Quick Cryptic 2573 by Alex


Few obscurities in this pleasant puzzle from Alex.

Plenty of one-word definitions which in general make the going easier. However, I did get stuck on my last in at 16d which took my time out to over 11 minutes. Is Alex giving us poor solvers a bit of stick with 9a, 10a and 15a?

One potential area of controversy at 12d, admittedly only identified after I’d finished the puzzle. Favourite was 15a; a hybrid clue of sorts.

Thanks to Alex

Definitions underlined in bold. Deletions indicated by strikethrough.

1 Resting place by river for rodent (8)
DORMOUSEDORM (‘Resting place’) OUSE (‘river’)

DORM as an abbreviation for “dormitory”. I won’t inflict them on you, but I can still remember the names of the ones I slept in at school 50+ years ago.

5 Mailbags oddly depleted sadly (4)
ALAS – Odd letters of ‘MAiLbAgS‘ deleted (‘oddly depleted’)
9 Scold son behind schedule (5)
SLATES (‘son’) LATE (‘behind schedule’)
10 Work party with number initially being neglected (3-4)
RUN-DOWNRUN (‘Work’) DO (‘party’) W (‘with’) N (‘number initially’=first letter of ‘Number’)
11 Typist’s chair adjusted for doctor (12)
PSYCHIATRIST – Anagram (‘adjusted’) of TYPIST’S CHAIR
13 Ms Gardner and sailor in film (6)
AVATARAVA (‘Ms Gardner’) TAR (‘sailor’)

AVA Gardner, the film actress and AVATAR, the 2009 film

15 Minor insult (6)
SLIGHT – Double definition

‘Minor’ as an adjective, ‘insult’ as a noun or verb

It depends on whether one regards a SLIGHT as a ‘minor insult’, but it seems close enough to me, so the whole clue can also be seen as a non-cryptic definition.

17 Bad-tempered beagle raised poorly (12)
DISAGREEABLE – Anagram (‘poorly’) of BEAGLE RAISED
20 Girl missing in action hiding currency (7)
MIRANDAMIA (‘missing in action’) containing (‘hiding’) RAND (‘currency’)

We used to hear a lot in the 70’s and 80’s especially about captured American soldiers in the Vietnam War who were MIA but who were believed to be still alive.

RIP Glynis Johns who only died last week, my idea of a mermaid.

21 Suffer again, cursing inwardly (5)
INCUR – Hidden (‘inwardly’) in ‘agaIN CURsing’
22 Language of male getting cross (4)
MANXMAN (‘male’) X (‘cross’)
23 Redesign opening on control (8)
REINVENTVENT (‘opening’) following in an across clue (‘on’) REIN (‘control’)
1 Medicate deer around south (4)
DOSEDOE (‘deer’) containing (‘around’) S (‘south’)
2 Studies grasses when speaking (5)
READS – Homophone (‘when speaking’) of REEDS (‘grasses’)
3 Asking too much from grocer having bananas (12)
OVERCHARGING – Anagram (‘bananas’) of GROCER HAVING
4 Injure artist during pirouette (6)
SPRAINRA (‘artist’) contained in (‘during’) SPIN (‘pirouette’)
6 Observing throne with head of state (7)
LOOKINGLOO (‘throne’) KING (‘head of state’)

LOO and ‘throne’ both colloquialisms for “lavatory” if spelt with a U, “toilet” if spelt without a U.

7 Hospital above city accepting time for purity (8)
SANCTITYSAN (‘Hospital’) over in a down clue (‘above’) CITY (‘city’) containing (‘accepting’) T (‘time’)

SAN an abbreviation for “sanitorium”

8 Popular transport hub includes everything fitting (12)
INSTALLATIONIN (‘Popular’) STATION (‘transport hub’) containing (‘includes’) ALL (‘everything’)
12 Spice king perhaps meets a mother (8)
CARDAMOMCARD (‘king perhaps’) A MOM (‘a mother’)

Creeping Americanisms; where will it all end? Or so I thought, as I’d only ever come across the -MOM spelling before. However, looking it up in the usual dictionaries afterwards CARDAMUM is given as an alternative spelling, as is CARDAMON. MUM is the more usual British term for ‘mother’ and with the O not being checked, it would seem to me that there are two equally legitimate answers here.

