Quick Cryptic 2401 by Mara


A nice mix of clues here, with some not too difficult anagrams balanced by a few which helped to get the brain into gear for the day ahead.

I enjoyed my nine minutes and a bit of solving time, with the def and surface for 9a being my favourite. Political figures, a bit of geography and the almost obligatory food references thrown in, so something to please most solvers. A few I was unsure about so I welcome your thoughts.

Thanks to Mara

Definitions underlined in bold

1 Society card (4)
CLUB – Double definition
3 Killer has got in behind two idiots (8)
ASSASSINASS ASS (‘two idiots’) followed by IN (‘in behind’)
9 Punched by right, bewildered Liston gets breathing space (7)
NOSTRIL – Anagram (‘bewildered’) of LISTON containing (‘punched by’) R (‘right’)

Nice definition. The surface refers to the famous World Heavyweight boxing title fights between Cassius Clay (as he was at the time of the first fight) and Sonny Liston in Miami in 1964 and Maine 1965, by which time Clay was known as Muhammad Ali, both of which Liston lost.

10 Instrument in small room with leader of orchestra (5)
CELLOCELL (‘Small room’) O (‘leader (=first letter) of orchestra’)
11 Sign on pole installed in grotto, temporarily (5)
TOTEM – Hidden (‘installed in’) grotTO TEMporarily
12 Feature new deal with it (6)
DETAIL – Anagram (‘new’) of DEAL and IT
14 Crunchy snack, man eating raisins primarily with nuts (5,8)
PRAWN CRACKERSPAWN (‘man’ or chess piece) containing (‘eating’) R first letter (‘primarily’) of (‘raisins’) and (‘with’) CRACKERS (‘nuts’)

Another good surface. This was the one I had most trouble with, wondering if it might be an anagram and taking a while to cotton on to the chess piece sense of ‘man’

17 Event to talk about, mostly (6)
DISCUSDISCUSS with last letter S deleted (‘to talk about mostly’)
19 Hawaii or Alaska, say (5)
STATE – Triple definition

I parsed this as a triple definition; a double definition, with ‘Hawaii or Alaska’ as the first definition, to me would indicate STATES, rather than STATE.

22 Ape so different, he wrote about tortoise and hare (5)
AESOP – Anagram (‘different’) of APE SO
23 Native of Jaffa for example is right, a lie wrong (7)
ISRAELIIS R (‘is right’) and anagram (‘wrong’) of A LIE
24 Part of ship always hidden by raised platform (8)
STEERAGEEER (‘always’) contained in (‘hidden by’) STAGE (‘raised platform’)
25 Support in reciprocal manner (4)
BACK – Double definition

One I wasn’t quite sure about. The first definition is clear but for the second I thought of to “give BACK”, meaning to return something (literally or figuratively) in the same way it was originally given. Better explanations welcome!

1 Path once rebuilt for monument (8)
CENOTAPH – Anagram (‘rebuilt’) of PATH ONCE
2 Disturb cheerful group (5)
UPSETUP (‘cheerful’) SET (‘group’)
4 Condiment cut, looking at sauce (5,8)
SALAD DRESSINGSAL (‘Condiment cut’=SALT with last letter deleted) ADDRESSING (‘looking at’)

ADDRESSING in the sense of examining or looking into, as in the dreaded “ADDRESS the issue”

5 Royal meeting a Highlander (5)
ASCOTA (‘a’) SCOT (‘Highlander’)

‘Royal meeting’ as in the gee-gees

6 Realist awfully cross (7)
SALTIRE – Anagram (‘awfully’) of REALIST

Another Scots reference, a SALTIRE being a St. Andrew’s cross, or a “heraldic symbol in the form of a diagonal cross” (Wikipedia)

7 Twelve certainly not working (4)
NOONNO (‘Certainly not’) ON (‘working’)
8 Brown carries drink for US president (6)
TRUMANTAN (‘Brown’) contains (‘carries’) RUM (‘drink’)

Harry S., 33rd president of the US of A. Was he a “rock-star” president? Maybe our US correspondents have an opinion.

