Quick Cryptic 725 by Pedro

Posted on Categories Quick Cryptic
A gentle offering to begin the week leading up to Christmas. Pedro mentions on his website that one of his puzzles this week (he also sets elsewhere under different names) “might” contain something seasonal – I’m hopeless at spotting themes and Ninas but I’ll go out on a limb and say that this isn’t the one, but it was enjoyable regardless and I’ll be getting a hefty enough dose of seasonal reminders when I pop into Middlesbrough later today for some last-minute Christmas shopping. Thanks, Pedro. My next scheduled Quicky blog is on the 2nd of January so for now I will wish all solvers and setters a very merry Christmas and best wishes for 2017.

The puzzle can be found here if the usual channels are unavailable: http://feeds.thetimes.co.uk/puzzles/crossword/20161219/21007/

Definitions are underlined.

1 Bird hard to be caught by countryman (8)
PHEASANTH (hard) in (to be caught by) PEASANT (countryman)
5 Water vapour avoiding a plant’s stalk (4)
STEMSTE{a}M (Water vapour avoiding a, i.e. the word “steam” without the letter a)
8 A skill in intricate fabric is offering a lot of options (1,2,5)
A LA CARTEA, + ART (skill) in LACE (intricate fabric)
9 Lump of rock caught piece of cloth (4)
CRAGC (caught) + RAG (piece of cloth)
11 Bitterness about head of Government is rubbish (5)
BILGEBILE (Bitterness) about G (head of Government, i.e. the first letter of the word “Government”)
12 Male in favour of lying in bed for ease (7)
COMFORTM (Male) + FOR (in favour of), inside (lying in) COT (bed)
13 Solver’s time to swallow good dairy product (6)
YOGURTYOUR (Solver’s) + T (time), around (to swallow) G (good). This smacks of American spelling to me, but none of the usual sources back me up and a bit of online rummaging suggests that the non-h spelling has been in the ascendant globally for some time.
15 Steering device? Twice left in a row (6)
TILLERLL (Twice left, i.e. two instances of the letter L (left)) in TIER (a row)
18 Calm current provided in photo (7)
PACIFICAC (current, i.e. alternating current) + IF (provided), in PIC (photo)
19 Quantity of water upset canoe (5)
OCEAN – anagram of (upset) CANOE. A mere coincidence that PACIFIC and OCEAN appear consecutively in the grid? Probably, though if you like to EMAIL GECKOES then you might not think so. What with the BILGE, TILLER, and PACIFIC OCEAN, I wonder if Pedro is considering a Christmas voyage.
21 No agreement in a tight corner? (4)
NOOKNO + OK (agreement)
22 British tucking into breakfast food of an intellectual cast (8)
CEREBRALBR (British) inside (tucking into) CEREAL (breakfast food)
23 Conservative remains ready (4)
CASHC (Conservative) + ASH (remains), with “ready” being a slang term for money (perhaps more often encountered as the plural “readies”)
24 Stone? Hate my rocks with stone (8)
AMETHYST – anagram of (rocks) HATE MY, + ST (stone). Chambers tells me that amethyst was “anciently supposed to prevent drunkenness” (and its name derives from a Greek expression meaning something like “not drunk”) – how do such beliefs get started when it’s surely very easy to give the lie to them?
1 Pleasure seeker acts with child (7)
PLAYBOYPLAY (acts, since a play generally consists of a number of acts) + BOY (child)
2 I engaged in turning over underwhelming content of inbox (5)
EMAILI inside (engaged in) a reversal of (turning over) LAME (underwhelming)
3 Get cast excited about airmen in theatrical skill (10)
STAGECRAFT – anagram of (excited) GET CAST, about RAF (airmen)
4 Spot water that’s still liquid? (6)
NOTICE – if water is still liquid, then it is NOT ICE (conceivably also NOT STEAM, but NOTSTEAM is not a word nor does it fit into the space available)
6 Struggle, having swallowed cocktail of rum in confusion (7)
TURMOILTOIL (Struggle) around (having swallowed) anagram (cocktail) of RUM
7 Strength from male ousting female in contest (5)
MIGHT – fIGHT (contest), with M (male) replacing (ousting) the f (female)
10 Very powerful potion men concocted by end of experiment (10)
OMNIPOTENT – anagram of (concocted) POTION MEN, + {experimen}T (end of experiment, i.e. the last letter of the word “experiment”)
14 E.g. sock, squirming, may contain last of three lizards (7)
GECKOES – anagram of (squirming) E.G. SOCK, around (may contain) E (last of three, i.e. the last letter of the word “three”). If your sock is squirming in Crosswordland then you can be pretty sure that an anagram is afoot.
16 Curl of hair in item of jewellery permitted (7)
RINGLETRING (item of jewellery) + LET (permitted)
17 First of six top people? A very funny person (6)
SCREAMS (First of six, i.e. the first letter of the word “six”) + CREAM (top people)
18 I doze, sitting up with cold fear (5)
PANIC – reversal of (sitting up) I + NAP (doze), + C (cold)
20 A king arriving in fenland city ahead of time (5)
EARLYA + R (king, i.e. rex) in ELY (fenland city). A bonus mince pie to Pedro for not using the normal ELY=see equivalence. Ely sits in a marshy area of England that also contains Cambridge (hence the nickname Fenland Poly for the university) and Peterborough.

