Times Quick Cryptic 2572 by Mara

Solving time: 12 minutes with half the time spent on four clues in the SW corner. I was delighted to learn yesterday that Mara is also Paul, my favourite  Guardian setter. I gather he also sets (or has set) for The Times 15×15, The Telegraph and The Financial Times.

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 Hurry up with two pieces of meat (4-4)
CHOP + CHOP (two pieces of meat)
5 Live with a posh lover (4)
BE (live), A, U (posh)
8 Large tin changed shape (8)
Anagram [changed] of LARGE TIN
9 Fruit, nasty by the sound of it? (4)
Sounds like [by the sound of it] “ugly” (nasty). As in ‘things turned ugly’.
11 Reference fantastic tonic in journal (10)
Anagram [fantastic] of TONIC contained by [in] DIARY (journal)
14 A horse moved onto land (6)
Anagram [moved] of A HORSE
15 A New Yorker’s great too (2,4)
A, SWELL (New Yorker’s ‘great’)
17 Card game to continue tediously in plant (10)
SNAP (card game), DRAG ON (continue tediously). I’m grateful we didn’t have its proper name, Antirrhinum, as I’d have had a problem spelling that.
20 Paper half read in the morning (4)
RE{ad} [half], AM (in the morning). I wasted too long thinking of ‘in’ as a containment indicator.
21 Perfect son lit up when dancing (8)
Anagram [dancing] of SON LIT UP
22 Fortune favouring another team, Everton initially (4)
F{avouring} + A{nother} + T{eam} +  E{verton} [initially]
23 Nurse got rotten fish (8)
Anagram [rotten] of NURSE GOT
1 Reported location for reference (4)
Sounds like [reported] “site” (location)
2 Forget moment climbing over it (4)
MO (moment) reversed [climbing], IT
3 Scale of US money I rate (10)
CENT (US money), I, GRADE (rate)
4 First in October even, bottom of league recently (2,4)
O{ctober} [first of…], FLAT (even), {leagu}E [bottom of…]
6 Serious in conclusion — deeply impressed? (8)
GRAVE (serious) contained by [in] END (conclusion)
7 Acrobat’s equipment relative has kept very cool (8)
UNCLE (relative) contains [has kept] ICY (very cool)
10 Sweet silencer? (10)
A cryptic hint supports the main definition. I wonder if anyone has ever choked to death attempting to eat one of these.
12 Particular type, disaster in fairness (8)
Anagram [disaster] of FAIRNESS. Another that took me too long. I realised it was an anagram but until the checkers arrived I was unable to unravel it.
13 Uncouth person grabbing tail of skittish bird (8)
PEASANT (uncouth person) containing [grabbing] {skittis}H [tail of…]
16 Drawer where artist keeps gouache, primarily (6)
MANET (artist) contains [keeps] G{ouache} [primarily]. NHO gouache – not that one needed to – but I looked it up in SOED: A method of opaque watercolour painting, in which the pigments are bound by a glue to form a sort of paste
18 Coin found buried in ground, I’m excited! (4)
Hidden [found buried in] {groun}D I’M E{xcited}
19 Film relating to school (4)
ET (film), ON (relating to). ‘School’ for a college is perfectly valid.

73 comments on “Times Quick Cryptic 2572 by Mara”

  1. SANSERIF: that’s an anagram of ‘fairness’. (If the ‘in’ were in fact part of the anagrist, the clue wouldn’t work: ‘disaster X’ can’t mean ‘anagram of X’.)

  2. I finished this one! 14:16.

    My quibble is with SANSERIF which as far as I am aware has always been spelled SANS SERIF (because it’s without a serif). I know that the dictionary says it’s an alternate spelling but googling ‘sanserif’ garners me 246000 results and ‘sans serif’ 677000000 results. I mean, is it really an alternate spelling at that point

    And why is a peasant uncouth? Seems rude.

    I knew all of the vocab today and really need to remember the setters favourite film, ET.

    re: gobstoppers, the modern day ones are tiny, smaller than a malteaser even. They still have the layers of different flavours but hardly live up to their name.

    I also want to mention that I do enjoy every puzzle I do unless I explicitly say so (very rare), sometimes I worry that my quibbles just make it sound like I hate everything.

