Quick Cryptic 719 by Rongo

Found this one to be easier than average, completing it in 3:55.  Hope that means there was some encouragement for those on the beginners’ slopes, and the chance for a fast time (if that’s your aim) for those who have reached base camp and may even be eyeing off the treacherous terrain of the 15×15.

I started to put together an analysis of why this one might have been easier than the average Quickie, but quickly realised it was a fool’s errand.  Solving is such an individual pursuit, and levels of experience vary so greatly that it’s hard to be categorical about these things, and the only guarantee is that someone would take offence.

It suffices to say that I thought there were a number of very generous definitions, including those for PASSPORT, USED, ENLARGE, RED TAPE, DUNGEON and DIARIST.  And if you’ve been around long enough to spot a chestnut, they don’t come much more chestnutty than FIRM and OUTDO.

There’s a few other write-ins as well, but I’ll stop digging now and get on with the parsing.  After first thanking Rongo, who gives us this day our daily grid.

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.  (ABC)* means ‘anagram of ABC’.

1 Hand over fortified wine: it must be shown at Immigration (8)
PASSPORT – PASS (hand over) + PORT (fortified wine)
5 Exploited? That’s not new (4)
USED – Double definiton
8 Wave weapon each noon, like Falstaff? (13)
SHAKESPEAREAN – SHAKE (wave) + SPEAR (weapon) + EA (each) + N (noon)
Possibly one of the harder clues.  I panicked at “like Falstaff” when I realised that all I knew about Falstaff was that he was a Shakespearean character.  Turns out that’s all you needed to know.
10 Be more successful than unpopular party (5)
OUTDO – OUT (unpopular) + DO (party)
11 Make bigger general changes (7)
12 Returning to pinch, dull routine for highwayman (6)
TURPIN – [NIP (pinch) + RUT (dull routine)] all reversed (returning)
We call them bushrangers down here, so I knew it couldn’t be Ben Hall, Captain Thunderbolt or Mad Dog Morgan.  In fact the only highwayman that comes to mind is Dick Turpin.  Another case of limited knowledge working to my advantage.
13 Guard’s military hideout? (6)
WARDEN – A DEN is a hideout, so a WAR DEN could be a military hideout
Could be, hence the question mark.
16 Bureaucracy gradually became thinner after switching sections (3,4)
RED TAPE – TAPERED (gradually became thinner) ‘switching sections’
ie, put the RED in front of the TAPE.  Not a commonly used device this one, even in the 15×15.  I quite like it, though it must be said in this case that the enumeration and the first word of the clue would have been enough for many solvers.
18 MRI check, say, with time in short supply (5)
SCANT – SCAN (MRI check, say) + T (time)
20 Musical arrangement as an alternative to box allocation? (13)
ORCHESTRATION – OR (as an alternative to) + CHEST (box) + RATION (allocation)
21 Solid company (4)
FIRM – Double definition
I’ve seen easier cryptic crossword clues, but I can’t remember when.
22 Is nosy, vacant troll variable, or suited to clerical work? (8)
PRIESTLY – PRIES (is nosy) + TL (vacant TrolL) + Y (variable)
Slightly more chewy.  Look out for “vacant”, “vacated” or “on vacation” as an instruction to just use the first and last letter of a word.  And of course “variable” will be X, Y or Z, unless it’s an anagram indicator.
1 Annoyance with old Italian sauce (5)
PESTO – PEST (annoyance) + O (old)
2 Son and cap-maker suddenly go to pieces (7)
SHATTER – S (son) + HATTER (cap-maker)
3 Complicated rite and poem are most common (11)
The hardest clue of the day I think, as PREDOMINANT is so tempting if you skim over the anagrist.  But it’s all in the subtlety of the definition, which of course includes the “are”.
4 Declamatory performer’s packaging for radio? (6)
RAPPER – Homophone (for radio) of WRAPPER (packaging)
“Declamatory” means “vehement or impassioned in expression”.  I didn’t know that, I assumed it meant something like “denigratory”, but that didn’t exactly lead me away from the solution!
6 Some journalism earnestly shows slander (5)
SMEAR – Hidden in journaliSM EARnestly
Easier to see than most hiddens I think.  Sometimes you need to squint a bit.
7 Dropping a long time in underground cell (7)
DUNGEON – DUNG (dropping) + EON (a long time)
9 Chance to start afresh that newly washed roof might provide? (1,5,5)
A CLEAN SLATE – Two definitions, one proverbial and one cryptic
12 Something repellent in entrance to side road? (4-3)
TURN-OFF – Double definition
14 Bridget Jones possibly mounted attack on one street (7)
DIARIST – DIAR [‘mounted’ RAID (attack)] + I (one) + ST (street)
A nice change from Samuel Pepys or Anne Frank.
15 Strange trance produces something very sweet (6)
17 Interior design company has crimson put up outside (5)
DECOR – CO (company) with DER [RED (crimson) ‘put up’] outside
19 Piquant, brown and grey on the outside (5)
TANGY – TAN (brown) + GY (GreY ‘on the outside’)

