Quick Cryptic 526 by Tracy

Answers fairly flew in today – sometimes without fully checking the word play. After 7 minutes, with everything else complete, I got to 23ac and came to a grinding halt. Every other letter was filled in but it took 2 minutes of agonised staring to finally work it out. Under 10 minutes now seems like a good result.

A good, fun crossword with trips into the world of literature and horticulture.


1. Dry Martini – drink. Parched (DRY), swallow (MARTIN), one (I).
7. Nonet – musical composition. Some of informatio(N ON ET)ude.
8. Rarity – curiosity. Beam (RAY) crossing (R)oom (I)n (T)avern.
10. Egg – thing to eat. For example (EG), good (G).
12. Slap-happy – cheerfully irresponsible. Friends (PALS) retired (backwards), in good spirits (HAPPY).
13. Isobel – girl. Anagram (dreadful) of BILE SO.
14. Cannon – shot playing billiards. Homophone (reportedly) of canon.
17. Newmarket – racecourse. Fair (MARKET) on (before) which is fashionable (NEW/latest).
19. Hal – Shakespearean prince. Healthy (HAL)e – not quite – without the last letter.
20. Alcott – she wrote of the March sisters aka Little Women. In rur(AL COTT)age.
21. Miser – someone like Scrooge. Endless grief (MISER)y.
23. Secretaire – writing desk. Hidden (SECRET), a (A), strong passion (IRE). This seems to be a really simple clue to those familiar with secretaires. Sadly I was not amongst those present (but now am).

1. Dandelions – weeds. Anagram (haphazardly) of LAND ON SIDE.
2. Yen – double definition.
3. Artiste – entertainer. Anagram (poorly) of RATES IT.
4. Tartan – cloth with crosscross design. Cutting (TART), a (A), new (N).
5. North – double definition – former PM and point of the compass.
6. At a pinch – if absolutely necessary. Anagram (to be treated) of PAINT, in (IN), church (CH).
9. By and large – on the whole. Anagram (composition) of ANY GARBLED.
11. Goodwill – charity. Thorough (GOOD), legal document (WILL).
15. Attempt – try. A (A), (T)rout, to entice (TEMPT).
16. Skater – on ice? Fish (SKATE), (R)eek.
18. Arose – emerged (from bed). A (A), flower (ROSE).
22. Ski – what can get one to slide. This is an &slit clue where the word-play makes up the definition. Slide (SKI)d endlessly (without the last letter).

19 comments on “Quick Cryptic 526 by Tracy”

  1. There were a few clues where I wondered if some would struggle a bit, the Little Women one for example where I expect many would not know the March reference or the author, and like our blogger I also needed all the checkers to find 23ac. The Shakespearean prince is serving double duty in the main puzzle today. 8 minutes.
  2. I must be getting better at spotting Tracy’s tricks, as this turned out to be an enjoyable 32min puzzle. I vaguely recalled 23ac from watching too many Antiques Roadshows, and I recognised the name in 20ac without really knowing the author. LOI was 11d, with time lost at the wrong end of the clue. Invariant
  3. 40 minutes, which is good for me with a Tracy. My LOI was 14d as I had bunged in ‘escritoire’ for 23a – it fitted all the other checkers – it was only when the “secret’ penny dropped that I managed to finish.
    1. Not just me that went straight for ‘escritoire’ then. I never did unravel the self-inflicted knots that this caused, thus bringing up an unwanted personal milestone – a QC DNF for the first time!
  4. In my head the thing getting people to slide endlessly in 22dn was skin, as in banana skins in cartoons. Perhaps that’s just me though…
  5. I enjoyed this, no real problems. All seemed to slot in quite gently. thank you setter.
  6. Got there in 33 mins. LOI was Tartan. Like others, 23a I did through checkers and assumed it must be a word.
  7. I thought I’d done this, so came here and saw DRY MARTINI before I could avert my eyes and go to the puzzle. But I compensated for that time advantage by being unduly slow, even for me, to spot the hidden at 7ac, very slow in arranging the anagrist at 13ac, and slow in extracting ALCOTT from memory. I also flung in ‘Haymarket’ at 17ac, which did not help matters. Nice to see ‘flower’ actually refer to a flower. 6:59 on the clock, but.
  8. A truly marvellous puzzle today which I found very doable. I was able to complete it on my phone in just 40 minutes over lunch whilst eating Chicken Pad Thai and it might have been even quicker if I’d not had to keep stopping to wipe the noodles and sauce off the screen. I didn’t even “cheat” by checking individual answers before completing the grid. I was lucky to remember that my friend bought a Secretaire 20 years ago, to have a vague recollection of who wrote “Little Women”, and to remember which PM shared his name with a compass point. Just perfectly challenging for this novice and a full 20 minutes faster than I’ve ever done it before. It’ll be a long while before I beat that time!

    Edited at 2016-03-15 06:11 pm (UTC)

      1. Thanks! And thanks as ever for the blog. I don’t know what I’d do without you guys explaining precisely why my answers are right…. or sometimes why they’re not :-/
  9. I thought this was one of Tracy’s gentler offerings but my last two in 4d and 8a held me up a bit at the end. I figured the answer to 4 was Tartan but couldn’t parse it so was dithering. I put it down for five minutes and when I came back it all made sense. 27 minutes in total.
  10. Just goes to show…I’m another for ‘escritoire’ and so a forced error at 18d….thx for the explanation of 8a rarity. Just when things were going well! Now looking forward to tomorrow’s challenge.
  11. A bit late today.I found this easy in parts but like others was held up by certain clues. I thought of escritoire first but happily rejected it; and I knew Secretaire. I struggled with 17a (got the answer,could not parse it-and still not wholly convinced) and 1a which was my LOI. But all done in about 30 minutes. David
  12. Secretaire was not the nail in the coffin today, but IN A PINCH for AT A PINCH we did for me a couple of weeks ago. So this error left me no chance at 8a.

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