Quick Cryptic 625 by Teazel

Posted on Categories Quick Cryptic
This puzzle had a slightly odd feel, being generally of average difficulty but shot through with more than a few potential pitfalls in the shape of uncommon bits of vocab such as 14A, 2D, 17D, and 21D. The second meaning of 20A might also not be familiar to all and it’s even possible that the cricket knowledge required for 10A might have eluded some. So overall I’d say this was a reet gradely Yorkshire Day challenge. Thanks, Teazel.

The puzzle can be found here if the usual channels are unavailable: http://feeds.thetimes.co.uk/puzzles/crossword/20160801/17507/

Definitions are underlined.

1 Space traveller given nothing to wake up (4,2)
COME TOCOMET (Space traveller) + O (nothing)
4 Closely follow pig, tricked to go inside (6)
SHADOWSOW (pig) with HAD (tricked) inside
9 Scare in spilling poison (7)
ARSENIC – anagram of (spilling) SCARE IN, for Agatha Christie’s favourite poison
10 Batsman’s total; made with five boundaries? (5)
SCORE – a boundary in cricket is either a four or a six, and five fours would make 20, which is another meaning of SCORE
11 Manage to sustain one collapse (4)
RUINRUN (Manage) around (to sustain) I (one)
12 Second weapon demanding attention (8)
STRIDENTS (Second) + TRIDENT (weapon – take your pick from either Poseidon/Neptune’s three-pronged spear or the slightly more dangerous modern-day ballistic missile)
14 Swiss pop groups in strips of linen (6,5)
GENEVA BANDSGENEVA (Swiss) + BANDS (pop groups). Never heard of these, and a bit of Googling suggests that they have never appeared in any of the main daily cryptics since blogs began. Chambers: “The two strips of white linen hanging down from the neck of some clerical robes”. Award yourself a triangle of Toblerone if you can name 5 or more Swiss pop groups.
18 Run through new canteen doorway (8)
ENTRANCER (Run) in (through) anagram of (new) CANTEEN
20 Scary film talks (4)
JAWS – double definition, the former referring to the Spielberg shark film, the second (Chambers): “A long talk or lecture (informal)”
22 Man shortly dressing formally (5)
ROBINROBIN{g} (shortly dressing formally, i.e. the word “robing” without its last letter)
23 Roosevelt offered this fresh round of cards (3,4)
NEW DEAL – a fresh round of cards would be a NEW DEAL. The definition refers to (Chambers): “Franklin D Roosevelt’s policies for prosperity and social improvement in the United States, 1933-40”
24 Make fun of staff breaking into earnings (6)
PARODYROD (staff) in (breaking into) PAY (earnings)
25 Nervous, being nowhere near the centre (2,4)
ON EDGE – a literal interpretation of the figurative expression
1 Presides over academic posts (6)
CHAIRS – double definition
2 Service I have to give street gang (7)
MASSIVEMASS (Service) + I’VE (I have). Chambers: “(slang) A gang, esp a street gang”. Google suggests that Ali G’s West Staines Massive is going to be the most familiar usage to people in the UK, but how much that audience overlaps with that of the Quick Cryptic I’m intrigued to find out. It did crop up in a Telegraph puzzle last year and caused quite a lot of comment.
3 Cistern is to fail expensively? (4)
TANK – double definition, one a noun and one a verb. Chambers describes the second as US informal.
5 Pilot has crashed, ending up here? (8)
HOSPITAL – anagram of (crashed) PILOT HAS
6 Finished crossing river in aircraft (5)
DRONEDONE (Finished) around (crossing) R (river)
7 Flowery tribute, recollecting the war (6)
WREATH – anagram of (recollecting) THE WAR
8 Mark an attractive way of speaking (5,6)
ACUTE ACCENTA (an) + CUTE (attractive) + ACCENT (way of speaking). This was clued similarly last week in Quicky 622, though with a more helpful definition.
13 Kept back to be given new teaching: not right (8)
RETAINEDRET{r}AINED (to be given new teaching: not right, i.e. the word “retrained” (to be given new teaching) but without one of the letter r’s (right))
15 Precise purpose, but no prospect of progress here (4,3)
DEAD ENDDEAD (Precise) + END (purpose)
16 On tour, the French abandon restraint (3,3)
LET RIPLE (the French, i.e. a word for “the” in French) on TRIP (tour)
17 Tristan’s lover, one deceived by English (6)
ISOLDEI (one) + SOLD (deceived) + E (English). Tristan and Isolde are characters from an old Celtic legend – the legend has inspired numerous creative types over the years, not least Richard Wagner and his opera Tristan und Isolde. My commiserations if you’ve never heard of the lady, as this isn’t the most obvious wordplay.
19 River bank hides opening of burrow (5)
TIBERTIER (bank ) around (hides) B (opening of burrow, i.e. the first letter of the word “burrow”), for the river that perhaps most famously flows through Rome
21 Country lover avoids one bird (4)
SWANSWA{i}N (Country lover avoids one, i.e. the word “swain” (Country lover) without the letter I (one)). For swain, Chambers has “poetic, often ironic; also archaic 1. A young man, 2. A peasant or rustic, 3. A lover or suitor”, Collins has “archaic or poetic 1. a male lover or admirer, 2. a country youth”, and Oxford has “1. (literary) a young lover or suitor, 2. (archaic) a country youth”, so “Country lover” seems to be combining two meanings. I’m not too bothered about that as it’s arguably quite helpful but, as I commented just over a year ago when we had swain clued simply via lover, I think some indication of its poetic/archaic nature might have been appropriate. Having said that, even avid ornithologists equipped with a x100 spotting scope will struggle to find many birds fitting ?W?N.

