Quick Cryptic 2256 by Joker

I found this fairly straightforward, but in retrospect there are a few devices that might be more at home in the 15×15. Generally fun with lots of nice surfaces, though.  6 minutes for me, I’ll be interested to see how everybody gets on.

1 Rush died beside tree (4)
DASH – D for died + ASH
3 How pupils end up dead cute with exercise (8)
EDUCATED – anagram (‘with exercise’) of DEAD CUTE
8 One of the stone circle sites — Aubrey reconstructed about five (7)
AVEBURY – anagram (‘reconstructed’) of AUBREY around V
10 Exposed, took a winding path, hiding head (5)
NAKED – SNAKED minus the first letter
11 I call parson about troublemaker (11)
RAPSCALLION – anagram (‘about’) of I CALL PARSON
13 Seafood soup is confined to British Quebec (6)
BISQUE – B is British, QUE is Quebec (traditional abbreviation), and IS is ‘confined’ between them.
15 British benefit, getting hunting dog (6)
17 What olive oil can be more unused? (5,6)
20 Conflict about the empty lake’s contents (5)
WATER – WAR outside TE (THE without its ‘contents’)
21 Military type regularly is harmful before unfinished attack (7)
SAMURAI – alternate letters of iS hArMfUl + RAI[d]
22 Hold up vessel carrying cereal product (8)
BRANDISH – A Bran Dish is a dish with bran in it.
23 Mountain visible in Khyber, generally (4)
BERG – hidden word: KhyBER Generally
1 Help over ethnic group in critical attack (8)
DIATRIBE – DIA (= AID backwards, i.e. ‘over’) + TRIBE
2 Highly inclined to soak (5)
STEEP – double definition
4 Very bright 24-hours — see about golf? (3-3)
DAY-GLO – DAY (24hrs) + LO outside G for Golf (NATO alphabet). Note that ’24hrs’ can also refer to any individual day of the week.
5 Having some friends for dinner? (11)
CANNIBALISM – A very tricky CD, where the crossers might tempt you into CONVIVALISM or something of the sort.
6 Winnings thanks to court cards (7)
TAKINGS – TA (thanks) + KINGS
7 Please note bird that’s passed (4)
DODO – DO (please…) + DO (note – do re me etc)
9 Male relative almost spoke without too much muddle (11)
UNCLUTTERED – UNCL[e] + UTTERED. In hindsight I can see this might trip up the unwary. ‘Without’ in the QC is a big banner saying ‘place one word outside another’, whereas here it is sneakily part of the definition.
12 Sting is the cryptic outcome of this still (8)
STANDING – STING is ‘ST’ and ‘ING’ = STANDING. This requires the solver to think like a setter, which is also a device that I think sits better in the 15×15. I notice also we don’t seem to have a word for this sort of reverse-engineered clue. Any suggestions?
14 Carpets woven in ranges of colours (7)
SPECTRA – anagram (‘woven’) of CARPETS
16 US state, not a Republican state (6)
KANSAS – ARKANSAS minus A and R. You can argue amongst yourselves which ‘state’ should be underlined.
18 Blood around small prickly plant (5)
GORSE – GORE round S
19 Cries noisily over losing large pad (4)
SWAB – BAWLS backwards minus L for large

55 comments on “Quick Cryptic 2256 by Joker”

  1. 11 minutes, so I’m back in my amber zone once again. I don’t know what delayed me, but possibly the parsing at 13ac where I had to look twice to work out that ‘Quebec’ gave us QUE instead of the standard Q as in the NATO alphabet.

  2. Bunged in STANDING as LOI not understanding what was going on. This follows finishing yesterday’s QC and Telegraph puzzles in good time before solving precisely one clue in the 15×15. Which both puts me off more train travel and proves Curarist’s point – that was a clue too tough for QC mortals! Started well, held up in the SW and STANDING before submitting in 13 only to find I’ve used the A twice in RAPSCALLIaN – careless. Good one! Might try to 15×15 later.

  3. 9.57 WOE

    Found this a bit tricky or more likely was a bit sluggish.

    Stuck in CON thinking exactly as Curarist surmised and forgot to change it when the light dawned on CANNIBALISM hence the typo

    Nice neat crossword

    Thanks all

  4. I didn’t know that ‘Quebec’ is NATO’s Q, so I had no problem with QUE. I did have a bit of a problem with BRANDISH, in that I was taking ‘carrying’ to indicate inclusion. We recently had CANNIBALISM in a 15×15, so I was ready for this one. 5:27.

