Quick Cryptic 727 by Mara

I had fun solving this one, which was just right for me in terms of difficulty. I liked the less direct definitions of 23ac and 5dn, and I’m glad I took the time to parse some of the more fiddly wordplay as I went.

Hoping you have a restful and merry christmas.

Definitions underlined.

1 Medieval conjuror converted St Michael (9)
ALCHEMIST – anagram of (converted) ST MICHAEL.
6 Just beat little Philip</u> (3)
PIP – short version of the name.
8 Oil used by batsmen in Leeds, perhaps? (7)
LINSEED – anagram of (perhaps) IN LEEDS.
9 With minimum of brains, I am born with zero as airhead (5)
BIMBO – B (one letter, or minimum, of brains), I’M, B (born) and (zero).
10 Wimp is small in outskirts of city (5)
CISSY – IS S (small) in the outermost letters of CitY.
12 Remains following the end of brass bands (6)
SASHES – ASHES (remains) after last letter of brasS.
14 Begin to recover, or go round the bend? (4,3,6)
TURN THE CORNER – double definition.
16 Emphasise physical and emotional tension (6)
STRESS – double definition.
17 Inspiring laughter primarily, bomb as children’s author (5)
MILNE – MINE (bomb) taking in (inspiring) first letter of Laughter (primarily).
19 True blues? (5)
RIGHT – double definition, the second referring to politics.
20 Translation of Belgian language (7)
BENGALI – anagram (translation) of BELGIAN.
22 Vegetable, one of twelve sent back (3)
YAM – reversal of (sent back) MAY (one of twelve months).
23 Before tutor, English certainly suffering when reading, perhaps? (9)
EYESTRAIN – E (english) and YES (certainly) before TRAIN (tutor).
1 Greek character with company to set up after everything set aside (8)
ALLOCATE – ETA (greek character) and CO (company) reversed (set up) after ALL (everything).
2 Preserve in aspic a nut (3)
CAN – hidden in aspiC A Nut.
3 You round soldiers up as an adversary (5)
ENEMY – YE (you) around MEN (soldiers) all reversed (up).
4 Popular plan, besides, crazy but essential (13)
INDISPENSABLE – IN (popular) and an anagram of (crazy) PLAN BESIDES.
5 Label as cold nothing that’s hot! (7)
TABASCO – TAB (label), AS, C (cold), and O (nothing).
6 Plant elm, pine, park oddly in a muddle (9)
PIMPERNEL – anagram of (in a muddle) ELM PINE and odd letters only of PaRk.
7 Plan for bed (4)
PLOT – double definition.
11 Plan to have upside-down cakes on a rock! (9)
STRATAGEM – TARTS (cakes) reversed (upside down), on A GEM (rock)
13 Cow cooks in a stew (8)
FRIESIAN – FRIES (cooks) and an anagram of (stew) IN A.
15 Table way over length, with wood on the outside (7)
TRESTLE – ST (street, way) on L (length), with TREE (wood) outside.
17 Impressionist, figure shrouded by cloak of mist (5)
MONET – ONE (figure) surrounded (shrouded) by outside letters (cloak) of MisT.
18 Military force crazy to depose leader (4)
ARMY – bARMY (crazy) without first letter.
21 Turkish general unchanged by uprising? (3)
AGA – palindromic (unchanged by uprising) military officer.

14 comments on “Quick Cryptic 727 by Mara”

  1. This was the toughest–or I was the dimmest–in some time. My only solve on my first pass through the acrosses was STRESS, and that sort of set the pace for what followed. CISSY was new to me–we Murcans spell it with an S (with three, for that matter). I think I would have preferred 1ac to read ‘…St. Michael converted’. Liked TABASCO. 8:49.
  2. Pretty much aligned with Kevin esp. on the syntax of 1 ac – although my time was slightly off at 10.00. CISSY or SISSY in UK – I have no idea which is the more common these days.

    Incidentally is 8ac LINSEED used on cricket bats in Merica!?


  3. 35 mins in two passes. I liked the elegance of Belgian/Bengali, not so many pure seven letter anagrams out there. As soon as I saw Childrens author, I biffed MILNE. In spite of many great children’s authors of the last 40 years, these crosswords tend to stick to the 50s for this kind of thing. Struggled with PIMPERNEL where I over complicated the word play, and was convinced ‘cow’ in 13d would be the classic misdirection, and be the verb to bully. COD the double def 14a.
  4. Most of it rushed in, on for a record time – then held up in SE corner. DNK “inspiring” for insert letter (17a), so good to learn that.

    LOI 23a COD 20a (although I’m sure it’s a bit of a chestnut).

    Thanks Mara and blogger!

  5. Going along fine until I reached the SE corner. Crawled along for a bit and then stopped completely with Friesian/Eyestrain remaining. Needed a second sitting to finish. Invariant
  6. Difficult today I thought, no real time as was interrupted by door and then coughing fit, added up to over twenty minutes. FRIESIAN, EYESTRAIN and the parsing of MILNE all conspired to delay the SE. Thanks william and Mara.
  7. Funny how opinions differ on here. After struggling for the last two days, with others finding them straightforward, I found this much easier. MILNE took me a while, not knowing the influencing = inserting clue. Like those above, I’ve never seen cissy spelt as such. Gribb.
  8. Wow that was a struggle, after 2 straightforward days. 3 sittings for me. COD PIMPERNAL, the whole clue was a bit of a muddle I thought, and a most unusual plant to boot (for me at least).
    Good thing about challenges such as this is the satisfaction of meeting them.
  9. First DNF for a long time having stupidly entered Freesian without checking the parsing. Many lovely clues with my COD at 1a. I then went on to the main puzzle and now need a lie down. Thank you Mara and blogger and hopefully a themed Christmas puzzle in the next few days. Alan
  10. At times I thought I had picked up the Saturday puzzle by mistake today. I made pretty good progress but stopped with four left, all interlinked:17a,23a,13d,6d. I see these have been mentioned in dispatches by other commentators. I must have looked at these for a good hour until Eyestrain (rather topically )occurred to me. I had been sure the clue started ERE for before. LOI was Milne, an author I should have thought of and know well. Was not quite on the wavelength today but very pleased to have finished it correctly. Favourite 8a for the nostalgic memory. David
  11. Wavelengths are strange things. I usually struggle with Mara’s puzzles but today’s went in without too many problems and I completed it in 17 mins.
    Admittedly I parsed a few clues post solve, e.g. 23a, 11d and 15d as I found the length of the clues a bit tricky.
    LOI 19a, favourite 13d.
  12. rocks are not gems. rocks are made up of minerals. some minerals may be prized as ‘gems’.

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