Not directly relevant for a puzzle in a British paper, but the -MUM spelling is not given as an alternative in Merriam-Webster.

14 A London orchestra managed without a place (4-3)
ALSO-RANA LSO (‘A London orchestra’) RAN (‘managed’)

‘Without’ meaning “outside”, ‘a place’ meaning eg the top finishers in a sporting event. LSO = London Symphony Orchestra

16 Entertain with revolting beer and ecstasy (6)
REGALEREGAL (‘revolting beer’=reversal of LAGER) E (‘ecstasy’)
18 Money is enticement across China’s capital (5)
LUCRELURE (‘enticement’) containing (‘across’) C (‘China’s capital = first letter, or the upper-case letter, of the word ‘China’)

As in “filthy…”

19 Regularly turnout for jog (4)
TROT – Alternate letters (‘Regularly’) of ‘TuRnOuT

93 comments on “Quick Cryptic 2573 by Alex”

  1. I biffed the three long anagrams, taking the anagrist on trust. I seem to have biffed RUN-DOWN as well. I suspect I’m not the only one who put in CARDAMUM–there are quite a few 1-error times on the leaderboard–and I’m peeved, to say the least. I posted a complaint on the club forum, and am hopeful that David will respond when he’s clocked in. 6:35 but.

  2. 10:35

    Not many red herrings, no difficult vocab (I’m now used to Tar/sailor, san/hospital etc) made for a very straightforward solve

    I didn’t know you could spell Cardamom as Cardamum so I avoided that error but can see how that would be annoying! Alternate unchecked spellings should be hiddens or anagrams etc the spelling should be prescribed like yesterday’s sanserif

    I don’t mind names as answers eg Miranda It’s the random ‘Di’ or ‘Stu’ that you have to pull out of nowhere to get your answer that’s tricky

    1. Well done Tina. You’ve left me far, far behind. 👍

      Give me a wave when you’re next hurtling past the SCC

      1. Ahaha Gary you finish these 5 times more often than I do. I either hurtle through or give up

  3. Collins has only “cardamon,” with a terminal N, as an alternative for CARDAMOM, and that’s the one I remembered, but dictionary.com has “cardamum” too. The setters should check both, of course. CARDAMOM is the standard, “non-alternative,” which I think should be preferred when crossers don’t insist otherwise, but y’all do have a point, nonetheless.

      1. Actually, scrolling just a bit further down, Collins online has that too! Oops.
        Should’ve said “an American mother.”

        1. I was just about to say that. Collins entries start with COBUILD, a simplified dictionary for non-native speakers of English (you can tell by reading a definition). You need to skip that to find an actual Collins definition.

          1. I know about the COBUILD, and thought I was not looking at that, since I was looking at a real definition, not a sentence saying, “You can use CARDAMOM to say…” But I’ve looked again, and you’re right!

    1. I suppose that, ceteris paribus, where the dictionary has ‘A, also B’, A is to be preferred (Mephisto tends to use B); although I wonder how non-arbitrary the dictionary’s choice of A and B is. This case is, I think, unusual in that both spellings (-mon is out) fit the clue perfectly. And indeed, given that this is a British puzzle, one would think that if anything-mum is to be preferred.

      1. Well, CARDAMOM is the first spelling in Collins too. Adding “American” would be more emphatic, though.

      2. Haven’t heard ceteris paribus since my Economics A level days. Dear old Mr Handa used to love using it.

  4. Back in some sort of form after my shocking, almost career-ending 24 minutes yesterday.

    I’ve heard of ‘cardamon’ but never ‘cardamum’, but always use CARDAMOM – as pods, when I’m feeling Ottolenghi-esque with mortar and pestle. ‘Cardamum’ does have something going for it (a Xmas prezzie for a loved one?), even if it isn’t in Collins.


