Quick Cryptic 2648 by Breadman

This was quite a workout but very enjoyable nonetheless. The GK was a little obscure, as is some of the international English.  The wordplay is convoluted at times, but rewarding if you stick at it. Might be one where confidence plays an important part. It’s also a pangram. Very over-par 8min 30 for me.

1 Area clear and dry (4)
ARID – A (area) + RID (clear)
3 Wedding attendant is French male in bar (4,3)
BEST MAN – EST (‘is’ in French) + M (male) all inside BAN (bar)
8 Homespun savoury biscuit accompanies quantity of beer (7-6)
CRACKER-BARREL – CRACKER is a savoury biscuit and BARREL is a quantity of beer. This is an American phrase referring to barrels of biscuits found in country stores, around which customers would discuss issues of the day. I have never heard it used outside of the US.
9 Born in June: female, finally (3)
NEE – last letters acronym
10 Detach page following French article, for example (5)
UNPEG – UN (French article) + P + EG
12 Cooking vessel two pets smashed (7)
STEWPOT – anagram (‘smashed’) of TWO PETS
14 Alien sport broadcast over ancient European region (7)
ETRURIA – ET (alien) + RU (rugby union, sport) + AIR (broadcast) backwards
16 Last part of fish Alan halved (5)
FINAL –  FIN (part of fish) + AL (half of ‘alan’)
17 Australian truck silent, heading off (3)
UTE – MUTE minus the ‘M’. What the Australians call a pick-up truck when they’re not cheating at cricket.
20 Controls art gallery intended, we hear, for restoration (13)
REINSTATEMENT – REINS (controls) + TATE (gallery) + MENT (sounds like ‘meant’). Restoration in the ‘monarchy’ sense.
21 Maybe porter rests on this, worker Rex covering (4,3)
BEER MAT – Essential crossword knowledge: porter is a type of beer. BEE (worker) + R (rex) + MAT (covering)
22 Enclosed area: three feet (4)
YARD – double definition. The easiest clue of the century and I stared at it for ages trying to find something more complicated.
1 Shrewd king protected by outstanding old nobleman abroad (8)
ARCHDUKE – ARCH (shrewd) + K (king) inside DUE (outstanding, owing)
2 Country artist probing level of brightness? (4)
IRAQ – RA (Royal Academician, i.e. artist) inside IQ
3 Prevents going around NE area of London (6)
BARNES – BARS (prevents) round NE. Classic deflection technique which makes you think of North London, when Barnes is of course south of the river.
4 Serious illness — Mark felt awful continually (7,5)
SCARLET FEVER – SCAR (mark) + anagram (‘awful’) of FELT + EVER (continually)
5 Ruin zest, an ingredient for cake? (8)
MARZIPAN – MAR (ruin) + ZIP (zest) + AN
6 Duck initially enters river (4)
NILE – NIL (duck, i.e. zero) + E for ‘enters’
7 Poor Romans asking for a huge sum of money (1,5,6)
A KINGS RANSOM – anagram (‘poor’) of ROMANS ASKING
11 Every bovine animal skin in East End getting bleach (8)
PEROXIDE – PER (every) + OX (animal) + ‘IDE (cockney saying ‘hide’). Doesn’t work as a noun, as bleach is sodium hypochlorite (NaOCl), not peroxide (H2O2), but their effects are similar so it works as a verb.
13 Narrative books by editor possessing special aptitude (8)
TALENTED – TALE (narrative) + NT (New Testament, i.e. books) + ED (editor)
15 Familiar with a universal force on small island (2,4)
AU FAIT – A + U + F + AIT (small island in a river)
18 Card game nap taking place here? (4)
CRIB – Double definition, the first short for cribbage. Solved only with an alphabet trawl
19 Napoleonic battle seen in mundane journal picked up (4)
JENA – reverse hidden word. Battle of Jena, 14th October 1806. Not one I was familiar with. The sum total of my Napoleonic Wars knowledge is that he lost.