14 comments on “Quick Cryptic 725 by Pedro”

  1. Good puzzle to start the week, slightly on the hard side I’d say. I certainly struggled to get going, finally spotting STAGECRAFT and thence went round anticlockwise until I got back to the tricky NW. Actually I should’ve spotted PHEASANT since it’s featured quite recently. I’ll give COD to NOTICE which was my LOI. Cheers.
  2. How, you ask, do beliefs like that about amethyst get started when it’s so easy to give the lie to them? Ask Donald Trump. Happy New Year, Mohn. 5:51.
  3. 9 minutes. I looked twice at the E in GECKOES and later found that it is an alternative that the LJ spell checker doesn’t like. This spelling of YOGURT turned up within the past few days elsewhere but on reflection I think it’s the most usual these days. The similarity between an answer here and in today’s 15×15 was a bit disconcerting.
  4. 32:29 so a slowish start to the week, took an age to find a foothold, with the first 9 ac clues coming up blank until finally OCEAN. IF=’provided’ at 18 ac, what’s that about? LOI was A LA CARTE, partly because I hadn’t parsed 2dn. COD 4d.
    1. Add this one to your list: You can join, IF/PROVIDED you meet the membership requirements; etc.
      IF is also the stock poem in Crosswordland, just as SHE is the stock novel and ET the stock film. Verb. sap.
  5. Gentle today indeed, with just a few points that occur to me. OMNIPOTENT means ‘all-powerful’ OMNI + POTENT, so can that be ‘very’ powerful? YOGURT may be allowed, but it changes the Arabic root maybe to fit English spelling ‘rules’ made up by the DfE. One clue straight in due to similarity noted by jack. I did not know that about AMETHYST, but I have heard of the ship. 4’28”, thanks mohn and Pedro.
  6. … is quite tricky but do have a go and, when you’ve had enough of it, refer to the main blog to fill in any gaps.
  7. 6:00, so about average for me. I enjoyed the juxtaposition of PACIFIC and OCEAN. COD to 4d.
  8. I found it quite hard to get started, but once in it flowed quite well to give me an average time. YOGURT without the “H” threw me for a while until the checkers made it obvious.
    Pleasant start to the week
  9. Nothing too tricky today, but I was also looking for the ‘h’ in yogurt. I’m sure conservative must be one of the most used words in cryptic clues – it seems to come up at least a couple of times a week.
    Solved in 17 minutes (around average), LOI 9a, COD 21a.
    Thanks to mohn for the informative blog.
  10. Struggled with Pedro’s wavelength today, and in fact needed a second sitting to complete the NW corner. As usual, everything was obvious looking back. 18ac and 4d were my joint favourites today. Invariant
  11. A lot of good clues today and a very enjoyable test; not too difficult as people have mentioned . About 15 minutes for me. Favourite 2d from a large field. LOI 1a. David

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