    1. I noticed your scarlet line on the QUITCH yesterday, and assumed you’d gone for a coffee and left the timer running!

      1. I had to fight hard against my flesh, as St Paul would have called it if he did crosswords, to submit on leaderboard. I will not be looking at the SNITCH for a very long time… 🙂

  5. That troublesome spice with about 47 different spellings (if you go beyond the dictionaries to the recipe books, spice packets and restaurant menus) dragged me out to 11.52 when I got the dreaded UNLUCKY! message and had to trawl through my answers looking for the error. Hi Mom! Was also held up by SPRAIN (I was working on an anagram of ‘artist’) and REGALE where I forgot about lager and thought the beer required was our old friend ale. Otherwise no major problems. Do people still speak Manx? Thanks BR and Alex.

  6. 10:58. RUN-DOWN and ALSO-RAN were favourites. For MIA I thought first of the singer. Anagrams in this puzzle were surprisingly quick for me to solve. I’d be curious to hear the names of your old dorms!

    1. Mine were all named after trees and the general rule was that the shorter the name, the older the boys in them. The top three were Oak, Ash and Elm. I can’t remember all the others but Willow and Chestnut were among those for the smaller boys.

    2. Well, as you’ve asked so nicely…
      Senior dorm, the Balcony, Long dorm x2, the Bungalow, the Bird Cage, Junior dorm + A. N. other dorm.
      Happy days? As long as I don’t have to do it again.

        1. Long ago I visited the historic house in New Orleans which was the first to be built with air-conditioning. The custom before then was to sleep on the balcony in the hot humid nights, and this house too was built with wide balconies – in case the A/C wasn’t as effective as hoped!

  7. After the last two shockers I managed to get through this in a very snappy 12 minutes. Luckily the long anagrams fell in quite nicely which helped the rest go in without too much trouble. I did overcomplicate 7d by trying to think of 4-letter cities, until the penny dropped at last.
    Unfortunate about CARDAM(O/U)M but a nice puzzle otherwise.

  8. 10 minutes. I put CARDAMOM at 14dn because that’s the spelling I happened to know, but I added a question mark in the margin for the unsignalled American ‘MOM’. Out of curiosity I later checked whether CARDOMUM was in the dictionary as an alternative and identified the flaw in the clue.

    The suggestion that “non-alternative” spelling should apply when crossers don’t dictate otherwise may have worked in this example but dictionaries don’t always agree on which spelling is the preferred one, and The Times officially uses more than one of them.

  9. Started fast but really slowed at the end to cross the line all green in 19. LOIs and the cause of a lot of the delay were RUN DOWN and INSTALLATION. If you’re employed by a rail company not being able to get STATION from ‘transport hub’ is every bit as irritating as you might imagine.

  10. Convinced that 4d must be an anagram of ARTIST I was defeated at the end by the required answer, SPRAIN.
    I’m enjoying my QCs more now I’ve turned off the timer, and today took around 24 minutes with one error (plus the CARDAMUM trap). I enjoyed the long ones especially – PSYCHIATRIST, OVERCHARGING etc, but my COD was definitely SANCTITY.
    This was a nice puzzle and worthy of that title.
    Thank you Alex. And thanks to BR for the breakdown.

    1. Hurrah for enjoying the experience, not the race. A good puzzle should be savoured, not guzzled!

    2. I scroll down so I can’t see the time (using my laptop), that way I can relax and also gloat if I happen to get a decent (for me) time.

  11. LOI was the carefully thought CARDAMUM. I knew this was a poor clue, but after careful consideration went for MUM, as this paper is British. Hello pink square.

    Main hold-up was entering OVERREACHING, which looked right.


  12. Apparently one of the origins of the pesky spice is the Latin cardamomum so no wonder there’s confusion!

  13. This one was a bit of a slog, taking just under 26 minutes. Not unenjoyable though, and as I solve online, using neither aids nor pen and paper, I’m notching this one up as a success. [I have low standards ☺️]

  14. Steady going today with no major dramas.
    I’d always thought that the pesky spice ended with ‘on’ but shrugged when the checkers required an ‘m’ at the end. Glad I didn’t know about the alternate spelling.
    Other than that I was rather surprised when the name of the actress sprung to mind quite quickly but I failed to parse RUN DOWN.
    Started with DORMOUSE and finished with SLATE, where I spent time looking for synonyms of schedule, in 8.06.
    Thanks to BR

  15. 3:39. I’ve never seen the spice spelt CARADAMUM so luckily avoided that bear-trap. Whizzed through this filling in all but 3 on reading through the clues, hesitating only over the parsing for REGALE with its ALE at the end when I should have seen LAGER quicker. Thanks Alex and BR.