72 comments on “Quick Cryptic 2648 by Breadman”

  1. 12 minutes. My main delay was over 1dn where I spent too long thinking the definition would be ‘shrewd’. I didn’t know the battle at 19dn so it was just as well it was a hidden answer.

    CRACKER-BARREL has appeared twice in the 15×15 puzzle, most recently in February this year, so some solvers will have had an advantage from that. Others may be familiar with the term as the brand name of a range of cheeses.

  2. Despite getting the daily cricketing reference at 6d, today was a disaster even by my standards. It was kind of Breadman to give our antipodean friends a clue of their own – (UTE – which I’ve NHO) – which meant that along with the also NHO ETRURIA I failed miserably, upping stumps after 30 minutes. AU FAIT, PEROXIDE and ARCHDUKE, (trying in vain to find a synonym for ‘shrewd’), also evaded me so I shall crawl away to lick my wounds and bounce back tomorrow for the weekend puzzle.
    Thanks to Breadman and Curarist.

  3. What’s that? Same old Poms? Always whining! 🤣

    Do they have UTES outside of Australia? They’re more of a sedan/saloon car with a truck bed. You don’t have to step up to get into them like a truck. Short for ‘utility vehicle’. Though nowadays they’re getting bigger (American influence no doubt). I like them because you don’t have to lift your load very high to get it into the back, like you would a truck.

    I spotted the pangram very early which actually did help. Didn’t help me with the NHO ETRURIA though. Also never heard of an AIT.

    Managed the rest though

  4. Felt like I made harder work of this than I should, but enjoyed the challenge along the way.
    I spent far too long on BARNES considering that I used to live there 🤦‍♂️ and was convinced that ARCHDUKE would include ‘astute’ in some way. NHO of JENA so was grateful that it was kindly clued and CRACKER BARREL needed all the checkers before I trusted the wordplay.
    Started with ARID and finished with CRIB, squeaking in under target in 9.56.
    Thanks to Curarist and Breadman

  5. Looking at it now, I don’t see anything to scare the proverbials, but it still took me over my 6′ goal –again. I do remember struggling to recall JENA; had to wait for the checkers. I thought Beethoven wrote something with ‘Jena’ in the title, but Wikipedia tells me that that was a false attribution of a Symphoony no. 14 by Friedrich Witt. Unsurprisingly, I didn’t spot the pangram. 7:36.

  6. 4:58. NHO the battle, but it had to be a reverse hidden. I’m another who failed to spot the Pangram. I discovered I didn’t know what CRACKER-BARREL meant, but I do now. COD to A KINGS RANSOM. Thanks Breadman and Curarist.

  7. I, too, failed to spot the pangram, and had NHO JENA as a battle (I knew of the old East German football side Carl Zeiss Jena and that was slightly reassuring). I also knew of ETRURIA only as Josiah Wedgwood’s base in the Potteries, but fortunately the wordplay was fair. I only parsed BEER MAT afterwards

    TIME 4:40

  8. 7.51 WOE

    A very careless IRAN in what was quite a tricky affair. The BARREL has indeed come up in the biggie but only remembered when I had most of the checkers.

    Good workout

  9. 10 minutes, which suggests a comfortable enough ride. But I NHO Cracker barrel, which went in with fingers crossed from the checkers, and I was not sure about Arch = shrewd. I also biffed Best Man, half thinking the “male” gave man not just M, and then not having a parsing for the B.

    On the other hand, I did for once spot the pangram. A very rare event.

    Many thanks Curarist for the blog.

  10. I rather thought the pangram was signalled early with IRAQ and MARZIPAN in the top section, and that helped with PEROXIDE and of course JENA, jenarously clued. Commiserations to those who biffed IRAN, which rather undid Breadman’s kindness.

  11. 15:32 (Henry VIII tries unsuccessfully to get divorced. Thomas Cranmer appointed Archbishop. Thomas More resigns as Lord Chancellor. Thomas Cromwell appointed Master of the Jewels).

    I found this very tricky, especially my LOI ARCHDUKE, where I was trying to combine COUNT and R to make a word meaning shrewd. Only when trying to see if it would work with DUC did the penny finally drop.

