Times Quick Cryptic 2390 by Beck


Solving time: 18 minutes with most of the time in excess of my target 10 spent on the chili pepper and guts. This is only Beck’s fourth puzzle, his/her first having appeared last November.

As usual definitions are underlined in bold italics, {deletions and substitutions are in curly brackets} and [anagrinds, containment, reversal and other indicators in square ones]. I usually omit all reference to positional indicators unless there is a specific point that requires clarification.

1 Ages finding this newspaper? (5)
Double definition
4 Stone is said to be more adventurous (7)
Sounds like [is said to be] “bolder” (more adventurous)
8 Dad rock? (3,4)
Cryptic definition
9 Dunderhead with morning tea (5)
ASS (dunderhead), AM (morning)
10 Dressing, a young man held in terrifying yell (5,5)
A + LAD (young man) contained [held] in SCREAM (terrifying yell)
14 One with stolen goods, maybe, to modernise equipment on return (6)
RE-TOOL (modernise equipment) reversed [on return]
15 Yours truly wearing grin makes a literary comparison (6)
I (yours truly) contained by [wearing] SMILE (grin)
17 Aim too short!” shouted Ron stupidly (10)
Anagram [stupidly] of SHOUTED RON
20 Forcibly remove characters in landslide victory (5)
Hidden [characters in] {landslid}E VICT{ory}
22 Famous knight’s big party suffered (7)
GALA (big party), HAD (suffered – e.g. he had Covid)
23 Break time!” is weird knee tat (4,3)
Anagram [weird] of KNEE TAT. I can’t say I’d heard this before, but I knew ‘take five’ and theoretically I suppose any number of minutes might be used to specify the length of the break.
24 Rapidly turn east, showing guts? (5)
SPIN (rapidly turn), E (east). I needed several alphabet trawls to come up with this, effectively one figurative word meaning bravery or fortitude defining another. My first thought was ‘tripe’ which fitted the definition but not the wordplay and it was hard to think past it.
1 Almost get to point where recording is displayed (4)
TAPE{r} (almost get to point)
2 Feel sorry for oneself in second gym class (4)
MO (second), PE (gym class)
3 Catchphrase inventor having drunk one’s lager (9)
Anagram [drunk] of ONE’S LAGER
4 Mendicant in pub taking in something for breakfast? (6)
BAR (pub) containing [taking in] EGG (something for breakfast?)
5 States understand South Africa’s leaders (3)
U{nderstand} + S{outh} + A{frica} [leaders]
6 Sadly daily sex leads to difficulty reading (8)
Anagram [sadly] of DAILY SEX
7 Maybe become nostalgic about one in the club (8)
RE (about), MEMBER (one in the club)
11 Helicopts abroad to see Red Hot Chili Peppers (9)
Anagram [abroad] of HELICOPTS. I wish this clue hadn’t made me aware that ‘helicopt’ actually exists as a verb meaning to fly by helicopter!
12 French author sees taxi company entering apartment (8)
UBER (taxi company) contained by [entering] FLAT (apartment)
13 Deceive thug with friendly signal (8)
HOOD (thug), WINK (friendly signal)
16 Nearly present weapon for old Japanese leader (6)
SHO{w} (present) [nearly], GUN (weapon)
18 Asian citizen’s connection mentioned (4)
Sounds like [mentioned] “tie” (connection)
19 Sharp part of lead-free golf club (4)
{w}EDGE (golf club) [lead-free]
21 Old king‘s word of disapproval (3)
Two meanings

84 comments on “Times Quick Cryptic 2390 by Beck”

  1. No holdups, a straightforward solve. But no time since my wife and I went to a restaurant for dinner between starting and finishing. CHIPOTLES seemed very topical since I’m actually in Mexico this week.

