Times Quick Cryptic No 2342 by Joker

I found this on the easier end of the scale from Joker, with lots of puns and clever surfaces and a refreshing absence of long anagrams, my kryptonite. All finished in 9:57, a rare sub-10 minute outing for me.

I expect there will be some very fast times posted by the speed merchants.

Definitions underlined in italics, wordplay indicators in square brackets, synonyms in round brackets.

1 Weapon caught a slight hit in the last month (8)
CATAPULTC (caught) + A + TAP (slight hit) + ULT (last month).

ult” is the abbreviation for “ultimo“, which apparently used to be a common way to refer to the previous month in business letters, as in “Re your communication of the 15th ult.”. But with email and instant messaging, I suspect it only survives in crosswordland.

6 Flower in black vase (4)
BURNB (black) + URN (vase).

“Flower” as in “something that flows”. This is always one of my first examples when I’m describing cryptic puzzles to people who don’t know the genre. My FOI.

8 Close street: work is to follow (4)
STOPST [abbreviation for Street] + OP (work).

I’ve always assumed that OP = WORK was a reference to plastic surgery, as in “I’ve had a little work done.”

But as BletchleyReject points out in the comments, “op” is an abbreviation for “opus”, a musical work

9 Ban chemical in salt initially exterminating crustacean (8)
BARNACLEBAR (ban) + NaCl (chemical formula for salt, sodium chloride) + E [first letter – initially – of ‘exterminating’].
10 Take care of  when ballboys need to give out balls? (8)
PRESERVE – Double definition, the second being pre-serve, when balls are given to tennis players.

Groan. But I do love a good pun.

12 Change hands over (4)
SWAPPAWS (hands), reversed (over).
13 Pud served up with tea is the latest thing (6)
UPDATE – Anagram [served up] of PUD TEA.

Not 100% convinced by the definition here. An update is the latest news, perhaps, but is it the latest thing?

16 Artist is a mover in some circles? (6)
TURNER – A double definition, the artist being J.M.W. Turner.

The De Young museum in San Francisco hosted a travelling Turner exhibition a few years ago that was called “JMW Turner: Painting set free.”. But they didn’t have any painting sets at all, never mind free ones. Thank you, I’ll get my coat.

17 What starts with a very enthusiastic greeting (4)
WAVE – First letters [what starts] of With A Very Enthusiastic.
18 Father in Paris eating what could be chicken spread throughout (8)
PERMEATEPERE (French for ‘father’) including [eating] MEAT (what could be chicken).

I tried to parse this with PATE for the chicken spread for a little while, until the ‘oh, chicken is a type of meat’ moment.

21 Set  to send fewer telegrams? (8)
WIRELESS – Another double definition, another pun.
22 Locate female in days (4)
FINDF (female) + IN + D (days).
23 One making checks about new outlet (4)
VENTVET (one making checks) around (about) N.

A MER at VET for the person making the checks (isn’t that a VETTER?), I’d be happier if I could come up with a parsing where VET is the verb. Although I suppose that vets do check the health of animals, so maybe…

24 Various small items son gets wet again? (8)
SUNDRIESS (son) + UN-DRIES (gets wet again).
2 Hesitate, not beginning to change (5)
ALTER – {F}ALTER (hesitate), not beginning [lacking the first letter].
3 A record height for Europe (3)
ALPA + LP (record).
4 Colour of river as rendered by cockney? (5)
UMBER – The Humber is a river in northern England. Cockneys, famously – and inevitably in crosswords – drop the leading ‘H’ from words.
5 Gold found in river, a fast flowing one (7)

The Trent is another English river. ‘Gold’ in a clue is usually either OR or AU.

6 Restaurant British fool put on lake (9)
BRASSERIEBR (British) + ASS (fool) + {Lake} ERIE.
7 Engineers rental agreement that’s free (7)
RELEASERE (Royal Engineers) + LEASE (rental agreement).
11 Experienced politicians taking time, putting out second press briefing? (9)
STATEMENTSTATE{s}MEN (experienced politicians) + T (taking time) – S (putting out second).
14 Filling for chocolates — plainer sorts (7)
PRALINE – Anagram [sorts] of PLAINER
15 Put into words fast (7)
EXPRESS – Another double definition.
19 Rinse out sticky stuff (5)
RESIN – Anagram [out] of RINSE
20 Subtle shade’s no good in neckwear (5)
TINGENG (abbreviation for No Good) in TIE (neckwear).
22 A lot of anger to see mink stole, perhaps (3)
FUR – Most of the letters (a lot of) of FURy (anger).

