Times Quick Cryptic No 2367 by Beck

Solving time: 6:13

This is my second time in a row blogging one of Beck’s grids. I thought it was pretty straightforward but suffered a couple of MERs at some of the components of 9a and 13a.

I counted several anagrams – bad luck if you have an aversion to them. Then again, I thought the offerings for 23a and 16d were both immensely enjoyable – perhaps I need to get out more….

How did you find it?

Definitions are underlined in bold italics, {deletions and substitutions are in curly brackets} and [directions in square ones].

1 Bowls run all over the place, causing gradual rage (4,4)
SLOW BURN – Anagram [all over the place] of BOWLS RUN
5 Instrument returned for neighbour (4)
ABUT – TUBA (instrument) reversed [returned]
8 A liberal follows rotten tripe (5)
OFFAL – A L (Liberal) after [follows] OFF (rotten)
9 Pull profit, taking it in (7)
GRAVITY – GRAVY (profit) with IT inserted (taking it in)

I was aware of GRAVY as a synonym for money/cash, but not as a synonym for profit

11 That lady is almost here (3)
HER – HER{e} with the final letter removed [almost]
12 Simple chess ending tricks friend (5,4)
FOOLS MATE – FOOLS (tricks) MATE (friend)
13 Renounce Me generation in part, taken aback (6)
RENEGE – Reversed [taken aback] hidden [in part] in Me generation

Not entirely convinced that RENEGE is a synonym of renounce

15 Put handcuffs on rarest criminal (6)
ARREST – Anagram [criminal] of RAREST
18 Wise guy moving nearly all scrap metal (5,4)
SMART ALEC – Anagram [moving] of both SCRA{p} [nearly all scrap] and METAL
19 Boys and girls initially pack (3)
BAG – First letters [initially] of Boys And Girls
20 Troublemaker with a coffee shop utensil (7)
STIRRER – Double definition
21 Rep books after a period (5)
AGENT – NT (books – New Testament) after AGE (a period)
22 Small design of lavatory holding gallons (4)
LOGO – LO(G)O – LOO (lavatory) holding G (gallons)
23 Tusked beast‘s mum stood on missing first egg (8)
MASTODON – MA (mum) ST{o}OD ON [stood on missing first O (egg)]
1 Overwhelm small matriarch (7)
SMOTHER – S (small) MOTHER (matriarch)
2 Asking price for hit man? (5)
OFFER – Double definition, the second being more amusing than the first. OFFER = someone who ‘offs’/kills i.e. a hit man
3 Matador‘s mean dog that’s well fed, according to Spooner (11)
BULLFIGHTER – The Rev Spooner pops up with a FULL (well fed) BITER (mean dog) – de-Spoonerising gives us BULL FIGHTER
4 Ignore vandalized district (6)
REGION – Anagram [vandalized – American spelling!] of IGNORE
6 Military unit destroyed a bridge (7)
BRIGADE – Anagram [destroyed] of A BRIDGE
7 Herb‘s occasion to be heard (5)
THYME – Homophone [to be heard] of TIME (occasion)
10 Challenging paintings of rat or tar? (8,3)
ABSTRACT ART – RAT and TAR are both alternative spellings (abstractions?) of ART
14 Getting close to Grannie Dotty (7)
NEARING – Anagram [Dotty] of GRANNIE
16 Wind up industry leader on the radio (7)
TIGHTEN – Homophone [on the radio] of TITAN (industry leader)
17 Girl clipping the edges off marigold sloppily (6)
GLORIA – Anagram [sloppily] of {m}ARIGOL{d} having clipped the edges off i.e. removed the first and last letter
18 Hemp fibre in refurbished sails (5)
SISAL – Anagram [refurbished] of SAILS
19 Reproduce black woodwind instrument (5)
BREED – B (black) REED (woodwind instrument)

I questioned whether there is a woodwind instrument called a REED – my go-to dictionary says that a REED is ‘a wind instrument played with a reed’. Feel free to concur or dispute as you see fit.