  2. 5:24
    No, that’s not my time. That’s how long it took me to get my last three clues. CHIPOTLES was a guess from the letters available and EDGE and TAPE took longer than they should have. But all green, for once, in under half an hour which is a good start to the week for me. I especially liked SLOGANEER and FLAUBERT. POP SONG I thought was a little tenuous.
    A grey start to what is forecast to be a drizzly few days here in Wessex. I’m off to Kefalonia on Wednesday to seek some much needed sunshine but where the forecast is, it turns out, equally dismal. Oh well, c’est la vie 😊

  3. 20+ mins.
    Are we happy with 1D definition not being at either end of the clue?
    COD 6D!

    1. Why should we not be? Although I suppose one might argue that the def is ‘where recording is displayed’; although again, ‘displayed’ is not the aptest word. Anyway, there’s no rule or convention that the def must be at the beginning or end; it’s just very hard to get it to go elsewhere.

      1. A little tenuous perhaps, but a seismometer displays its recording on a paper tape.

      2. I was taught a few weeks ago that the convention *is* that “the definition is either at the beginning or at the end”. Context: where one word or phrase “sounds like” another (CELLAR / SELLER), which is the answer? Answer (I was advised), the one whose definition is either at the beginning or at the end.

          1. I don’t agree. I was taught this too and it almost always appertains.

        1. Martinů – continue to expect the definition to be either at the start or end. While semantically it may not be correct to call it a convention, it has been the case in my experience. Admittedly I’ve only encountered around 12-15,000 clues in the past year or so of crosswording, but I struggle to remember any others that weren’t defined at either ends.

      3. I thought that there absolutely was a convention for the definition to be at the beginning or end!

  4. 25.52 – I really enjoyed it as felt positive after the first pass and it always felt like it might be doable even though there were 2-3 I couldn’t fully parse on the way and had a little struggle up in the NW. Bit of a mer at POP-SONG and TAPE (LOI), I alphabet trawled for a minute to see if any alternatives.

    FLAUBERT went straight in on the first pass with no checkers and I thought it was a perfect example of how to clue for the QC. I’ve NHO of him or her, but it was gettable from the wordplay and confirmed itself once checkers went in. BEGGAR/mendicant another good example as had forgotten what the latter is. Meanwhile other stuff I have heard of needed more thought.

    SPINE – I had parsed differently to Jackt … I saw it as “NIPS” turned around. I guess both versions work.

    Nice start to the week 👍

      1. If you just nip round to the shops, it’s a quick outing .. “Kevin nips to the shops for some teabags”

        But rereading clue, it needed more than “turn” to get that turned round. I must have lumped it into something to do with coming from the East which the clue doesn’t say either 😄

        Reading comprehension 0/10

        1. Well done #50. I had a MER at the spine being part of the guts until I read the blog. 0/10 for spotting misdirections.

          1. 🤣 Thanks #5.

            On reflection, this really sums up how a large chunk of my crosswording is now done. What I call the biffparseable. Found a word that fitted the S-I-E checkers for the “showing backbone” def; then based on memory of the clue parsed it (wrongly in this case!)

  5. 13:40 Edward III destroys the French fleet at the Battle of Sluys

    Steady solve, with LOI HOODWINK. Found both SLOGANEER and CHIPOTLE but needed all the checkers.

    Helicopt is an unsatisfactory word, made from poorly understanding the etymology of “helicopter”. The word is formed from “helico” (spiral movement, as in helix) and “pter” (wing as in pterodactyl) . The “er” at the end is not a suffix, and all words ending “copter” are back formations.

  6. Started off briskly in the NW and made steady progress thereafter until left with the NE.
    For some reason every time I read the word mendicant my brain translates it into ruminant, so I spent time trying to think of types of deer and cow that had ‘bar’ as their outer letters. Only when I eventually typed in the slightly unsatisfactory ‘song’ at 8a did the penny finally drop.
    BOULDER and REMEMBER swiftly followed and I crossed the line in 8.55.
    Thanks to Jack

    1. And I always think of mendacious for mendicant, even though I know they are different words completely

  7. Not so easy, and took me 14 minutes. A blind spot over Tape (biffed but not parsed) and a MER at USA (which is surely 1,1,1 – unlike sets of initials such as NATO, nobody ever pronounces USA Yoosa as if it was a 3-letter word), but in general I was just not on form this morning. LOI Chipotles, not a word I have never heard of but not something I am familiar with or ever eat myself, and dragged from deep memory somehow.