A ‘definition by example’ clue.

73 comments on “Times Quick Cryptic No 2342 by Joker”

  1. I wondered about ‘vet’, too. Didn’t wonder about UPDATE; I keep getting updates to my computer, for instance. I was a bit surprised to see ULT in a QC (‘this month’ was INST: ‘Yours of the 15th ult/inst received and contents noted’). 6:52.

  2. 16:31. Had trouble with UPDATE and STATEMENT but otherwise the rest were clear.

  3. Wow, I found this really tough – with some clues worthy of a 15×15 taking 23 mins overall.

    ‘Ult’ and ‘NaCl’ alone feel like biggie material and the clueing for BURN, STATEMENT and WIRELESS all felt like more grown up clues than usual.

    I was about to throw in the towel when LOI PERMEATE suddenly came to me with ‘meat’ as what could be chicken finally making sense over trying to fit ‘hen’ in somewhere.

    Thanks Joker for a proper workout and Doof for a fine blog as usual.

    Back to sleep now I hope

  4. 13:20. Not on good form today and needed crossers and a re-think for a few such as BARNACLE, PRESERVE (ho-ho), SUNDRIES and STATEMENT. See what you mean about VET. I thought of UPDATE as in a computer program update, as explained by Kevin above. Favourite was WIRELESS.

    I take OP for ‘work’ as an abbreviation for “opus”, as in the designation of a musical work or the term “op. cit.”.

    Thanks to Joker and to Doofenschmirtz

      1. It’s not just a musical work, it’s simply the Latin for “work” generally. Hence “magnum opus” (great work) of a book or a painting or pretty much any endeavour.

  5. I agree compared to yesterday very tough and I could not get close to finishing

  6. 14:58. 1458 Henry VI tries to reconcile factions in the War of the Roses in a bizarre ritual at St Paul’s.

    On for another pre-conquest time but for the last two: PERMEATE and LOI CATAPULT. Kept trying to get “ DEC” in there for “last month” and surprised by the eventual parsing with “ult”, which I’m sure has never been used since the birth of Email. Although “re”, which is in the same argot as “ult” and “inst” is a staple of Email.

    Chestnut-heavy today I think: SUNDRIES, EXPRESS and WIRELESS seemed familiar. But PRESERVE was new to me, and COD.

  7. 7 minutes with no issues or queries which came as a relief after yesterday’s DNF after 15 minutes.

  8. I’m definitely in the MangoMan rather than the Doofers camp today – I found this super tough. If I’d stopped at 15m well over half the clues would have been unanswered. We may get some fast times but I’m expecting a low turnout on the leaderboard too. All green in 21 but it felt like longer!

    PRESERVE and WIRELESS were the highlights in a puzzle I found generally lacking in sparkle.

  9. I enjoyed the puns and misdirection. Forgot ‘Ult’ was ultimo re month, thanks Doofers. Joint favourites, Preserve, Wireless, Barnacle.
    28.20 which is on the slower side for me but spent several minutes pondering as I strolled into the club.
    Thanks Joker.

  10. Our blogger may have deemed this on the easier end of the scale but I join those who found it a bit trickier than that. 13 minutes in all, but Fur not parsed (complete mind-blank, but at least F-R meant there weren’t many options), and Turner not really understood. “A mover in some circles” seems pretty tangential to a Turner to me, unless I’m missing something.

    Rare to see “last month” cluing Ult. I think it has come into a couple of crosswords in the pretty recent past and both times it meant Dec.

    Many thanks to Doofers for the blog

    1. If you move in circles, doesn’t that make you a turner? Like a wheel?

      1. Isn ‘t a “turner” one of those manufacturing jobs involving lathes and turning metal?

    2. Our blogger said the “the easier end of the scale from Joker” which I took to mean one of Joker’s easier rather than generally easier.