  5. FOI: DASH quickly followed by DIATRIBE.
    26 minutes with a chunk spent on my LOI: the BIFD STANDING working out the parsing which I prefer to include in my solving time.
    Other than that fairly straightforward.
    My favourite is the simple BRANDISH.

  6. Felt chewy in places but no significant delays. Immediately thought of the quote from Silence of the Lambs when I saw COD 5d but held off writing CANNIBALISM in until I had a few checkers.
    Started with the 1s and finished with an unparsed STANDING in 9.20 with WOD to RAPSCALLION, which I really want to fit into a conversation at some point today.
    Thanks to Curarist

  7. 11 minutes for the second day in a row. I saw RAPSCALLION immediately, which helped, and lots to like in this puzzle. I’m very happy, and now have time to finish the new Reacher. Thanks both.

    1. I’ve just started reading the Reacher books. Finished the first one recently. Very much enjoyed it. I also watched the Amazon TV series, which I enjoyed too.

  8. A nice puzzle from Joker, as usual. I was amused by CANNIBALISM, but thought it more likely you would eat your enemies first and STANDING, which I agree is more 15×15 – I call these clues “reverse cryptics”, but I’m not sure where I got the term from. I also liked BRANDISH, my LOI, and KANSAS. Thank-you Joker and Curarist. 5:15.

    1. I believe the line about having a friend for dinner is from The Silence of the Lambs.

  9. Tough. I pieced it all together and avoided the SCC but did not enjoy it, despite a few neat and clever clues. John M.

    1. Looking at other comments, it must be very wavelenght/setter-dependent. To check my mental faculties, I just had a go at the online DT 15×15 cryptic and did it in a shorter time than this QC. Perhaps all is not lost for my remaining brain cells. John

      1. For the tie-breaker, you could always have a go at yesterday’s 15×15, which has a two figure Snitch that I still can’t believe.
        On edit: Given Busman’s comment below, can I be clear that I think yesterday’s Snitch was about 50 short

        1. Meant to look up the Snitch for yesterday. Worst I’ve done in my infrequent stabs. Might sneak a peek today.

        2. I only did yesterday’s 15×15 at a very late stage, and didn’t visit the blog – but my Snitch rating was astronomically good 😊

  10. Raced through today as I seemed to be on the wavelength for once, then came to a halt at the bottom. Having solved SAMURAI, had to look up states for KANSAS then finished BRANDISH. Also hesitated about LOI STANDING.
    Pity about the US state as I had been doing so well.
    AVEBURY wd be obscure to non Brits. Liked RAPSCALLION, BASSET, SWAB, DIATRIBE.
    Thanks vm, Curarist.

  11. A good offering from the Joker who rarely disappoints. All done and dusted in 8.52, so over a minute inside schedule. My feeling is that it was tougher than my individual time suggested, and that I was simply on form for a change. What a great word is RAPSCALLION, which sounds so descriptive. I have seen it a few times over the years, so wasn’t held up.

  12. 12 minutes today after a very fast start. FOI DASH and then no hold-ups until I stopped to consider how STANDING worked; never quite got to the bottom of it, so thanks for the explanations here. RAPSCALLION required a lot of letters and a long look.
    LOI was CANNIBALISM where I had pencilled in ING at the end. This delayed the arrival of the SAMURAI (POI).
    Some clever clueing. My favourites were WATER and SWAB.

  13. 08:52 but WOE indeed, managing to enter UNCLUSTERED.

    I thought that was pretty tough. I am weak on US states and was only rescued by the Wizard of Oz; I only got BRANDISH by trying to work “boat” in; and for SWAB it took me ages to see that “over” meant reversal in a down clue.

    So well beaten by Joker today. Thanks to him and to Curarist. Thanks also for all good wishes yesterday – on the mend, thankfully.


  14. Started well with 1ac and 5ac going straight in. Struggled a bit with the remaining across clues but then picked up speed once I started on the downs. In the end I was quite disappointed to record a time of 19 minutes – it felt faster. Never parsed STANDING or KANSAS so thanks to Curarist for the explanations on those.

    FOI – 1ac DASH
    LOI – 12dn STANDING
    COD – 5dn CANNIBALISM but also liked EXTRA VIRGIN and SPECTRA

  15. I got off to a flying start and had everything in place in 8 minutes except CANNIBALISM and STANDING so unfortunately a DNF for me.

    Although I gave up on it I particularly liked the clue for CANNIBALISM but I agree that STANDING is perhaps a step too far for a QC. Nevertheless an entertaining and enjoyable offering.

