Quick Cryptic 2384 by Joker

Largely straightforward, but I came in way over par at 9 minutes because I spent ages blankly staring at my COD, the rather wonderful 7dn. Honourable mentions also for 1dn and 6dn.

1 Disagreement with info held by frogman about middle of ocean (10)
DIVERGENCE –  Info is GEN, ‘held’ inside DIVER + C (about) + E (middle of ‘ocean’)
8 Son has to study hard to beat it? (5)
9 Annoy river snake (7)
10 Cooks fruit in old vessel (9)
12 Name of girl out of Mannheim (3)
ANN – hidden word: mANNheim
13 In the middle of a second new group initially (5)
AMONG – A + MO (second) + N + G
15 Boxer, British one, finding reason not to charge? (5)
17 Note power circuit (3)
LAP – LA (note) + P
18 I get manic about puzzling (9)
ENIGMATIC – anagram (‘about’) of I GET MANIC
20 Group of creatures that is restricted by singular muscles (7)
SPECIES – IE inside S + PECS
21 Boast northern headgear (5)
22 I’m left unusual cane showing value (10)
IMPORTANCE – IM + PORT + anagram (‘unusual’) of CANE
1 Cruelly slash site bid and deprive of official support (12)
DISESTABLISH – anagram (‘cruelly’) of SLASH SITE BID
2 Poetry to run backwards — but not concerning (5)
VERSE – REVERSE minus RE (concerning)
3 Strange male following rugby union (3)
RUM – RU + M
4 Hearing organ finally start with melody rather low (6)
EARTHY – EAR + last letters of starT witH melodY
5 My last cop forged material in cell (9)
CYTOPLASM – anagram (‘forged’) of MY LAST COP
6 Extract of chalk, a limestone, would be this (6)
ALKALI – hidden word: chALK A LImestone, and also an &lit, meaning the whole clue is the definition
7 Open anger giving birthday present to burn? (12)
11 Attraction of magazine with new version of Times (9)
MAGNETISM – MAG + N + anagram (‘new version of’) of TIMES
14 Fish eagle round small something it’s killed? (6)
16 Debacle — fine one as company goes under (6)
FIASCO – F + I + AS + CO
19 Ripped when pierced by hard prickle (5)
THORN – TORN with H for hard added
21 Court impounding a pet? (3)
CAT – CT with A inside

77 comments on “Quick Cryptic 2384 by Joker”

  1. FRANKINCENSE (LOI) slowed me down, too; a lot, even with all the checkers in. Biffed the 1’s. 6:59

  2. I went fast through this but got stuck at the end with the two long down clues that I took some time to solve even with all the checkers. But got there in the end.

  3. 11 minutes with one error at 5dn where I tossed a coin to decide the placing of the O and the Y and it landed the wrong side up. CYTOPLASM has appeared only once before in the TfTT era (a 15×15 in 2016) so it seems a strange choice of word to include in a Quick Cryptic.

    Incidentally, Frankincense was a late ‘birthday present’ as it wasn’t delivered until Epiphany, traditionally celebrated on 6th January.

    1. I knew cyto-, -cyte as prefix/suffix meaning ‘cell’ (leucocyte, white blood cell), but having just now gone to ODE to refresh my memory, I find almost no cyte/cyto words that I recognize; leucocyte and cytology and nothing else. Not QC material, I suppose.

    2. Some sources don’t have the three wise men arriving in Bethlehem until a year or two after the birth since they had such a long journey from Persia, Sheba, India, Ethiopia, Arabia or wherever.

      1. Thanks. Yes, I was aware of this and also 1st January is recognised by some, so I made a point of saying ‘traditionally’.

  4. 15mins with FRANKINCENSE my LOI. I found this a bit of a slog but can’t really identify why.

    Thanks Joker and a Curarist.

  5. 14:25 University of Leuven founded

    Had Ectoplasm so couldn’t figure out the ending part of DIVERGENCE. Also worried about whether FRANKINCENSE and Incense could be spelt -NCE, as most nouns are, and as we Brits do when Americans prefer defense, license etc.