  16. At first pass I thought this was challenging, with few solves on the initial run through, but by dotting around the grid they slowly came and I ended up coming home in 13 minutes. Overcharging my LOI; entered unparsed as the only word to fit both checkers and definition and then parsed after completion, but the online clock has already stopped by then, so I suspect more like a 15-minuter for “all done all parsed”.

    I didn’t think twice about entering Cardamom but I can see that the -um answer also works. Yet another trap for the setter! Perhaps the editor will deem it an “acceptable alternative solution”.

    Many thanks BR for the blog

  17. 10:01
    Liked the three anagrams and COD regale.

    Didn’t like the spice, no need for ambiguity:
    Spice king perhaps has a second starter of madras.

  18. I had a vague awareness of Ava Gardner, born just over 100 years ago I now see, dead some 34 years, but a bit obscure for a QC? Still, nobody else has commented, so perhaps it’s just me. Maybe the dorms of long ago were plastered with Ava posters. I’m not an avid Saturday afternoon film fan.
    Initially went quite fast but slowed as I went down, pushed into the SCC by REGALE and REINVENTED. Like some others I could see some ale, but couldn’t make sense of the rest of the parsing. I liked 17A’s stroppy hound.

    1. Totally agree re Ava. I only know her because PG Wodehouse often used her as an example of pulchritude, in stories which were antique when I read them 45 years ago!

      1. I had to look up pulchritude! That got me thinking….is there an opposite to the word onomatopoeia because pulchritude is certainly that.

    2. I know of her from her love affair with Frank Sinatra. She was the second of his four wives. I was born in the 60s so I don’t think it was that obscure for a QC.

    3. So, if you’ve not seen it, The Barefoot Contessa is an excellent film. Of course, most Bogart films are, but this one is very different in narrative style, telling the same story from different perspectives. Anyway, Ava Gardner was rather impressive in that one.

  19. Hailing from where I do in the West Midlands, it was a while before I heard the word pronounced “mum” instead of “mom”. Add that to never having seen the spice spelled with “mum” at the end, and there was never any doubt for me.

    MANX was my LOI and held me up for a little while. Neat anagram for PSYCHIATRIST I thought.


  20. Still nothing on the Club site as to whether -MUM is deemed acceptable for 15d. We’ll see.

  21. 12.49 WOE

    Totally off the pace today plus got the spice wrong (and pretty sure that’s not the first time).

    Nice puzzle though.

  22. 12:12 (Llewelyn the Great reconquers Gwynedd)

    I nearly fell in the CARDAMUM trap – I cheated by consulting a spice rack to check the spelling. I biffed REGALE, my LOI, but could not parse it, being stuck on ALE for beer.

    Thanks Alex and BR

  23. Online today; 08:30 but with CARDAMUM.
    I knew there were alternative spellings. I think setters and editors need to be very helpful when the Naan bread and many other such items are in puzzles.

  24. Typed in MUM, it looked wrong, changed it to MOM, it looked right. Phew.

    I couldn’t get either 1a or 1d, and those ended up as my last two in. But I have learned to move on reasonably swiftly, and there weren’t any serious delays elsewhere, so I rapidly came full circle.

    A few minor gripes from me. Ava Gardner? Really? Two “every other letter” clues was one too many. A bit lazy for an answer starting “re” (REINVENT) being clued with a word also starting “re” (“redesign”). However, I did like LOOKING, SLIGHT, SPRAIN and LOI+COD DORMOUSE.

    All done in 07:53 for 1.25K and a Good Day.

    Many thanks Bletchers and Alex.


  25. 4.42. Thankfully I only knew the CARDAMOM spelling so didn’t question it – although Chambers is happy with either. Sympathies with those caught out, as it looks perfectly valid to me.

    Some parts of the UK do say ‘mom’, including I think Birmingham (EDIT – I see hopkinb has beaten me to that!), although the written version seems to be only North American.

    Ava is the only Gardner I can think of (well, aside from the former Bolton Wanderers star Ricardo), but perhaps it’s time for her to retire. You don’t see Mae West so often these days either.

