Quick Cryptic 2454 by Beck

Disturbed mid-solve so I don’t have a time, but I reckon it would be longer than usual. Nice bunch of surfaces, with slightly testing GK at times.

1 Gathered sandwich condiment, you might say (8)
MUSTERED – sounds like ‘Mustard’. ‘Buttered’ also fits the crossers but makes no sense.
6 Church area, not left to pass into disuse (4)
APSE – LAPSE minus L for left
8 Her love’s a lifesaver? (4)
HERO – HER + O (love, i.e zero)
9 Artist Mondrian hiding fish in circular graphic (3,5)
PIE CHART – PIET Mondrian, with CHAR inside. I biffed this one.
10 Putting out a lot for life, almost in charge (8)
PROLIFIC – PRO (for) + LIF (almost ‘life’) + IC (in charge)
12 Drive essential to surgery (4)
URGE – hidden word: sURGEry
13 Slender and extremely greasy whatchamacallit (6)
15 Absorb hot joke on the radio (6)
INGEST – IN (hot) + GEST (sounds like ‘jest’)
17 That was careless, dropping first of rings (4)
OOPS – [H]OOPS. Or indeed [L]OOPS
19 Find fault with a short story writer in a Japanese city (8)
NAGASAKI – NAG + A + SAKI, aka Hector Hugh Monro 1870-1916, satirist of Edwardian society and full-on war hero
21 Therefore assist the setter, no matter what (2,4,2)
SO HELP ME – self-explanatory
23 Put down US city driver’s licence, say (4)
24 Touched soft material (4)
FELT – double definition
25 Twelve men onto one, somehow (8)
NOONTIME – Anagram (‘somehow’) of MEN ONTO I
2 Discover a French painting, maybe Henri’s first (7)
UNEARTH – UNE (‘a’ in French) + ART + H[enri]
3 Time to go around monster (5)
4 Sales agent, note, quiet (3)
REP – RE + P
5 Soaking to the bone, twisting, changing top (9)
DRENCHING – WRENCHING with a different first letter
6 Look out up in Berlin! Harry can’t hug! (7)
ACHTUNG – Anagram (‘harry’) of CANT HUG. Not sure what the ‘up’ is doing in the definition
7 Quiet runner’s shoulder motion (5)
SHRUG – SH + RUG. Stair carpets are often called runners
11 Spooner’s meddlesome admirer provides a bit of kitchen ware (6,3)
FRYING PAN – Spooner would say PRYING FAN
14 Developing northern trip up a mountain? (7)
16 Kiss him madly? It’s a belief (7)
SIKHISM – Anagram (‘madly’) of KISS HIM
18 Atmosphere layer over region (5)
20 Left Croatian city (5)
SPLIT – double definition
22 Eastern medic providing type of music (3)
EMO – E + MO. Wasn’t aware of this as a style of music, but I knew emos to be socially excluded teenagers who wear black eyeliner and obsess over the infinitesimal differences between themselves and Goths.

77 comments on “Quick Cryptic 2454 by Beck”

  1. EMO keeps showing up in the NYT. Didn’t notice the ‘up’ in 6d, but now that you mention it, I can’t see what it’s doing either. NOONTIME slowed me down, and I never did see how OOPS works. 7:22.

  2. 3:57. You made my day, as I said “achtung baby” to myself as I did the puzzle.

  3. Was under 7 with one to go but unfortunately that one was 17ac. Stared glumly at -O-S for several minutes but could not for the life of me make sense of it. In the end I got sick of it, so a DNF. OOPS!

  4. This is only Beck’s 5th puzzle having appeared for the first time last November.

    My solving time was 12 minutes, missing my target by 2 minutes for the second consecutive day.

    NHO Mondrian so I had to wait for checkers to help me through that clue.

    EMO has probably come up before but I still didn’t know it and again had to wait for checkers before getting to it via wordplay.

    I knew SPLIT as a city in former Yugoslavia so took ‘Croatian’ on trust, but I had a mental blank on how it could mean ‘left’ and only just worked it out whilst realising that I should never have lost time over that one!