    LOI SPECIES where I had the IE in the wrong bit. I thought “singular muscles” would be pec, tricep, ab or quad.


    1. “Singular muscles” – so did I ! I suppose the lesson is that a group of two words is almost always deceptive, has to be separated.

  6. Took a long time at the end to get FRANKINCENSE, still hard even with all the checkers. Rather brilliant though. Also took a long time over CROWN and held myself up by having RATTLEs before revisting when FRANKINCENSE was proving too hard. Ended up all green in two seconds more than Merlin needed – I’ll take that. See you Monday!

  7. ☕️☕️☕️☕️ This was a very hard slog for me. One of the most difficult that I can remember, with 39:12 being my eventual time. (That’s very nearly a double SCC!) FRANKINCENSE I thought was a good clue but it took me forever to finally clock it, even with all the checkers in place. SCRAM was my last one in. I especially liked MAGNETISM.
    Still, despite the time I’m happy to have completed at least one QC all green this week .

    Today I plan to take a leisurely drive along the south coast to Canterbury, via Brighton, for a well earned two-night break and will do so with a little more self confidence, since it’s been an unusually tough week on the QC front. The weather forecast is for sunshine and 16 degrees, so something of a mini heatwave compared of late. 🌞 Phew!
    Have a good weekend all.

  8. Found this chewy in places and wasn’t helped by getting neither of the 1s quickly. In fact all the long perimeter answers put up a fight. I slowly tuned into Joker’s wavelength and surprisingly managed to finish just under target in 9.54 with the IMPORTANCE/CAT/CROWN intersection.
    Thanks to Curarist

  9. I feared the worst when none of the four long edge clues were soluble on first pass, but by chipping away at the innards of the puzzle their checkers slowly appeared, and then all 4 emerged in a rush for a pleasing (not to say rather surprising) completion in just over 8 minutes, thus completing an Excellent Week with a cumulative time for the 5 puzzles of well under the hour.

    LOI Frankincense, and the choice of -ENSE over -ENCE was put in with fingers crossed: the fact that the relevant word is Incense not Incence swayed it for me. Cytoplasm is indeed a challenging word for a QC, and perhaps somewhat specialist GK – I can categorically say I have never used it in real life.

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

  10. A shade under 10 minutes. FRANKINCENSE was my last in – only solvable with crossers. Excellent clue, especially the def and a good way to finish the solving week.

    Thanks to Joker and Curarist

  11. 32.05 for the first clean week since late February. Total time for the week coming in at 2hr28.

    Like others got stuck on FRANKINCENSE but also IMPORTANCE having rearranged cane for both words ending in -C 🙄 SCRAM was my LOI and had to alphabet trawl. Also struggled with O-P-E- (osprey) checkers and couldn’t get to grips with DIVERGENCE.

    CYTOPLASM, I initially was looking at a POLY- rerrangement until STEAMSHIP went. Still don’t know why fruit=hip as the blog doesn’t explain. Anyone?

    Strangely MAGNETISM went almost straight in because I’d already tried to rearrange the anagrist of ENIGMATIC into magnetic and found myself a letter out. I liked the hidden ALKALI and one of those rare days where the 3-letter words all go straight in which is lucky as I didn’t have a lot else on my first pass.

    Have grown to like Joker even though I wasn’t on his wavelength today 👍

    1. Rose hips are fruit! (Others may be available but it was the rose hip that persuaded me to stick it in).

      1. Ah thank-you. I’ve heard of them – wouldn’t know they were the fruity part though.

        With cytoplasm and pecs today, plus I recall fibula and biceps/triceps in previous; I wonder if Joker has a biology background or just a rounded personality. Shame (purely from a selfish perspective) he didn’t go with the obvious version of hips today 😉

    2. What a good week for you! Surely the L-Plate can be discarded now …


      1. Thanks Cedric – if only that big old 15×15 weren’t waiting to be conquered! I gave Monday’s 66 Snitch a go yesterday. About 75% done in 25-30mins then a lot of crickets and gave up at the hour with 6+ left.