    1. I had the same thought about ‘uncouth’. I also don’t care for ‘isn’t common’=ain’t.

          1. I’m an uncultured person, Templar. A peasant, even. I’ve never seen Blackadder

            And what I know of Tony Robinson I learned from Tales from Fat Tulip’s Garden.

    2. In agreement with you on Sans Serif. As someone who does quite a bit of graphics and typography, I don’t recall ever seeing it spelt as one word.

  3. We seem to be following a mathematical progression here: 12 for Jack, 14.16 for Tina, 16.27 for me. I suspect Kevin will shortly wreck this. I found this enjoyable but hard, especially the bottom half. Agree with both of T’s points. I liked Mara’s tricky anagrams.

  4. 18:30. Well, I see I continue LindsayO’s mathematical progression. SANSERIF was hardest but GOBSTOPPER took a long time too. I looked at ASHORE and AS WELL and thought yes a swell comes ashore. (Also horse can be another wave reference). Agree uncouth is hard on the honest labourer in the fields!

  5. 10:35 so I’ll be the wet blanket to break the mathematical progression. I agree with Tina about the spelling and with Kevin about the parsing of SAN(S) SERIF and I also took a while to see what the ‘Particular type’ def was referring to. SNAPDRAGON and GOBSTOPPER were the other two to put paid to what I’d been hoping would be a quicker solving time.

    A few challenges along the way and I was happy to finish with all correct.

    Thanks to Jack and Mara

  6. I’m on a bad run of QCs at the moment, and this took me over 50 (!) minutes again. The GK and deliberately obtuse definitions really got to me, they felt like a really lazy way to increase the difficulty for no good reason.
    We should all congratulate Mara for knowing the word UGLI.
    I was disappointed with uncouth person = peasant. I get it’s in the dictionary, but it’s so unnecessary and no actual person would ever use those as synonyms. Likewise SANSERIF should really be SANS SERIF (or even SANS-SERIF). Again, why go to the least common and most obscure dictionary definition all the time? “Acrobats equipment” for UNICYCLE was another definition that is really pushing the limits of plausibility, you don’t need to be an acrobat to ride a unicycle, nor do you need a unicycle to be an acrobat.

    1. UGLI shows up all the time in the NYT.
      Now that you mention it, about the only people I’ve seen on unicycles are little girls.

      1. While cycling to work, I used to occasionally see a unicyclist doing the same as I passed through Brixton. Was always a double take moment.

  7. Held up at the end by (loi) GOBSTOPPER. Even with all the checkers I couldn’t see it. Also mer at SANSERIF versus SANS SERIF. And, for alternative spellings, if you have never seen it, Google the Guardian’s 1977 April Fool’s 7-page supplement about the island of San Serriffe (it even has its own Wikipedia page).

  8. Held up towards the end by a couple of tricky definitions – SANSERIF and MAGNET, but otherwise a relatively straightforward solve. I even managed to avoid the temptation to biff ‘kiwi’ when I only had the final letter as a checker.
    Started with CHOP-CHOP and finished with MAGNET in 8.15.
    Thanks to Jack and Mara

  9. I usually find Mara quite gentle but this one was hard. All green in about 35 minutes, not including a newspaper break and another mug of coffee, with my LOI being GOBSTOPPER. No real stand out clues, but I did enjoy SNAPDRAGON and MAGNET especially.
    Thanks to Mara and Jack.

  10. DNF
    NHO UGLI, so I tried many ways to say KIWI in lots of different accents to make it sound like something. Didn’t see ENGRAVED which was a hard clue because many 5 letter words fit inside END, I saw enslaved, ensnared. Felt like Wordle in there.

    Can’t believe I missed the chestnut PHEASANT, when I saw exactly how it worked.

    And with the rule “any word can indicate an anagram”, I thought “disaster in fairness” was just as likely to be an anagram of “disaster” with “in fairness” meaning “in order”. It fitted the three checkers I had, and I thought of fonts as well.

    But I did the 15×15 today quicker than this effort on the QC. So there’s that.

  11. An odd solve, with the top half entered almost as fast as I could type and then grindingly slow for much of the rest. It is a shame that Minor and Major both begin with M, so I shall have to coin EER for Enormous Eyebrow Raise at Sanserif, which in my book is just the wrong spelling not an alternative spelling, even if dictionaries show that it has been used occasionally. Once again I suspect our setter had backed himself into a corner with -A-S-R-F, and used the only word he could find in the reference lists, dodgy though it was, rather than rework other parts of the puzzle.


