Quick Cryptic 722 by Tracy

A puzzle characterised by some neat surfaces and clever disguises to keep us on our toes. In particular, 9a, 20a and 4d all sent me down blind alleys for a while. Thanks to Tracy for an enjoyable puzzle.

Unfortunately the “Preview Entry” function on the web site does not seem to be working at the moment, so I’ve not had the opportunity to conduct a final review of the b;log. Apologies in advance for any typos / misalignments etc.

This will be my last blog before Christmas, so may I take the opportunity to wish everyone the compliments of the season.

Definitions underlined: DD = double definition: anagrams indicated by *(–): omitted letters indicated by {-}

1 Jokes about youth, Republican, in best clothes (4,4)
GLAD RAGS – GAGS (jokes) goes around (about) LAD (youth) + R (Republican)
5 To go by hand (4)
PASS – DD (with hand being used as a verb)
8 Oxygen required by huge Greek character (5)
OMEGA – O (Oxygen) + MEGA (huge)
9 Tell North American bishop worried (7)
NARRATE – NA (North American) + RR (Bishop – right reverend) + ATE (worried – as in “ate away at him”)
11 Play in lieu — it’s okay for a change (2,3,4,2)
AS YOU LIKE IT – *(LIEU ITS OKAY) with “for a change” as the anagrind
13 More damaged in centre of Montreal quake (6)
TREMOR – *(MORE) – with “damaged” as the anagrind – ‘in’ TR (centre of monTReal)
14 Shopkeeper sounds more repulsive (6)
GROCER – Sounds like ‘Grosser’ (more repulsive)
17 Prisoner given a short time in church to reflect (11)
CONTEMPLATE – CON (prisoner) + AT (A + short t{ime}) ‘in’ TEMPLE (church).
20 Less colourful second city of Italy (7)
PALERMO – PALER (less colourful) + MO (second – as in “‘alf a mo”)
21 Love encapsulated by one obscure turn of phrase (5)
IDIOM – O (love) inside (encapsulated by) I DIM (one obscure)
22 Sisters seen in Vatican, unsurprisingly (4)
NUNS – Hidden in (seen in) VaticaN UNSurprisingly
23 Horse disease is shocking (8)
STAGGERS – DD. DNK the equine ailment, but it sounded plausible enough once it appeared inevitable from the cross checkers and the second definition.
1 Good base, light (4)
GLOW – G (good) + LOW (base)
2 Mean to declare silver, English (7)
AVERAGE – AVER (to declare) + AG (silver) + E (English)
3 Like some clothes we dare a Tory to change into (5-2-4)
READY TO WEAR – *(WE DARE A TORY) with “to change into” as the anagrind
4 Wizard, one in class (6)
GENIUS – I (one) ‘in’ GENUS (class)
6 Wow, a labyrinth! (5)
AMAZE – A MAZE (a labyrinth). “Wow” here being used as a verb (to wow / to amaze)
7 Appreciates sailors suffer as result of severe blow? (3,5)
SEE STARS – SEES (appreciates – “I see your point”) + TARS (Jolly Jacks)
10 Forcing through barrier across thoroughfare (11)
RAILROADING – RAILING (barrier) traverses ROAD (across thoroughfare)
12 Fix on pinafore originally trendy brooch (8)
STICKPINOn edit – thanks to Anon for the feedback: STICK (fix) ‘on’ P (first letter – ‘originally’ – of Pinafore) + IN (trendy). Must admit my knowledge of brooches is pretty thin (well, non existent really) so I just trusted to the wordplay with this one.
15 Loose dress: hem is dropped in church (7)
CHEMISE – HEM IS inserted (dropped) in CE (church of England)
16 Shoot king in jet (6)
SPROUT – R (king) ‘in’ SPOUT (jet)
18 Synthetic material in name only abroad (5)
NYLON – *(N – name – + ONLY) with “abroad” as the anagrind
19 Prophet captured by Grandma Moses (4)
AMOS – Hidden in grandmA MOSes

36 comments on “Quick Cryptic 722 by Tracy”


    Quite a tough one, with the cluing of NARRATE a tad obscure.

  2. Moving along nicely, until I came to 16d and 17ac, which eluded me for the longest time. I saw ‘prisoner/short time’ and thought, Aha, CONSEC; which suggested ‘consecrate’, of course, only it’s too short and doesn’t fit the clue. But I stuck with the CONSEC until finally I figured out SPROUT; 3+ minutes shot to hell. COD to IDIOM. 8:00.
  3. My main holdups were the PASS/SEE STARS and CHEMISE/STAGGERS intersections. Agree with Vinyl that this one showed glimpses of 15×15 difficulty, while today’s 15×15 was at a whole new level.

    Thanks Tracy and Nick.

  4. And I know Vinyl said it, but in case there’s any confusion, you need to change

    <td valign=”top”>23/td> to <td valign=”top”>23</td>

    in your html.

