Quick Cryptic 664 by Des (blog by Rob Rolfe)

This is Rob Rolfe‘s blog for today as set up in the LJ scheduler where it seems to be due to post late this afternoon. As he is incommunicado this morning and asked me beforehand to keep an eye on things for him I have taken the liberty of retrieving it and am posting it now. He hopes to be back to deal with queries later (jackkt).

Some tough clues for the QC today, with lots of possibly challenging parsing required. 5ac may have stumped a few; 21ac sets the imagination running; and 6d (my COD, clue of the day) required more than some thought. Food of various sorts makes several appearances, as do school French and a relatively obscure Latin word. Just three anagrams, continuing a trend noted last Friday.

Thanks to Des for making us think!

1 Nice, open arrangement for seed-producer (4,4)
PINE CONE – An anagram (arrangement) of ‘Nice, open’. Took me years to realize where the seeds are in a pine cone.
5 That is, I hesitate to say, dross (4)
SCUM – SC (that is) UM…(I hesitate to say) = scum (dross). It may be new to some solvers, but ‘that is’, usually written as i.e. for the Latin id est, can also be given by sc. = scilicet, Latin for ‘namely’ = ‘that is’.
9 Show vicar up — embarrassing initially (5)
REVUE – vicar = REV, up – embarrassing initially = UE. A revue is a funny sketch show, topical and musical, (which may well ‘show up’ vicars or indeed anybody else). There is a continuing discussion on this forum about whether vicars are reverends.
10 Celebrate noisily one being included in catalogue (7)
ROISTER – I included in ROSTER = catalogue. A marvellously old-fashioned word.
11 Some criminal — add in scavengers — finding place with valuables (8,4)
ALADDIN’S CAVE – the phrase is included in the clue, and was not that easy to spot. Was Aladdin a criminal? – you decide.
13 Sources of wood and metal on the coast? (6)
ASHORE – ASH ORE. I have some doubts about this clue. ASH is a wood, not a source of it. ASHORE can easily mean ‘on land’ (think a boat on a river, not near the coast), but the question mark at the end of the clue allows the answer.
15 Cream the French used as accompaniment to cheese? (6)
PICKLE – PICK = cream LE = the in French. Cheese and pickle is a traditional sandwich or, along with crusty bread, the main ingredients of a ‘ploughman’s lunch’.
17 US president’s take on English county (12)
LINCOLNSHIRE – (Abe) LINCOLN’S HIRE = ‘take on’. Lincolnshire is very flat, (apart from its cathedral, which is so prominent it was used as a landmark by returning bomber crews during WW2), and grows lots of cabbages.
20 Italian dish to drop, getting in the way (7)
LASAGNE – More food, this time SAG (drop) in (getting in) LANE (the way).
21 Married female exploited (5)
FUSED – F (female) USED (exploited) – rather an odd way to describe ‘married’, but maybe some couples are joined by melting together.
22 Teddy bears, say, coming in twos? Yes, regularly (4)
TOYS – Definition is ‘Teddy bears, say (= for instance)’, given by ‘TwO’sYeS’, every other letter. And if you’re not singing ‘ If you go down to the woods today…’ you are too focused.
23 Cooperate in drama and dance (4,4)
PLAY BALL – PLAY = drama, BALL = dance, to ‘play ball’ is to cooperate