      2. Just given today’s 15×15 (74 Snitch) a go. About 11-12 clues solved in an hour. Maybe another 3-4 that I should have gone without too much trouble. These L-Plates may be needed for a long time!

  12. A good puzzle. Nice to have something accessible on a Friday. My LOI was Frankincense, too. Very clever – I biffed it and then parsed it. I did parse everything in my sub-14 min finish (almost exactly 2K today) which was within a second or two of my Thursday time and satisfying for me.
    I would have been quicker but I wasted time by biffing ‘mycoplast’ for 5d instead of cytoplasm (no, me neither but it sounded vaguely convincing) until other crossers emerged and I had to remove it.
    I liked all the ‘edge’ clues but needed crossers for them to be soluble.
    Thanks to Joker and Curarist. John M.

  13. RUM and VERSE went straight in, quickly followed by DIVERGENCE. A steady trot around the grid saw FRANKINCENSE bring up the rear after a moments thought. 6:26. Thanks Joker and Curarist.

  14. I thought Joker was in a surprisingly friendly mood today, with a straightforward 1ac/1d giving a plethora of first letters. Cytoplasm put up a brief struggle, until biology nudged physics aside, but after that it was a steady solve until loi and CoD 7d Frankincense. I had to write the letters out horizontally, but a pdm then thankfully saved me a tedious alphabet trawl for a pleasing 16min finish to the week. Invariant

  15. My April roundup …

    I finished with 13 out of 20 solves but was also immediately able to correct six of the DNFs to feel good about 19/20. Two or three silly mistakes in there including a homophone. Last Friday’s Izetti was the lone stinker, which I was unable to finish, and the only one to take me over the hour (1hr15+).

    I had a couple of 11minuters, one of which DNFed because I bunged in an answer to try for a PB. Corrected it quickly to get my fastest of the month at 11:11 followed closely by Felix’s Fawlty Towers themed one coming in at 11:30. In fact there were only four QCs I spent over 33mins solving. I see this as my real progress and two of those were 46-47 mins which now seems an age to spend on a QC. The other two taking 55mins and the aforementioned Izetti.

    When I look back to last April (2022) it shows how far I’ve come. I had just two under 40mins and only successfully solved 3/21. Over an hour was more usual than not and there were four I attempted for over 1hr45 – unsurprisingly two of which were Izetti!

    Back to this month and average time spent per QC came in at 29mins with a median time 23:40. I had 5 escapes from SCC with another two getting caught on the way out (corrected DNFs!).

    Have a good weekend everybody and see you again in May 👍

    1. Interesting stats and 19/20 is a great outcome.
      I had 10 finishes out if 20. Of the dnfs 2 were a spelling error, 1 was just one unsolved clue and 7 were too hard for me to complete.
      I’m not too bothered about times; just glad to finish and usually set a one hour limit unless I think I’m getting there.
      It will be interesting to see how this compares in a year’s time.

  16. All done in 32m but I had misspelled LOI Frankincense as Frankincence. It’s more obvious when written across but not when written down.
    Very enjoyable puzzle after a slow start.
    Total for the week was 2 finishes and 3 dnfs but with only 1 error in each: 2 spelling mistakes and one unsolved clue so for me that’s good progress.
    Thanks Joker and Curarist.

    1. Decent week for you too #5.

      I’m usually hard on myself about spelling mistakes (but not typos) if it’s gettable from the parsing. I did have a dither about frankincense today but went with what my memory typed in.

      Your progress is much better five months in, than mine was 👍

  17. 11:44 (1144, Geoffrey of Anjou conquers Normandy. Ranulf of Chester revolts against King Stephen.)

    A slow start, with only a few of the across clues yielding on first pass. Down clues were easier. Held up at the end by IMPORTANCE and FRANKINCENSE.

  18. I found this quite quick, but struck lucky judging from others’ comments. FOI DIVERGENCE, COD SCRAM, LOI FRANKINCENSE., having wasted ages trying for something beginning with AR (Open AngeR). Knew CYTOPLASM as something biological vaguely, but well enough to recall. Thanks Joker and Curarist

  19. Sometimes I struggle to get going with a Joker puzzle, but not today as most the acrosses went in on the first pass giving me lots of checkers for the downs. Quite gentle for a Friday, I thought. COD for the surface to the excellent 11D, although I somehow doubt we will start getting a daily Times magazine. Thanks Joker and Curarist. 4:16.