  11. Hmm. Yes I suppose so, even if I still think the link is pretty vague. However, as I have no skills at setting clues at all I probably shouldn’t be hypercritical. But it’s a long way from being a contender for COD.

  12. Got the dreaded pink square, which I initially thought was for a typo but then realised that it was a bit of a howler – I put FIR in at 22d parsing as a shortening of fire for anger (not great) and not noticing that I’d written about trees rather thank mink (just plain dozy!).
    Other than that I found this chewy in places but thought I’d managed to sneak in under target until discovering the mistake.
    Particularly enjoyed the PDMs for PERMEATE and WIRELESS.
    Thanks to Doofers

  13. Another who disagrees with our esteemed blogger, finding this hardly a walk in the park.
    I jumped around the grid and was held up by some offbeat definitions (burn, turner, vet) but with lots of lightbulb moments when a clever clue dropped out.
    I was immersed, as usual, and the time flew so I was surprised to be on the cusp of the SCC when my last one went in: CATAPULT – I didn’t see it at the start and came back to it to finish, together with ALTER and UMBER (d’oh!). I think BARNACLE was my COD , although I enjoyed PERMEATE, too.
    Thanks to Joker for an enjoyable test and to Doofers for a good blog. John M.

  14. 18:59 – an SCC escape on a Joker 😮

    I always expect one clue with Joker that could easily be a misfire but there doesn’t seem to be one. Nonetheless I was edgy about BURN (forgot the river version of flower), TURNER even UMBER. Unable to parse the “last month”, I left CATAPULT until TORRENT was in.

    Reached 15-mins with just the SE looking very bare. Began to worry I would be breezeblocked by lack of letters but then spotted RESIN and it all came from there. LOI was WIRELESS which again the -I-E-E-S checkers looked very uninviting but then I figure -LESS and it became obvious.

    Really liked BARNACLE as a clue. NACL is the one chemical formula, along with H2O that I remember from my ‘O’ level chemistry (grade ‘U’) days. Also possibly one of the original Trivial Pursuits questions!

  15. Good but tough, especially in the top. Took a long time to see my last two (the crossing PRESERVE/STATEMENT) even though it felt as though I had both of them on the tip of my tongue. COD to SUNDRIES.

    11:14 for 1.7K and a Reasonable Day.

    Many thanks Joker and Doofers.


  16. Neither easy nor difficult for me – being smack in the middle of my target range.

    LOI was CATAPULT, missed the “ULT” – though above conversation reminded me of it.

    I liked WIRELESS and PRESERVE.


  17. While never a walk in the park, Joker’s offering wasn’t too difficult providing you knew some of the tricks. I enjoyed building up Barnacle, the clue for which seemed daunting on first sight, but CoD has to go to loi Wireless for the pdm. That one needed an alphabet trawl and, W being where it is, a window seat in the SCC was the result. Invariant

  18. 16 minutes for me today, so twice as long as yesterday. But when you’re stuck, you’re stuck.
    MY LOI and COD was WIRELESS. I was saved from a DNF with TIMELESS by a long and careful alphabet trawl, starting with A.
    Prior to that CATAPULT held me up; went in partly parsed. BARNACLE another tricky one.
    A good puzzle from Joker. Interesting how some struggled and others raced through it.

  19. Slid into the SCC at 20:38 but all green, fortunately, despite a few not completely parsed (FUR, BARNACLE, CATAPULT amongst them). FOI ALTER and LOI BARNACLE (my COD), which took ages, despite knowing the chemical formula for salt and thinking about the elements separately! Some nice clues and an enjoyable solve. Thanks Joker and doof (especially for the “Fast Show” joke).

  20. I don’t know what puzzle the blogger was solving, but I suspect it wasn’t this one. Expects fast times? Easier end of scale? Riiiight! 🤣

    I found this one extremely difficult. So many of the clues were complete nonsense to me. Got absolutely nowhere with it.

  21. A curious mixture today of those that found it tough and those thinking it was on the easier side. I’m down the middle on this one, thinking it was a well crafted crossword that made you think, but with answers that were gettable and fair. My time of 8.54 reflects this as far as my involvement is concerned. I knew PRALINE as a filling in a box of chocolates, and have almost certainly eaten one, but couldn’t tell you what taste it resembles.