  5. 14 1/2 minutes, with about 4 minutes at the end on MUSTERED; first “buttered” (as pointed out) and then “muttered” took a long time to shift. Missed the not complicated parsing of OOPS so not a great day. At least I remembered PIET Mondrian; let’s hope the Mussorgsky equivalent turns up sometime.

    Thanks to Excurarist and Beck

    1. Mussorgsky did turn up in one I completed recently, but I forget where it was. However I’ll never forget his forename now.

        1. You’re right of course, not relevant to this clue at all. It’s just that in crossword land, whenever you see Mussorgsky in a clue, Modest usually isn’t far away. I can’t ever recall having seen Bohuslav though 🙂.

  6. 8.07

    It wasn’t the smoothest surface but I did like the MUSTERED homophone which was my LOI

    Thanks Beck and Excurarist

  7. Thought this was going to have to be an abandon after a poor showing on the first run through but somehow came home a little under 15. Wondered is “aise” might be a word and almost bunged in ‘buoy’ for the lifesaving heart-throb. Lost a bit of time over the ‘up’ in the ACHTUNG clue and didn’t parse which is shame because “can’t hug harry” is some great clueing. PIE CHART was 100% parsed because I didn’t know his name (or what he was famous for – seems to be designing the packaging for S-s-s-s-studio line from L’Oreal (for those who watched ITV in the nineties)).

  8. Off to a good start with the pleasing MUSTERED going straight in, but there were some tricky clues in here today and I missed target for what I think is the third time this week .
    Saw the dreaded Spoonerism and decided to leave it until there were plenty of checkers in place before I even finished reading the rest of the clue which turned out to be sensible as I wouldn’t have made head or tail of it without the starting ‘f’.
    Finished in the NE with APSE and ACHTUNG in 11.01.
    Thanks to Excurarist.

  9. A triple DNF to end the week on a down note. Of the three fails I suspect I should have got Ozone (but I did not think of “over” giving the letter O), I could then have got Oops (but faced with – – – S and the fixation that “dropping first of rings” meant “take out an R”, I was never going to), and I think I would have got Apse if I had not, like Mendeset, read the clue as “drop the letter L from a part of the church to create a word meaning pass into disuse”.

    In my defence I think the word ordering in this clue is somewhere between devious and dodgy – reading “not left to pass into disuse” as “take the L off Lapse” is not natural English – but as my father used to intone with monotonous regularity in my childhood as I made yet more feeble excuses for another failure “Should have, Could have, Would have … but Didn’t”.

    Many thanks to Excurarist for the blog and a good weekend for all

    1. Regarding word order, I have come to accept these clunky clues as it is a cryptic puzzle. My own view is that it is lazy clue setting. The clue could easily have been ‘Pass into disuse, not left in church area’.

        1. The revision of word order makes it easier to solve the clue, but it’s a “worse” clue in my view, as it doesn’t mean anything, whereas the original surface at least can be read as a sentence.

          Not to say that I think the original clue is great, as the natural reading is as you say.

  10. But for an idiotic typo that massively held me up, I would have been comfortably outside the SCC today. I found this a really accessible and fun puzzle.
    Looks like rain again today, and the grass needs to be cut. So mowing wet grass will be ample punishment for my crass, fat-fingered stupidity. Mea culpa.

  11. I found this one difficult, but enjoyable. I managed to complete it with the cat’s help on MUSTERED. I couldn’t get BUTTERED out of my head when I had _U_T_R_D, but couldn’t see why it would be.

  12. DNF and, being UP in England, must refrain from further commenf. However, I liked the Prying Fan..

  13. I finished this but the last couple of clues took me firmly into the SCC. I was just not on Beck’s wavelength. I missed 1a on first pass and explored the grid looking for footholds which emerged only gradually. I missed the sitter, THINGY, because I was jumping around erratically. I needed the crossers for ACHTUNG having spent time trying to squeeze auf into an answer. I kicked myself for this and others, like SIKHISM, that should have been obvious with hindsight.
    I must have heard of EMO because Kevin says it has appeared before but I did not recognise it and trusted the cluing. I liked NASCENT and the PRYING FAN. My LOI, OOPS, took forever.
    It was just a bit too clever for me on a Friday morning. Thanks to Beck for a challenge and Excurarist for a crisp blog. John M.

