Quick Cryptic 2684 by Wurm

This was a massive biff-fest for me, which is almost a shame because some of the wordplay is terrific. The Barking Advertiser is absolute genius. Honourable mentions also for the Wicket Keeper and Senhor Da Gama. I came in at just under 6 minutes.

1 Stimulant ordered with ecstasy just before deadline (4-6)
LAST-MINUTE – anagram (‘ordered’) of STIMULANT + E for ecstasy
7 Prominent Florentine family shortly finding doctor (5)
8 MP given support in UN? Plenty! (7)
UMPTEEN – MP + TEE inside UN
10 Danced about etc when drunk returned to office (2-7)
RE-ELECTED – REELED (danced) around anagram (‘drunk’) of ETC
12 Ladies for example in Cromwell Avenue (3)
LAV – hidden word
13 Rare fright catching cold (6)
SCARCE – SCARE placed around C for cold
15 Against poetry being recited? (6)
VERSUS – sounds like ‘verses’
16 Creature leaving sinking ship? Sailor returned (3)
RAT – TAR backwards
17 Wife playing pelota or game of pool? (5,4)
WATER POLO – W (wife) + anagram (‘playing’) of PELOTA OR
20 Old Roman emperor seen with American heavy (7)
22 Mean insulin to be used regularly for tiredness? (5)
ENNUI – alternate letters
23 Spar put in advertisement for email manager (10)
1 See Director-General close to the gatehouse (5)
LODGE – LO (see) + DG + E (last letter of ‘the’)
2 Case with crowd riotous in hallowed institution (6,3)
SACRED COW – anagram (‘riotous’) of CASE + CROWD
3 Hill test for vehicle crossing French one (5)
MOUNT – MOT outside UN
4 Brandy measure has bite (3)
NIP – double definition
5 Team’s leader assists securing a mountain range (3,4)
THE ALPS – T for team + HELPS with A inserted
6 One in Paris and Rome excited promoter (10)
IMPRESARIO – anagram (‘excited’) of PARIS + ROME + I
9 Province not one area da Gama visits? (4,6)
NOVA SCOTIA – VASCO (da Gama) inside NOT + I + A
11 Five must leave Barking Advertiser: most depressing (9)
DREARIEST – anagram (‘barking’) of ADVERTISER minus V (five)
14 Cunning writer Umberto pens note in style (3,4)
ART DECO – ART (cunning) + (Umberto) ECO around D
18 Inventive sort creates lakeside houses (5)
TESLA – hidden word. Good example of the part-of-speech rule: ‘houses’ is presented as a noun, but when you spot that it’s a verb all becomes clear.
19 One runs around wicket keeper (5)
OWNER – ONE + R outside W (wicket). Nice surface, illustrating another golden rule: when you see a familiar two-word phrase, ask yourself if one of those words is the definition on its own.
21 Starts to observe Ulyssean traits in Bloom (3)
OUT – acronym

59 comments on “Quick Cryptic 2684 by Wurm”

  1. 8 minutes. Apart from a glitch on Wednesday I’ve found this week’s QCs a little less tricky than recently. There’s still Saturday to go though…

  2. MEDoC – could claim a typo but that would be a fib. Didn’t think I knew a famous Florentine family, so had ME for short for ‘met’ (finding shortly – doesn’t really work but I reckoned it was close) and DOC for ‘Doctor’ – in the spirit of ‘some’ = SOME from yesterday. So that’s one fully deserved pink square in 10.31. This week has involved more thought than last for me but perhaps less outright befuddlement.

  3. Steady going for this top quality puzzle.
    I think I wore out my anagram hat yesterday as I was slow to spot several today including IMPRESARIO and SACRED COW but nothing obscure or overly difficult.
    Started with LODGE and finished with MEDIC, where like Mendesest I was tempted by the ‘doc’ ending, in 8.07 with COD to DREARIEST.
    Thanks to Curarist

  4. A fine puzzle, all done in just under 11 minutes, with the RE-ELECTED / DREARIEST pairing the last two to fall and taking almost a quarter of my time. Some lovely clues, though I did not parse ART DECO and needed the blog for that one – must remember Art = Cunning, which I am sure I’ve seen before but it never sticks.