93 comments on “Times Quick Cryptic No 2367 by Beck”

  1. 8 minutes for this one. Like our blogger I looked twice at profit = GRAVY but I found it in Collins online, albeit in the American slang section. Woodwind instrument / REED is fine by by me.

  2. No problem with ‘reed’ or ‘gravy’, an MER over RENEGE; but I see ODE gives ‘renounce’ as an archaic meaning. 5:38.

  3. 10:25. I liked OFFAL and ABUT, also GRAVITY as, being a North American, I didn’t have a problem with gravy as profit. I did question “asking price” for OFFER. To me the seller sets the asking price and then the buyer responds with an OFFER that is either accepted or not. GLORIA was my COD.

    1. Agree with you about asking price not being an offer. Asking price is an “invitation to treat”, i.e. a willingness to enter negotiations and invite an offer.

      1. The example I thought of is in the murky world of spread betting, where the ‘offer’ is also known as the ‘asking price’, but that does seem uncommon.

        1. And also in the (arguably even murkier) world of the financial markets, where offer price means the price the seller is asking for.

        2. Offer is used as the selling price in the world of stocks and shares as the price the seller is looking to achieve. The opposite is BID being the price a buyer is willing to pay.

  4. 11 minutes and a bit. I share your reservations about RENEGE for ‘renounce’ but what do you know, that is the first sense given in Chambers. I wondered what ‘profit’ I was missing in 9a but I’m not surprised I took a while to see it. Didn’t know FOOL’S MATE, even though I’ve probably been a victim. ABSTRACT ART was a bit er… ‘challenging’.

    Unusual to see the OED/ODE/American spelling of ‘vandalized’ at 4d but it’s given as an alternative spelling (in fact the first) in both Collins and Chambers.

    A pity that BOBOE isn’t a word; sounds better than BREED.

    Thanks to Beck and Mike

    1. I think it was a week or so ago that we had a small discussion on verbs ending -ize or -ise where I quoted Fowler’s Modern English Usage as the provider of an amusing and (to me) authoritative article on the subject. In it, Fowler’s lists the major exceptions to the general rule of “-ize is preferred to -ise”. This list of exceptions does not include vandalise, which should therefore be vandalize. Incidentally, the -ise ending is described as a French corruption of the English (not American!) -ize preference. In addition, Fowler makes the argument that “there is no reason why in English the special French spelling should be followed, in opposition to that which is at once etymological and phonetic”.

      1. Haven’t read discussion but modern British publishers prefer ‘ise’ in general. I still think Fowler is a god, of course.

      2. The problem is that the Times’ spell checker itself does not recognize the -ize ending as legit: https://imgur.com/a/61rBMWA (Nor does the the spellchecker on this website)

        I don’t really care if it’s -ise or -ize, so long as it’s consistent. I have enough trouble figuring out -or vs. -er, -ence vs. -ance, etc.

  5. 9’11” and no real issues with any – thought it might be a record time from a flying start but got a bit bogged down by SMART ALEC, BREED, ABSTRACT ART and FOOLS MATE. I needed the crossers for SISAL.

    Thanks Beck and Mike.

  6. Like MangoMan above, I got off to an encouragingly flying start but finally snuck in all green in just under twenty minutes. I got bogged down with 10d ABSTRACT ART and 5a ABUT and have never heard of FOOLS MATE, although I guessed the MATE bit. (A very simple clue in retrospect, as they so often are!) Nice puzzle though and happy to have completed my first one without a mistake this week. Liked 5a ABUT and 23a MASTODON especially. Happy Wednesday everyone.

  7. Flew through in 16 minutes to break with tradition. No hold ups per se but a couple of instances of questioning the basis of the clues as noted here.
    Thanks all.