    NHO JENA, but the letters were all there, so in it went. I failed to spot the pangram.

    Thanks Breadman and Curarist

  12. Glad I didn’t consider a new measure of brightness – the “IN”, but for once paused to think about the parsing, so got the correct country.

    NHO of LOI JENA, like most others, so glad it was a hidden. Another one that felt a bit like a mini 15×15, but not as hard for me as yesterday’s, despite a similar QUITCH score.

    I liked my POI ARCHDUKE – good misdirection.


  13. Darn, I DNF the ARCHDUKE. (I even pencilled in Due on the side). Should have been more patient. However, Major Eyebrow Raise alert – Arch does not mean Shrewd, imo.
    Luckily, as I said, we lived in Oz in days of yore, so UTE was no problem.
    Not particularly heard of CRACKER BARREL but it had to be. Don’t know why BEER MAT was a struggle. Biffed NHO JENA. Liked NEE, A KINGS RANSOM, BARNES, MARZIPAN..
    Now worn out again.
    Thanks vm, Curarist.

  14. As above. A long haul for me, well over my 30 minute bar. Knew AIT from days sailing at Raven’s Ait, biffed BARNET before seeing the error of my ways and couldn’t resolve the D in PEROXIDE as I extracted I and E erroneously. Thanks Curarist and Breadman.

    1. As I say below, the word AIT has been unused, but retained, in my vocabulary since my school sent us on water sports training to Ravens Ait on the Thames in the 1960s. Very pleased to give it an outing in a QC.

  15. 28:07 with the last 15+mins of that spent on ARCHDUKE. Like Jackt I spent most of that trying to think of a word for shrewd but had considered the nobleman. Worst part is I began with A-C-DUKE from the beginning. Very frustrating to get so close to a decent time on a puzzle that, on reflection, was quite tough.

    NHO CRACKER-BARREL, JENA, ETRURIA. I was going to add the AIT=island except it now occurs someone mentioned a rowing clue last week – albeit I think that was spelled AYET.

    As for pangrams, I thought Breadman usually gets close to doing one typically including the X,Q,Z,J type letters but rarely completing the set. So I wasn’t looking too carefully until afterwards and that H would definitely have been useful.

    Oh well. Have a good weekend everybody who’s not back tomorrow!

  16. That would have been a PB had I not got stuck at the end on ARCHDUKE, where like Plett I was trying to fit in “astute”. Then I tried to fit in CR for King, then just R … round and round I went. When I got there I was a bit disappointed by ARCH for “shrewd”.

    COD to BEERMAT, very good. Missed the pangram. Fingers crossed for JENA. All done in 05:36 for a Red Letter Day and yet still a sense of what could have been …

    Many thanks Breaders and Curarist.


  17. Ooo, another tough one for us SCC types. Took ages, ARCHDUKE nearly defeated me but LOI eventually. Probably had heard of ETRURIA but didn’t recollect it enough for that to assist me, ground it out from crossers and cryptic.Definitely didn’t know Jena, but it wasn’t hidden too obscurely.
    Plenty of other delays and misdirections, but won through. Thinking it might be a panagram helped a bit!

  18. NHO UTE, biffed AU FAIT. COD: BEER MAT. Thought it was hard, but fair and glad to have solved it after yesterday’s DNF.

  19. The word AIT has been unused, but retained, in my vocabulary since my school sent us on water sports training to Ravens Ait on the Thames in the 1960s. Very pleased to give it an outing in a QC.

    1. The one on the Thames at Chiswick referred to annually in Boat Race commentary is spelt ‘eyot’. The joys of the English language!

  20. I didn’t struggle too much with this one – a welcome relief after the last two days. I came in at 15 minutes all parsed which is a decent time for me. Obviously the mysterious wavelength was working in my favour for once. Suspected a pangram after IRAQ and MARZIPAN but I didn’t go back and check. I’ve vaguely heard of CRACKER BARREL and ETRURIA, knew UTE from travels in Oz but nho JENA.

    FOI – 1ac ARID
    LOI – 19dn JENA

    Thanks to Breadman and Curarist

  21. Found this hard and ultimately failed, beaten by ARCHDUKE and whatever the ancient European region was. Thank you for the blog!