13 Skater is extraordinary star (8)
ASTERISK – Anagram (‘extraordinary’) of SKATER IS

Yes, that sort of ‘star’; not one of those ones in a galaxy far, far away that I’ve never heard of, thank goodness

15 A cleaner in dispute (2,5)
AT ISSUEA (‘A’) TISSUE (‘cleaner’)

This ISSUE isn’t so dreaded


16 Old socialist leader failed Croats (6)
CASTRO – Anagram (‘failed’) of CROATS
18 Skip exercise when carried by vehicle (5)
CAPERPE (‘exercise’= abbreviation for “Physical Education”) contained in (‘when carried by’) CAR (‘vehicle’)
20 Zone around northern stadium (5)
ARENAAREA (‘Zone’) containing (‘around’) N (‘northern’)
21 Entry document I don’t know (4)
PASS – Double definition

The second definition was apt when I was faced with _A_S. Bereft of inspiration, it looked like an alphabet trawl was on the cards, so I took a deep breath and voilà, the answer appeared out of the ether.

54 comments on “Quick Cryptic 2401 by Mara”

  1. I biffed SALAD DRESSING, never parsed it. DNK PRAWN CRACKERS. I took 19ac as a double definition; ‘or’ not ‘and’, so STATE not STATES. 4:59.
    Today’s 15×15 is worth having a look at.

    1. I can second that, having just tried the biggie and to my surprise completed it in just over 20 minutes

    2. Yes, all done between snoozes, so no time – probably around 45 minutes. But certainly accessible for the not-so-smart and not-so-quick like me.

  2. 11:15. I was thinking pecan instead of PRAWN but luckily it eventually came to me there was no such thing as a “pecan cracker”. Harry Truman was many things-haberdasher, bank clerk, farmer, soldier, accomplished pianist, judge and even, as a teenager, a “shabbas goy” (someone who was paid to perform tasks for Jewish neighbours on the Sabbath.) Rock-star president, however, I don’t think was ever his style!

  3. 34.45. A few months into my first foray into cryptic crosswords (learning mainly through watching the wonderful Friday videos of Simon from Cracking the Cryptic) and have still not managed a Quick Cryptic in under 20 minutes.

    I parsed 4d as ‘Salsa’ cut, rather than ‘Salt’. A question for you more experienced solvers – does ‘cut’ always mean just the final letter removed, or can it vary?

  4. Mostly I logged on to tell the setter I really liked bringing Sonny Liston out for a bow.

  5. 8 minutes for this one. Bletchers, how about ‘he hit me and I hit him back’ at 25ac?

  6. My inability to type is starting to get me down – managed to enter SALTuRE today and so mucked up DETAIL at the same time. That’s after I corrected what I’d written in for SALAD DRESSING. So that’s one all green in the last 7 (seven) as the vidiprinter would have had it. All done in 12, which I was pleased with after a long tussle with PRAWN CRACKERS – held up thing it musrt be ‘plain’ something – and CASTRO where I didn’t think of going beyond the USSR. I was also held up by NOSTRIL, which I liked even if we have seen in relatively recently (I think). I even tried to make COSTAR fit along the way. Might be time to solve outside the club for a bit.

  7. 14 mins, but one pink square with UNSET. Just about works for the definition, but of course fails on parsing, the United Nations can be called a log of things but “cheerful” isn’t one of them.

    Spent time on DISCUS and AT ISSUE, so took a break to have a look at the 15×15, and it’s definitely a “Fulham” puzzle for us QCers. My team, Fulham, being a team that always are between divisions, having some success in the top division before ignominiously dropping down again.

  8. All green in an astonishing 12:36.
    I need to go and have a little lie down!

  9. No time as I feel asleep, but all went quite easily.
    FOI ASSASSIN LOI DISCUS. Didn’t parse SALAD DRESSING which is a shame as it is cleverly clued, so my COD.
    Good variety of devices including a few chestnuts.
    Assumed that support (BACK) and reciprocal manner ( BACKwards) were DD.
    Thanks Mara and Jack.

  10. Well! Things are looking up for me. A smooth solve in a smidgin under 10 mins (ca. 2K again). Perhaps because I got up earlier than usual and came to the puzzle instead of listening to the usual news and comment on the radio.
    Some good clues including NOSTRIL – my COD, too – and A TISSUE. As for others, I found SALAD DRESSING writing itself but it was a good clue. LOI BACK.
    This was exactly what a QC should be IMO. Thanks to Mara and BR. John M.