    That apart, some very nice clues, a few chestnuts, and some surprisingly sticky anagrams which pushed me out to 12 minutes. Many thanks Jack for the blog.


    1. I think ‘mer’ and ‘Mer’ (sometes even MER) is the convention. And there is always GR for the absolute shocker.

  12. 6:49. A slow start to the week, just not being on Mara’s wavelength. LOI UNSPOILT must have added nearly a minute at the end. Thanks Mara and Jackkt.

  13. 8.27

    It was PHEASANT and GOBSTOPPER that delayed me, the former needing an alpha trawl.

    Thanks Jackkt and Mara

  14. 13:13

    About 5 mins for everything apart from unspoilt, snapdragon, ugli, pheasant, and LOI sanserif which took another 8…Monday morning block.

    CsOD Snapdragon & Unspoilt

  15. 14 mins…

    A good start to the week, with a medium difficulty puzzle. Main hold ups were 12dn “Sans Serif” which I always believed to be two words, and that old chestnut of 16dn “Magnet” that took far longer than it should have. Did wonder whether an uncouth person really was a “peasant” – but I guess it is classed as a derogatory term.

    FOI – 1ac “Chop Chop”
    LOI – 16dn “Magnet”
    COD – 6dn “Engraved”

    Thanks as usual!

  16. Arrggh – 06:30 which would have been a sub John but WOE, WOE and thrice WOE! Just as I hit submit I registered that I’d typed SANSEIFF. Oh the pain.

    Same story as others in terms of where the hold ups lay. Ironic that my LOI was PHEASANT given that I spent 5 minutes this morning contemplating the assassination of one which was strutting around my lawn. (It departed before my plans became concrete.)

    So a DNF and a Day of Self-loathing. And it’s Monday.

    Many thanks Jack and Mara. COD to BEAU.


  17. 14:08 (Owain Glyndŵr, Prince of Wales, loses Aberystwyth to Henry “Prince of Wales”)
    A very difficult puzzle. I could not solve the anagrams in UNSPOILT or ASHORE without resorting to pen and paper.
    My LOI was PHEASANT. I had forgotten that setters persist in a belief that peasants are uncouth.
    I was OK with the spelling of SANSERIF.

    Thanks Mara and Jack.

  18. Same experience as others it seems. Held up by the PHEASANT, the typeface and MAGNET.

    The rest went in pretty smartly though, so final time just under average.


  19. Lots to like, GOBSTOPPER and SNAPDRAGON in particular. Assumed (wrongly) that SANSERIF was a setter’s mistake and struggled on to finish just shy of 28 minutes. Nice to see a selection of pastries in the club. Must dash, Chop-Chop.

  20. 6:49

    Anything seems to be allowable in Crosswordland so I am learning to shrug more and quibble less – it didn’t strike me that SANSERIF (my LOI) couldn’t be spelt that way – the brainwashing is clearly working.

    I became quite used to a former girlfriend calling the perceived underclasses PEASANTs, so was unsurprised that ‘uncouth person’ would be defined as such. As for the rest of the grid, quite comfortable with a couple of nice anagrams and one I didn’t parse in flight – ETON – though the checkers made the answer obvious.

    Thanks Mara and Jack

  21. Used online and sped through most clues at first pass. Reluctantly entered Sanserif as one word but all the checkers made it so.

    Really cross I didn’t see Dime despite having the checkers.
    My COD Snapdragon
    Thanks all

  22. Held up by SANSERIF and PHEASANT – same opinions as others on these two. Otherwise a quip zip through with AS WELL my favourite clue. Thanks all.

  23. Not on it today, took almost as long as the 15×15 (which was probably easier). Similar gripes about SANSERIF and the misuse of peasant. NHO UGLI though couldn’t be anything else (…well it was actually Kiwi for a short time). I enjoyed UNICYCLE. Thanks Jackkt and setter.

  24. My run of under target solves came to a finish today, but not by much as I finished in 10.27. I would have made it but for my LOI PHEASANT, which took me about a minute to solve after a time consuming alphabet trawl. I quite happily put in SANSERIF without thinking especially of the spelling, but having read the comments above, I would agree that it doesn’t look quite right.