    Edited at 2016-12-14 07:23 am (UTC)

  5. Finished in just under an hour.

    Last 3 were:
    23a, haven’t heard of the horse disease.
    1d, should have been easy but couldn’t think of a word for base that fitted.
    4d, couldn’t get Gandalf and merlin out of my head, wasn’t expecting that definition of wizard.

    Couldn’t parse 9a, 23a and 2d (aver).

    Held up by 2d, trying to think of mean, nasty

  6. Finished in 45 minutes, but about half of that time was spent on 16dn and 23ac. Never heard of the horse disease, and was thinking of the aircraft variety of jet. Very nearly gave up but glad I didn’t. Thought 9ac was tough as well. Gribb.
  7. I made heavy weather of this one and needed 15 minutes, my worst time for nearly a month by some way. Not helped by writing ROADRAILING at 10dn. Then I got stuck in the SW corner with STICKPIN (never heard of it), CONTEMPLATE and PALERMO holding out until the last moment. Taken with the disaster that was to follow at the 15×15 this has not been a good day at the factory.

    Re the problem with formatting, I’m a little intrigued at the detailed advice on amending the html coding, admiral as I’m sure it is, because I always work in WISYWIG mode in Live Journal and all I’d do is place the cursor at the top of the gap and press Delete until it closed up.

    Edited at 2016-12-14 08:20 am (UTC)

    1. And that would usually work Jack, but it wouldn’t have fixed this particular problem. At least not without creating other html issues.
      1. I bow to superior knowledge, J! I avoid html whenever possible and only go there as a last resort. Anyway Nick has followed the technical advice and it’s all sorted now.
        1. I don’t use html at all. I copy and paste the clues into Word, insert my commentary and introduction, then copy the whole thing into the box, which autoformats.
  8. The OED says ‘staggers’ is a disease of farm animals – not sure why it needed to be referenced to horses. Ate for worried and dim for obscure doesn’t do it for me. For me this was a good crossword spoiled by unnecessarily tenuous clues.
    1. Is referenced to horses as well as ruminants in Wikipedia and Chambers(I’ve always associated it with horses rather than sheep and cattle).
      Dim = to obscure (Chambers) and ate = worry as per ‘eat your heart out Arsene Wenger’ oft heard in the Munich area.
      1. Thanks – I get it just don’t like it – might have to dig my Chambers out though 🙂 The Torygraph used to specify it as their reference
        1. The references specified for The Times weekday and Saturday puzzles used to be the Concise Oxford and Collins. I’ve never heard that this has officially changed but there’s been a new editor since those days so it may well have done. Very occasionally there’s something that’s in Chambers but not in either of the others, but it’s pretty rare.
          1. Chambers at one time was The Times reference of preference – I think the Saturday prize was a Chambers dictionary for many years.
            1. You may well be correct. My history with Times crosswords goes back no further than a year before I started blogging for TftT, i.e. 10 years. The puzzle I remember being tied to Chambers as source and prize for its competition puzzle was the Sunday Telegraph.
  9. Just about sums it up for me today. I rejected anything to do with stag as having nothing to do with horses so that completely defeated me. Ate = worried seems somewhat obscure for a QC. Definitely a bad week so far.
  10. A massive DNF today. Two hours at the coal face couldn’t save me, with 4, 9, 16 and 23 outstanding. Invariant
  11. I had all but 16d and 23a in 24 minutes. Some of it I thought quite difficult for a QC and there were some (gettable) unknowns in the puzzle (stickpin and staggers).
    The two I had left meant I had neither first letter and for 23a (my LOI) very little to go on. I worked hard on 16d; surely it had to start with S. Then Sprout came to mind. After that Staggers seemed a good enough guess. Total time around 30 minutes. Good puzzle. David
  12. …7.29 on the basis of a) other times posted and b) my wife trying to discuss Christmas presents mid way through. One of those swan-like solves where the seemingly serene progress masked some furious paddling below the surface.
  13. As a “newbie” found this one a killer, it was only after looking at the comments that the parsing made sense.
    Have not managed to complete one quick yet however get great pleasure in having a go.
    1. Keep at it Tony – you won’t come across many like today’s – and that first finish will come soon enough. Invariant
  14. About 30 mins, STAGGERS needed the full set of checkers, and like others, quite a few remained unparsed, with RR for bishop a new one, and MO. Not a very satisfying solve, today.
  15. That was tough and at about the limits of my ability. Completed all bar 23a in 26 minutes and then spent another 5 toying with whether staggers could work. Eventually I just chucked it in as I couldn’t think of any other possibilities. Also unknown were 12 and 19d but I managed to see the word play for those and 21a was unparsed. COD 20a
  16. I agree with @vinyl1 that it was a hard task for us novices. That said, and although I didn’t finish, I am rather smug for knowing STICKPIN but then I was given one for my 21st birthday by an aged aunt. I was confounded by the same clues as everyone else but can’t help thinking that STAGGERED and horses has something to do with GGs? Am I being naive?

    Season’s greetings to all and boundless gratitude to @nick_the_novice and all the bloggers

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