Quick Cryptic 639 by Teazel

Morning all, hope you enjoyed this Quickie, which I think was of average difficulty.

I usually rely on anagrams to get a foothold, and there are only two in this puzzle.  On the other hand there are no real obscurities, except perhaps the Bishop’s headgear, which I think I only knew from previous crosswords.  It helps to know your churchy stuff in Crosswordland, along with cricket, plants and musical terms.

So thanks Teazel, and away we go.  Clues are reproduced in blue, with the definition underlined.  Anagram indicators are bolded and italicised.  Then there’s the answer IN BOLD, followed by the parsing of the wordplay.

1 Steal and secure point for card game (8)
CRIBBAGE – CRIB (steal) + BAG (secure) + E (point)
5 Washington holds one’s record (4)
DISC – DC (Washington) “holds” IS (one’s)
8 Doctor I caught beside the sea (5)
MEDIC – I + C (caught) beside MED (the sea)
9 Attire prepared to be put on bishop (7)
BIRETTA – B (bishop) + (ATTIRE)*
The clue only really works as an &LIT (ie a clue where the definition and the wordplay are one and the same).
11 Acting as judge, avoid easy target (7,4)
SITTING DUCK – SITTING (acting as judge) + DUCK (avoid)
13 Academics receiving old copies for checking (6)
PROOFS – PROFS (academics) “receiving” O (old)
14 Douse female sheep (6)
WETHER – WET (douse) + HER (female)
16 Purpose of being in France? (6,5)
RAISON D’ETRE – Just a translation
18 Letter showing way inside English mansion (7)
EPISTLE – ST (street, or way) inside E (English) + PILE (mansion)
19 Agent almost penniless (5)
BROKE – BROKE{R} (agent)
20 Draught animal loaded with last of burden to pull (4)
YANK – YAK (draught animal) “loaded with” N (last of burden)
21 Guardian to put off admitting purpose (8)
DEFENDER – DEFER (put off) “admitting” END (purpose)
1 Search for honey (4)
COMB – Double def
Ok, honey is stored in a comb (or honeycomb), but does that make comb synonymous with honey?  Someone will undoubtedly unearth a usage or definition that supports the setter.  These guys rarely get it wrong.
2 Being unwell at home, Sid is upset with situation (13)
INDISPOSITION – IN (at home) + DIS (Sid upset) + POSITION (situation)
3 Revisiting war zone the wrong way round (4,2,5)
BACK TO FRONT – Double def, the first one slightly cryptic
4 Almost to lose sight creates unpleasant spirit (6)
GOBLIN – GO BLIN{D} (lose sight)
So what’s a goblin then? All explained here.
6 Doubt the flirt is bad, to be honest (2,5,2,4)
7 Crazy for biscuits (8)
CRACKERS – Double def
10 Resistance bird’s shown on feeding station is to be deplored (11)
REGRETTABLE – R (Resistance) + EGRET (bird) + TABLE (feeding station)
12 Boxes, see, so thinly scattered? (8)
SPARSELY – SPARS (boxes) + ELY (see)
Don’t know where ELY is, don’t know much about Sees, but in Crosswordland, See=ELY.  Most of the time.
15 Stick notice on present (6)
ADHERE – AD (notice) + HERE (present)
17 Perhaps first-born‘s voice heard (4)
HEIR Homophone (heard) for air (voice)
As in to air an opinion.

27 comments on “Quick Cryptic 639 by Teazel”

  1. Made unnecessarily heavy weather of a couple of these, like 9ac, where I looked (in vain) for something meaning ‘prepared’ to go after B. Didn’t think anything of COMB, just flung it in; I suspect the usual references will justify our setter. I suppose we’ve had apostrophes in solutions before, but it’s always a nuisance–unavoidable, mind you; I definitely don’t believe they should be indicated in the enumeration. 6:25.
  2. A decent Friday all round 7.39 with 14ac WETHER LOI

    I agree 1dn COMB is hardly synonymous with honey

    Chambers – an aggregation of cells for honey.

    So the answer is no! Comb is comb and honey is honey.


    So it’s Spanish sweet chestnut honey for breakfast!

    horryd Shanghai

  3. I’d agree with the negative comments about 3dn (honeycomb is made of wax) assuming that it’s intended as a double definition, but it could be viewed as a straight definition (search for) with a cryptic hint, in which case I’d say it’s fair enough.

    I also think perhaps a few more clues may give trouble to newer solvers. BIRETTA has already been mentioned but there’s WETHER too which may not be known (it’s a male, btw, so there’s nice misdirection in the wordplay), and CRIBBAGE which is usually abbreviated to “crib” and out of fashion or declining in popularity for years so younger people may not know it. Then there’s the French answer which one might say is as English as roast beef by now but those who have not studied the language may not know how to spell it in which case there’s no helpful wordplay for guidance, and as was mentioned in the blog it’s simply a translation so not a typical cryptic crossword clue which usually gives two ways to the answer.

    17dn and 14dn were the two that added and extra 2 minutes to my solving time making 9 minutes in total.

