Quick cryptic 2541 by Mara


An enjoyable puzzle from Mara without obscurities or overly complicated parsing.

No proper time as I was interrupted during solving but this took me about 10 minutes. Some nice surfaces to brighten the day, particularly 14a, 2d and 21d.

Thanks to Mara

Definitions underlined in bold, deletions indicated by strikethrough.

1 Dog daughter found in Dorset town (6)
POODLED (‘daughter’) contained in (‘found in’) POOLE (‘Dorset town’)
4 Wife has rings: that was careless! (6)
WHOOPSW (‘Wife’) HOOPS (‘rings’)

I’m not fussed – whoops, woops or oops

8 Smoker’s accessory easier to carry? (7)
LIGHTER – Definition with cryptic hint

When I saw that first L (supplied by 1d) and then ‘carry’, I immediately thought of “luggage”

10 Relative in Greece I need to return (5)
NIECE – Reverse hidden (‘in… to return’) in ‘GreECE I Need’
11 Bit of money delivered, by the sound of it? (4)
CENT – Homophone (‘by the sound of it?’) of SENT (‘delivered’)
12 Herb keeps step in modern times (5,3)
SPACE AGESAGE (‘Herb’) contains (‘keeps’) PACE (‘step’)
14 Oh please, get down from there! (4,3,2)
COME OFF IT – Idiomatic definition with cryptic hint
18 Sulk about crew backing blackout (5,3)
POWER CUTPOUT (‘sulk’) containing (‘about’) WERC (‘crew backing’=reversal of ‘crew’)
20 Initially coming in, also out — “hi” or ‘bye”! (4)
CIAO – First letters of (‘initially’) of ‘Coming In, Also Out’)

CIAO can mean either ‘hello’ or ‘goodbye’. I didn’t know this, but ciao comes from schiavo, “your obedient servant,” or literally, “I am your slave”

22 Finger, for example, like it (5)
DIGITDIG (‘like’) IT (‘it’)
23 Mountain most steep, though not the first (7)
EVERESTSEVEREST (‘most steep’) with first letter deleted (‘though not the first’)
24 Place importance on  anxiety (6)
STRESS – Double definition
25 Alter reforms attached to Conservative business association (6)
CARTEL – Anagram (‘reforms’) of ALTER and C (‘Conservative’)
1 One criminal originally arrested by European constabulary (6)
POLICEI (‘One’) C (‘criminal originally’=first letter of ‘Criminal’) contained in (‘arrested by’) POLE (an example of a ‘European’)
2 Living in car, go all over the place (7)
ORGANIC – Anagram (‘all over the place’) of IN CAR GO

My favourite today; something which grows organically can also imply that it has grown in a haphazard way, that is’ all over the place’

3 Many nicked, almost all turning up (4)
LOTS – Reversal of (‘turning up’) STOLE (‘nicked’) with last letter deleted (‘almost all’)
5 Restrain worker on strike (8)
HANDCUFFHAND (‘worker’) before in a down clue (‘on’) CUFF (‘strike’)
6 Old giant, Greek character (5)
OMEGAO (‘Old’) MEGA (‘giant’)
7 Pip kidnapping Queen, get angry (3,3)
SEE REDSEED (‘Pip’) containing (‘kidnapping’) ER (‘Queen’)
9 Fresh procedure for clone (9)
REPRODUCE – Anagram (‘Fresh’) of PROCEDURE
13 Items are designed in Abu Dhabi etc (8)
EMIRATES – Anagram (‘designed’) of ITEMS ARE

Can you name them all? I can’t

15 Spear I’d thrown in river (7)
TRIDENTID (‘I’d’) contained in (‘thrown in’) TRENT (‘river’)
16 Set of thirteen cards passed around (6)
SPADES – Anagram (‘around’) of PASSED
17 Accommodation found in chalet, so hard up (6)
HOSTEL – Reverse hidden (‘found in… up’) in ‘chaLET SO Hard’
19 Bet it’s time to wear coat for winter (5)
WAGERAGE (‘time’) contained in (‘to wear’) W and R (‘coat for winter’=first and last letters of ‘WinteR‘)
21 Cheese, if the worst, gorgonzola last of all (4)
FETA – Final letters of (‘last of all’) of ‘iF thE worsT gorgonzolA‘)

I agree; if the ranking is from worst to best, ‘gorgonzola’ is ‘last of all’. Yum

87 comments on “Quick cryptic 2541 by Mara”

  1. 12:08

    I missed the parsing of EVEREST and FETA
    And biffing allowed me to get by without really knowing Poole or Trent (I think i should know Trent by now)

    I enjoyed that one, it took a little while for me to get going, I had to start in the SE corner but I got there in the end.