  20. Maybe I am improving – 7m 26s today after too many this month over 15m (my target time). I’ve achieved sub-8m on only a handful of occasions; three years after my first attempts at QCs (during first lockdown), I suppose I should be getting faster! 1A & 1D FOsI, unusually, which set the pace for me. LOI was SPECIES, not because of difficulty but just building on clues solved, generally clockwise round the grid. Thank you Joker for the confidence boost.

  21. 13 minutes for me, but could have been quicker had I not misread the 7d clue as ‘…birthday present to BUM?’, which is how it looks on my mini iPad screen, and to my old eyes. The 1s went straight in for me, 1d reminding me of the then well known school playground boast about the longest word in the English language being ANTIDISESTABLISHMENTARIANISM. I have no idea whether that is now, or ever was true. Many thanks all, have a good weekend.

    1. I was always told that it was beaten by floccinaucinihilipilification, but how spurious that may be, I leave you to judge.

      1. Good grief Martinu
        Is that the stop before Llanfairpg? No wonder Dr Beeching closed them all. Couldn’t afford the signs.
        All done bar 7d. Ho hum. J

  22. No time to linger and enjoy the clue for 7d as it was my LOI and “Submit” was on my mind! I too was held up by the long borders but once a few others were in place, things improved. I confused myself by thinking 5d had to end PLASt before I realised my mistake. All green in 22:12 for yet another visit to the SCC – an enjoyable solve, though, so thanks Joker and curarist.

  23. I am surprised how many solvers found this easy going. I got hardly any of the across clues at first look and not many more of the downs. However, I managed to get going and solving 1a and 1d helped greatly and the rest followed relatively quickly with FRANKINCENSE LOI. An enjoyable end to the week.

  24. Another visit to the SCC with a time of 22 minutes today – it has not been a good week. Of the 22 minutes 5 were spent on my LOI SPECIES, where I was not sure where to put the ie and was anyway looking for one of the (huge) number of collective nouns for individual species. No trouble with FRANKINCENSE which I saw quite quickly and CYTOPLASM rang a faint bell (although I wouldn’t have been able to define it). Couldn’t parse VERSE at the time (thanks Curarist).

    LOI – 20ac SPECIES
    COD – 10ac STEAMSHIP

  25. I certainly didn’t think it was easy, although I finished within target at 9.04. I had difficulty remembering how FRANKINCENSE was spelt but opted correctly for the s and not the c. I also initially put in COTYPLASM but after reviewing it decided that CYTOPLASM sounded more plausible.
    My total time for the week was 39.00 giving me a daily average of 9.48 (admittedly one wrong answer yesterday). It seems from the last months figures that my target 10 minutes is just about right for me, although I live in hope that I may speed up!

  26. Started friendly enough (FOI ANN) but soon got stuck, failed seven. Ashamed at being beaten by 18, 20, 21a, 1d, but 10 and 7 are difficult and NHO CYTOPLASM. Ah well…. next one is a Monday. Thanks to Curarist for the blog.

  27. Quite slow in parts. Dotted around the grid solving randomly. LOsI FRANKINCENSE, CYTOPLASM, and other long anagrams.
    Liked RATTLER, OSPREY, FIASCO and COD STEAMSHIP. Easiest for me was ALKALI since most of my garden is chalk.
    Thanks vm, Curarist.

  28. Steady progress ruined by my LOI FRANKINCENSE, which took a couple of minutes, and gets a grudging COD award!

    Mean time of 7.7 minutes this week, spreadsheet says that’s second worst weekly mean this year (excepting the week with my DNF). Last 3 weeks have all been >7 mins mean.


  29. 12:31. No big hold-ups, liked FIASCO, FRANKINCENSE, EARTHY and STEAMSHIP most.

