. 9:48 – close to a Personal Best

    Spellings of ANTIPASTA and ORANUTANG both stopped what would have been a PB. With both of those wrong that made 5d particularly hard. I think they are both mis-spellings I have made my whole life, and they both fitted the crossers at the time and the anagram.

    CON=Study seems archaic usage


    1. Antipasta doesn’t fit the anagram though — you’d need three A’s and only one I. I checked it carefully before shoving the I on the end !
  9. I did not rate this as easy and was pleased to finish in 10:58.
    LOI was STANDING and earlier ORANGUTAN held me up as I had to write out the anagrist and decide what letters to include.
    COD to TEA URN; agree with our blogger.
    Some traps for the unwary here.

    Edited at 2021-04-02 09:10 am (UTC)

  10. No hold ups here though not close to pb territory.

    SAMOVAR reminded me of being served tea on a train coming back through the Urals, lying on a bunk hearing the clickety-clack of the wheels on the track, and being a million miles away from being in the office

    Almost as relaxing as still lazing in bed on Good Friday 🙂

    1. You have prompted a memory of a unique rail journey from Moscow to St Petersburg as part of a mind-opening Russian trip 30 years ago. Yes, the samovar was always hot and available as we trundled through little Russian villages. Even better than a lie-in. Thanks. John

      Edited at 2021-04-02 12:25 pm (UTC)

      1. Did the same Journey two years ago and I promise you it’s still the same samovar
  11. Was a bit dim in SE despite ORANGUTAN being one of my FOsI. Did not see hidden GHANA at first. Also unnecessarily slow on SALERNO.

    RAMBLER seemed too easy so I hesitated. Liked CONIFER, CONFAB, TELLING.
    Entered DRAWBACK but only now see that back is there because ward is backwards. Phew.

    A witty puzzle which I enjoyed after a relatively successful QC week.
    Thanks all, esp Curarist.
    What are neutrinos?

    1. I can give you a long answer involving quite a bit of particle physics, but the short answer is Neutrinos are people who re-type their answers to get an artificially quick time.

      Edited at 2021-04-02 09:45 am (UTC)

      1. Am total expert on particle physics, having once visited CERN thirty years ago, but amused to hear about the crossword neutrino. I had imagined there must be a sinister crossword robot.

        Edited at 2021-04-02 12:24 pm (UTC)

  12. Made reasonable progress with this one, but postulated BAN for block at 15d and forgot to change it when GALOW went in. Poor proof reading! 8:13 and WOE is me. Thanks Mara and Curarist, and happy hangover!
  13. Reasonably quick for me, but clearly not as quick (relatively speaking) as for some others, as I took 19:51. I suspect there might be a few slower solvers yet to post especially among the less experienced. DRAWBACK is more of a challenge if you haven’t seen it before and I really should have remembered it sooner. A good variety of anagram indicators I thought. Didn’t recognise “shocking” or “freak of” as such for quite a while. Thanks to Mara and Curarist.
  14. FOI: 14a BOB

    Time to Complete: 55 minutes

    Clues Answered Correctly without aids: 25

    Clues Answered with Aids (3 lives): 1d

    Clues Unanswered: Nil

    Wrong Answers: Nil

    Total Correctly Answered (incl. aids): 26/26

    Aids Used: Chambers

    It is Good Friday, in more ways than one. I have a completed solve!

    8a. RAMBLER – Although I got this one quite quickly, the “person” in the clue threw me. I saw walk and believed it was “amble”. Past river told me there was an R at the start or end. I guessed it went at the end, and that left an R at the start. I could not work out why R = person. I put it in anyway as it was obvious to me that the answer was Rambler. When I came here, I saw that, of course, I should have been looking at “a person walking” (ambler), with the River at the start.

    13d. PROMISED – It took me a long time to realise “shocking” was indicating an anagram.

    12a. ANTIPASTI – This was my last one in as I had not heard of this word before. I had A_T_P_S_I and mucking about with the remaining letters of the anagram, this was the nearest I saw to being a word. So, in it went with some trepidation.

    My first full solve in the past two weeks.

  15. Despite it being Mara on a Friday, this turned out to be a fairly straightforward top to bottom solve in 19mins. My only real hold up was 21ac, where I was never happy with Talking even though it was supported by all the crossers. A last minute re-visit finally prompted the more obvious Telling. CoD to 1d, Drawback, that uses a common enough 15×15 technique, but one that I don’t recall seeing in the QC before. Invariant
  16. Not so easy for me as it was for others it seems, I went a minute over target, held up by not checking the anagrist for 12a and entering ANTIPASTA instead of ANTIPASTI ( I can never remember whether it finishes with A, I or O!). This made 5d impossible until I spotted my mistake.

    After making use of HOG as a slang term for a shilling in my April Fool etymology yesterday (it really is slang for shilling), we have another today with BOB. We also have EARN hiding in the 6th column, which caused some solvers problems yesterday as a homophone of ERNE, which should have been their answer. Sheer serendipity I am sure.