  22. This took me nearly as long as yesterday’s, but unfortunately didn’t produce the same sense of enjoyment on completion. Like our Devon correspondent, quite a few of the answers had to be ground out, though I was at least saved from any confusion in 3d by having no idea where Barnes was, other than London: ignorance is sometimes bliss. My last two were 1ac/d – right back where I (hadn’t) started 30mins earlier, and I’m still not convinced about shrewd/arch. Invariant

  23. Another workout today. I also puzzled over ARCHDUKE, not really equating arch with shrewd. Liked building the NHO ETRURIA from wordplay. STEWPOT brought Ed Stewart (DJ of old) to mind. COD to IRAQ for almost catching me out! Thanks for the blog C, especially for explaining the NHO CRACKER BARREL.

  24. I knew UTE from my niece in Oz who used it for her mobile pet grooming business (although I thought it was spelt Yute until I saw it written down). Vaguely remember AIT from a previous QC -clearly one to keep in mind for crosswordland. Not happy with ‘arch’ meaning ‘shrewd’ – also tried to make ‘astute’ fit. Thanks Curarist for good explanatory blog.

  25. NHO CRACKER-BARREL, ETRURIA, UTE, AIT, nor shrewd = ARCH – is it? not in my Collins. Know my GK is flawed, but…….
    Funny: some hours later, many of you agree to query shrewd = ARCH, but no one yet has come to its rescue. Is it a genuine MER after all?

  26. DNF due to stupidity. Couldn’t read my own writing and had 1d ending in I. Maybe if arch had been more obvious I’d have noticed.

    Thanks all

  27. 13:33. PEROXIDE was COD for me. JENA has remained in my brain from long ago History classes along with Austerlitz, Borodino, and- what’s that one?- oh, of course, Waterloo.

  28. Like others, delayed a little by my LOI ARCHDUKE, which meant I finished outside of my target at 11.00. I’ve never come across the expression CRACKER BARREL, and JENA was not a battle I’d heard of. I might have struggled with UTE, but I have seen it quite a few times now in crossword land, and thankfully it has stayed with me.
    My time for the week was 50.38, giving me a daily average of 10.08. So with a target time of 10 minutes, I would call this a middling week.

  29. Perhaps I’m just tired having spent about 60 hours over land and at sea to get to Mallorca with our puppy in the car but I found this incredibly difficult. NHO CRACKER BARREL or JENA but I did solve them. I’m not sure that BARNES is a particularly well known area of London. I remembered AIT from somewhere and UTE took longer than it should have given I lived in Australia for nearly 5 years and it is a useful Scrabble word. I failed ultimately on ETRURIA and completely missed the pangram. Oh well!

    1. I think (but don’t know for sure) that one of our bloggers lives in Barnes. I don’t doubt it has many claims to fame but it’s perhaps most usually referred to with reference to its Common.

  30. Was going great guns with this at first and got most of the acrosses straight off, but the downs took more thought and the harder nuts really were several notches the Mohs scale. Nevertheless over eight minutes quicker than yesterday at 21:17. LOI ARCHDUKE. COD to MARZIPAN. Thanks Curarist and Breadman.

  31. Although I’d not come across the American meaning of CRACKER BARREL, I knew the cheese and had heard of pork barrel politics, so no troubles there. Didn’t know the battle so waited for crossers and then looked for the reverse hidden. Didn’t ring any bells, so I submitted with bated breath. Missed the pangram, as usual, but avoided the IRAN trap. No trouble with ARCHDUKE or ETRURIA. FOI, ARID, LOI, CRIB. Thanks Breadman and Curarist. 7:51.

  32. Dnf…

    Defeated by “Archduke”, “Etruria” and 11dn “Peroxide”. Probably should have got these, especially the middle one, but I had a brain block on a sport with only two letters. How I forgot RU I have no idea. Other complications included biffing “Page Boy” for 3ac without looking at it properly and not knowing “Cracker Barrel”.