20 comments on “Quick Cryptic 719 by Rongo”

  1. Cheers. Definitely the easiest for a while, with just a few chewy clues e.g. 22ac to lead people gently off the starter slopes. SHAKESPEAREAN featured in a Times cryptic quite recently.
  2. A fairly moderate QC today except that Mr.’Fly’spray manages a 3.55! In the words of Roger Bannister, ‘Whether you are the lion or the gazelle, when the sun comes up you’d better be moving,’

    Makes my 7.12 seem quite pedestrian. 22ac PRIESTLY was the real culprit with its IKEA assembly – ‘JB’ would have been clue enough!

    COD 14dn DIARIST WOD Captain Thunderbolt

    15×15 has given problems – TGIF

    1. JB wouldn’t have been enough as we’d have needed an indicator to delete the second E. And a definition of PRIESTLY would still have been required.
  3. I only realized when coming here that I’d biffed RED TAPE from the enumeration, and never went back to it; a pity, because it’s a nice clue. Not knowing Bridget Jones, I’d have preferred Pepys, but the wordplay was clear enough. Slowed down at 22ac by taking ‘clerical’ to be paper-pushing. 4:36.
  4. Another “by-skin-of-teeth” job to bring this home within 10 minutes and made it with only about 30 seconds to spare having been held up by RAPPER and PRIESTLY. Misreading “directions” for “sections” did not help with the parsing of 16 across.
  5. Well, I must be the only one here who came a cropper. To be fair, it was my own fault for putting PREDOMINANT for 3dn and therefore not being able to parse 20ac. Admittedly, the rest were easy, bar 4dn, which was the other one I didn’t get. I think rapper for “declamatory performer” is quite tricky. Gribb.
  6. Missed DIARIST (drat!), clean SLATE (drat!), PRIESTLY (cute!). Thanks Setter & Blogger.
  7. No major problems today. I had a bit of a worry, like our blogger, when I saw the Falstaff reference in 8a as my knowledge of him is limited to the fact that he was a stout chap. Completed in 14 minutes, LOI 13a, COD 4d
  8. Briefly got excited about a possible PB, a few long biffs helping. It’s good to have this type of puzzle, it gives encouragement. 4’15”, thanks gal and Rongo.
  9. I struggled a bit today;steady but not quick and with five left after 18 minutes when I paused. I had put in Predominant but corrected that after a brief check. Needed all the checkers to get Red Tape (easy if you ignored the clue part).
    My last two were 13a and 14d. I always seem to struggle when the first letter is missing. Needed a couple of minutes to get Warden. For my LOI I was confused by the mounted attack. When I thought only about Bridget Jones, I got it. So something around 25 minutes today. David
  10. 32 minutes slow and steady.

    LOI priestly, I had the tly but couldn’t think of nosy.

    Always worried when a plant or Shakespeare is mentioned.

    Couldn’t parse Turpin.

    Long wait until Monday 😢

  11. Just outside 20 minutes this time, with 21:24. Still very happy with that. I’m in awe of anyone who can do it sub-10 minutes.
  12. Thought I might be in for a record time with the first ten or so clues going straight in but the bottom proved far more challenging and so I ended up with a fairly typical 20 minute solve. Red Tape was last one in and now I know from the blog what the parsing was, I can see why I didn’t get it and just biffed it on beaurocracy.
  13. Was hoping for a PB, but came in at a shade under 20. Also had PREDOMINANT, which means that I was looking at 20a as an anagram of ‘box allocation’, with anagrind ‘an alternative to’. Always good to see a new concept like ‘switching sections’, although a bit wasted on a biffable clue.
  14. I thought this was more average than easy, albeit with a few write-ins to kick things off. However 4, 13 (not a great clue) and 22 (CoD) were quite hard, and pushed me out to 30 mins. Invariant
  15. A good day for a raw beginner, actually nearly completed, with a bit of help from “Mr Synonym”, thanks Rongo, keeps me motivated that one day i may complete.
    1. I’m sure that day won’t be far away. It would be helpful to be able to identify your future posts. Many of us sign in anonymously but add a name/nickname at the end. Keep up the good work.
  16. Thought this would be a record quickie as the N clues rolled straight in but slowed up in the S with the common mistake of 3D as predominant and frustrated at not completing that anagram until 20a gave me the clue needed. FOI 1a LOI 3d COD – well, several 22a, 13a and 12a for starters. Should have finished quicker than I did but broke away from Costa with about 85% done and needed to finish before the evening was over so probably about 55 minutes – frustrating after a rocketing start! Nonetheless, an enjoyable challenge to end a good week. So thx to Tongo and our blogger.

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