    Many thanks to Jack for the blog – I rather agree that “Take five” is the usual phrase.

    1. Would you object to TV (telly)?
      I knew CHIPOTLE, but does it take a plural?

      1. TV et al: I venture very warily indeed into the field of what is an abbreviation, an acronym, a set of initials or even just a nickname, not least because the boundaries between them are far from clear. Telly is clearly not an acronym, nor a set of initials. Is it therefore an abbreviation, or is it perhaps a nickname? Not clear to me. TV is different again – it is also not really a set of initials (the base phrase not being Tele Vision) or an acronym. It seems to be in the same league as OK, which when spelled Okay is clearly a word, but when spelled OK it is pronounced as two letters, so I think a set of initials (though initials of what is not clear, despite the attempts to derive it from eg Orl Korrect).

        BBC is I would say a set of initials (and I would have thought correctly clued 1,1,1), but “the Beeb” is I would suggest a nickname. NATO, especially when pronounced Nay-Toe, is more obviously an acronym and no doubt can be clued as 4 – but 1,1,1,1 is surely not outright wrong.

        As for Email, I have seen this clued as both 5 and 1-4 (ie e-mail), the latter by Tim Moorey who does generally know his stuff.

        So the whole question seems to be a minefield. But on USA, I have never heard this spoken as anything other than You-Ess-Ay, so I do think it is still treated as initials – hence my surprise it was not clued as 1,1,1.

  8. 15 mins needed aid because I’d forgotten that mendicant is a beggar not a liar.


    Knew Flaubert from Julian Barnes’ book Flaubert’s Parrot which I ‘reviewed’ for my university newspaper in the late 80’s without actually reading a single page of it.

    Shared Cedric’s MER at USA

    Thanks Beck and Jackkt

    1. Intrigued by that review.

      I suspect the whole reviewing / critics lark is built on barely reading books.

      1. To be fair I suspect I was able to get away with it on the bases that: a) nobody who read the uni newspaper would have read the book and (more importantly) b) nobody was going to read my review

        1. Someone somewhere is probably saying “I once claimed to have read a review of Julian Barnes’ Flaubert book …” 😉

    2. Sydney Smith: “I never read a book before reviewing it. It prejudices a man so.”

      1. Mr SR once told me about a book review on Amazon that rated the book as 5 stars and said “Excellent! I’m really looking forward to reading it!”

        (I suppose they thought they were rating the service they’d received, but had put on the book review section)

        1. From memory my ‘review’ was fence-sittingly bland so as not to excite (and I use the word loosely) any potential disagreement and further investigation of my opinion. Unfortunately I used a similar approach for my most of my academic (again, loose) output and was fairly rewarded as a result.

    3. 🤣🤣🤣. I have been tempted on occasion to mark an exam script without reviewing it based on the identity of the student.

      1. My boss in the 80s went one further: he told me he dropped half the CVs from job applicants for vacancies in the bin “I wouldn’t want anyone who was that unlucky working for me”

  9. Decent enough, I suppose but I thought a couple of clues were a bit clunky – the surface of 23A being the most glaring. I also didn’t care much for “where recording is displayed”. I liked BEGGAR though. LOI CHIPOTLE. Thanks Beck and Jackkt. 4:55.

  10. Scrapped under 10 when SLOGANEER suddenly came to mind. Without all the checkers it would have been a long wait. Seven on the first pass of acrosses gave me a good foundation. Not sure I’ve ever been asked to take more than five but still got TAKE TEN. That’s inflation I guess.