  11. A found this to be quite gentle with lots of helpful anagrams (the cap was firmly in place today).
    My main hold ups were the parsing of SALAD DRESSING, PRAWN CRACKERS and having a brain freeze with LOI CLUB. Finished in 6.55 with favourites being NOSTRIL and AT ISSUE.
    Thanks to BR

  12. Started like a house on fire, but got held up in the SW corner where I was unaccountably slow to spot DISCUS and STEERAGE before entering my LOI with a cry of “Bless you !”

    LOI AT ISSUE (we all fall down)
    TIME 4:27

  13. Quite gentle. I was held up only by hesitating over BACK until I rationalised the second definition. I liked the boxing reference, the ape author and the breathing space. Thanks Mara and BR. 3:39.

  14. All done in 10 minutes, with Discus my LOI (though having entered it I’m sure we’ve seen it before). Salad Dressing not parsed, and I did not see how Back really worked (thank you Jack for the explanation), but otherwise not too challenging. Which is just as well as I have a raging cold and am struggling to think straight: these days one is supposed to say “only” a cold, as it is not the other C-word, but it is still sending the little grey cells into lethargic inadequacy.

    Many thanks BR for the blog

  15. A return to a couple of on-target solves for the first time since the beginning of May – I’ve either been way over, or way under since then.

    Like some others I liked NOSTRIL best today. Both the long ones parsed post submission, and PRAWN CRACKERS was my LOI.


  16. Thank you, Mara; right half easy, left half less so but all green in my usual 25-or-so minutes. FOI ASSASSIN, COD AT ISSUE, LOI DISCUS. Wanted it to be circus – “about, mostly” = circ(a) – but of course US remained unexplained.

  17. 7:45 (bubonic plague in Asia Minor and Balkans)

    I also biffed SALAD DRESSING without parsing it.
    LOI was NOON.

  18. 5:02

    Realised at the end that I’d semi-biffed a few of these, only fully parsing them after completion: SALAD DRESSING, PRAWN CRACKERS, STEERAGE.

    Much enjoyed though – thanks to Mara and Bletch

  19. Started well with FOsI CENOTAPH and ASSASSIN, then NE corner, but gradually slowed.
    Forgot to go back and check BACK, as had guessed Bank. Doh.
    Among my LOsI were PRAWN CRACKERS (also known as Elephant Ears) and SALAD DRESSING, neither properly parsed.
    Various helpful anagrams tho I was slow on CASTRO.
    Thanks for much needed blog, BR.

    1. Not too much “Doh” in my opinion. I had similar thoughts (see my comment below) and because it was my LOI I just submitted without a double check – which might have made BACK more likely. We’ll commiserate together.

  20. 12 minutes for me. No real hold-ups but LOI TRUMAN held me up as TRUMP had occurred to me and wouldn’t go away; they both share the same drink but only one has the right number of letters.
    Some enjoyable clues including NOSTRIL.

  21. No-one else seems to have considered BAnK for 25ac, my LOI, so my pink square thoroughly deserved, I guess. I rather liked the idea of supporting the river on either side (reciprocally). That said, it would have been good to be green with a relatively fast time (for me) of 13:46. No other particular ISSUEs with this nice QC from Mara. FOI CENOTAPH, COD NOSTRIL. Thanks Mara and BR.

  22. Solved this quite quickly, although without parsing SALAD DRESSING or PRAWN CRACKERS at first. Realising that event = athletic event unlocked the SW corner.

  23. Inside 10 minutes, but SALAD DRESSING not parsed. PRAWN CRACKERS required all of the checkers before it appeared, and last one in was BACK. Thanks both.

  24. I was congratulating myself on a fairly speedy time of 7.48 only to discover I had one wrong. For 14ac I put in PLAIN CRACKERS which basically just about sums up my view on my attempt to solve it. In my haste to finish I forgot to go back to check the parsing, and if I had I’m sure I would have solved it correctly.

  25. I too put PLAIN CRACKERS, but I knew it wasn’t right because it just wouldn’t parse so I spent time on both that and SALAD DRESSING before hitting submit. Eventually I realised that one was right and the other was wrong, and why!

    A super puzzle, though those two long ones caused me no end of grief. So too did STEERAGE (where I tried to use “ever” instead of “eer”). When I got it, it reminded me of a rugby song far too rude to reproduce in this august company, so at least I had a chuckle.

    All done in 09:44 for 2.1K and a Poor Day. COD to NOSTRIL, really top notch.

    Many thanks Mara and Bletchers.


