Quick Cryptic 681 by Tracy

This all flowed quite smoothly and enjoyably with some lovely wordplay/surfaces until I reached the bottom section where 15dn, 21 and 22ac caused me some ‘quality thinking time’. Having eventually overcome these challenges, I found my time of 14 minutes to be less than it seemed.
I’m travelling all day today but I’m certain there will be willing volunteers to answer any questions. I’ll get round to any typos later.


1. Basic – simple. When (AS) covered by writer (BIC). The biro people launched their first ballpoint pen, BIC®Cristal®, more than 60 years ago.
4. Thirsty – keen. Number (THIRTY) carrying spades (S).
8. Isolate – quarantine. Gets delayed (IS LATE) with duck (O) put in.
9. Prior – earlier. Monastery (PRIORy) is incomplete.
10. Take a shine to – develop a liking for. Anagram (battered) of HAKE AT ONE ITS.
12. Laxity – slackness. The French (LA), eleven (XI), (T)urke(Y).
13. Embers – remains of fire. First to be put out (remove the first letter of) associates (mEMBERS).
16. Charing Cross – London station. Circle (RING), displeased (CROSS) are after tea (CHA).
18. Genus – group. Information (GEN), us (US).
20. Theatre – place for drama. Anagram (broadcast) of AT THREE.
21. Eyewash – piffle. The first of my banana skins – ‘eyewash’ didn’t occur and I was looking for a homophone of the whole clue. Homophone (heard) of I (EYE), was (WAS), hard (H).
22. Knead – massage. Anagram (invalid) of NAKED. Easy when you get the definition and anagram indicator the right way round.


1. Bristol – city. Anagram (new) of BISTRO, (L)arge.
2. Stock Exchange – market. Old (EX) and money (CHANGE) in support of cattle (STOCK).
3. Character – double definition.
4. The Who – group (my favourite many years ago). Article (THE) on World Health Organisation (WHO).
5. Imp – mischievous child. In Blenhe(IM P)alace.
6. Spin the bottle – a party game in which several players sit/stand/kneel in a circle. A bottle is placed on the floor in the center of the circle. A player spins the bottle, and must kiss the person to whom the bottle points when it stops spinning. Look what I missed out on when I was listening to The Who! Female (SHE) swallowing measure of beer (PINT), courage (BOTTLE).
7. Yard – quadrangle. Nice lead on from the previous clue – brewery wagon (DRAY) overturned.
11. Namecheck – specific mention. Celebrity (NAME) prior to arrest (CHECK).
14. Suspend – delay. COD for the word play – South (S), American (US), writer (PEN – possibly a BIC), with daughter (D).
15. Snatch – bit – as in a snatch of a song – Mikado – ‘of ballads, songs and snatches – and dreamy lullaby’. The at (AT) church (CH) but was easy but what was the SN=tin all about – took too long to realise it was the chemical symbol.
17. Ogre – giant in fairytale. Therefore (ERGO) turned up.
19. Spa – health resort. The interval or distance between to points such as the ends of a bridge (SPAn) – without the last letter as it’s a short interval.

16 comments on “Quick Cryptic 681 by Tracy”

  1. ‘The French’ is usually LE, so it was good to see a LA to keep one on one’s toes. I spent some time at 14d trying to think of South American writers until the penny dropped. 22ac a lovely surface. 6:18.
  2. 10 minutes, but one of those was as a result of initially putting “dray” instead of YARD at 7dn. I also mis-parsed 15dn whilst solving as I took SNATCH as another name for the “bit” as in horse tack. I may have been thinking of a “snaffle” although according to google it seems common enough for misbehaving horses to be said to be snatching at their bit. I believe nowadays SPIN THE BOTTLE is somewhat more risqué than might appear from our blogger’s description.
  3. 49 mins, but spent quite a long time on 21a eyewash until I had been through pretty much every alphabetical combination.

    Other two that held me up were 4a thirsty and 7d yard, I biffed yard and realized the association with a quadrangle later.

    Wasn’t sure of the parsing for 6d spin the bottle and 19d spa, so thanks for the blog!

    Edited at 2016-10-18 05:42 am (UTC)

  4. Thought I’d finished this within half an hour, but I mistakenly put in INATCH for 15dn – tIN AT Church – thinking it was a merely a word I had never heard of, as if often the case in these crosswords. Seems this was the hardest clue of the day, so quite happy to have completed the rest. Spent an age at 8ac looking for a word for delayed. Gribb.
  5. Average time for me, but thought this was hard for a QC. While ‘biro’ may have become a generic word for a ballpoint pen, the same is not true of BIC, and it remains a trademark, is that allowed in the QC? EYEWASH excellent. I too got SNATCH from horses, but could also parse it in other ways. CHARACTER very good. The surface of 6d is extraordinarily good, unfortunately passed me by at the time. Thanks chris and Tracy.
    1. “un Bic” is the French equivalent of “a biro”. Bic being a French company.
  6. Rattled through this (for Tracy) in 24 mins until I came to a dead stop with just 21ac remaining. Kept on going through the alphabet but couldn’t see it and disappointingly had to resort to electronic aids. Some very nice surfaces, but the simplicity of 3d made it my favourite today. Invariant
  7. I found this the easiest for quite a while, although I didn’t parse Snatch or Spa. Thought character was very neat. Enjoyable run out, so thanks to setter and blogger.
  8. I’m with Rob on this as it was slightly tougher than most QCs

    re – 6dn more risque Jack? Pray tell.

    COD 21ac EYEWASH


    And thank-you Chris for using the charming English expression ‘anagram indicator’.

    NtN please take note!

    1. Yes – I would also like we hear more from Jackkt on the subject – but I’m not holding out much hope.
      All your comments are much appreciated. In reply to bloggers styles/terminology, and in defence of my friend NtN (and most of the 15×15 bloggers), if you’d like to have a go yourself (you’re very welcome to every other Tuesday) then you’ll realise that you can’t please all the people all the time and, as you’re doing it for free, in your own time, you should be able to do it anyway you like. Maybe I’ll try it in Japanese one day!
      1. Chris, I am a setter myself I know how tough it is given the time element etc for Joe Bloggs & Co.

        However, if everyone’s comment ended with – ‘well done setter and blogger’ – life would be cheerier but somewhat more anodyne. Praise where it is due. I recently suggested The Rotter should be raised to blog the 15×15.

        I am far too busy presently to attempt any further activity.

        I wish you well with the Japanese – Soduko is my limit.

  9. The easiest one I’ve done I think coming in at under 10 mins.

    My LOI was also eyewash and I want sure of the parsing of snatch, so thank you.

  10. I took more than double yesterday’s time for this, coming in at 21 minutes. This despite being in BRISTOL! Had no problem with “Sn” for tin, the old chemistry A-level coming in handy again, so SNATCH went in easily enough.

    LOI EMBERS—couldn’t get “ashes” out of my mind—WOD CHARING CROSS for reminding people that it’s only got one “r”. Saw a TV show recently with what was obviously a mock-up of the entrance because they’d spelled it “Charring Cross”.

    COD SPIN THE BOTTLE, which I took too long on trying to put the “pint” in the wrong place and invent a game of NINE PIN SOMETHINGOROTHER.

  11. I found this slightly harder than average and completed it in 23 minutes. My particular hold ups were 3d (LOI), 15d and 8a (COD). I think I remember an eyewash/piffle clue from an earlier puzzle which helped because it’s not a word that readily springs to mind.

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