1 A hairstyle for every month (4)
PERM – PER = for every, each M for month. Are perms still restricted to elderly ladies? Short for ‘permanent wave’.
2 On the way up, left a vehicle connected to ships (5)
NAVAL – L (left) A VAN (vehicle) backwards (on the way up, this being a down clue). From Latin navis – a ship.
3 Cheese feast in English tourist attraction (7,5)
CHEDDAR GORGE – CHEDDAR (the most popular English cheese, 55% of all household cheese purchases) GORGE (feast, or rather eat too much too quickly) gives the very famous limestone feature in the Mendip Hills in Somerset.
4 Fantasy world of eccentric in Aran (6)
NARNIA – An anagram (eccentric) of ‘in Aran’, gives the land through the wardrobe in C.S. Lewis’s wonderful tales. Not the Scottish island Arran, but could be the islands in Galway Bay. However, I’d never heard of the latter, so the surface did not work against me.
6 Stage where Queen, maybe, go missing? (7)
CATWALK – CAT (a queen is a female cat) WALK (go missing). Again the surface may not work, as it’s pretty hard to imagine Queen disappearing.
7 Finished off rearing of French racehorse (8)
MURDERED – backwards (rearing) DE (‘of’ in French) RED RUM, three-time Grand National winner. Definition is ‘finished off’ = MURDERED. Though definitely a horse who won races, RED RUM was a steeplechaser (over jumps). After retirement, he spent a lot of time opening supermarkets, and appeared on the BBC’s Sports Personality of the Year show.
8 It’s most unlike bacon could go up! (4,5,3)
PIGS MIGHT FLY – being generous and assuming no typographical error, ‘unlike’ here is Shakespearean for ‘unlikely’. Clue reminds me of Manuel in ‘Basil the Rat’.
12 American season, note, to fizzle out (4,4)
FALL FLAT – FALL = American for ‘autumn’ FLAT. Some notes of the scale are called flats (they’re the black keys on the piano, and can also be called sharps). However, describing a performed (played or sung) note as ‘flat’ means that is lower in pitch than it should be, and probably discordant.
14 Best policy, perhaps, dispatching the nosy (7)
HONESTY – Anagram (dispatching) of ‘the nosy’, recalling the phrase ‘Honesty is the best policy’. Across the pond they claim that this was coined by Benjamin Franklin, but it was around in sixteenth century Dublin.
16 Poorly in Paris one spring (6)
UNWELL – Definition is ‘Poorly’ = ill. UN (‘one’ in Paris, that is, in French) WELL = spring.
18 Adherent of religion: one elevating a foreign emperor (5)
RASTA – A TSAR backwards (elevating)
19 Hero doing nothing to speak of (4)
IDOL – A homophone (sounds the same) = ‘to speak of’; idle = doing nothing. Bit loose here, ‘idle’ usually means ‘lazy’ rather than ‘doing nothing’, and although an idol may be a hero, they usually aren’t, so maybe a ‘maybe’ or question mark should be in the clue.

26 comments on “Quick Cryptic 664 by Des (blog by Rob Rolfe)”

  1. A slog, although I can’t really remember where all the difficulties lay. I was lucky to have (barely) remembered CHEDDAR GORGE and Red Rum from earlier cryptics. (In at least one part of England, as I recall, the most popular cheese is Ilchester.) No problem with IDOL, or at least ‘idle’: idle hands are the devil’s whatsit, etc. Whether Franklin coined the phrase or not, it is typical of him that he would praise honesty as a ‘policy’. 9:30.
  2. It might have been last night’s roistering? in the Belgian beer cafe but I found this tricky and turned the timer off after an hour.

    Finished in about 2 hours, no cheating but had to check a couple of times using the website function.

    Struggled with 5a, 9a, 10a, 6d, and 7d.

  3. …which is about triple my normal time for the Quicky, so this seemed to be at the tougher end of the spectrum.
    Most of the delay for me was in the NE corner, where I forgot the old “queen = cat” standard.

    Nice puzzle. Thanks Des and Rob.

    BTW Rob, ASH is the tree as well as the wood from the tree, so I think “source of wood” is ok.

  4. Not solved under the best of conditions I needed 14 minutes for this one so my run of uneven solves that started last week is continuing.

    I’ll take Rob’s word re the Shakespearean usage of “unlike” at 8dn, but I suspect he is being generous and what we have here is a misprint for “unlikely”, otherwise the wordplay is surely too obscure for a QC?

  5. I also stumbled over 8d and put it down to a misprint or a glitch on the iPad. I liked the long hidden, and as Rob suggests, had a little difficulty with 5a (LOI). At first I thought it was going to be ERGO, as in ‘er’ for the hesitation and ‘go’ being some obscure synonym for dross, the whole meaning ‘that is’. However, a couple of crossers soon put paid to that mis-guided theory.

    Altogether, a little over 11 minutes and a satisfying solve.

    Edited at 2016-09-23 08:15 am (UTC)

  6. Happy to stay with the Quick Crosswords. This was fun but one of the hardest and only just managed the top right hand corner. My eureka moment was when the checkers enabled me to find catwalk and then I found pickle. My COD was murderer as I had not seen it before.