  16. 22 mins, but dnf as I got 12dn wrong and put “stunning” – didn’t really get what was going on with his clue to be honest.

    The rest were typical Joker difficulty I thought. Liked 11ac “Rapscallion”, 4dn “Day Glo” and 9dn “Uncluttered”

    FOI – 1ac “Dash”
    LOI – 12dn – incorrect
    COD – 5dn “Cannibalism” – definitely conjoured up an image of Anthony Hopkins jauntily walking as the end credits began to roll….

    Thanks as usual!

  17. Unfortunately I was unable to complete this puzzle due to 12d. To me this clue was absolute nonsense. I had no idea where even to start with this one. Blogger suggests it would be more at home in the 15×15. I agree.

    Also I did not see how friend fits in the clue for 5d. I did manage to answer this one, but can’t quite see why friends was used as part of the clue. Why friends rather than, say, people? What is the relevance of friends?

    4d. See = Lo and Golf = G. I get that. But to say “see about golf” suggests to me that LO goes around G, i.e G goes inside LO, which would give us LGO. I felt that this was poor on the setter’s part.

    Other than that I really did enjoy this puzzle, even though it was a DNF. I have found Joker’s name quite apt in the past in that he must be having a joke with us with the high difficulty of many of his “QCs”. This was one of his better ones I feel.

    1. Unless you are a very generous host, it’s more common to have friends round for dinner than people in general. Also, the G goes between Day and Lo, not just in the middle of Lo. You have to ignore punctuation in clues, as it’s only there to confuse. I’m tempted to say the same about the word order. . .

    2. I came here to ask about the same thing re: see about Golf! I’m glad I wasn’t the only one confused and Invariant’s explanation makes total sense 😀

    3. I abandoned hope of solving 12dn and simply put STANDING on the basis it was a synonym for STILL. Sometimes that’s all you can do.

  18. After discovering late last night that there’s no such thing as a Z MOVIE (though I’m sure I’ve seen a few !) I fared much better this morning. My LOI was a delightful PDM – my sort of clue 👍

    TIME 4:17

  19. A good start, (with Dash and Educated going straight in), had me thinking that the friendly Joker of old had returned. Reality struck about half way through the solve when I finally got the letters of Rapscallion in the right order, and realised that a tentative Conviviality clashed with Samurai. Parsing Conviviality was always going to be a tall order, so I was more than happy to have a re-think. I had already crossed into the SCC before I worked out loi Swab, so I decided to spend what proved to be an ultimately frustrating couple of minutes trying to parse Standing, before giving up around the 25min mark. A good clue, but quite a stretch for the QC. CoD to the more traditional 1d, Diatribe. Invariant

  20. An enjoyable and very interesting puzzle, so thanks Joker, and Curarist for explaining STANDING which I “knew” was right (but not why) thanks to the strong hint kindly given in the wordplay that something funny was going on.
    I thought for 5d that “Having some foes for dinner?” would have been more accurate and arguably even more amusing, but though I quickly guessed saw the joke with just C?N??…, I thought “surely not!” and did not put it in until confirmed by crossers. There were several other frustrating “surely not” moments before suddenly I had a filled grid and the frustration was worth it. FOI DASH, LOI STANDING, COD, from several with delightful surfaces, UNCLUTTERED.

  21. Oh dear, I’m getting worse! It took me 35 mins to crawl over the line today. STANDING was unparsed and desperately wanted to put PE into EDUCATED (haven’t seen ‘exercise’ as an anagram indicator to date). Liked RAPSCALLION – what an amazing word – and DODO. Many thanks to curarist and Joker.

  22. Biffed STANDING, though I spotted that STING was most of the letters, but never went further than that. I sometimes get this type of clue, sometimes don’t. No problem with it being included here.

    Otherwise, I was dragged over my target by this puzzle, but I enjoyed it nonetheless, one of those where I had to parse properly.

    STEEP was LOI, mainly because I was too dim to put in DASH straightaway, thinking of ASH?, ELM? and OAK?, before moving on and coming back to that corner at the end.



  23. 13 minutes on this quite tricky puzzle. I started well enough and some just jumped in – AVEBURY, BISQUE and BERG almost wrote themselves, but SWAB,CANNIBALISM, DODO and STANDING took their time. I really wasn’t sure about the last one, but entered it with a shrug, having parsed it approximately along the same lines as Curarist. My suggestion for such a clue style? Under the circumstances a STINGER!
    FOI Dash LOI Standing COD Takings WOD Rapscallion
    Thanks Joker and Curarist

  24. 12:41 but with a good three minutes trying to work out STANDING. I came to the blog for the parsing. The spelling of CANNIBALISM eluded me for some time and KANSAS was a late parse. I think I’d rate this one as quite tricky.