    Thanks both, and very good times everyone except me!

    1. Yes, I often biff on the basis of a partial reading — I got it wrong at first with Palermo/Salerno today (and bleached/blanched yesterday) and I was almost tempted to put tea pot instead of tea urn today (but woke up in time). It isn’t often that I undercut your time (if ever) so an extra fillip for me today. I know it won’t last!

      Edited at 2021-04-02 09:29 am (UTC)

    2. Rotter:
      Ending with O = one simple starter; ending with I, a whole platter of starters; ending with A, doesn’t exist.
    3. Hi Rotter — if you’re “anti pasta” you’re gluten intolerant. Antipasto is a single appetiser, whereas antipasti is generally a range of them displayed on a menu (although if you’re a trencherman like me….)
  17. Finished and enjoyed, thanks all.

    Now I know what a neutrino is — I often wondered and never got around to asking. I looked up the”real” answer, and understood.


  18. About ten minutes, fully parsed for once. A very friendly offering from Mara even though bob was my FOI. Five acrosses on first pass, but the rest fell into place once the downs started going in. LOI promised. Had the MI in early but needed the O from the Orang-utan (which means man of the forest, which helps me to remember where the g goes for some reason). Only got rambler after 1, 2, 3 and 4 down because a rambler is a walker, and why was the river needed? Ah, the ambler. COD amount. Thanks, Curarist, and Mara. Happy Easter, everyone. GW.
  19. I was another with the ANTIPASTA mistake and also struggled to spell ORANGUTAN having to recheck the letters on offer for both.
    1. I think Antipasta sounds like a lady who loves to lunch — but only on the first course! “She’s quite the antipasta, my dear …”
      1. Perhaps I have misinterpreted this comment, Cedric. It doesn’t sound quite right. Can you explain what is the main course? Thanks.
        1. Apologies oldblighter! It was merely a whimsy. As I suspect most know, Antipasti means “the bits before the pasta course”, ie the nice small dishes, usually cold, offered by many Italian restaurants at the start of the meal. For some people they’re the best bit, and I was imagining a lady diner who only wanted the antipasti and could pass on all the rest. And just as a curry-ista is a joking way of referring to someone who loves curries, so perhaps antipasta for someone who loves antipasti. That was all — not really very deep at all …
          1. ‘Merely a whimsy’. What a fine phrase. I suspect most know quite a bit about Italian dining, and perhaps more. Thank you, Cedric.
  20. This is what I imagined a QC would be like… ie totally solvable! (about time for me!)

    Despite putting TALKING in for TELLING in 12A ( a biff rather than a parse fault here) I found this a straightforward, ego-boosting QC.

    Thank you to Mara and Happy Easter weekend.

  21. Rattled through this in the (for me) fast time of 10 minutes but unfortunately I was another that had TALKING at 21ac. It seemed to make some sort of sense at the time so I never considered an alternative. I also lost a bit of time on ORANGUTAN as I was unsure where to place the G and didn’t have any crossers in at the time. Entered it with fingers crossed and managed to get it right first time.

    FOI – 9ac TROUT
    LOI – 22dn GALA
    COD – a toss up between 1dn DRAWBACK and 14ac BOB

    Thanks to setter and blogger

  22. 20 mins all completed apart from 20dn. DNK “Samovar” and the parsing passed me by which was annoying. Upon seeing the answer something did stir in my memory from crosswords past.

    FOI — 8ac “Rambler”
    LOI — 20dn — dnf
    COD — 13dn “Promised”

    Thanks as usual.

  23. … but still in the SCC. My second 21-minute solve this week, and it felt like a sprint. I didn’t find anything particularly tricky and the answers just seemed to keep coming. I wonder what it feel’s like to complete a QC in 15, 10 or 5 minutes. My only real hesitation was 6d (CONFAB), as I don’t equate CON with ‘study’ and also as I have always thought of it as ‘conflab’.

    Mrs R had a similar experience today, finishing in 24 minutes after a bit of a hold up with BUNGALOW, SALERNO and TEA URN in the SE corner. So, it is indeed a Good Friday in the Random household.

    Many thanks to Mara and to curarist for the blog.

  24. What wasn’t to enjoy about Mara’s test today – lots of excellent anagrams and clever clues. We finished in about 9 minutes (had technical issues with my iPad – it seemed to have sticky keys).


    Thanks to Mara and Curarist.

    Happy Easter!

  25. ….and a nicely constructed puzzle. I blame my finishing less quickly than Kevin on taking too long to spot what was happening with PROMISED.

    COD WOUND (a lovely example of an eye rhyme)
    TIME 3:56

  26. My first QC (1625, Joker) on 1st June last year ended inauspiciously after an hour of struggle in a DNF with 7 clues unsolved. Worse was to come a week later (1631, Orpheus) when I gave up after a similar time with 12 clues (half the crossword) remaining unsolved. However, I plugged away and by the end of that first month I had successfully solved a handful of puzzles, although my median performance was still a DNF (with 2 unsolved clues).
    N.B. I use the median (rather than the mean) because of the difficulty of assigning finishing times to DNFs.

