Quick Cryptic 686 by Mara

13 minutes – some of which were taken revelling in some of the clue constructions. A big thank you to Mara for such entertainment. Once again I’m on the road so have little time. Please feel free to comment/fill in. For instance – I haven’t taken time to look up Norma…


1. Macbeth – play. Anagram (extraordinary) of MATCH BE.
5. Uncut – left as it is. (U)lysses, fan (NUT) around chapter (C).
8. Starting block – sprinter’s equipment. Looking (STARING) containing time (T), building (BLOCK).
9. Needles – attraction off the Isle of Weight. Those eyed – the thing with eyes in them – needles.
10. Ashen – grey. A (A), female (SHE), pidgeo(N).
11. Chubby – fat. (C)hocolates, partner (HUBBY).
13. Beasts – animals. Anagram (moved) of BEST caging while (AS).
15. Norma – opera. Anagram (rambling) of ROMAN.
16. Attract – tempt. A (A), (T)yrannical, piece of land (TRACT).
19. Featherweight – boxer. Anagram (degenerate) of WE ARE THE inside battle (FIGHT).
20. Radar – equipment. Going this way and that – reads the same from each end and some go this way and that.
21. Overrun – defeat totally. The two cricketing terms are over and run.


1. Mason – builder. Mother (MA) with child (SON). A reminder of my favourite crossword clue – ‘Cradling of Jesus depicted in stonework (7)’.
2. Chateaubriand – steak dish. Anagram (ruining) of A BRUNCH ID EAT A.
3. Extol – lift. Seen in cont(EXT OL)d.
4. Honest – genuine. House (HO), home to a bird (NEST).
5. Umbrage – offence. Say (EG) coming upwards after an anagram (revolution) of BURMA.
6. Clothes hanger – one hooked on gear? My LOI. One has a hook to suspend on a rail and gear is held on it. So – fair enough. An interesting, and good, clue.
7. Takings – money earned. Word of thanks (TA), sovereigns (KINGS).
11. Conifer – tree. Anagram (producing) of FIR CONE. COD for this brilliant clue which is a perfectly good definition and word play and is also an &lit.
12. Blather – nonsense. The Scottish version is ‘blether’ – and one of my favourite phrases is ‘come in for a wee dram and a blether’. One swimming (BATHER) round lake (L).
14. Hairdo – style. Musical (HAIR), party (DO).
17. Theme – subject. Article (THE) on yours truly (ME).
18. Titan – powerful person. Put (IT) in the shade (TAN).

10 comments on “Quick Cryptic 686 by Mara”

  1. I needed every second of my target 10 minutes to complete and parse this one, delayed by three of the four 13 letter answers with only FEATHERWEIGHT going in at first glance. 11dn is indeed a great clue for those meeting it for the first time. I wasn’t sure about EXTOL clued by “lift”, but if one thinks of elevating with praise, it works nicely.
  2. Smooth sailing here, although I biffed my LOI, 5ac. CONIFER reads nicely, but the clue perhaps loses a bit of its luster given that ‘conifer’ means ‘cone-bearing’. 4:31.
  3. I was held up by the Scottish Play my COD (worthy of the 15×15) and LOI at 8.05 (4.31 is going some, Kevin!)

    FOI CHATEAUBRIAND from the author and statesman

    I suppose we’ll all soon be eating T-RUMP STEAK – perhaps not – he’s no statesman.

    11ac CONIFER I had seen before – so no lustre here either.

    Thanks Chris

  4. Needed a second sitting to crack the 5ac/6d combination, as nut for fan didn’t exactly jump out. Apart from that, I thought this was a fair QC with a good mix of difficulty. Invariant
  5. 6 mins and change. Would have been quicker if I could have got COCAINE ADDICT out of my head for 6d. Any setters reading this are welcome to borrow it.
  6. On the harder side I thought. A slow but steady solve for me. Particularly liked 11d which I thought very neat, and 12d for reminding me of a word I have not heard used for a long time. A most satisfying challenge.
  7. This was not easy but I kept going to finish in 30 minutes. Last two were 5a and 6d; needed to look at 6d for quite a while before it fell. Some excellent clues. David
  8. A good challenge today I thought with a mix of the relatively simple and more difficult clues. Got off to a flier with 1a and 1d going straight in but found the NE tricky. LOI 13a, completed in 22 mins and too many good clues to pick one out but particularly enjoyed 11d, 5d and 20a
  9. Slow and steady for me too, finishing at 44mins. Would have been quicker if I had not been trying to find an anagram of ‘boxer we are the’ to mean fight.

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