  25. My lateral thinking muscles weren’t working today. Type to font look a long time and by then I was too frazzled to spot the missing S. I knew thinks weren’t going to be easy when I spotted ‘angle’ but considered the ‘ritangle’ before TRIANGLE presented itself. Couldn’t type either so managed to get in my traditional 2024 pink square via ‘ashire’ for ASHORE. Not all green in 16.

  26. Total wipeout for me today.

    I echo Cedric’s EER at SANSERIF (technically an NHO as I had only ever heard of Sans Serif).

    Completely missed PHEASANT, MAGNET, ENGRAVED, UNICYCLE, and ASWELL, as well 😏.

    This does not augur well for an encouraging week… 😳

  27. Cannot believe I had to look up birds to get PHEASANT when I am surrounded by the poor dim creatures. Had a PDM with SAN SERIF/sans serif earlier.
    No problem with UGLI (have eaten it) and GOBSTOPPER. (ditto, I guess)
    Thanks vm, Jack.

  28. I was also held up by san serif and, finally, by pheasant. Otherwise it was a pretty slick solve – finishing in 8:30.

  29. 4.33, and could have been quicker had some of the bottom half not needed a bit of thought (UNSPOILT/MAGNET/SNAPDRAGON especially). SANSERIF is in Chambers, and I don’t think we can expect setters to second-guess that!

    In modern usage a peasant is uncouth, someone with poor manners, etc.

    Thanks Mara & Jack

  30. Fairly quick until the SW corner, and then had to wait until the Snapdragon pdm prompted Pheasant (!) and the dubious Sanserif. Crossed the line around the 23min mark, with loi and CoD Magnet for the smile. Noted, in passing, the commendable restraint by Merlin re 19d. Invariant

    1. Put me down as an uncouth PEASANT. Although I did note that the said college had to close due to a backup from the sewers this week. Too much effluence as well as too much affluence.

  31. Held up by UNSPOILT, SANSERIF and PHEASANT. To add insult to injury, after the eyebrow raise over the one word font, I had a typo as well: SANSERFF. Grrhh!! 13:10 WOE. Thanks Mara and Jack.

  32. DNF today, with 6 left unsolved at 40 minutes. Found it really hard going after rattling through the NW. All seems fair on reflection, just couldn’t get on the wavelength. It even included my most hated ‘U’ for posh. I humbly submit that a better clue for BEAU would have been ‘British water, French lover’.
    I very much liked ‘AS WELL’ cleverly clued.
    Thanks for helpful blog Jackkt.

  33. 16:45. Same problems with SANSERIF and PHEASANT, LOI and POI, as many others but rather enjoyable on the whole.

  34. Managed to complete after struggling a little with the anagrams. SANSERIF couldn’t be anything else as an anagram. FOI TRIANGLE, LOI MAGNET, even though we had it as a “drawer” a few weeks ago. Enjoyable – like the sunny (if arctic) weather.

  35. +30:00 (Phone call interruption)
    Found this tough (looking at others times is that possibly because I’ve not been able to do the QC for a while?) but enjoyed most of the clues once solved. As others, struggled in the SW corner and concur with most posters reaction to SANS SERIF.
    FOI: 20ac REAM
    COD: 16dn MAGNET
    Thanks to jackkt and Mara

  36. Finished in about 45 minutes. As I’m fairly new to this it does take me some time to work out how and what to look for in the clues. Not sure I’d enjoy it so much if it took me less than 10 minutes! Thanks Mara and Jack. Very enjoyable puzzle.

  37. This was slow going and needed more than one sitting but I got there.

    Lots of PDMs esp for SNAPDRAGON, TRIANGLE, ENGRAVED and MAGNET where I knew what was going on but was thinking of drawers of cash, drawers with pastels, actual artists etc.

    Thanks Paul for the memory of the Guardian’s San Seriffe April Fool. The standard by which all others are judged.

    Thanks Mara and Jack.

  38. Mara has managed some real rubbish in this one! Why is peasant uncouth, lousy misuse of the word. Who would guess a bicycle as an acrobats equipment? Clue 12 uses disaster to indicate an anagram, that’s obscure rubbish. Overall a good example of over-contrived clue setting has Mara run out of decent ideas?

