Quick Cryptic 621 by Orpheus

I thought this was excellent – quite a few trip-ups to catch the unwary and certain clues needed a real focus to break through. There’s also a French wine and an Italian island – so I would say this was on the harder side today (17 minutes for me). I’ve said much the same before only for people to come along and say it was easy – so I make a caveat in the comment of 1dn.


8. History – background. Fellow’s (HIS), TORY.
9. Naomi – girl. I MOAN backwards.
10. Claim – contention. ‘I’ tucked into CLAM.
11. Address – speak to. Daughter (D) in A DRESS.
12. Stevenson – author. Essayi(ST EVEN SO N)ot.
14. Tip – advice. (PIT)t backwards.
16. Tub – clumsy boat. Underground (TUB)e – missing European (E).
18. Treasurer – double definition.
19. Spaniel – dog. That is (IE) left (L) by (next to/after) bridge (SPAN).
22. Flask – something to put a fluid in. Fluid (FL – I haven’t seen this abbreviation before), request (ASK).
23. Ounce – double definition. The ‘surprisingly’ makes the clue scan as well as being a humorous comment.
24. Seattle – Washington city. SETTLE outside A.


1. Thickset – stocky. Slow witted (THICK – possibly describes my performance today), group (SET).
2. Estate – landed property. East (E), say (STATE). ‘Say’ is usually a homophone indicator.
3. Boom – nautical spar. The opposite to bust in ‘boom and bust’. Good deception here – ‘be bust’ has anagram indicator written all over it following a 4 letter word.
4. Bypass – ring road. Donkey riders travel BY ASS around quiet (P).
5. Anodynes – painkillers. Anagram (unfortunately) of YES AND NO.
6. Covert – secret. Deliveries in cricket (OVER) inside court (CT).
7. Hiss – sound of snake. IS inside husband (H) and son (S).
13. Entailed – unavoidably involved. Dog (TAIL) inside an anagram (terrible) of NEED. ‘Entwined’ was itching to be biffed here.
15. Parakeet – bird. A garden implement (A RAKE) inside pet (PET). Using ‘pet’ neat, so to speak, fooled me. I was casting around for synonyms.
17. Beaune – red wine from a district in eastern France near Dijon. I know the wine but this was still LOI because it took too long to focus on ‘they say’ and so start work on the homophone. Homophone (they say) of ‘bone’ – which a spaniel may enjoy.
19. Enlist – sign up. Learner (L) an is (IS – another word from the clue going straight into the answer), inside hospital department (ENT).
20. Rialto – Venetian island. Anagram (recollected) of TAILOR. I don’t know of the island but it was pretty clear that there was an anagram so it was a case of fitting the letters together in a reasonable manner and then I realised I had heard of Rialto.
21. Stop – an organist may draw it out. Hymn(S TO P)lay.
22. Flat – double definition.

16 comments on “Quick Cryptic 621 by Orpheus”

  1. I’d agree it was a bit more difficult than average. It took me 30 mins and I had to look up Beaune – a wine I have never heard of or drunk!

    I found it slow to start, partly due to having heavy set instead of thick set at 1dn. But the rose-ringed parakeet on the bird feeder provided inspiration,, and once I realised my mistake, it came together quite nicely

    I did know Rialto but didn’t think of it as an island. I also didn’t know “tail” for dog, but it was gettable from the across clues.

    Thanks to Orpheus and Chris W

  2. Agree with Jack, last four have been more difficult. 4 straight DNFs, after a long run of good times. I don’t mind, as the ones I missed all seem fair. Today, I considered BEAUNE, but was not confident enough to look it up as I was not convinced about OUNCE, and I still don’t see the second definition.
    And, I maintain that ENTWINED is a better, more poetic answer to ‘unavoidably involved’, with TWIN for ‘dog’. I was betting it could be a fictitious dog (like Snowy), an obscure breed, a nickname etc. Never occurred to me I might have this one wrong.

    I’m going to introduce a good friend, who is smart and loves language, to cryptics. Any ideas in best way to do that?

    1. I just read a book called ‘Pretty Girl in Crimson Rose (8)’ by Sandy Balfour, a memoir to his growing love of crosswords. It’s more about the Guardian, but has some lovely clues.
      But just working through the quick cryptic together would be a good start, that’s how I learnt on the SMH crossword with a kind friend.

    2. Buy him a copy of Brian Greer’s superb little paperback ‘How To Do The Times Crossword’ (cheap as chips secondhand on Amazon). It worked for me – from complete novice two years ago to 8.07 for this today
    3. There is a big cat called an ounce (no I didn’t know either)
      I also got stuck on dog and tail, but they work ok as verbs (ie to assiuously follow)

      When QC 1 came out there was a very good introduction to cryptic crosswords which could probably be googled. Also Metro (which is free!) has a cryptic of similar difficulty to QC, but with slightly less obscure words as the answers

      Edited at 2016-07-26 08:33 pm (UTC)

  3. Tricky. Had seen ounce here before, or possibly in the main. Once I got the wine, it had to be, though.

    Thanks blogger and Orpheus, enjoyed this.

  4. 12 minutes.

    We’ve had a run of four more difficult puzzles now, going by my solving times that is (other opinions are available) and there I was late yesterday trying to console some anon contributors to the QC blog who were feeling downcast by their lack of success recently. The level of difficulty varies from day to day, I said, and tomorrow’s setter is usually one of the easier ones. I am starting to think myself now that we need a bit more variety.

  5. You’ll find fl for fluid in recipes and on measuring jugs, usually in fl. oz. (fluid ounces). It’s definitely worth remembering.
  6. I had a DNF today with three in thr NW corner, with more unknown words and visits to the dictionary than usual. No complaints though, if you want difficult try todays 15×15. I got half of yesterday’s, zero today.
    As for beginners, my advice would be not to give up too soon. I started with the QC just over a year ago and my progress was anything but steady. I was stuck on 4 or 5 for weeks, then on half way for months, then suddenly finishimg in about an hour, then a jump to my present 30 minutes (apart from the last few days).
  7. I drink wine, I buy red wine from the supermarket, but only dragged it up from the memory banks after some minutes, the source being other crosswords – a bit tough for the QC I thought. How much does a snow leopard weigh? That is a nice clue. COD 4d, v. good. Thanks chris and Orpheus.
  8. I managed to keep going today on what was quite a tricky puzzle. 17 minutes to complete it, writing in Ounce hopefully for 23 as my LOI. I did not know/ could not remember the big cat meaning but nothing else seemed to fit.
    I thought 17d very clever but I needed the dog first. COD -3d. David
  9. I’d say you’d be able to explain most things to your friend but there are guides that explain how all the clue types work eg Don Manley’s Chambers Crossword Manual. If I’d to give one solving tip, it would be to ignore completely the surface reading and try to see where the split between definition part and wordplay part is.
    1. I agree entirely with anon @01:46, but maybe go back and re-read the clues after solving to appreciate the quality. I’m afraid I often lose out on this aspect unless someone in forum points it out.

      Edited at 2016-07-26 01:12 pm (UTC)

  10. Struggled badly with the NW corner (2,3,8) and needed two sittings to finish this. I had come across Ounce before, but of course had forgotten it in the meantime, so just biffed the answer as a weight. We do seem to be in quite a run of difficult QCs at the moment. Invariant
  11. DNF for me today, defeated by 17d – never heard of it. Thought the crossword as a whole was excellent and particularly enjoyed 4d. 5d and 20d were also unknown but were more solvable due to their being anagrams.

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