  2. Does steep = severe? Never mind, no hold-ups and another quickie for me, 5.57. That’s several days in a row in the region of 6 minutes, I wonder how long it’s going to last. Thanks BR and Mara.

    1. I was thinking of a severe gradient = a steep slope but I might have made that up. The other possibility is severe = extreme = steep, as in “That’s a bit steep / extreme”; only one degree of separation anyway.

      1. I think those things are all in the ballpark but nothing quite clinches it for me. If there is a severe gradient (NHO) I suppose that would work. I was thinking of ‘that’s a bit steep’ but I’ve never heard of a price being ‘severe’!

  3. 10:11
    (1011 Danes capture Canterbury, taking the Archbishop as prisoner)

    A bit slow to get started, as the NW corner had the holdouts POLICE / LIGHTER /CENT. POLICE was hard to parse, as I had E for European. I liked WHOOPS, but thought WOOHOO might work, my clue for it:
    Excitement : wife and husband both have rings on (6)

    COD SPADES, “passed around”, very smooth

  4. I was very surprised to find 13 minutes on the clock when I completed this as I hadn’t been aware whilst solving that I was going slowly (for me) . No clues presented a particular problem other than I very briefly considered ‘out’ as the second word at 18 before deciding against it. The likelihood of ‘blackout’ clueing something OUT seemed remote.

  5. Even slower than normal today but an enjoyable puzzle. No problem with steep and severe as per BletchleyReject.
    MER at sent / delivered. To me they describe opposite ends of the process. ie ‘I sent the parcel on Monday but it wasn’t delivered until Friday’. Dispatched and sent would be fine of course.

    1. I had the same thought about ‘delivered / sent’ but as I was still pondering it I noticed I had entered SENT in the grid by mistake, so I set about amending that and then forgot about my query and moved on. Anyway, having reviewed it now prompted by you I can’t think how to justify it.

      1. I see what you’re both getting at, but with the usual disclaimer that “Just because it’s in … doesn’t automatically mean it’s correct”, both Chambers Thesaurus and the Oxford Thesaurus of English include ‘send’ in the list of synonyms for ‘deliver’.

        1. Thanks. I checked Collins thesaurus and the Chambers Crossword Dictionary (both ways) and neither had the pairing listed.

    2. As a lifer at Royal Mail I did wonder if anyone would raise an eyebrow at matching these terms! Mot I of course. went straight in and completed (for once!). Thanks Mara and Bletchley.

  6. I fair galloped through this, and will doubtless be moved towards the front of the class to join the swots after assembly, with a stonking 10:11 solve. This is approaching light speed for me and gives me 2/2 so far this week.
    Having spent some time in, and having had my life saved by, the wonderful Poole hospital recently, POODLE went straight in and the NE corner quickly fell into place. The only one that kept me from achieving an unheard of sub-10 minutes was WHOOPS, as expressions always throw me – 2nd on my most feared list only to Spoonerisms.
    Many thanks to Mara and BR for their efforts.

  7. 5.05 DNF

    Another POWER OUT. Having seen POUT it was just too difficult not to assume the second word was OUT. More haste and all that

    Nice puzzle

  8. It seems that the QC gods are in a benevolent mood this week (so far!) as this enjoyable offering from Mara put up little resistance.
    Started with POODLE and finished with SPACE AGE in 5.27.
    Thanks to BR

  9. I managed to change “power out” to POWER CUT at the death, since I couldn’t believe that there’d be “out” in both clue and solution. Phew! I also spent time trying to parse LOI WAGER – thanks for the explanation Bletchers, I should have been able to see that.

    Loved SPADES, my COD. I had kept trying to work “suit” in there and the PDM was very satisfying!

    All done in 06:59 for a Very Good Day.

    Many thanks Bletchers and Mara.


  10. Oh dear. That was quite tough. Spent ages on TRIDENT, but didn’t spot it even with all the crossers. What a dope. I ended up at just under 30 mins with a made up name for a medieval spear. Hey ho. Live and learn…I hope.

  11. 11 minutes for me. A good variety of clue types, no obscure words and some lovely PDMs all made for a most enjoyable puzzle, a QC of the first rank. LOI was Lots, which I took time to get – there are a good number of words that go L-T-.

    Many thanks BR for the blog

  12. 3:55. After a bit of a slow start I accelerated through this. LOI CARTEL after a clean sweep of the downs and a second pass through the missing acrosses. SPADES my favourite but I liked WHOOPS and COME OFF IT too. Thanks Mara and BR.

  13. The self-imposed challenge of walking a 5-year-old to school (gates open at 8:35) then getting to a cafe and finishing the TQC before 9:00 actually helped: sub-10min time for a second day in a row.