  8. I enjoy an anagram but it did feel like there were a lot of them today, although I haven’t actually counted them.
    ABSTRACT ART took me back to the horrors of art lessons at school where the teachers were obsessed with everything being abstract. Having absolutely no talent for it most of my offerings were accidentally abstract anyway!
    Got bogged down in the SW with BREED (MER at reed/instrument but, if the sources allow it, fair enough), TIGHTEN and LOI MASTODON.
    Crossed the line in 8.36
    Thanks to Mike

  9. Did the acrosses first, then the downs, then back to mop up the four acrosses which had resisted (GRAVITY, RENEGE, STIRRER and MASTODON, since you ask). So a reasonably tidy solve and nothing to report. I liked ABUT.

    All done in reggo 08:39 for 1.6K and a Decent Day.

    Many thanks Beck and Mike.


  10. All green in 8.13 which is fast for me even with what seemed like a lengthy hold up at the end with TIGHTEN, BREED and AGENT all requiring multiple looks. No excuse for AGENT and I was just slow to fill in the missing blanks for BREED but I spent a while debating if ‘typhoon’ could be made to sound like ‘tycoon’ and if so which of the checkers was wrong. Good one.

  11. This was an unusually (for me) smooth anticlockwise solve until I hit GRAVITY and ABSTRACT ART (needed the crossers). OFFER just had to be but I didn’t like it either as a word for a murderer or as an asking price. No problem with renege, or with reed as a woodwind.
    I thought I was on for a quick time but was surprised to see 13 minutes on the screen when I finished.
    Thanks to Beck and Mike. John M.

  12. Pretty quick here at 8:30. The rest is ‘pure gravy’ = profit was OK with me. I finished with the smart Alec – abstract art (COD) crossers. Thanks for the blog.

  13. No problems with RENEGE, GRAVY or REED for me – they all seemed fair. No marks on my copy other than the letters in the grid and my time. I liked MASTODON and ARREST. Thanks Beck and Mike. 3:48.

  14. Back to a quick one for me today.

    Loads of anagrams, but luckily none of them really held me up. GLORIA went in last, as I was waiting for the checkers. I liked ABSTRACT ART and MASTODON. In fact, looking back, there were lots of very good clues.


  15. Lovely Quick Cryptic. Simple but elegant clues with nice surfaces. I always like clues where there’s a part-of-speech switch going on, like ‘Instrument returned for neighbour (4)’ and ‘Put handcuffs on rarest criminal (6)’.
    ‘Tripe’ seems to me a definition by example, but wasn’t indicated as such.

    1. The trend over recent years has been towards less concern about unsignalled definitions by example. At one time they were considered, at least by some, to be a cardinal sin and were called out relentlessly on every appearance, but things seem to be more relaxed now. I’m not sure about offal / tripe as there’s a good deal of crossover between the two terms.

      1. Tripe is necessarily offal
        Offal is not necessarily tripe

        Not sure what the debate is

  16. 9:14. 914 Æthelflæd, daughter of King Alfred the Great, leads Mercia’s fight against the Danish invaders.

    Top half blazed in, held up by LOI ABSTRACT ART.

    Another Octanagram today. Refurbished criminal sloppily vandalised Dotty, moving all over the place. Destroyed.

    Never a fan of Spoonerisms.

    FOOLS MATE is a very unlikely 2 move win in chess, that really can’t happen unless the person playing white connives in playing unlikely moves. Scholars Mate a win for white in 4 moves is surprisingly common for casual players. One worth remembering.

  17. No problems for 8:21; quicker than yesterday. Lots of good clues with GRAVITY and ABSTRACT ART probably taking the longest to spot.

    ETA – Agreed about REED…I entered it without really thinking (from the crossers, mainly) and it’s only after that I thought about it. Bit of a MER.

  18. 7 minutes for this one, but initially with small question marks over both Renege = Renounce, and Reed as a wind instrument (as opposed to a component of them). Both felt a bit like the (occasional) times I play Scrabble with Mrs S, when she always pulls out several words which I wonder out loud if they are real words only to find the dictionary is resolutely on her side and they do exist after all. So I concede to Beck on both. On the other hand a career in the City meant no issues with Gravy for Profit (another culinary term for profit being jam; just don’t try to put both together in the same dish!)