  14. Got held up by LOI MUSTERED, COD to that.
    I too had BUTTERED in mind first.
    The whole took me a bit longer than average, about 17 minutes.

  15. Was really enjoying it up and laughing out loud at some of the clues/answers until I hit OOPS.

    Gave up at 45mins with no idea what I was aiming at, or how to engineer the clue. Alphabet trawled the whole keyboard from just after twenty mins. Went through twice – once with the first letter and second time with third. Obviously didn’t take enough care but then you tend to get bored and skip over the unlikely combos.

    Did also take a check at 35mins to see if I’d spelled NAGASAKI correctly as no point trawling if that turned out to be wrong – NHO the writer who died over a century ago.

    2hr45 spent on QCs this week. With a somewhat deflating end from today’s.

    Edit: On reflection, most of today was “think of a word then parse it”. I can only see three clues where I built the answers from the components – HERo, thinGY, UNEarth. That really highlights to me this as being overpitched for QC.

    1. At first sight I couldn’t solve any of these clues but then one by one they revealed themselves and I was surprised to finish in 36m. I knew BUTTERED was wrong as it didn’t parse but couldn’t see anything else.
      COD to 13a THINGY.
      LOI (wrongly) BUTTERED.
      That makes 4 finishes and one dnf this week. Quite happy with that and it’s been entertaining
      Thanks Beck and Excurarist

        1. Bad luck with OOPS #50. I got it right away but failed with MUSTERED.
          Saki wrote short stories often set in country houses. I always liked his description of the cook’s abrupt departure :
          “The cook was a good cook, as cooks go; and as good cooks go, she went”

            1. L-Plates you really must! Saki stories are brilliant. Funny clever witty and dark. Have loved them for years. The one with the child telling a visiting stranger about her family is classic (The Open Window). And the cat Tobermory that learns to talk and then says too much. And Sredni Vashtar. Brilliant. Sadly he died in the First World War at Beaumont -Hamel, shot by a sniper . He had enlisted despite being of an age where it was not required. Apparently his last words were ‘put that bloody cigarette out’. I just googled and discovered, which I did not know, that his cousin was Dornford Yates – another author I love to read- although not as much as Saki.

    2. Tough day for you. OOPS was my LOI and it seems to have caused some problems for some of the quicker setters. Took me a while to see it. With several clues, it was hard to see whether the straight definition was at the beginning or end.

      I haven’t timed myself this week but I would be surprised if I was more than 10 mins either side of you. I’m pretty sure there were no SCC escapes! Something of a learning experience.

      1. Thanks GA – I could probably have looked at OOPS on another day and got it immediately. Ho hum.

        Hope you’ve had a good week and the journey wasn’t too bad today.

        Just took a look at the CQ and it took me over 15mins with a check at 12.

        1. Good journey thankfully, although sad to be leaving Scotland in bright sun and returning to a very wet Yorkshire. A good walking week in a lovely part of the world.

          Decent time on the CQ for you. I got the first two immediately and then found the rest hard.

          1. Same story with me – I found at my check that NIftY was wrong and corrected that. It also told me that the 3rd final letter of #5 was a C. I’d made the mistake of thinking #4 was an anagram – tough word although it has come up on the QC this year.

            Top tip – if you haven’t realised to do it. When I see an anagram like #5 then I simply chuck the letters in the boxes to leave fewer on the other clues. Then, at the end, you can take the letters back out and use the Shuffle button to try and help see the answer 👍

  16. Beck to the fray after a fortnight in sunny Crete (without Times or internet) – to find my avatar has disappeared! Why, and how do I get her Beck, please?
    NHO CHAR fish but it had to be, nor EMO (both obscure?). OOPS, PROLIFIC and NOONTIME too difficult for me; got APSE wrong, and failed to see TROLL, total six to the bad.