  25. Very enjoyable 19 minutes.
    I surprised myself by seeing Rapscallion quickly – not a word I thought that I knew.
    I enjoyed Extra Virgin and many others.
    LOI Standing – knew it had to be but couldn’t quite see why but saw St and ing and assumed it was right… without quite understanding why.
    Kansas went in again needing the blog to clarify – but have seen similar before.
    Thanks all

  26. 11:51. Took longest to see SWAB was a sort of pad and that “still” meant STANDING in one context . Fortunate to have heard about AVEBURY somewhere. One or two clues as hard as STANDING per QC are okay by me as they help stretch my solving ability-onward and upward!

  27. I was well beaten by STANDING, but now I see how it works it’s my COD. DNF, but enjoyed my 22 minutes getting the rest of the clues.

  28. 12 minutes, but Dodo not parsed (didn’t see Please = do, still don’t entirely but will remember it for future use) and Standing put in only after a word search as the most plausible of several possibilities. Lucky guess but I had no idea what was going on!

    I think Joker tried quite hard to indicate that 12D was not a standard QC clue and like curryowen I don’t mind the odd escapee from the 15×15, but Joker seems to put a sting in the tail in most of his puzzles these days. Is he trying to change his name to Scorpion 🦂perhaps?

    Many thanks to Curarist for the blog

    1. I share your misgivings over do/please, Cedric ,and had intended to mention this in my original comment. There may be a context in which they can be substituted, but I have failed to think of one, and the fact that they’re not supported as synonyms in my thesaurus only adds to my doubts.

        1. I see what you mean, but I remain unconvinced I think. English has three present tenses, viz I go, I am going and I do go, with the third being the emphatic version. So I understand “Do let me have …” as merely the emphatic version of “Let me have”, without any real hint of “please” in it. People may treat it as more polite, but that isn’t to my mind the same as saying please.

          But I accept it is a nuance. And if the language was completely cut and dried, we would hardly have crosswords at all!

          1. I think the tone of voice used in ‘do let me have’ can encompass the full range from a fairly strict command to a humble request. In any case, I’m content that Joker has more than enough leeway to cover this little teaser. After all, a four letter passed/dead/extinct bird really doesn’t leave many options – unless Norwegian is silent 😉

    1. 17 clues? A big improvement, I think. Very commendable, given the difficulty of today’s puzzle.

  29. A steady solve for me, with just STANDING causing any real problem. I worked out the answer a few minutes after my penultimate one in (SWAB) but couldn’t parse it properly. Didn’t think too much about DODO, but might not someone reply to a generous offer of “Shall I do …. for you?” with the words “Oh do” or “Oh please”.
    COD to BASQUE, Time 21:24. Thanks Joker and Curarist.

  30. put stunning not standing
    can parse it quite happily
    put Basque not bisque due to french connection
    oh well

  31. 24:39

    A steady solve all but done in 18 minutes but really struggled on the last 2, not helped by putting PAINTING for 12dn which made BASSET hard to spot before finally seeing LOI STANDING.

  32. It was all going so well, but I seemed to hit the wall with around half a dozen clues to go. All of those clues were on the RHS of the grid. I got there in the end, but 20-25 minutes became 46 minutes, I’m afraid.

    I never parsed DODO (‘Please’ =DO? I don’t thinks so.), KANSAS or STANDING (my LOI).
    Not being a doggy person, I completely forgot that BASSET hounds were a thing.
    CANNIBALISM, NAKED and EDUCATED all had me beaten for ages.

    Mrs Random never worries about not being able to parse a few awkward clues. She just writes in the correct answers, and she did so today in 22 minutes.

    Many thanks to Joker and Curarist.

  33. Sorry but I don’t understand 12dn. Can someone explain this?

    I finished in well over an hour. Awful.

    1. Think of it as a clue in reverse. STING is the answer if you join ST and ING , and Standing (ie St-and-ing) is a type of still, as in the expression ‘standing still’. A bit torturous, granted, but it does work.

  34. 30 minutes to finish with SPECTRA once I’d corrected ULTRA to EXTRA VIRGIN being the slightly inferior grade 😂 I was also fooled by BRAN not being inside the DISH but saw it finally. LOI

    I am happy with DO/please. Do have another slice of cake/Please have another piece of cake.

    Thanks setter and blogger

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