    LOI was Abstract Art, which I failed to parse at all and cannot now decide whether it is very clever or rather odd – is abstract now one of the 1001 words that acts as an anagram indicator? At times it almost feels as if it would be simpler to list those words which can not be used to indicate anagrams …

    Many thanks Mike for the blog

  19. A DNF in 11 minutes today, with one letter wrong in the spelling of MASTODON.

    Did not know that gravy=profit. Not convinced that a reed is an instrument in its own right, rather than part of one. I play the clarinet (very badly), and have never called the instrument a reed.

    Don’t like Spoonerisms, but todays one was OK.


    1. The setter has support for REED in SOED: c Any wind instrument with a reed; in pl., the section of an orchestra playing such instruments. M19.

    2. Dear simjt,
      It’s probably of no comfort, but I also DNF’d with one wrong letter in MASTODON. Galling!

  20. I found this a bit sticky at times, but struggled gamely through it finishing within target at 9.05. I was held up at the end by my LOI SMART ALEC primarily because I had quickly bunged in LISAL (probably thinking of LISLE) and not noticing the anagram didn’t work. As previously reported I hate spoonerisms in a crossword, but this one had to be the easiest one ever.

  21. Humph. Managed hardly more than half (mostly, the left half). I did get OFFER despite MER, but surely “books” = NT is a bit far-fetched? Then not only NHO SISAL, but googling hemp fibre brings no mention of sisal, and googling sisal brings no mention of hemp – so I plead another MER. I just don’t know enough about drugs! I too wasted a lot of time (thyme?) playing with OBOE.

    1. SISAL is a plant that yields a fibre and it comes up often in crosswords, so it’s a word worth remembering, and the clue always has “fibre” and/or “hemp” in it. 🙂

    2. books = NT or OT is pretty much standard in crosswordland – worth a try to see if either works….

    3. Re books for NT: that’s what I said first time I came across it but now accept as another definition from crossword land.

      1. Thanks for your sympathy! Glad to hear I’m not alone with my initial reaction.

  22. 13 minutes for an enjoyable middle of the road challenge. I don’t remember many of Beck’s puzzles, and I’ll check back, but seeing 1a immediately, I did wonder if we have a trademark self-reference (Beck = Burn) a la Oink going on. Thanks both.

    1. “a la Oink”? Au Oink or a l’Oink, perhaps. That’s as far as my grade 2 CSE French of 50 years ago takes me, and it’s probably wrong.

  23. Fairly plain sailing until the SE. Needed CCD for TIGHTEN, annoyingly, and still it took a while for pennies to drop re MASTODON (COD) and unparsed AGENT. Also wondered about Reed as woodwind but Oboe didn’t play.
    Yes, puzzled by RENEGE but it had to be.
    FOsI NW corner, all fairly easy.
    Familiar with SISAL, FOOLS MATE. BULLFIGHTER a gift. I think we had Gravy as profit recently.
    Thanks vm, Mike.

  24. Deflated! I finished in just 15 minutes – one of my fastest ever times, a comfortable SCC-escape (still an uncommon achievement for me) and a rare chance to secure the family point. My only concern, albeit slight, was that I hadn’t managed to parse ABSTRACT ART. I did review that clue, but on reading the blog I realised that I had forgotten to revisit MASTaDON. Disaster! I guessed something was wrong when I wrote my answer in, but I didn’t mark it with a ?, which would have alerted me to the problem. I did not equate the word ‘egg’ with an O. In fact, I have failed for the same reason on at least two occasions in the past – and I think I have mis-spelled MASTODON in the past. Slow to learn, or what?

    Mrs Random is out again, so she will have to catch up later.

    Many thanks to Beck and Mike H.