    Edited at 2016-08-19 06:04 am (UTC)

    1. Thanks Jack, some good points. In the same sense that Inuit people apparently have a hundred different words for “ice”, it never crossed my mind as an Australian that WETHER might be an obscure term!
  4. Found this hard going – came in at 24 mins. Got held up on 9a (which I DNK, but came down to an educated guess between biretta and beritta) and being slow on 17d.
  5. Some harsh comments I thought on what was for me a fairly straightforward offering, although I had never heard of wether and biretta had to be dragged from the recesses of my mind.
    I am quite happy with comb for honey. indeed honey is frequently sold in combs. never occurred to me that cribbage was particularly obscure either. But that may have to do with the hours I spent playing it with a fellow addict at university.
    Raison d’etre seems to me a perfectly normal anglicised phrase requiring no more knowledge of French than say hotel or charabanc.
    Anyway setter, I enjoyed it so thank you.
  6. What an excellent QC today! All sorts of clues, a prime example of the setter’s art. FOI SITTING DUCK, LOI HEIR – am still not sure how I’d pronounce it, not a word that most people ever use. WETHER is a great word, more familiar in the UK as part of BELL-WETHER, even if people may not know its literal meaning. Agree COMB is not honey, however, the double definition is ‘search’ and ‘for honey’, which works. I couldn’t do this, however, for 5ac. Washington is not DC, but in DC, the two often said together to distinguish it from the state on the other side of the continent. Super puzzle, came in at just under five minutes. Thanks galspray and Teazel.
    1. Rob, I considered “for honey” as the second definition but I couldn’t get it to work, not convincingly anyway. What am I missing?
      1. Perhaps in the same way that ‘for bees’ may be ‘hive’, ‘for honey’ may be ‘comb’. Definition may not be the right word. I have further learned that before honey was extracted from hives and put into glass jars, the honey produced was always used as ‘comb honey’, i.e. the comb and honey combined, so maybe ‘comb’ is a type of honey after all?
  7. Mostly ok with some tricky stuff too. Had to work for WETHER and HEIR. I really liked the all-one-clue for BIRETTA. Thanks to Galspray and Teazel.

    Edited at 2016-08-19 11:48 am (UTC)

  8. I’d never heard of WETHER either and ended with a DNF as I missed the wordplay completely. Was very surprised that 16a was as simple as it was – not what I would call cryptic.
  9. I found this one very difficult but was very pleased to finish it. It took me over 45 minutes after getting just one first time through, with each clue a separate struggle. I don’t think I would have got half way through this a few months ago so my thanks to all the bloggers for their help.
  10. Enjoyed this as it was tricky but yielded to repeated brain application! But couldn’t crack 17dn so a DNF for me although on seeing the answer I should have tried one more application of brain and I should have got there.
      1. boxers training against each other are said to be sparring and hence spars as the participle
  11. I finished this quite quickly but was uncertain about a few answers. DNK Wether , nor Biretta (except as a beer I think), but got both thanks to the cluing. Was unsure about Heir.
    So thanks to the blogger for the parsing. No problem with Comb; rather good I thought. David
  12. Loved this one as it has lots of misdirection and some odd uses of words to further confuse. Somehow I wrote in 6dn ending in B! I was sure 21a was defender but eventually plumped for remember…..do I count this as a dnf or put down to a silly mistake? I’ll decide that over an Irish whiskey later on tonight. Been a tricky week for me feeling well below par so nice to get it together for a Teazel finish. Thx setter and blogger too
  13. DNF for me today, I got completely lost on 17d,the answer to which seems obvious now. DNK 9a but made an educated guess once checkers were in place and also had not heard of 14a but managed to work it out once I’d stopped looking for a word for douse beginning with f.
    Personally I had no problem with 1d. COD 4d
  14. It’s true that “comb honey” exists and even has its own Wiki page but for a synonym to work for crossword purposes it really needs to be documented in one of the usual sources, which it isn’t. I’ve no problem with the clue as such, but I still have some misgivings whether it’s correct to classify it as a double definition, a small distinction that’s probably of no interest to 99.99% of solvers.

    None of this, nor my comments above about the relative difficulty of clues were intended as criticism, merely points for possible discussion as that’s what TftT is here for. Its raison d’être, so to speak.

    Edited at 2016-08-19 07:16 pm (UTC)

  15. I also found some of the clues a bit dubious, but still got them all except biretta eventually, I have no real interest in religion or other fairy tales. Speaking of which goblins are flesh and blood in all of the mythologies in which they exist, they are certainly not spirits. Also only got wether because of the parsing, and comb because it does mean search, and the association with honey is clear, even if it is not a definition.
  16. Loved this one as it has lots of misdirection and some odd uses of words to further confuse. Somehow I wrote in 6dn ending in B! I was sure 21a was defender but eventually plumped for remember…..do I count this as a dnf or put down to a silly mistake? I’ll decide that over an Irish whiskey later on tonight. Been a tricky week for me feeling well below par so nice to get it together for a Teazel finish. Thx setter and blogger too

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