    Thanks BR and setter.

  26. 6:25 but…

    …NUTS! Somehow the M at the junction of CARDAMOM/MANX became an N – so one pink square and two errors. Grrr. Otherwise, nothing too difficult here.

    Thanks Alex and Bletch

  27. Apologies to the mummers among you. Neither Richard Rogan nor I were aware of the ‘mum’ spelling of cardamom but it is in the dictionaries, and clearly a valid alternative. Unfortunately there is no way of reflecting two possible answers in the leaderboard, but those who put CARDAMUM may consider themselves correct as far as we are concerned.

  28. Not talking to the screen. Changed -MOM to -MUM at the last moment because this is an English puzzle in a British newspaper that charges rather a lot for the privilege. The spice rack is not the place to check answers! Harumph!

  29. I hesitated over 12dn, was it MOM or was it MUM? I remembered from previous puzzles that the American version of mother was favoured, so was pleased to see my memory hadn’t failed me. The clue that caused me the most problems was the relatively straightforward 22ac MANX which was my LOI. It took me over a minute to realise that male was MAN, and not just M with a three letter word defining ‘getting cross’. I still managed to finish comfortably under target at 8.45, so alls well that ends well.

  30. 24:03
    Doing well up to the 10 min mark, then 7dn and the majority of the southern clues took me well past my target time – in particular REGALE, only seeing the LARGER anagram after biffing. (I am assuming the clue pointed to a ‘beer’ anagram being needed and not that LARGER is revolting? Or is Alex perhaps a staunch CAMRA supporter?)
    Biffed SANCTITY, DNK san was short for sanatorium (thanks BR) and it appears I was lucky, only being aware of the CARDAMOM spelling.
    An enjoyable solve.
    FOI: 5ac ALAS
    LOI: 16dn REGALE
    Thanks to BR and Alex.

  31. Like Plett11 took ages on SLATE as looking for a timetable to follow S. REGALE had me foxed for 30 seconds, then suddenly saw the revolting lager. Was unaware of any spice spelling except MUM. Checked Wiktionary afterwards and it says MUM is archaic and pl is MUMS, MOM is normal and has MOMS but MON is not countable. I think opinions at Wiktionary reflect several different people!

  32. Had trouble with the crossers at SPRAIN/RUNDOWN and, finally, MIRANDA/REGALE. Got as far as CARDAM and then spent a while working over A, O and U but the ‘O’ one sounded best. Thanks all. 11:11.

  33. A DNF for me as I was totally clueless about 14d. I feel it was a bit weak, but I see how it works.

  34. 20 mins…

    I put “Cardamum”, but as I do this on the printed edition I obviously had no way of seeing whether it was right. Based on the alternatives given above, I’m not going to class this as a Dnf – scraping the barrel probably to try and get a much needed completion, but there you go.

    The rest of it I enjoyed.

    FOI – 1dn “Dose”
    LOI – 23ac “Reinvent”
    COD – 1ac “Dormouse”

    Thanks as usual!

  35. Solved steadily, although SANCTITY and REGALE held me up. Surely both spellings for CARDOMO(U)M are acceptable?

  36. 19 minutes, all parsed. It seemed quicker when I was doing it but I did have to think for a minute or so about 16dn/23ac. Entered cardamum first but then changed it to cardamom as it didn’t look right – a lucky escape. Otherwise a relatively gentle and most enjoyable puzzle.

    FOI – 5ac ALAS
    LOI – 23ac REINVENT
    CODs – 14dn ALSO RAN and 22ac MANX

    Thanks to Alex and BR

  37. While still a young boy I was embarrassed to have my Black Country spelling of Mom corrected to Mum and never forgot the lesson, so Cardamum seemed the obvious answer when I paused over the ending. I see the powers that be have now decided that -mum is an acceptable alternative. Apart from the spice, and time wondering what Regale had to do with beer, this was a fairly straightforward solve in a comfortable sub-20. CoD to 1ac, Dormouse, for the smooth surface. Invariant

    1. Thanks for the interesting bit of language lore on “mom”, which I always believed was strictly for us Americans. It’s fun to see a possible origin in some dialect from the mum country. (Finding our “redd up” in Jane Eyre was a fun moment.)