  25. Reed is ok I think. The oboe, clarinet bassoon and sax are collectively known as the reeds as opposed to the flute, which I play and the brass instruments. The reeds all require a particular mouth control known as the embouchure. A flute has a unique embouchure since the player does not have it in their mouth. The brass instruments have a different set up with the instrument against the lips. The reeds are all partly held in the mouth.

    1. But a Reed is not a specific instrument, which is what I took the clue to be. Not convinced personally.

      1. Yes as a musician I was inclined to be on the fence, especially as I’ve heard (especially) Americans refer to “the reeds” as that group of woodwind instruments. But reading JamesEd46 I would agree his judgement is conclusive due to the use of the singular; you never talk about “a reed” as being any one instrument. So: the final verdict must be that it’s dubious!

  26. Tricky in parts. After a first pass I had most of the NW and SE but the opposite corners were distressingly blank. Didn’t spot the anagrams at 6dn and 14dn nearly quickly enough. Not a chess player so I needed the crossers to decide what went with MATE at 12ac. Finally finished in 19 minutes (an OK day in my book) with all parsed except ABSTRACT ART which I still don’t really understand.

    FOI – 1ac SLOW BURN
    LOI – 20ac STIRRER
    COD – 2dn OFFER – made me chuckle

    Thanks to Beck and to Mike

  27. I didn’t compute GRAVY with profit but it had to be and I have NHO a FOOLS MATE in chess. FOI SLOW BURN after dismissing brow as part of the answer and LOI ABSTRACT ART. I liked the device used in the latter but the surface wasn’t that great (no pun intended). 8:29

  28. 15 mins…

    Fairly straight forward, although I hesitated slightly at 18dn “Sisal” (I can never remember if it’s Sisal or Sasil). I wasn’t convinced about Reed as an instrument. Yes, it’s part of an Oboe, Clarinet etc., and they are collectively “Reed” instruments, but I thought it was a bit loose.

    FOI – 4dn “Region”
    LOI – 23ac “Mastodon”
    COD – 9ac “Gravity”

    Thanks as usual!

  29. 9a made me think of a dish called ‘biscuits and gravy’ which seems popular in the US. Only being familiar with what these terms would mean in the UK, I find the concept rather strange.

    Anyway, I managed this one without aids in around 20mins, I should think, so am relieved after yesterday’s debacle. A couple of MERs on the way to LOI at 17d.

  30. 9:20. This one didn’t really grab me, I’m afraid. It was pleasant enough but nothing really stood out as COD.
    The only thing that did stand out was the Z in vandalized! I thought there’d be comments on that 😅 I’m with CW1 regarding modern usage. I haven’t seen a recent edition of Fowler, so don’t know what current recommendations are, but, as I’ve said before, the house style of every publication I’ve worked on has been -ISE. Here’s a query though – do crosswords setters have to follow Times house style (which favours -ISE), unless it really messes up the surface?
    I wasn’t keen on the surface for ABSTRACT ART – I guessed it was along the lines of Mike’s explanation, but still I’m still not entirely comfortable with it. And it took nearly a minute of my time to solve it too 🙄
    As far as reed = woodwind instrument, I’d say they’re not really synonymous, although I note that our ex-music teacher says it’s ok. I’ll ask my clarinettist son when he gets back from chasing Sir Nigel Gresley round Leicestershire!
    FOI Smother LOI Abstract art
    Thanks Beck and Mike

    The biggie took about half an hour today.

    1. Hello Penny,
      -ISE is also the house style here. And ‘here’ is Random House (naturally), a sizeable American publisher, I believe. Or should that be siseable?
      Regards also to Mr B.

      1. Hi G – now you’ve got me pondering. As Random House is American, I wonder whether they use IZE or ISE in books published in the UK? Maybe it just depends on whether the author writes in British English or the US version.
        I was trying to come up with some jokey remark about SISAL / sisable, but can’t 😅
        We were listening to some Art of Noise yesterday – I think we’ll definitely investigate further.
        MrB returns the regards. Best wishes to MrsR too 😊

  31. From SLOW-BURN to ABSTRACT ART in 7:39 No dramas although I raised an eyebrow at gravy for profit. Thanks Beck and Mike.