  39. Just a brief report today, but I will come back and read everyone’s comments later.

    A typical three-phase solve for me:
    Phase 1 – Good speed: 16 clues in 15 mins
    Phase 2 – Harder work: 5 clues in 9 mins
    Phase 3 – Excruciating: 3 clues in 14 mins

    My last three were SNAPDRAGON, SANSERIF and PHEASANT. Time = 38 minutes.

    Thanks to Mara and Jack

  40. NHO GOBSTOPPER, what a very unappetizing name, how ever do they sell any? Proud of myself for figuring it out. Enjoyed deciphering UNICYCLE v. much. Nothing to add about SANSERIF.

    Took longer than I care to say and I’m pretty shameless!

    Thanks to both!

    1. Did you ever watch Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory? Wonka invented a never ending gobstopper!

  41. I’m glad everyone else has the same quibble as me re sans serif. When I worked on publications, it was always written in two words, although usually you’d refer to a typeface (not a font – one of my big bugbears) as something or other sans, eg Gill Sans or Comic Sans. It certainly slowed me down at 12d, as did the plant. Ironic really as I’ve just returned from a U3A gardening group annual lunch – as it happens, ANTIRRHINUMS were not included in our floral picture quiz!
    I’m also a bit uneasy about 13d, although I accept this definition of peasant is in the dictionaries. It just seems a bit demeaning in this day and age to use it as a slur.
    Having said all that , I thought this was a well pitched puzzle with lots of neat clues.
    FOI Chop chop LOI Sanserif COD As well 11:09.
    Thanks Mara and Jack

    I thought the biggie was easy today and finished it in 18 minutes – with a three hour gap between parts 1 and 2 😅

  42. Most of the answers flew in but then there were the others SANSERIF (I agree with others re SANS SERIF), UNSPOILT and lastly PHEASANT (also wasn’t keen on peasant as uncouth person but it does remind me of a history lesson where a classmate submitted their homework on The Pheasants’ Revolt). I have them in my garden too! They are very ungainly when flying and seem to prefer running. My puppy and the pheasants are scared of each other which is quite comical. 8:05

  43. Don’t agree with the carping over some of these clues eg if Sanserif is in Chambers, where’s the beef? My comments would be that ‘paper’ does not equate to ream -a quantity of paper; ditto this sort of issue with 11A. Nonetheless, all completed and enjoyed.
    FOI 1a Chop Chop
    LOI 6d Engraved
    COD 17a Snapdragon
    Might take a look at the 15×15 later…thx for the tip.

  44. 16:29 here, with my LOI the obvious-in-retrospect SNAPDRAGON. Sigh. I was trying to remember all the fancy French names for casino card games…

    Thanks to Mara and Jackkt.

  45. 12.05 This was a nice puzzle. SANSERIF did seem dubious, though my spell checker isn’t grumbling. SNAPDRAGON and MAGNET took a few minutes at the end. Thanks Jack and Mara.

  46. 33:12

    Gosh, that was a struggle. Way over my 20 minute target. Unusually, I was left scratching my head with 3 downs, all checkers in place. Finally realised another synonym for drawer to get MAGNET, then GOBSTOPPER and, finally LOI ENGRAVED. Fooled by the misdirection today.

  47. Does my incompetence have no limit? Apparently not.

    59 mins of hell.

    I could say that I am still suffering with covid, but that is about as pathetic an excuse as I am a solver. Still at least my time will give you all a laugh!

    I can’t say that this dented my confidence, as it no longer exists. This is proving to be a horrible year and it’s still only January. I’m totally embarrassed at today’s showing and tomorrow will doubtless be just as bad.

    Until I started doing the QC, I thought I was reasonably bright. That illusion was shattered a long time ago. ☹️

    Thanks for the blog.

    1. Congratulations on finishing with no errors. According to the QUTCH, there were 9 reference solvers who had a DNF due to errors today.

  48. Continuing my run of DNFs. Here SANSERIF, PHEASANT, SNAPDRAGON, MAGNET and FATE (d’oh!)

    1. Just did last week’s Joker before bed.
      What a glutton for punishment I am!

      Took about 30 mins which, I’m sad to say, is about as good as it gets at present.

      My inability to read a clue properly is so frustrating. The clue NUT – AS IN NIBBLE was so simple and yet it took ages to see. Why does my brain not see this immediately? It’s not like I haven’t got sufficient experience.

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