    Many thanks Curarist for the blog

  5. We really enjoyed this one, also a bit of a biff fest followed by parsing to confirm, especially Nova Scotia, our COD. Raced through the top half then slowed for the bottom, but spotting Nero was really helpful to finish in an excellent 18.26.

    Back in our regular spot of being very pleased the get the first across clue, but then ending with an unspotted hidden, Tesla, Grrrr! I guess one of the setters arts is ensuring that hiddens are to be found between words that are printed on different
    lines 🤔

    Thanks Wurm and Curarist

  6. I’m pleased to say I didn’t biff anything!

    TIME 4:16

  7. 6.37

    Top notch puzzle. Half a dozen clues were really good I thought, with DREARIEST and WATER POLO my favourites. Great blog too. Thanks Wurm and Curarist

  8. A very enjoyable QC today. WATER POLO, NOVA SCOTIA and ART DECO my favourites. Have now learnt how to spell IMPRESARIO as I had a problem fitting in my version with double S 😀. Thanks Wurm and Curarist.

  9. 8:07

    Very nice. LOI UMPTEEN, but it was POSTMASTER that had slowed me down.

    Thanks Wurm and Curarist

  10. 11:43 (Geoffrey de Mandeville plunders the isle of Ely)

    Slowed down by putting AVERSE for 15a, which messed up getting the down clues on the right for a while. COD to DREARIEST. LOI was VERSUS.

    Thanks Curarist and Wurm

  11. As a non-biffer (don’t have the nerve) I found that quite tough but enormously enjoyable. Lots of really clever clues. Surprised to see the Quitch running at only 91.

    I got totally stuck on LOI POSTMASTER, where I saw “contractor” and spent a long, long time trying to justify it as “manager”. Eventually I rethought the wordplay and got there, but I do think it’s a pretty ropy definition (yes I see it’s in Collins but pffft). Got home in 08:51 for a Not Great Day.

    COD DREARIEST but lots of absolute belters in there. Many thanks Wurm and curarist.


  12. I echo Curarist’s comments – lots of biffing, but a really splendid puzzle on reflection/post-parsing.

    8:47, and my COD is NOVA SCOTIA, as it made me chuckle.

  13. Biffed then parsed lots today. Didn’t know MAST = spar so that held me up with the parsing of LOI POSTMASTER. I guessed NOVA SCOTIA as I’m embarrassed to say (having now done some research) that I’d NHO da Gama. POI was TESLA – a hidden causing me problems – no surprises there. No issues otherwise and despite the above, the easiest one of the week for me. Many thanks C and Wurm.

  14. A PB for me at 9 minutes! Loved this puzzle and the biffs, confirmed by the parsing, all fell into place. I like the Nero in onerous (he was surely anything but) and Umberto Eco cried out for art deco! And Paris/Rome (my COD) gives us those lovely types like Diaghilev. Thank you Wurm. Afterthought: I tackled this first thing. Is one’s brain sharper?

  15. 6:35

    Wurm grids often provide a challenge, however I made decent progress mildly slowed by AVERSE until I saw NOVA SCOTIA which gets my COD. Failed to parse DREARIEST though simple enough in retrospect. LOI was POSTMASTER.

    Thanks to Curarist and Wurm

  16. 15:48
    Some Gk needed to match first and last names of Umberto Eco and Vasco de Gama.

    I read OWNER as “one runs”, which worked well enough.i guessed LAST ORDERS as FOI, which certainly fits the definition.

    I don’t understand POSTMASTER as an Email Manager. Is this the software used to set up an Email server? That hardly anyone uses any more as all email admin is now in The Cloud.