    FOI – 1ac “Arid”
    LOI – Dnf
    COD – 4dn “Scarlet Fever”

    Thanks as usual!

  33. 14 minutes. Pretty sluggish, but at least I spotted the pangram and remembered CRACKER-BARREL from previous appearances recently. Wordplay helped with ETRURIA and MARZIPAN which I otherwise I may have had difficulty with.

    Favourite was the simple but effective wordplay for NILE.

    Thanks to Breadman and Curarist

  34. Nice puzzle, 10.39. Ait was familiar to me from when I lived in Richmond (not far from BARNES) but I can’t remember exactly how except that it was Upon Thames. Never really thought of a UTE as a truck but the old fabulous Oz utes have gone now, they’ve been replaced by huge American pick-ups which are not the same thing at all. FOI BEST MAN (unparsed), LOI ARCHDUKE (also unparsed). Thanks Breadman and Curarist.

  35. DNF. A couple wrong/missing.
    Had heard of Jena -have been reading some French history recently. NHO ait (but had heard of eyot), cracker barrel (just guessed at that), ute.
    I, too, stared at yard wondering if I had been transported to the quick crossword.
    Missed pangram but did note the French theme. Got several answers without being able to parse them, so am grateful for this blog.

  36. Hard pounding this one but almost made it: fell at my last (11d) with Porchine instead of Peroxide (a wild guess one might say). Etruria came to mind from Wedgwood china, and au fait from the generous clueing! I biffed Ute solely because of (m)ute – another guess, or biff. Good 30 minutes or more, fun puzzle, thank you Breadman and Curarist for excellent blog.

  37. DNF thanks to a foolish IRAN which didn’t parse instead if IRAQ which did.
    NHO Ait but dredged Ute and Etruria from deep in the memory
    My mother used to dye her hair with Peroxide and it bubbled if you applied it to a cut – oxygen apparently.
    Could not parse Nile or Archduke.
    Thanks Breadman and Curarist.

  38. 11.41 PEROXIDE went straight in because I’ve been trying to buy some to treat mould. I’ve tried several chemists but they no longer sell chemicals. NHO JENA. ARCHDUKE was an obvious biff but I spent a couple of minutes at the end failing to parse it and eventually submitted it unparsed. At which point the parsing became obvious. I think I have the yips. Thanks Curarist and Breadman.

  39. More on the wavelength with this today and came in about or just a little below par at 14:00. UTE is now familiar from prior crosswords. LOI JENA was frustrating in that I knew I should know it and suspected it was a reverse hidden but just didn’t see it. Fortunately a mental alphabet trawl brought it back to mind: musing over the parsing then prompted Mrs T to point out the hidden. Doh! Another enjoyable workout though. Thanks Curarist and Breadman.

  40. Another very difficult QC. Was convinced that Canute was the shrewd king and did not think arch meant shrewd. NHO cracker barrel or ute and Etruria rang only a very faint bell. Suppose stewpot must be what I call a casserole. Hard work and not much fun I would say.

    1. Yes, I was sidetracked by spotting that Canute would fit most of the checkers. Couldn’t get anywhere with it, though.

  41. Just about got there in time, I found this more straightforward than previous efforts. Assumed AIT was an island I’d never heard of

  42. I have finally caught up with myself, having dropped one day behind everyone else a week or so ago.

    I found this quite challenging, especially the NHOs – UTE, JENA, ETRURIA – and AU FAIT. Having said that, however, I have bettered today’s time (34 minutes) only once in the past 10 days. My average over that period has been 48 minutes – approx. 60% longer than my average over the past 6 months or so. By my reckoning, we’re currently being forced to work our way through another of those really (deliberately?) tough patches, similar to that horrible 2-3 week period we had to endure around end-Sept./early Oct. last year. The one upside on this occasion is that I haven’t recorded any DNFs during this patch.

    Thanks to Breadman and Curarist.

  43. Another tricky puzzle where the RH went in easiest than the Left. Got there in the end. Some lovely clues, and misdirections. That’s two great puzzles in a row. Grateful for the blog to properly understand the parsing of 1d.


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