16 comments on “Quick Cryptic 625 by Teazel”

  1. A couple of what struck me as gimmes (23ac, 17d, 21d), and a couple of non-Quickie types, as Mohn mentions: 14ac (never heard of), 2d (ditto). I entered SWAN without hesitation, but Mohn’s right that the two defs are being merged. Having said that, I do associate swains with country lovers somehow. My LOI was JAWS; I was thinking of horror movies for the longest time before seeing the light. 6:41.
  2. I managed to make a few mistakes today. DROVE for 6d, there is a Dove aircraft, so ‘river in aircraft’, meaning finished crossing which I felt was pretty good. For 22a I had ROBED, for ‘dressing formally’, thinking there must be a word for ‘man’ of which this was the latter part. Finally ‘SAYS’ for 20a, ‘talks’, and then maybe a film called ‘yass’ with ‘scary’ as the anagrind.
    But got ISOLDE.
    1. ?A?S is a horrible set of letters, as there are (per Chambers) 199 valid words that fit the pattern, and that’s not including non-dictionary words such as place names, etc. And within those there are several words meaning talks, such as says, gabs, yaks, etc. One of those clues that you either see immediately or take forever over. However one thing to bear in mind is that the Times very, very rarely uses indirect anagrams (which your YASS parsing would require).

      Though the thinking behind DROVE is creative, it’s a bit of a push for it to be a definition of “Finished” or “Finished crossing”, and the Dove aircraft is possibly a little obscure for the Times. As you get more experience with puzzles in the Times, you’ll notice that certain subjects are fair game for any old random answer (such as Biblical figures, literature, classical music, etc) and certain subjects are kept very much at arm’s length (e.g. football, popular culture, science (only half-joking here …), etc) – I think aircraft fall into the latter category.

  3. GENEVA BANDS also unknown here. I was pleased to scrape home on the dot of 10 minutes but on closer examination I found I was still missing 20ac and I needed another 2 minutes for an alphabet run in order to come up with JAWS. The second definition(talks) will not be unfamiliar to those who remember Churchill’s famous quotation “Jaw jaw is better than war war”.

    Edited at 2016-08-01 04:45 am (UTC)

  4. Thought I was getting the hang of these but found this very challenging!!
    MASSIVE lack of knowledge of GENEVA BANDS but I was acquainted with ISOLDE and her SWAIN !!!!
    Thanks for the blogs I wouldn’t still be doing the QC without them!! Some days I can even manage the real Cryptic!!
    Time terrible 47 minutes but at least I did it !!