    1. Believe it or not, PostMaster is indeed a piece of software one can use to manage emails (see postmaster.co.uk). Which is either a coincidence or a very sneaky bit of commercial advertising. I suspect it might be a coincidence, and like you I did think the definition a bit odd: mail manager also works so why specify email?

      1. Postmaster was, probably is, a mandatory email address that every email provider should have, eg postmaster@squiggle.com, to field queries and error reports. So that use predates any commercial one; perhaps a slightly nerdy bit of info.

  17. I am sure that every time ENNUI is an answer, the setters make it sound like it means something entirely different each time. 🤣

    Not too much difficulty here, though did need His Royal Orangeness’ help with 6d.


    My verdict: 👍

    Pumpa’s verdict: 🐈

  18. 15a Versus may be a homophone of verses to you but not to me (unless speaking fast and carelessly.) No prob however, close enough. Good puzzle.
    Enjoyed Vasco Da Gama sailing in the wrong direction.

  19. A lot of biffs for me including AVERSE for 15ac. It really does pay to read the clue properly, and seemingly I never learn! Getting THE ALPS put me on the right road and the amended VERSUS followed swiftly on. A very good crossword from Wurm with some clever clueing.
    My total time for the week was a disappointing 55.03 giving me a daily average above target at 11.01. The damage was done on Monday with my slowest solve for some time.

  20. I was on course for a comfortable enough sub-20 (despite an Averse diversion at 15ac), before Pat’s boss and my inability to stretch Direst out to nine letters intervened. I remember thinking at the time that Rafter/Spar seemed a bit loose, but Mast was quite shy in coming forward. Not to be outdone, loi Dreariest then became a virtual recluse, before reluctantly allowing a disappointing skin of the teeth sub-20. CoD, in a strong field, to 19d, Owner, for the parsing exercise (a real shame there that I couldn’t give it to Tesla*). Invariant

    * = 10^4 Gauss. . . 😉

  21. 11:31. Like several others I had to abandon AVERSE before seeing VERSUS. I missed seeing cunning as a noun so couldn’t parse ART DECO. I thought a SACRED COW was not so much hallowed as falsely hallowed?

  22. Really enjoyable puzzle. On the wavelength and fast but had to pause for LOI POSTMASTER. Agree with query – why ‘email’ not just ‘mail’? Liked many, inc NOVA SCOTIA, UMPTEEN, SACRED COW, WATER POLO, ART DECO.
    Thanks vm, Curarist.

  23. Decidedly tricky, I thought. However, I only really got properly stuck at the very end – my last two (POSTMASTER and TESLA) took 8 minutes to crack – and I crossed the line in 32 minutes. Not fast, but also not too slow, particularly given the setter.

    I also thought the Barking Advertiser was a brilliant device. It had me stumped for for quite some time, but caused a broad smile when the penny dropped.

    Many thanks to Wurm and Curarist.

  24. 9:33. I could have been a bit quicker if I’d biffed more, but like to parse as I go (whenever possible). Certainly a lot better than yesterday, which I really struggled with – unlike most others here, who seemed to fly through it 😅
    I often struggle with the Wiggly One, but really enjoyed this – I agree that the Barking Advertiser is worth the entry price alone! Ticks also went to IMPRESARIO, LAST MINUTE and MOUNT.
    FOI Lodge LOI Versus (I very nearly missed it) COD Water polo
    Thanks Wurm and Curarist

  25. In a contrary sort of way LAST MINUTE was my FOI. AVERSE delayed me too until THE ALPS intervened. NOVA SCOTIA was biffed so I missed the Vasco bit. POSTMASTER was LOI. 6:20. Thanks Wurm and Curarist.

  26. 16 mins…

    The week has been saved – until tomorrow at least, when I will face another Saturday nemesis no doubt.