  32. Just asked my son about reed = woodwind. His view is that you could call a clarinet etc a reed instrument, but he has never heard an individual woodwind instrument referred to simply as a reed. However, he has certainly been in orchestras where the conductor has referred to the woodwind section collectively as ‘the reeds’. The plot thickens!

    1. As I said earlier, I have no issue with ‘reeds’.
      Thinking about it, we refer to other sections of the orchestra as ‘strings’ because they make the sound or ‘brass’ because brass tubes make the sound. The sound comes from ‘percussion’ in that orchestral section (piano, drums, bells etc.). So, a ‘reeds’ section is just another example named after that which produces the sound? John.

      1. Agreed! The strings, the reeds, etc, in the plural when talking about the sections – but as martinu and James say, you don’t usually talk about a string for a violin or a reed for a clarinet, so my MER was just about it being in the singular.

      2. Reeds section is fine, as is string section. But you wouldn’t refer to a single violin as a string, would you?

  33. I have just come back to ask if anyone who knows would be kind enough to explain in simple terms (for this simpleton) exactly how the clue for ABSTRACT ART works. I got it right, but have no real idea what’s going on.
    Many thanks, in anticipation.

    1. It’s a “reverse cryptic” clue , where the answer to the definition part of the clue (Challenging paintings -> ABSTRACT ART) is itself a clue to the wordplay element of the clue. In this case [Abstract] (art)* could be an anagram clue to either RAT or TAR. From the ? in the blog it seems our blogger wasn’t happy with “abstract” as an anagram indicator, but it seems OK to me. Not a common clue type in QCs but look out for another (easier) one in my Weekend Quick Cryptic this weekend.

    2. It was my LOI too and I wasn’t particularly sure about it. My understanding goes as follows …

      The clue is Challenging paintings of rat or tar? (8,3)

      Obviously you know ABSTRACT ART is paintings which are not immediately discernable as say a bowl of fruit, a portrait or a landscape.

      So, if I show you an abstract piece you might be left thinking “Is it a a RAT or some TAR? It just looks like a blob to me.”

      I’m not sure abstract art is meant to be a Rorschach test. The artist usually gives it a title that lets you know what they’ve painted. To that end, I’m not completely convinced by the definition “Challenging paintings” because they aren’t intended as challenges. But, if you don’t think too hard about it, I reckon it works. I think RAT / TAR were used to give direction to the solver but nothing more than that.

      Edit: I see John has given his interpretation 😉 of this clue while I have been typing. It’s better than mine but where abstract art is concerned, it’s all about how YOU perceive it for your self, not what myself or John think!

      1. Thanks LP. I know what you mean about how you perceive abstract art. You may or may not like it, but it needs a context for it to be understood.
        P.S. My younger son gloated to me after last night’s match.

      2. Lol. I rather liked yours, though. Extrapolating further, you might think of RATs (or TARs) deserting a sinking ship, but I’m not sure that gets us anywhere.

  34. 10.22 This was going very quickly but I got bogged down in the south-east and by LOI ABSTRACT ART. Gravy and renege did seem like stretches but they were clear enough. Thanks both.

  35. No real trouble here. LOI ‘OFFER’, simply because it couldn’t be anything else and because I could just about see how it might have something to do with ‘asking price’, although I think of that as something set by the vendor, whereas an offer is made by the customer.

    I’m really not sure about that clue at all. Since when has ‘off’ been a verb meaning ‘kill’, or anything else for that matter? I’ve never heard/seen it used as one and neither apparently have the compilers of the Concise O.E.D.

    1. I’m surprised that ‘off’ in the sense of ‘to kill’ is not in the Concise OED. Surely familiar from hard-boiled detective fiction? The Online Etymology Dictionary says it dates back to 1930.