    Fiona P

    1. Keep it up, Fiona! It gets easier; it really does. And more enjoyable as it does. I started doing these about 8 years ago, and I stank; I mean, stank. Slogging away regularly, and reading this blog, made the difference.
  5. A DNF as I opened the blog having biffed MASSIVE only to find I had missed 20a.
    Right at the difficult end for me. DNK 2d or 14a , It is very rare to have 2 complete DNKs in the quicky. COD 5d. Thanks blogger for explaining my DNKs and Teazel for a tough start to the week.
  6. JAWS had me ON EDGE, and continues to do so. Dnk GENEVA BANDS, and agree some GK needed today. 6’53”, thanks mohn and Teazel.
  7. According to Mark Kermode, JAWS is not about a shark, it is about infidelity.
    Tough crossword today, had to ask Mr Google if such a thing as Geneva Bands existed.
  8. I found this relatively straightforward and completed it in 17 minutes, but historically I do seem to be on Teazel’s wavelength. Having said that I missed the parsing of 10a. I solved this one from the bottom up with LOI 2d as I did need all the checkers. Like others I hadn’t heard of 14a but the cluing was quite generous. COD 10a – now I understand it, thanks mohn
  9. Fun start to the week. Smiled to see MASSIVE as a clue. Also ACUTE ACCENT returning so soon after its last appearance made it much easier this time around. GENEVA BANDS new to me but gettable from clue. After finishing I Googled and it appears that there is also a Scotish rock group called GENEVA BAND. Last in with a big groan was JAWS. Thanks yo Teazel and for the blog.
  10. I’m starting a new rating system for myself after last week’s discussion of ‘times’, and today was a pre-Surbiton (roughly equivalent to inside 10 minutes), as I had made a reasonable start on the 15 x 15 by the time the rattler pulled in to the said station.

    All the same comments here as above – DNK GB, but guessable from the clue, and LOI JAWS.

  11. Stopped after 25 minutes with quite a few left.
    Returning, my last two were 13d and 14a. LOI was 14a with all the checkers. I plumped for Helena (assumed she might be Swiss) Bands, so I got one wrong; something learnt.
    Many of the comments refer to GK, but 14a is not GK in my opinion. Perhaps Swiss was enough of a clue for Geneva. Should we say Obscure Knowledge?
    I shall now continue my struggle with the Saturday crossword as it’s raining hard outside. David
    1. I think when people refer to GK that they often just mean knowledge rather than implying that it’s general (in the sense of common) knowledge. Not knowing a particular word is not necessarily a bar to getting the right answer, as long as the wordplay can also guide you to it. It seems as though this was how many of the above solvers landed on GENEVA BANDS – unfortunately not you this time, but I hope that on reflection you would agree that the wordplay wasn’t completely impenetrable. Trusting in the wordplay for words that you don’t know is something that will come with experience, even if it may seem somehow unsatisfactory.

      Obscurity is usually defined on crossword forums as a function of the solver – if you know the word, it’s not obscure, and if you don’t know it then it IS obscure. However, to me, obscurity implies something between the two (but closer to the “don’t know” end of the spectrum), which then requires a statistical underpinning in order to have any proper meaning, i.e. if x% of a demographic Y have not heard of a word, then it can be said to be obscure. All that’s then left to define is what should the value of x be (5 or 10, maybe?) and what should the demographic Y be (all human beings, all English speakers, all English-speaking crossword solvers, etc).

      Obviously, actually carrying out such an analysis is logistically difficult so a rule of thumb I often use is: does the word have less than 100,000 Google hits? If so, I will tend to be happy for it to be considered as obscure. If I Google “geneva bands”, I get a mere 2,870 results, which to my mind definitely puts it in the obscure category. Of course there are caveats to this approach, but it does give some context when faced with comments of the form “Oh, I can’t believe people are saying that NOWIKOLSKI is obscure – he’s a legend in nose-flute circles!” (Sorry – just realised how much I’ve rambled on.)

  12. I also had Robed for 22ac, until I got 13dn as retained.
    No problems with Da Massive, Jaws or Isolde but dnk Geneva Bands.

    Reasonably tricky today, 30 minutes for me.

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