  22. I’m in the “easier” camp, and sit 8th of 103 on the leaderboard at the moment. I still took nearly twice as long as the esteemed Verlaine at the top of the table though.

    However, it was definitely a puzzle designed for the more seasoned solver, and I can see perfectly that less experienced candidates might find it tricky – but they should study the blog and learn from it, because it’s a very good example of the setter’s art.

    TIME 4:10

  23. 7:56,with the usual curse of the LOI, which took more than a minute! It was worth it though.
    I thought it seemed quite easy for a Joker puzzle, but as we all know, one person’s easy is another’s nightmare 😅 I didn’t fully parse BARNACLE (science is often my undoing).
    I did think there were some lovely surfaces – BURN, UPDATE, WIRELESS, PAWS and TURNER all got ticks or smiles. We’re off to the Vermeer exhibition next week – really looking forward to it!
    FOI Burn LOI Wireless COD Torrent
    Thanks Joker and Doofers

    1. I think I would prefer to go to a marquetry exhibition. There’s no real depth to veneer.

  24. I found the bottom half of this one trickier than the top half and was pushed over my target time by my last 2 in, STATEMENT and WIRELESS. No complaints although did wonder about VET. 10:14. Thanks Joker and Doofers.

  25. I found this one a bit chewy too. Nice to see some old friends like ALP, BRASSERIE (In fact not that old, I’m sure they were in the 15×15 quite recently) and EXPRESS. Oh, and good old TURNER.

    FOI- STOP (don’t judge me 😉 )
    COD – WIRELESS / BURN is good too, with that crafty double-meaning of “flower” that gets me every time

  26. I found this considerably easier than yesterday. I remember thinking that there were very few anagrams. I enjoyed the cleverly constructed clues with my COD going to BURN for the surface reading. FOI CATAPULT and LOI PRESERVE in an on target 8:16.

  27. Struggled in the NE not knowing ‘ult’ for last month, and not having heard of UMBER as a pigment. Biffed both but wasted many minutes trying to parse before giving up and checking the blog. Many thanks Doofers. Thanks too to Kevin for mentioning ‘inst’ – I will endeavour to commit this to memory. Liked the puns, especially WIRELESS and PRESERVE. Wasn’t sure SWAP was correct as hadn’t fully parsed as ‘paws’ over. I found this tough. Many thanks Joker.

  28. 15.02 BURN came immediately but the penny didn’t drop until near the end. About half went in quickly and the rest slowly but steadily, which is unusual. I often get stuck somewhere. LOI PRESERVE.

  29. 7.52

    Agree with Busman and Hopkinb. Liked it and found it quite comfortable but some tricky bits.

    No stand out for me but only because there was a good overall quality to the clues.

    Thanks all

  30. Dnf…

    My heart sank when I read the preamble from the blogger. This was probably my worse performance in quite a while, with at least 7 clues not finished by the time I got to my cut off time of 30 mins.

    DNK “ult” for last month – I was trying to it Dec in there somewhere which obviously didn’t help, and I also had a mer at “vet” for 23ac.

    Just not on the right wavelength today.

    FOI – 6ac “Burn”
    LOI – dnf
    COD – 16ac “Turner”

    Thanks as usual!

  31. Found this one tough and was not on Joker’s wavelength today. Gave up after an hour with 6 unfinished clues.
    Doofer’s blog was very helpful but there were some clues I would never have solved e.g Statement, Vent and Swap (where you have to find a synonym and then anagram it).

    1. Vent and swap don’t need indirect anagrams. Vent is just vet around n, swap is a reversal.

      Found this tough, too many Cotswold Golds.
      COD preserve.

      1. Cotswold Gold? It seems to be a brand of vegetable oil-what are you using it here to mean in Crosswordland?

          1. Ha ha- I’m glad to hear you have maintained your beer drinker’s integrity!

    2. Unlucky #5 – there’s always tomorrow. You’re doing well on these and today was a good QC to learn from. On to tomorrow …

  32. 7:16

    No real worries – just the NACL in BARNACLE remained unparsed – I am no chemist.

    Thanks Joker and Doofenschmirtz

  33. Generally a hard grind but in the end it was an ‘easy’ clue I messed up. For 17ac I put HAVE which was a hidden (witH A VEry) from Latin greeting AVE and the ubiquitous modern HAVE A NICE DAY.