  14. 5:51 yesterday and 5:52 today. Just a few clues on the outside of the grid needed a second glance. They were WHOOPS, SPADES and CARTEL (misread alter as after in my haste). FOI POODLE and LOI WHOOPS. COD SPADES. Thanks all

  15. I enjoyed this thanks Mara and Bletchley Reject! Power cuts were all too common in my youth. I’m not sure that sent necessarily means delivered – certainly not if you are using Royal Mail anyway 🙂

  16. Just outside the SCC again today. No major problems although I was trying to fit something around W and OO in WHOOPS, missing the easier construction. The rest was a steady but engaging solve. POWER CUT took a little thinking through.
    Needed the blog to parse WAGER; must remember the coating device.

  17. 6’06” a pretty speedy one held up by SPACE AGE and WHOOPS. Only ever thought POWER CUT and I have no issues at all with steepest/sEVEREST.

    Thanks Mara and BR.

  18. The fastest time for this QC is the current reigning champion, The Lord Verlaine. We know he’s real, not a neutrino. His time was 01:49. *One minute and forty nine seconds.*

    Having seen this, just out of interest I thought I’d see how fast I could type the answers in, using a PC with a keyboard and having already completed the puzzle earlier today.

    It took me 02:19 – two minutes and nineteen seconds. When I already knew the answers and am a reasonable typist. Exactly 30 seconds longer than someone *who was solving as he typed*.

    Verlaine’s skills are truly incomprehensible.


      1. DVORAK keyboard …that’s a new one for me. Having seen it I think I’ll stick to the QWERTY one and my touch typing skills acquired many moons ago from ‘Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing’.

      2. Dr Who is back on TV – maybe he’s a Time Lord and uses his sonic screwdriver…

    1. 01:49 – mind boggling.
      You know Verlaine is not a neutrino, but I strongly suspect he might be a tachyon.

    2. Funny you should have done that as I was planning the same thing after this morning’s solve! You’re right that some of these times do seem quite incomprehensible!

  19. 13:30 and a happy bunny here. even though I spent at least three of those minutes trying to find the right solution for 3d. I knew it had to be one of late. lets, lite, lots or lute but couldn’t parse any of them until the PDM. So LOTS is a candidate for my COD. However on the basis that I always go for the clue that raises the biggest smile. that must be WAGER.

    ‘Ciao’ cannot derive solely from ‘schiavo’ as that is a noun. The phrase would be ‘sono il schiavo vostro’ if it comes from Italian. I suppose that phrase could be reduced in common usage as ‘God be with you’ has been reduced to ‘bye’.

    1. In Hungarian “Szervusz” is the equivalent greeting to CIAO and derives from the Latin Servus(servant or slave). Servus as a greeting is common in southern German regions. The original Latin phrase was “Servus humillimus, domine spectabilis”(most humble servant, noble lord).

  20. Super puzzle, smooth clues, just right for a QC. I never got to the end of 19D: I’d parsed it as AGE to WeaR coat.

  21. Under 7′ which I suspect is one of my fastest. Nothing particularly troubling except trying to force “lights out” into (thankfully) too few spaces . It did, though, make me more careful so didn’t fall into the POWER (o)UT trap.

  22. 09:36
    I’m pretty sure this is a PB for me 😊 and only my second sub 10 mins.
    As with Merlin, I was delayed in the NW corner with POODLE, LOTS, CENT, POLICE & ORGANIC, biffing the latter two.
    FOI: 8ac LIGHTER
    LOI: 11ac CENT
    COD: 14ac COME OFF IT
    Thanks to BR and Mara.

  23. I’ve just picked my jaw up from the floor at Verlaine’s time. Truly amazing, beating some of the neutrinos I dare say. My time of 6.53 (I know my place!) was swift for me, and breaking seven minutes for the second day running was gratifying. Nothing in particular held me up, although it was useful to have a bit of UKcentric geographical knowledge for one or two clues. POWER OUT is certainly not a term I’d use, although I think I’ve heard it used in American films. We’ve all suffered enough of them over the years for POWER CUT to come straight to mind.

  24. Trotted along happily with this one. FOI LIGHTER, LOI SPACE AGE. Liked SPADES, COME OFF IT, among others. Though nobody says that any more.
    Thanks vm, BR.

  25. Completed this one in quick time, though not timed, and no help from the cat needed. Good job too as he came in at 0700 this morning when I went to get the newspaper, and he’s been in his bed ever since.

  26. Well, I made target of 15 minutes, but not by much, which is positively pedestrian compared to some of the times reported above. No real hold-ups, just generally slow. LOI SPADES, despite having run through the four suits on first reading the clue, just didn’t see the anagram until returning to it at the end – that is a sign of a great surface. Thanks Bletchers and Mara.