      1. As a 6 year old, Mom seemed the obvious shortening for Mother, and it’s still the way I pronounce the word.

  38. Enjoyable puzzle, feels good to finish for a change. FOI DORMOUSE, LOsI ALAS and REINVENT, both tricky to parse.
    Biffed the long ones. Liked AVATAR (though I may be one of the few who remember AVA Gardner), ALSO RAN, SLIGHT, & MIRANDA.
    Luckily I put CARDAMOM, but I usually write an ‘n’ at the end.
    Thanks vm, BR.

  39. A little off the pace today. I think I went into panic mode when I spotted the four clues with 12 letter answers but they weren’t too bad. I didn’t contemplate any other spelling of CARDAMOM and the U alternative just doesn’t look right. FOI DORMOUSE (lovely clue) and LOI MANX in 10:04.

  40. Didn’t know -MUM variant, so had -MOM. However, got STRAIT as anagram of artist, and thought ‘dire straits’ might be regarded as injurious, so entered that. Also hastily put BEWARE from BEER + W(ith) which doesn’t parse at all, and submitted without having another look.

  41. I had pencilled in AMUM at the end of 12d before seeing CARD, but when I got CARD, having only seen the CARDAMOM spelling I changed it. Lucky me! DOSE was FOI, MIRANDA brought up the rear. 9:10. Thank you Alex and BR.

  42. Avoided the CARDAMUM trap through my own ignorance of it being an alternative spelling.

    My lunch break ended with just REINVENT left after 22 mins which I had to reveal – must remember VENT for “opening”.

  43. An enjoyable solve, done whilst visiting my elderly father here in (very) sunny Dorset. He dozed in his chair and I exercised the grey cells for exactly 30 minutes. My LOI (REINVENT) accounted for 5+ of those minutes at the end, but even had it not done so I never threatened an SCC escape today.

    All four long clues came to me relatively easily, which really helped by providing lots of checkers. I spotted the CARDAMOM/MUM dilemma as I wrote the solution in, but as I solve in paper I simply marked it with an asterisk and move on. As far as I know, my print version of The Times is not yet a smart device, so I was in no danger of receiving one of those dreaded pink squares – not in that clue, at least.

    Many thanks to Alex and BR.

  44. 11:04 today. I thought there were some excellent clues here, although I feel I’m still trying to get used to Alex’s style. I really enjoyed the cracking anagrams at 11a, 17a and 3d – such believable stories hidden in those surfaces! INCUR, SPRAIN, ALSO RAN and REGALE all got ticks too. Hard to choose a COD today!
    I also thought the clue for CARDAMOM was a bit vague but that is how I’m used to seeing it in my spice rack, so at least I got it right!
    FOI Dose LOI SPRAIN CsOD Psychiatrist, Disagreeable and Overcharging
    Thanks Alex and BR

  45. 9′, not getting caught up in the mum/mom controversy since I somehow knew the spelling (from shopping lists I suspect). Failed to parse REGALE wondering what part “REG” played alongside “ALE” (for beer). Thanks all.

  46. What a delightful puzzle! I hesitated over the MOM/MUM thing since I’m always working a little extra hard to avoid the natural Americanisms. But finally shrugged and put in the spelling I knew, thankfully.

    Thanks to blogger and setter!

  47. 12.52 I’m another Midlander so 12d seemed fine to me. I was held up for four minutes at the end by REGALE where, like others, I wasted time trying to equate ALE and beer; and by LOI REINVENT. Thanks BR and Alex.

    1. Ey up me duck! I guess it depends if you’re in the East or West Midlands? Here in Leicestershire, the u sound in Mum is more like the short oo in look or cook (unless you’re from the north east like MrB) 😊

        1. Well, just to confuse the situation, I’m from the south, my husband’s a Geordie, we ended up in the East Midlands, and our children’s vowel sounds are a right mix up 😅

  48. I had SEEKING for 6d as thought ‘see’ was another name for a bishop’s throne

    1. Ingenious. But a “see” is just a diocese – the bishop’s throne is, I think, their “cathedra” (hence cathedral, and indeed the phrase “ex cathedra” as meaning “infallibly true” – literally “from the chair”).

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