  11. Had to come here to look up 19D and now I’m kicking myself. Of course lead free means take off the first letter. The surface reading fooled me. Imagining unleaded golf clubs.

    1. Yes, me too. I was looking for a golf club containing the letters p&b for ‘removal’. Wedge finally clicked for me, given the crossers.

      1. I too was looking for a golf club minus PB – and EDGE even occurred to me, but I couldn’t reconcile EDGE being necessarily sharp. My mistake.

  12. An interesting puzzle which had me off balance at a few points. I was slow to start and, not unusually, I jumped around looking for easy pickings. I found quite a few but took some time over the remaining chewy clues. I needed the crossers for CHIPOTLES and enjoyed FLAUBERT. It was a toss up between SALAD CREAM and DYSLEXIA for my COD. My LOI was TAPE which I didn’t really get. Like others, I share a MER for TAKE TEN.
    No time – I was interrupted twice by phone calls about arrangements for a celebration event chez nous this afternoon for my U3A Wine Tasting Group – but I was certainly over target.
    Thanks to Beck for a good puzzle and to jackkt for a good, succinct blog. John M.

  13. A smooth, believable surface is the starting point for me. What is 23a all about? Odd crossword.

    1. I read 23a as “if you had ‘break time’ tattooed on your knee, that would be a pretty weird tat”. But then I have a son with the Vegetarian Society symbol tattooed on his bum, so weird tats are us.

  14. 42 minutes for a nice start to the week (unlike the weather).
    I thought this was a nicely pitched QC from Beck.
    COD to SALAD CREAM which had me trying to work out a medical dressing before the penny dropped and 6d made me smile at the possibility of cause and effect.
    Thanks Jack for the blog and explaining spine as guts which I missed.

  15. Should have put TAPE in but absolutely couldn’t parse it from what seemed an odd clue so a DNF for me. Otherwise green but MERs for USA and, maybe, SONG. Hoping for a better performance tomorrow. Thanks Beck and jacktt.

  16. 8:39 (death of King Egbert of Wessex)

    LOI SIMILE. I had got confused as to what is inside what, and was looking for something starting with M and ending in E.

  17. I was flying through this but then hit the buffers big time with HOODWINK and LOOTER. Took an age of trawling, hey ho.

    I enjoyed it, no complaints from me!

    08:17 for an estimated 1.5K and a Good But Could Have Been Better Day. Many thanks Jack’n’Becks.


  18. 14 minutes for this slightly unusual and not entirely satisfactory puzzle. Like others, I thought SONG, TAPE, USA and TEN a little weird, and thought UNDERSHOOT and SLOGANEER (as well as HELICOPT in the clues) were all a bit green-paintish, but they all exist. The clue surfaces were also a bit suspect for me, so overall, not a hugely enjoyable experience. Thanks Jackkt, and I shall look forward to seeing Beck’s next puzzle to compare with this one.

  19. Like our blogger, I did everything in 10 minutes except for LOI SPINE where I had TRIPE with a question mark.
    I knew Chipotle as the name of a restaurant chain so assumed it could be the peppers.
    My other problem was HOODWINK. 16 minutes in the end.

  20. DNF – could not see SPINE. Steady solve for the rest, although HOODWINK took a bit of time.

  21. Found this hard, but then it is a Bank Holiday, so par for the course perhaps. NHO CHIPOTLES; couldn’t get closer than a guess, CHIPOLETS, hence failed 22 (nearly put in GALAHAD but no A in the anagram – fatal error!), also failed 14, 13 (NHO thug = HOOD) and 16 (NHO). FOI TIMES (easy!), COD DYSLEXIA. I suggest suffered = HAD is at best far-fetched; “had Covid” isn’t the same as suffered it. I also “had” pleasure; in both contexts it means no more than “experienced”.

      1. Thank you! But is “short for” permissible? I agree with you that rock = SONG is tenuous.

  22. Completed but did need a hint on clues 13d & 12d.

    Wasn’t too happy with Rock=Song. I felt that was a bit of a stretch.