    Overall, I enjoyed this. Whilst agree that some were very biffable, there was some good wordplay as well. Only question was “Postmaster” = Email Manager. Never heard of that before, although I’m sure in IT circles it is probably correct, if somewhat slightly archaic. Happy to be totally proved wrong.

    FOI – 4dn “Nip”
    LOI – 18dn “Tesla”
    COD – 8ac “Umpteen”

    Thanks as usual!

  27. Lovely puzzle giving a lot of pleasure from the clever wordplay.
    All parsed in 43m apart from the hidden TESLA – as usual.
    Felt I learned a few more crossword tricks to day but will they stick?
    Thanks Wurm and Curarist.

  28. I see I forgot to post! Probably because the 15×15 was such a beast.

    V good puzzle, which I was surprised to complete as quickly as I did. Wurm is often hard.

    LOI POSTMASTER. COD DREARIEST for the East London local rag, which disappointingly is actually the Barking and Dagenham Post.


  29. I was working my way through this quite happily until the 15 minute mark after which I spent 10 minutes staring at my last two: 18dn and 23ac. Had to stop at that point as I ran out of time so I employed aids to complete the solve. Failed to parse ART DECO (never heard of Umberto Eco). A week to forget, only once hitting my target time.

    LOI – DNF
    COD – 9dn NOVA SCOTIA with an honourable mention to 20ac ONEROUS

    Thanks to Wurm & Curarist

  30. Not too bad,biffed ONEROUS and NOVA SCOTIA, but parsed them after due consideration, slightly more troublesome than yesterday, which was probably on easy side.

  31. Lovely puzzle. Lucky to have all the GK, and to see where to apply it! Less than a single Costa but with a panini…
    FOI 7a Medic
    LOI 23a Postmaster
    COD has to be 11d the Barking Advertiser

  32. 3.14, I’ll never beat that, at least not on my phone. Fully awake and fully on the wavelength. Admired several as I went, but especially the Barking Advertiser and Mr da Gama.

    Thanks both.

  33. 17.31 Mostly quick but breeze-blocked for eight minutes by POSTMASTER. I’ve found this week quite tough. Thanks Curarist and Wurm.

  34. Lovely puzzle. Plenty of really nice clues. Got DREARIEST as an anagram but took me ages afterwards to see that ‘barking’ was the anagrind.

  35. Lovely puzzle and a pleasant 18:39 (close to my ideal time, not so fast that I feel cheated, not so slow that I feel frustrated)! I too fell for the AVERSE diversion, though I knew at the time something was off, so it didn’t take too long to decide to throw it out. And the hidden TESLA eluded me until after it went in. COD? So many good ones, but in the end I have to go with the Barking Advertiser.

    Thanks to Wurm and Curarist!

  36. DNF!

    A really bad week. This was so straightforward. All done in 14 minutes but just couldn’t get LOI POSTMASTER. DNK SPAR for MAST. Biffed CONTRACTOR in vain. Really frustrating.

  37. 13:41 for me, and I could have knocked a good two or three minutes off that if it weren’t for the POSTMASTER / TESLA junction. NHO the explorer, cos I am an uneducated peasant, but given the checkers it was never going to be anything else so I didn’t think too hard about it.

    Thank you for the blog!

  38. Mostly enjoyable. Lo for see? Tesla also seemed weakly defined… and are brand names OK? thanks for the blog as plenty were biffed. Thanks both.

    1. Nikola Tesla was an inventor. Admittedly I didn’t know that until about two years ago.

  39. Had a go at the big crossword as well today.

    I got 11, with a few near misses. The gap between that and the QC is immense.

    A sobering experience!

  40. This permanent resident of the SCC was pleased to have the general (??) knowledge to enjoy this QC. Loved the VASCO in the middle of NOVA SCOTIA. And yes, Mr TESLA rather predates the car brand.

  41. One has to speak a little sloppily if Versus and Verses are homophones. I too wasn’t very taken with Postmaster, there could have been many far better ways to clue it, but I did like the Barking Advertiser.


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