    1. Avatar loss – are you sure you’re logged in? You may have posted by the unregistered method but with the Name/Email fields prefilling from before you created an account.

      Good to see you back Martinů 👍

      1. Thank you, you’re very kind to try to help me….. but I’m a hopeless technophobe. I’ve no idea whether I’m “logged in”, nor what “the unregistered method” means. I just added a comment in the box at the bottom of the column of comments, in exactly the same way that I’ve always done. Any idea?
        By the way, I made a comment on 1st August to the puzzle I did on the aeroplane out to Crete, on 19th July – and I see that already there, the avatar has gone. Do you have to comment at least once a week, or something?
        By the way, nice to see you’re still there, too!

        1. Go to the top of the website.
          Over on the right you will see a button which is either “Login” or “Logout.

          If it’s Login – click that and login to your account. Once in – your avatar should be appearing without needing to do anymore. I don’t think you have to comment within a certain timeframe, the problem may be because you switched countries and therefore internet source.

          If it’s Logout – then look for Account Settings and under that My Account and you should be able to find a way to add your avatar as you did previously. I can’t look at the detail of that without losing this reply.

          1. Thank you very much, L-Plates. I’ve done as you said – now let’s see if she returns!
            Yes, indeed – there she is. Thank you! So I must in future always do a special operation to “log in” somehow? I never had to do that before. We’ll see.

  17. Church area, not left to pass into disuse (4)

    I’m relatively new to these. In the above clue I feel the construction requires the ‘not left’ to apply to the church area (I ended up guessing AISE) rather than ‘to pass into disuse’ because of the ordering of the clue. Is this bad setting or bad solving?

      1. It may be typical but it is I fear also poor (and, pace Prof above) lazy clue setting when a better, simpler less controversial surface is not hard to construct

  18. Very fast then very very slow. Failed on OOPS, but enjoyed this QC.
    FOI MUSTERED which helped with the NW. FRYING PAN and NAGASAKI (COD) helped with the SE. I don’t suppose many younger people will have heard of Saki though. Sredni Vashtar is a good if dark story.
    Slow on ACHTUNG as failed to see the obvious anagram for a while.
    Biffed PIE CHART and parsed after.
    Thanks vm, Excurarist.

  19. I’ve missed target every day this week. I think that it is a first for me. I know I’m not firing on all cylinders (like many of my immediate family and friends I have Covid again) but I think there have been one too many obscure words this week. Today’s were PELT, SAKI and EMO but fortunately I could biff the answers to the clues from checkers. 11:54

  20. 13 mins and going well but could not solve 1a so a DNF. I knew it was not ‘buttered’ or ‘muttered’ and even tried to fit ‘mustard’ in without noticing the homophone. Rushing to get finished as work to be done. Hey ho.

    Overall a very enjoyable QC. Loved the clever OOPS and laughed at ACHTUNG but COD to PIE CHART for the clever surface.
    Didn’t we have THINGY quite recently?

    Thanks Beck and Excurarist.

  21. 11:00 (Henry I becomes King, and marries Matilda of Scotland)

    My fastest this week. I’m another one who had MUSTERED as my LOI, taking a while to avoid BUTTERED.

    I did not like the word order in 6a, or the stray “up” in 6d.

    Thanks Beck and Excurarist

  22. The comments so far would suggest that this was on the tough side with quite a few DNFs. For once I seem to buck the trend finding it fairly straightforward finishing in 8.25. I see our old friend Doctor Spooner appeared again, and as soon as his name was mentioned I immediately abandoned the clue and went onto the next, only returning once all the checkers were in place. I find this much speedier than trying to solve it from scratch.
    Total time for the week was 50.35, giving a daily average of 10.07, just outside target.

    1. I immediately skipped Dr Spooner’s clue for same reason. I really detest these clues when they come up.

  23. Enjoyed this one and found it relatively straightforward, although did skip about a bit. POI APSE (same trouble with word order as others but got there in the end). LOI OOPS (thought at first it was ‘whoops’ minus the ‘w’ to give ‘hoops’ for rings…then realised too many letters!). Same understanding of EMO as excurarist. Another also put off by the ‘up’ in 6d. Knew Piet but Saki and char were unknown. COD to FRYING PAN. I love spoonerisms. Thanks Beck, very enjoyable. Thanks for the blog excurarist.