    I answered 1d as I realised TAPE(r), but “where recording is displayed” I felt was a little too weak.

    Overall enjoyable.

  23. Started off ok but came to a shuddering halt in the lower half. Eventually saw FLAUBERT and got moving again. Held up again by a mistyped UNDERSOOT which held up LOI, CHIPOTLES, until I noticed. 12:32. Thanks Beck and Jack.

  24. 12.57 Four minutes spent failing to make any sense of 1d. TAPE was only the word that fitted and seemed to have any relevance so I chanced it. The rest was OK. Thanks both.

  25. Got there in 25 minute, which is good for me, although I then agonised over TAPE for a further 10 minutes or so. I saw the embedded definition, but never thought of ‘taper’ and so couldn’t fully parse it. Searching for another correct answer, that doesn’t exist, always eats up time at the end.

    Favourite clue? It has to be DYSLEXIA. I’m surprised no one yet has mention the aptness of the wordplay.

    Many thanks the Beck and Jack.

  26. Just under 10 minutes. I was lucky to see TAPE and especially SPINE quickly; they’re the sort of clues that may have stymied me on another day. I had some reservations about POP SONG, but I can see that it works as a cryptic def. I agree with SRC about DYSLEXIA.

    Thanks to Beck and to Jack

  27. 12:19

    Very good puzzle which took an age to break into.

    “TAKE TEN” is heard in a bit of studio talk before the song Lean Woman Blues on T.Rex’s ‘Electric Warrior’ album, though as the song begins very shortly after, maybe it’s a 10-second break here, rather than a 10-minute break.

    I didn’t manage to parse TAPE, but I thought shoehorning UBER into FLAUBERT was excellent – well played Beck, and thanks Jack for the ruminations.

    1. T Rex: I will take a listen. I always preferred T Rex to Slade and Marc B’s demise was a sad loss. I think he would have been another David Bowie.

  28. 15.03. Everything went together eventually even though I had never come across SALAD CREAM in my eating history. Maybe I did hear it at some time but blocked it out because I don’t like creamy salad dressings, only oily ones. I disliked the clue for REMEMBER as I see “remembering” as a straight mental function and bringing in “nostalgia” loads it with emotional baggage.

    1. I only knew SALAD CREAM because it came up in a ‘Fawlty Towers’ episode that for some reason I saw. An unpleasant guest was demanding it.

      1. I much prefer a tangy SALAD CREAM to mayonnaise which is far too glutinous for enjoyment!

    2. Shelves in UK supermarkets that used to creak under the weight of SALAD CREAM now offer more diverse salad dressings, but the product is still very popular. The Heinz variety is top of the range.

      1. I used to love mashed hard-boiled egg yolk and salad cream sandwiches as a child.
        Got more keen on mayonnaise as I grew up but the taste for salad cream returned as a proper craving when I was pregnant with my first daughter.
        Home-made salad cream is nice.

      2. Heinz has inflated its prices somewhat vigorously over the past year or so – used to be my go-to for baked beans, ketchup and salad cream – the last of those is the only one that I feel I can’t replace and so, have to submit to their, in my humble opinion, heinous profiteering 🙁

  29. I had a very good dinner with friends last night, but even so not quite good enough to fully excuse today’s near 30min crawl. Misreading medicant for mendicant caused all sorts of problems with 4d, and I’m still not happy with the definition for 1d, having agonised over the hidden Topo for far too long. CoD to the more straightforward Hoodwink, which successfully fooled me until Looter came along. Invariant

  30. A bit of a lacklustre performance today. FOI TIMES and LOI FLAUBERT in 12:23. I did have a really good laugh at DYSLEXIA though.

  31. Dnf…

    Struggled with this and didn’t particularly enjoy it. I found it lurched from ridiculously straight forward to somewhat baffling. Didn’t help that I just couldn’t fathom the parsing for 19dn “edge” – wondering what on earth “w” had to do with “lead” (surely Pb?). The pdm came far too late.