    Fast forwarding to now, my current solve-ratio is around 70% in a median time of 47 minutes which, when compared to Mrs R (90% in 33 minutes), still leaves me trailing in this household. Nevertheless, given the amount of effort and anguish involved, I am delighted to see some real progress.

    Among the primary (approx. fortnightly) and secondary (approx. monthly) setters, I have experienced most success with Hurley, Trelawney, Oink and Breadman, and the greatest difficulty with Orpheus, Teazel, Joker and Felix. How do others get on with different setters?

    Anyway, let’s hope it’s onwards and upwards from here, but no doubt with many lumps and bumps along the way.

    Many thanks to all setters, bloggers and others for helping me develop a new skill, even though Mrs R regards it as even less useful than the rest of my skill-set.

      1. Thankyou, and I agree. It’s still pleasing, however, to have made some recognisable progress for the time and effort expended.
    1. Many congratulations on your great progress. I was pondering how to answer your earlier question about how it feels to finish in shorter times — I’d say how you must be feeling now! It can only get better still 😊 Re most difficult setters: I’d go along with three of your top four but would replace Joker with Pedro. I find Joker (who also sets the daily concise) varies the difficulty levels quite a bit.
      Thanks also for the most entertaining posts! Sometimes your comments about Mrs R make me wonder whether you could be Mr B’s doppelganger — I certainly have moments of recognition 😉
      1. Thankyou for your congratulations and comments, pebee. Despite the periodic frustration and disappointment, I have really enjoyed the process so far and I will continue to share my (and Mrs R’s) QC-related adventures.
        Also, please pass on my sympathies to Mr B, especially if, as you say, he might be my “doppelganger”. It’s exhausting trying to keep up with an altogether more competent member of the household.
        P.S. I notice you finished in 7 minutes. Fantastic! Even Mrs R hasn’t managed that yet. Her current PB is 11 minutes.
  27. 10:26 and well satisfied with this one both for (a) a good time for (b) a puzzle that was, I thought, quite tricky. I liked CONIFER, TELLING, DRAWBACK and AMOUNT. WOD FRACAS and COD TEA URN
  28. Thought this quite straightforward easily hitting my 20 minutes target though had to biff 6 dn as I too have always said conflab which is not in my phone app dictionary so a malapropism on my part? Q: how is study=con?
    I know of fabcon. My wife often puts this on the shopping list. Is it yet in the OED? Johnny
    1. Con meaning study is just one of those words in the dictionary that survives more in Crosswordland than in the real world. The definition is there if you look for it but I doubt you’ll ever hear anyone say it. In crosswords it crops up time and again. ‘Study’ also commonly stands for ‘den’ and ‘read’.

      ‘Conflab’ is a perfectly valid alternative to ‘confab’ and it’s the version I favour.

      Edited at 2021-04-02 02:00 pm (UTC)

    2. A poet starving in a garret, Conning all topics like a parrot (Swift) — Vinyl’s reply when I asked the same question about a year ago. 🙂
  29. Enjoyable — put in Fair at first for 22d but the helpful hidden Ghana put me right quickly.
    The chestnut Drawback took too long was still my penultimate and therefore Wound LOI (I had Bound as tentative).
    FOI Rambler
    COD Orangutan
    Confab worried me but pleased to read of the contraction elsewhere.
    Thanks all
    John George
  30. Made good progress until the nw corner which we made hard work of. Slow to see 16a and 3d, for no good reason. Blame the sunshine! A good Easter to all.
  31. Nice end to the week..not even finished the first course.
    Wound reminded us of a doctors mispronounciation of wound (used as in twist) when treating SWMBO on the side of a mountain
  32. Very late to post today having been on the motorway (no shocking anything thank goodness) to see my son for the first in six months.
    Completed this in 7 minutes — second time this week!
    FOI Rambler
    LOI Drawback
    COD Salerno — pasta but no antipasti for supper tonight!

    Thanks Mara and Curarist

  33. I thought Mara generous today. I had to wait until 12a Antipasti and 14a Bob for my first answers. The bottom half went in pretty easily and then I had to work harder for the top. FOI 12 Antipasti – had me thinking for the first time about enjoying dining out after a year of ‘staying in’. LOI 1d Drawback – I hadn’t seen this device in a QC before. COD 9a Trout for an amusing and concise clue. Having just the O for 24a I had first thought of Palermo and Sorrento, and then saw it was an anagram so Salerno was the answer (although I had thought it ended -mo. Reminded me of too much time wasted staring at airport departure boards around Europe in an earlier career… Thanks for a really enjoyable puzzle from one of my more challenging setters, Mara, and for an interesting blog from Curarist.
    1. We had a clue a few weeks ago where the solution provided the instruction for how to arrive at the the definition. Unfortunately, I can’t remember the clue, but I will post if I do.

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