  24. Not a good day. Knew BUTTERED wasn’t right and resolved to return to it. The rest, with one exception, was a steady solve in about 18 mins but I was left with _O_S. No amount of brain searching and alphabet trawling would bring OOPS to the surface. I tried dropping Os and Rs from words and nothing emerged. At that point I accepted the DNF and didn’t bother to return to BUTTERED. Ah well, there’s always next week. Thanks Beck and excurarist.

  25. Another harder one for me, completing the slowest week since the last week of June.

    Not sure what took me so long, apart from the inability to see think of mustard and make it equal LOI MUSTERED, as with others I could get BUTTERED out of my head.


  26. 8:09 but…

    …forgot to return to BUTTERED which I could see didn’t parse. Looks like I’m not alone though – according to the leaderboard on the crossword site, there are at least 29 others suffering as I am…


  27. 8:45. Dnk PIET or EMO but they biffed in nicely. I was slow to remember RUG = runner. LOI 14dn. Very enjoyable.

  28. I also had buttered at 1ac. I knew I couldn’t parse it but as there were several others in that category I just assumed I would be enlightened by the blog – as indeed I was! This took me a full 28 minutes to complete incorrectly, same time as yesterday but at least I got that one correct. NHO EMO or SAKI. Spent a long time on OOPS where I initially tried removing an o and then thought it should be r. I thought quite a few clues were a bit clunky.

    FOI – 13ac THINGY
    LOI – 17ac OOPS
    COD – would definitely have been MUSTERED had I got it

    Thanks to Beck and Excurarist

  29. 8:15 OOPS took the longest because when I saw a 4 letter word ending in s my mind kept looking for the plural of 3 letter nouns. Other answers came very quickly for me. I wondered about up in ACHTUNG clue too but I think it maybe referred to wartime warnings re enemy bombers overhead. I.e. the call to look out is more specifically and crucially to look up. I remember hearing it in railway stations in Germany as the repeated opening word before a loudspeaker announcement.

  30. Just achieved target with 19:43. FOI -HERO, LOI – LAID (which I took far too long over). COD – FRYING PAN. I too like Spoonerisms, and got it with only one checking letter (the P) as I thought kitchen ware had to be pan, and then “frying” came to mind pretty quickly. Penultimate one in was OOPS, reassuring to note that I wasn’t the only one to struggle with that.

  31. Taken into the SCC by Beck today, but not unhappy after being reminded by 1a of the following story. Whilst at Dartmouth (Britannia Royal Naval College), I attended a lecture by the Master At Arms (commonly addressed as Master). Meetings in the RN are called musters. A cadet (from one of our Middle Eastern allies) was missing, and in response to questions about his whereabouts, some wag at the back of the class uttered the memorable line, “Mustapha must’ve missed the muster Master”. Thanks both!

    1. ‘The Muster’ is also used for the arrival of all the troops during the opening part of the annual Festival of Remembrance at the Royal Albert Hall.

  32. 8:51 but I managed to trip over my fingers and entered ATCHUNG, rendering my PIE CCART invalid too. Drat. Thanks Beck and Excurarist.

  33. My first DNF for a while, as I guessed AiSE instead of APSE. Irked by the wording in the clue, as it was unnecessarily obtuse/awkward for a QC. I also toyed with bUtTERED before seeing MUSTERED and agonised over the word ‘up’ in 6d. Time = 30 minutes, but my mistake at 6a renders that worthless.

    In summary: fun at times, but spoilt by a couple of clues.

    Thanks to Beck and Excurarist.