    Edited at 2016-09-23 09:15 am (UTC)

  7. Well, I’m back by the old-fashioned method, Abingdon to Birmingham in 1h 49mins. Thanks to jack for sorting the TARDIS. Reading the comments, it is a challenge today, I think I was lucky to know scilicet, to like Narnia, and to have seen Red Rum live on TV when he overhauled Crisp to win the National. So it may be that as with ‘educational progress’ , prior knowldge is by far the biggest factor.
  8. This took me 45 minutes, about three times my usual solving time. Good to have a challenge, and learnt some useful new things, such as SC. Let’s hope it comes up again soon so that I can use it before I forget it! Thanks, blogger.
    1. Had to resort to electronic aids for the NE corner (5,6, 7) and suspect I will not be alone in finding that part of the grid extremely difficult. The hard ones seem to be getting just a little bit harder – and that’s the second one this week. Invariant
  9. The redrum /murder clue reminded me of The Shining book and film, where Danny sees the word REDRUM but he is actually seeing MURDER reflected in a mirror
    Nice puzzle and quite hard, hadn’t come across SC for that is before
    1. Haven’t seen that film, but am not convinced that is what would be seen, wouldn’t the Rs and D be back to front? Think of the front of an ambulance.
      1. You’re right, it wasn’t an exact reverse image in the film but close enough to be very creepy in context. I don’t think a mirror was involved.

        Edited at 2016-09-23 01:22 pm (UTC)

  10. A good one. Mostly standard QC fare, with a stinger in the tail in the NE corner, which took me half the solving time. I think all the clues in this corner, by accident or design, were normal cryptic strength.

    Jack says

    “‘that is’, usually written as i.e. for the Latin id est, can also be given by sc. = scilicet, Latin for ‘namely’ = ‘that is’”

    but I’d like to see some evidence of this usage in everyday prose. I think the QC should avoid obscurities.

  11. Wow, this was hard and my first DNF for a while. It didn’t help that I had play fair fro 23ac. Didn’t get 5ac, 6dn or 19dn. A toughie!
  12. I biffed cutback for 6 dn, spending too much time writing about politics. It could fit “go missing” but was at a loss for the queen.

    Definitely the hardest for a while.

  13. This was a hard one. I have never seen SC for “that is”, can someone give a context? Also I don’t see PICK=CREAM or queen=CAT? I’ve been doing the QC for 6 months, and this was one of the hardest. DNF, and glad I gave up when I did.
    1. I agree SC is a bit obscure but is common in cryptic circles so needs to be learnt at some point by those using the QC as a stepping stone to the 15×15. “Cream of the crop” and “pick of the bunch” are interchangeable common expressions. As for the cats, males are toms and females are queens – just one of those things that are useful to know.
  14. Took 20 minutes or so to get all but 5a, 6d and 7d. Then the problems began.
    Tried Ergo for 5a but with no checkers it was difficult. Did not know Scilicet to mean That Is although I have seen the word before. Outback, Cutback and Setback fitted in 6d. And Finished Off at 7d could have led to many answers none of which seemed to fit. I did not initially think it could contain the name of a racehorse.
    Anyway I got there eventually. The breakthrough was 7d. I actually went to see Red Rum at his stables in Southport after one of his victories. We lived nearby at the time. Tough puzzle. David
  15. Ooh, this was tough and a DNF. Thanks to Rob and jackkt for detailed blog and comments. SC = that is, new for me but now I know it. Also fused was a stretch so I didn’t get that one. Didn’t like ‘unlike’ in 8d and think it must be a misprint for unlikely, didn’t get this one either as the clue didn’t make any sort of sense to me! This was not a puzzle I enjoyed sadly.
  16. I was another who was defeated by the NE corner. Eventually gave up with 5, 6, 7 and 15 unsolved – the only one I’ m disappointed about was 15 which I should have got, the rest I’ll consider educational.
    Thought the rest of the puzzle was excellent.
  17. I was another who was defeated by the NE corner. Eventually gave up with 5, 6, 7 and 15 unsolved – the only one I’ m disappointed about was 15 which I should have got, the rest I’ll consider educational.
    Thought the rest of the puzzle was excellent.
  18. Wow, got to agree hard one, hubby (a newbie) and I took 90 mins and still DNF. NE corner a nightmare also 10a and 18d. 3d made me chuckle and probably my COD closely run by 15a.
    Thanks for the puzzle, Des and for the blog Rob Rolfe
  19. Also defeated by 6 down. I concluded that a deck (stage) of cards missing a Queen could be a cutpack.
  20. New to this ! Been doing the TQC for about a year all told. Normally takes a few hours or sometimes a DNF. Find it best when frustrated to leave it and come back later. Answers then can jump out at you (or not as the case may be!) Friday’s was really difficult for me and I’ve just finished it on Saturday afternoon with I think a justifiable sense of achievement. COD for this has to be 18D with its clever wording- a Tsar upwards and Rastas’ worship of the late emperor Haile Selassie. Give me another hundred years and I might be able to catch up with those who finish TQC in 15 minutes. Thanks to all for this valuable resource.

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