  34. Finished with ‘sundries’ (which I liked) in 12 minutes – so, not an easy one for me. COD to ‘barnacle’ though. Lots to enjoy.

  35. I also found this on the tougher side, although managing to finish after much pondering and unable to parse a couple. I am quite often not immediately on Joker’s wavelength. COD WIRELESS.

  36. 14:01. LOI was TURNER – I spent to much time trying to think of artists beginning and ending with O.
    Interesting to see the Humber and the Trent. Arguably the Humber is not a river – it is an estuary, of the rivers Trent and Ouse. The Ordnance Survey maps mark it as River Humber, so I guess it’s OK to call it a river.

  37. 6. 40, so a bit longer than usual for me. COD was wireless, which I see somebody mentioned as a chestnut.

    There’s been a few comments about chestnuts recently, But I don’t mind seeing the same word provided that the clueing mechanism is quite different.

  38. We join the those that found this tougher. All depends on the type of clues, we like anagrams and usually solve them fairly quickly, today’s clues we were slow on decipherin them.

  39. Very hard for a QC, IMHO. I struggled, even to get started at all. ULT for ‘last month’ definitely didn’t turn up in my 40-year business/academic career, so it must date back to the time of quill pens, wax seals and the like. Also, as a non-chemist (I dropped the subject two years before my O-Levels), the chemical symbol for salt never fully came to mind. Almost everything every other clue put up a struggle of some sort or other, so my brain now feels quite exhausted. Total time = 46 minutes.

    Mrs Random also struggled today, finishing only just ahead of me. “Most unsatisfying” was her verdict and she instantly put the whole thing out of her mind. I wish I could do the same, especially when I record a DNF.

    Many thanks to Joker and Doofers.

    1. Unlucky Mr Random. Think I had 6-7 on my first pass which helps out a bit. I’m always impressed how you manage to eke out a solve on the tough days no matter how long it takes 👍

  40. As a pedant living in East Yorkshire, 4DN was arguably incorrect. The Humber is an estuary not a river – it is the confluence of the River Ouse and the River Trent. Colloquially it gets called a river but we locals know it as an estuary. We were very frustrated when the penny dropped.

  41. Quite tricky in places but enjoyable. A bit of a MER for 12A. To swap is to exchange, trade or barter, not simply change, which Collins confirms. Liked ‘wireless’ and ‘permeate.’

  42. Strange how different puzzles suit different people. I really struggled yesterday and couldn’t finish, scream instead of shriek. But this one I found the easiest for a while, almost a straight write in.

  43. A very depressing experience today.

    Nowhere near the wavelength and struggled to what I thought was a finish, only to find that I hadn’t got 16ac right. I was faced with T-R-E- and put in TARGET, thinking the artist reference was RA (backwards). I still don’t understand the clue. Obviously I know TURNER, but I don’t ‘get’ the second definition at all.

    FOI – STOP
    LOI – WAVE (sums up my day that I couldn’t see this one for ages)
    PDM – PRESERVE (I was thinking football, not tennis)

    At present, I either sail through these and avoid the SCC, or have a torrid time and take forever. No middle ground which is baffling and deeply frustrating.

    Thanks for the blog.

    1. Unlucky GA

      As I said in a response up above … I took the second definition of TURNER to be related to the manufacturing job where lathe operators turn metal to create circular objects. I assume it’s the origin of the surname (like Baker, Miller, Cooper, Carter, Fletcher etc).

      I agree about a lack of middle ground. This year, I’ve had 9 grids done in under 19-mins (incl. DNFs), only 5 taking 19-27mins and the other 30+ taking longer.

      1. Thanks L-Plates. I’m sure you’re right about the second definition. Had I thought a little longer, I would have realised that my incorrect answer wouldn’t parse.

        It’s strange that we seem to have either very good or very disappointing days. I’m always amazed that, on a good day, I can match some of the 15 min solvers, but, on a bad one for me, they seem to achieve much greater consistency.

        Well done again on your performance today. Joker is always tough and avoiding the SCC is a real feather in your cap. 👏👏👏

Comments are closed.