    2. I just read it as one of those punning clues, where someone who offs a person is an offer. I was aware of to off as in to do away with someone, probably from B&W films starring James Cagney or similar!

  36. Late to this. Done online in 09:01 with LOI GRAVITY.
    Nothing to add to comments above.

  37. FAIL

    Serves me right. Iguanodon has come up a couple of times recently in the biggie and as I’ve penned in the correct answer I’ve smugly noted the poor lambs who’ve been led to the graveyard of those who spell their dinos incorrectly.

    You know what’s coming. Yup the lesser spotted MASTADON

    6.43 with that error

  38. Pleased to see ABUT as an answer having failed by using it instead of ABET recently. Reminds me of the late great Eric Morecambe: ‘I’m giving all the right answers, but not necessarily in the right crossword.’
    Started well with lots of the across clues but took 55 minutes to complete. Nice puzzle.
    Thanks Mike for explaining ABSTRACT ART though it seems a bit of a stretch.

  39. Add me to the list of people who doesn’t really understand how the clue for ABSTRACT ART works. I was flying along until suddenly I wasn’t: all done bar 3 after 6 minutes, the last 3 took another 7 minutes+, giving me a time of 13:18. LOI BREED, COD MASTODON.

    Thanks to Mike and to Beck.

  40. Back after a somewhat longer break than usual due to illness
    Struggled a bit as out of practice
    With a son who plays oboe have never heard Reed as an instrument. Some have one Reed (clarinet). The oboe has one reed but it is bent onto two to make a double reed. Confusing or what. The only reed I could play as an instrument was a blade of grass between my hands

    1. Welcome back. Good to read one of your posts again. I am with you on REED.


  41. 11:26

    Very easy today apart from NHO SASIL which I had to guess to get the A and I the right way round.

  42. I thought this was hard so rather deflated that many of you found it easy. Makes me feel very slow.

    NHO SISAL, MASTODON or FOOLS MATE. My general knowledge is generally good, but it let me down today.

    Finished around 25 mins. Not bad I suppose, but no real progress. Already up to 1 hr, 35 mins for the week, and it’s only Wednesday.

    I can’t remember the last time I failed to finish (that’s tempting fate!), but my times are not improving. I did think some of the clues would see a few MERs, particularly 19dn.

    Thanks for the blog. Needed it today.

    1. I wouldn’t worry about it, Gary. Sometimes I, too, feel I’m wading through treacle when the crossword isn’t that hard as much as when they are really hard…. which reminds me. I’ve still got this month’s Monthly Club Special to solve, which I’d better not forget as I have to blog it! Your times will improve, I’m sure.

    2. I’m in the opposite boat Gary. Times looking decent (sub-60 so far this week) but haven’t managed a week of solves since mid-Feb. This one is already gone with yesterday’s PROM / DRAM disaster 🙄

      1. If only we combined my completions with your times! It is galling to have a good time marred by a single answer gone awry. I did that often when my I had my initial (rare) escapes from the SCC. Delighted to beat 20 mins but then aghast at a wrong answer.

        I think you and Mr Random are making some excellent progress with your times recently.

        I hope you enjoyed the good weather over the last few days. We had three days of almost unbroken sunshine in North Yorkshire. It helped to lift my mood, although we are back to skies full of rain today.

        1. Weather has been similar to yours with the past two days sunny but yesterday cloudy and light rain. Even so, good to have some sunshine at last.

          I think getting breezeblocked is part of the progression. I spent last 3-mins on ABSTRACT-ART today and similar story the previous two days. By definition, the last one is always going to be the hardest and therefore slowest.

          Anyway keep the faith. It’ll turn in your favour eventually. I’m solving much more successfully than I was before March and I can’t really put my finger on why that happened. It just did.

  43. I think sometimes things just ‘click’. I’ve had that once or twice recently, but the holy grail is for it to happen consistently. We’re all getting nearer to that, albeit with blips along the way. Anyway, tomorrow is a fresh challenge.

Comments are closed.