  30. 11:37, although I spent the best part of a minute trying to work out – like Rotter – whether the last word of 7d was burn or bum. We print the crossword, so at one point I even turned the piece of paper round to see if it would be any clearer from the back. Funnily enough it just looked like mud 😅 It just goes to show that any collection of words could make a plausible clue. Actually, it is very frustrating when you can’t answer a clue because it isn’t properly legible and you’re not just speed solving / biffing. In fact, it was when I wrote the checkers out horizontally that it all fell into place, so a semi-biff / post-parse.
    We have exactly the same word in both cryptic crosswords today. I haven’t done the concise yet – what’s the betting there will be a hat trick? Same setter I wonder? At least we know that Joker and DP aren’t the same person! Which reminds me: we haven’t seen a Hawthorn puzzle recently – I usually rather enjoy his.
    FOI Divergence LOI Frankincense COD Steamship
    Thanks Joker and Curarist

      1. Missing the joke, but the fruit of the Hawthorn is a haw as opposed to a hip. (info for

        1. Joking apart, May as an alternative name for Hawthorn is used in cryptic crosswords occasionally.

          1. Ah, will watch out for it in QCs. Seems to flower earlier than May around here, btw.

            1. We’re still waiting here in the East Midlands! May or hawthorn – it’s lovely whatever you call it 😊

        2. Thanks CW1. Actually had to go and read up on hawthorns after seeing this earlier as I recall they had another name. If only, I had waited for the replies to your post!

  31. Finished correctly after 30 minutes or so though on coming here I realised that I had parsed a few incorrectly.
    Liked the anagrams at CYTOPLASM and ENIGMATIC.
    The three letter clues all seemed very easy. ANN a bit too easy perhaps – made me wonder if I had missed something. So wasted time pondering on whether the German word for out might be a girl’s name.

  32. I welcomed a bit of biology instead of the many music, religion and cricket references. As an ex- histopathologist nucleus and cytoplasm were my bread and butter.😀

    1. I only did O level Biology and Human Biology, Physiology & Hygiene the next year -primarily to visit a sewage works – but they’ve come in useful since for crosswords. Much more fun than cricket, sport and religion knowledge.

      1. Yes, having to label an amoeba cell for O Level biology finally paid off with cytoplasm!

  33. 6.49

    Bit more on the wavelength today with nothing unduly holding me up. Thanks Curarist and Joker

  34. 21 mins…

    Not sure if I found it as straightforward as some, but a good challenge in the end.

    Major hold up was trying to untangle the anagram for 1dn “Disestablish” and 13ac “Among”.

    FOI – 3dn “Rum”
    LOI – 1dn “Disestablish”
    COD – 7dn “Frankincense”

    Thanks as usual!

    1. Well done James. Back on form 👍 I thought it was quite difficult to get on Joker’s definition wavelength.

  35. Needed some help for 7d, and our progress seemed slow. Interesting puzzle, thanks Joker.

  36. 11 minutes with SPECIES and FRANKINCENSE holding out until the end. I was surprised that CYTOPLASM fell in as quickly as it did – not a word I can remember coming across but it was ‘just there’.

  37. Just inside my target at 14:17, which I’m happy with. I liked lots of the clues, but I’m giving my COD vote to DIVERGENCE, mostly for “about middle of ocean” giving “CE”.

    Thanks to Joker & Curarist.

  38. 11.30 IMPORTANCE and FRANKINCENSE held me up at the end. I did like SPECIES and SCRAM. 100 minutes in total for the week, hopefully next week will be better.

  39. I struggled big time with this, answering only half a dozen clues. I am fairing much better with the Daily Telegraph cryptic today.

    1. What a great performance! Hearty congratulations on your astonishing time. 👏👏👏👏

  40. I should simply cut and paste the same comment at the moment:

    ‘Not on wavelength. Well into SCC (30 mins). 12 on first pass, then panic. Missed some sitters. LOI took ages. Very frustrating.’

    This would have done for pretty much each QC over the last five days. I shall take the sage advice received yesterday from L-Plates by enjoying the long weekend and then starting afresh on Monday.

    Thanks for the blog (straightforward!!) and best wishes to everyone for the weekend. Let’s hope the ☀️ shines.

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