  26. 18 mins…

    Really enjoyed this and thought there were some cracking clues. I particularly enjoyed 17ac “Discus”, 15dn “At Issue” and 9ac “Nostril”.

    I was also slow on 16dn “Castro” having initially made up the socialist “Costar”, who I imagined (in my stereotypical way) to be some kind of communist revolutionary sipping coffee in Paris in the late 19th century.

    Similarly, there was a hold up 25ac “Back” – where I saw a hidden word “Calm” and bunged it in before I properly thought about it.

    FOI – 1ac “Club”
    LOI – 24ac “Steerage”
    COD – 13dn “Asterisk”

    Thanks as usual!

  27. TOTEM got me going and an amble around the grid took me to LOI, BACK, which took some thought before the second definition became clear. 8:41. Thanks Mara and BR.

  28. Lots to enjoy in today’s puzzle from Mara, even if loi problems with 25ac, Back, again nudged me into the SCC – I was tempted by Calm and Bank before Back came along. Discus and Asterisk took longer than they should have, but at least produced a couple of pdms to enjoy. Hard to choose a CoD in a strong field, but I think 24ac, Steerage, just gets up on the line. Invariant

  29. Very happy with a 5’46” for 1.2 Kevins on puzzle that felt like a workout..


    Enjoyed the ASTERISK anagram.
    Thanks Mara and BR

  30. 11.38 Only about a quarter done on the first pass when I usually do at least half, but I filled in the gaps without getting stuck anywhere. I did like NOSTRIL and finished with TRUMAN.

  31. FOI CENOTAPH and LOI PRAWN CRACKERS in 6:29 for an excellent day. The reference to Liston in the cluing for NOSTRIL was lost on me but in hindsight it is a lovely clue. My COD has to go to AT ISSUE.

  32. 10:25 and fortunately all correct this time. I had a similar experience to BR and others, with a bit of an MER over BACK, and a big smile for the surface at 9a. I also liked SALTIRE and ASTERISK. For some reason I didn’t see CLUB straightaway, forgot about it and went back to it at the end, so bizarrely 1a was my LOI!
    FOI Assassin LOI Club COD Nostril
    Thanks Mara and BR

    As others have said, if you haven’t had a go at the biggie, today could be the day – I did it in about 15 minutes.

  33. A good steady solve for me , with SALAD DRESSING and PRAWN CRACKERS putting up the most resistance.
    At 23 minutes well inside my normal 30 or so.

  34. All done and correct 21m approx. The number of anagrams helped. Our fastest solve for some time. Thanks Mara.

  35. A slow-ish start and a stuttering finish, but really quite fast in-between. Total time = 24 minutes.

    The anagrams helped me get a foothold and I was able to build on their checkers. My LOsI – CLUB, UPSET and BACK – held me up for 5+ minutes at the end, which scuppered any thoughts I might have had about an SCC escape. Overall, quite enjoyable.

    I must now get back to help Mrs Random in her parents’ garden, which is way beyond their capabilities these days. Mrs R is very creative and green-fingered, whereas I’m an expert at hacking stuff down.

    Many thanks to Mara and BR.

    1. There’s a lot of fun to be had in hacking. I did some last night to get yesterday’s QC out of my system!

  36. Mostly straightforward but I got completely stuck on my last three – 14ac, 16dn and 25ac. Solving these probably accounted for at least 10 minutes of my overall time of 29 minutes. Went through a lengthy alphabet trawl for 25ac without, for some reason, seeing BACK. Needed a second trawl later for this. Took a long time to solve the anagram at 16dn for CASTRO despite knowing it was an anagram. I was solving immediately after quite a large lunch and so was feeling a bit sleepy – that’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it. Couldn’t parse SALAD DRESSING, so thanks to BR for the explanation.

    FOI – 3ac ASSASSIN
    COD – 6dn SALTIRE

  37. Felt as if I spent as long on PRAWN CRACKERS as the rest of the puzzle put together but finished in the end.
    Quite a few alphabet trawls required.
    COD to ASCOT and also liked ASTERISK.
    Thanks, most enjoyable.

  38. An improvement on yesterday. Didn’t bother with an ‘official’ time, as my goal for the week is no longer achievable (following my Monday DNF). Inside the SCC cut-off, somewhere around 15 mins.

    A host of fine clues (COD NOSTRIL), although I can’t say I was a fan of 25ac.

    Thanks for the blog BR. Liked the stuff about Liston.

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