    In the end, I failed on 4dn “Beggar” – mainly because I DNK what a mendicant was.

    FOI – 1ac “Times”
    LOI – dnf
    COD – 12dn “Flaubert”

    Thanks as usual!

  32. Laughed aloud at FLAUBERT so must be my COD.
    Very fast then ground to a halt at the end, undecided about 1d and 24a. SPINE is fine, I just couldn’t see it for ages. Not so sure about TAPER which I biffed quite early on but ….
    The golf club clue is often EDGE. Confess I, too, ate SALAD CREAM as a child, and also sandwich spread!
    Thanks vm, Jack.

  33. Got there in the end, needed some help for the Chipotle. It felt a slightly odd puzzle, but enjoyable.

  34. Very late getting to this today having been to the footie today and watching my team play a very entertaining 2-2 draw in the final game of the season. I don’t know if it was because I was out of kilter time wise, but I found this quite tough today with CHIPOTLES and FLAUBERT causing me problems even though the terms were familiar to me. I eventually crossed the line in 12.30 for a slow start to the week.

  35. 33:26 for me, which has got to be a personal best, so I’m very happy! Felt a lot easier than average to me, which is interesting in the light of the other comments (though obviously you’re largely still way faster than me). Possibly it’s kinder to novices than to experts? LOI CHIPOTLES (I love chilli in all its forms so no excuse for that), COD either FLAUBERT or DYSLEXIA.

    Thank you jackkt and Beck!

  36. Feared the worst when I couldn’t get the first four across clues, but progress was decent thereafter. Should have known what a MENDICANT was, although proud of myself for working out CHIPOTLES.

    Never really felt on the wavelength but strangely also felt that this could have been a quick solve. I am however perfectly happy with just avoiding the SCC (18 mins).

    There were perhaps some clunky clues, but I can forgive our setter anything after the brilliantly-clued DYSLEXIA and the almost as good EDGE.

    A pleasant start to the QC week makes a refreshing change.

    Thanks as always for a great blog.

    1. Wahey – he’s back! For Monday at least 😉

      Decided over the weekend I’m probably going to give Izetti a swerve the next times he comes up.

      Today, as usual, I had a go at The Guardian Quiptic which I usually finish. I was mostly done by the 20-min mark but then gave up at 45-mins with 5 unfathomables. Reading the comments, I discovered that Pasquale, the setter, is none other than Izetti 😂 And he’d thrown in something of an obscure religious one again which was at least gettable from checkers. It has made me laugh somewhat. A form of self schadenfreude

      1. Ah, of course, the well-known concept from early 19th-century German Romanticism – Selbstschadenfreude.

      2. Thanks L-Plates. Only just seen your comment as I had an early night yesterday. I appreciate your words of advice in recent weeks.


        1. I eventually finished it as 2nd or 3rd attempt – about 55mins all told.

          My sense of humour was in tact enough that I could laugh when I discovered it was Izetti. I also feel the fact that I struggled on this Quiptic more than any other since I started doing them AND was blind to it being Izetti; says there is something unapproachable about him. Answers wise it was all gettable. Worth a look, it’s on The Guardian website for free, if you fancy it.

  37. Easy enough – apart from the NHO chilli pepper; given the letters I already had and a bit of common sense, my chances of getting it right were 50/50; luckily I guessed the right way and didn’t write ‘CHITOPLES’, as on another day I might have done.

    Hated the clue to 23ac – I’m sure Beck could have come up with something better if he/she had spent a bit longer on it. Didn’t like the answer much either.

  38. Thank you again for posting. Anyhow, back from lurking, redirected again. This one went a lot better than the last one (#2357), overall, but couldn’t think of “Chipotles”. “Salad cream” in my neck of the woods is definitely a weird thing, but went with it. Think the day is closer that I’m going to see if I can join more up to date on all of these puzzles and stop just lurking.

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