  34. 9:15 WOE. After a couple of very poor showings, I was happy to finish this today. Then I discovered that I’d bunged a D in the middle of E-O – I think I was trying to put DR in there. It’s been a testing week crossword-wise.
    I thought there were some tricky clues while I was solving, but on looking back, I can’t quite see why I made such heavy weather of some of them – TROLL, LAID, NOONTIME and PROLIFIC in particular. It took a while to work out what was going on with ACHTUNG – as others have said, the ‘up’ seemed odd.
    As an art fan, I had no problems with Piet Mondrian, but as I did that one, I thought I bet there will be some comments – Saki too! So PIE-CHART and NAGASAKI got ticks. I also liked UNEARTH and MUSTERED.
    Although I’m not a fan of Spoonerisms, we have seen a couple of entertaining ones recently, and the PRYING FAN made me chuckle – I imagine there probably are rather a lot them IRL 😅
    FOI Apse LOI Noontime COD Oops (we’ve seen similar before but I liked this version)
    Thanks Beck and Excurarist

  35. Add me to the DNF because could not get OOPS. I tried to remove an O from LOOSE (careless) to get LOSS but it didn’t work in any way.

    1. Yes, my first thought was loose too, as it has two O’s and if you take one away you get another valid word lose. Fortunately then I moved on!

  36. Managed to get through this despite my lack of GK. Maybe I got out the wrong side of bed but for me there were none of those smiley penny drop moments today.

    Like others put in BUTTERED even though it didn’t make sense.

    Thanks Excurarist I never knew that about EMO, and thanks Beck for the workout.

  37. I didn’t know about MO being a medic, so flubbed EMO along with NOONTIME and SPLIT. The rest of it seemed to go quite smoothly, though. Thank you for the blog!

    1. DR, MO (medical officer), GP (general practitioner), MD* , MB seems to be the common abbreviations. The latter we saw just yesterday!

      And then of course, doctor can sometimes be an anagrind i.e. anagram indicator

      * I am reminded by Chabudoo’s post below.

  38. 10.37 Quickest of the week. DRENCHING was biffed. I was tempted by EDM (Electronic Dance Music) but the doctor was upside down. Like LindsayO I was nearly done in under 7 minutes with OOPS but also OZONE remaining. The pennies dropped eventually. Thanks to Excurarist and Beck.

    1. Oxford University offer a medical doctorate course that awards the letters DM. Better not tell the setters, though.

  39. Thought I was just slow again after another long day in the hills (the Southern Upland Way is terrific!) so quietly relieved to read the comments above! Misery loves company …

    All said already, but I vehemently disagree with the Spooner Haters – I love seeing his name appear, that sort of lateral thinking challenge with a grin at the end of it is exactly what I love in a puzzle.

    All done in 12:25 for a Pretty Poor Day. Fun work out.

    Many thanks Beck and Excurarist.


  40. Well at least it wasn’t an Izetti!

    Another tough day. I almost fell into the BUTTERED trap, and that one, together with OOPS, took ages to solve.

    I agree with the criticisms of APSE that some commenters have made. This went beyond misdirection and Prof’s suggested alternative is much better.

    As usual, I made some stupid errors. Failed to see HERO on the first pass and got it into my head that 11dn was 3,6 rather than 6,3. That will teach me not to rush.

    Five completions this week. I’ve had a week away from the clock, but my performances have been mediocre. Think I’ll give the Crossword Championship a miss this year🤣🤣🤣

    Thanks to Excurarist for the blog and best wishes to everyone for a great weekend.

    PS Enjoyed the Quintagram very much today, but still find it challenging

  41. 19 mins…

    Late one tonight on the train back from London to the north, but an enjoyable offering from Beck.

    I didn’t think there was anything too hard, although I had a little struggle with 17ac “Oops” and wasn’t too enamoured with 25ac “Noontime” as a clue.

    FOI – 7dn “Shrug”
    LOI – 17ac “Oops”
    COD – 1ac “Mustered”

    Thanks as usual!

  42. We enjoyed this one and finished it. Must have been on the right wavelength and luckily knew all the GK needed. I particularly love Saki stories, always have, maybe I am drawn to the dark side! Also knew Piet Mondrian. Enjoyed oops and achtung and generally ‘got’ what was going on. Which is a nice, if unusual, situation for us!!

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