  27. 5:59
    Bit of a biff fest.
    Pretty good, but still over 3 Verlaines as mentioned above.
    Couldn’t see the parsing for whoops, but apart from that plain sailing.

    COD wager or Emirates, having lived in Abu Dhabi for over 10 yrs. There is a song about the 7 Emirates but I’m not sure it helps learn them..

  28. Another gentle one with a couple of chestnuts (EVEREST, DIGIT). Didn’t parse POLICE or FETA – thanks for explanations BR. No problems with severe=steep. Agree with Prof re: usage in climbing. Liked WHOOPS best. Thanks all.

  29. Well, I was feeling quite pleased with my pen and paper, fully parsed, 17mins effort, until I saw some of the times posted above. To those who say ‘why bother with parsing’, my response would be because it (unfortunately, only eventually) weeds out very tempting answers like Power Out. CoD to the smooth surface of 19d, Wager. Invariant

    1. I think of solving a crossword like doing an exam at school. No point in getting the answer if you don’t show your working and your understanding of the construct. Isn’t that half the fun?

  30. 13.59 A slow start – I couldn’t do the first six clues I looked at – quick in the middle and a slow finish. I spent a couple of minutes trying to make an anagram of “Spear I’d” despite having the T in TRIDENT, and a couple more failing to see why the obvious FETA was right. I’d normally just biff it but I was still annoyed by a misspelling spoiling a quick time in the Concise so I was determined to get it right. An enjoyable puzzle. Thanks BR and Mara.

  31. 16:28

    Almost definitely a PB, I don’t remember a sub 20-minute time before. LOI POWER CUT and WAGER were the only two I didn’t parse, despite thinking “crew backing, werc?” for the former when I first read the clue. Overall a satisfying puzzle, thanks Mara and BR.

  32. 15 minutes. Feta was my LOI though didn’t press until later. Enjoyed that solve as often I am not on Mara’s wavelength

  33. A rare sub-10 and an even rarer sub 8 today. Lots to like here. Because I’m on my phone I grew from the NW rather rhan starting with all the acrosses – might be time to change approach. All green in 7.16.

  34. Well, I was happy with my 17:04 which is slow by comparison with many of you but was an enjoyable solve for me, comfortably within my target and all parsed as I went except for EVEREST which I biffed and couldn’t see SEVEREST.

    Thanks to Mara and BR.

  35. 13 mins…

    A good middle of the road puzzle from Mara. Resisted the temptation to put Stone Age for 12ac on my first pass, which ultimately was a wise choice.

    FOI – 1ac “Poodle”
    LOI – 4ac “Whoops”
    COD – 5dn “Handcuff”

    Thanks as usual!

  36. Had to attempt this at work so no official time. However well inside SCC cut-off. Had I been able to do this at home with no distractions, I might have come close to a sub-10, although something around 11-12 mins is perhaps more likely.

    Great blog, many thanks.

  37. Numerous interruptions as I tackled this puzzle so I was pleased to come in at 12 minutes, all parsed. Great puzzle with some lovely surfaces.

    FOI – 1ac POODLE
    LOI – 3dn LOTS
    COD – 14ac COME OFF IT

    Thanks to Mara and BR

  38. Couldn’t parse EVEREST or WAGER, but answers couldn’t be anything else. Last in were SPADES and STRESS, which took a while to work out.

  39. 6:49 (murder of Rogallach mac Uatac, King of Connacht)

    Very much on the wavelength for this one. LOI was HANDCUFF.

    Thanks Mara and BR

  40. Finished it in 35:45 which is my PB and at least an hour quicker than normal! Much better than yesterday when I gave up completely!

  41. 6:20, a fabulous time for me. As others have said, two quick ones in a row. Now just watch it all come crashing down with the next puzzle, with yours truly on blog duty!

    COD to SPADES, although there were lots of candidates today.

    Thanks to Mara and BR.

  42. Curses! The chance of a rare SCC-escape slipped out of my grasp today. My grid was complete in just 18 minutes, but I was uneasy about my solution to 3d. I had LaTe – et al (‘almost all’) backwards – but I couldn’t square it with ‘Many nicked’. An alphabet trawl produced LOTS, which fitted ‘Many’, but didn’t seem to relate to ‘nicked’ or ‘almost all’. I never did parse the clue fully, so I was fortunate in the end to plump for the correct solution. Time = 22 minutes. Still very fast for me, so I shouldn’t really grumble.

    My two clues of the day were POODLE (very close to where I was dragged up) and WHOOPS.

    Many thanks to Mara and Mr Reject.

  43. My mistake, misspelling Niece (even though the answer was in front of me albeit backwards) stopped me getting Omega and a clean sweep.

    COD Come off it

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