Quick Cryptic 751 by Bob and Margaret

I am reliably informed (as always by jacckt) that our setting duo, having premiered a long time ago, now grace the stage with their second QC. Quite a performance it is too – some very clever surfaces and some complex wordplay will, I hope, entertain and amuse. My struggles in the SW did not detract from the fun of clues such as 12ac. I took a very long 18 minutes on this – I may have been particularly slow witted today so I’m interested in how new QCers found it. However I didn’t notice the time of this thoroughly enjoyable and satisfying test. Thanks to double trouble – Bob and Margaret.


1. Ratings – double definition. Sailors are ratings – as are how TV shows are judged.
7. Airport – of which Charles de Gaulle is an example. Broadcast (AIR), left (PORT).
9. Anatomy – structure. A (A) military alliance (NATO), good heavens (MY).
10. Intrude – gatecrash. Home (IN), arrogan(T), impolite (RUDE).
11. Sock – quite a blow (to the jaw for instance). A sock also goes on a foot.
12. Big Cheese – VIP. A large piece of cheddar, say, will take up quite a lot of the cheese board.
14. Bar magnet – one attracting (metal). Anagram (ridiculously) of MR BEAN TAG.
16. Hill – rise. Greeting (HI), a couple of liberals (LL).
17. Inhibit – check. New (N) and hospital (H) involved in (inside) two (II) part (BIT). (II – maybe from part II?), check (BIT). Bit can mean anything that restrains or curbs – as in the bit in a horse’s mouth.
20. Ugandan – African. Somewhere inside r(UG AND A N)apkin.
21. Gap Year – cryptic definition. Quite a tough (but good) one for a QC. Students can have gap years – the pun is on gap=space. Good surface.
22. Easiest – quite undemanding. Anagram (unfolds) of SEE AS IT.


1. Reassembling – reconstructing. Bearing a similarity to (RESEMBLING) houses (contains) when (AS). Such a clever surface as the whole thing could be read as a cryptic definition.
2. Thatcher – chap working on roof. Yon (THAT), church (CH) about – re – to climb (ER).
3. Neon – light. (N)ight-tim(E), operating (ON).
4. Saying – proverb. For example (SAY), popular (IN) and good (G).
5. (Bob) Cratchit – Dickensian character. To be scolded (CATCH IT) about right (R).
6. Tofu – soft (vegetarian) food. (T)aken (O)ut (F)or (U)s.
8. The red planet – Mars. Anagram (unusual) of three-D (THE RED), map (PLAN), film (ET).
12. Brambles – blackberries. Bachelor (B) on country walks (RAMBLES).
13. Engirdle – surround. Anagram (to move) of NEED GIRL.
15. Nature – kind – what nature of thing, what kind of thing. Anagram (elaborate) of TEA URN.
18. Hope – aspiration. Fellow (HE) had about (put around) work (OP).
19. Mags – periodicals. Mother’s (MAS) devouring (getting outside) good (G).

36 comments on “Quick Cryptic 751 by Bob and Margaret”

  1. Good, but a lot tougher than yesterday’s puzzle; took a while to get started. FOI BAR MAGNET, LOI NEON, COD AIRPORT or BIG CHEESE.

    I think I was caught out by the mixture of clue styles, so I was often thinking along the wrong lines, e.g. for SOCK. (D’oh!)

    Maybe 21ac should have an exclamation mark?

    Today’s normal cryptic wasn’t very much harder.

  2. This took me 13.27 something of a personal worst – it was as Chris states a bit of struggle!
    I think the novitiates will have their hands full.


    NB re- 6dn in China TOFU is pronounced DOFU.

    Edited at 2017-01-24 01:38 am (UTC)

  3. I also found this hard and required 15 minutes – i.e. 3 x my solving time yesterday. Bob and Margaret last set for us on 23 September 2015 (QC402) and looking back at the blog and comments it seems that most people also found that puzzle on the hard side. B&M popped into TftT to contribute on that occasion so perhaps we shall hear from them today too.

    May I recommend the 15×15 today? There are a lot of quite easy answers. There are some harder ones too but the clueing is fair and QC-ers who are looking for an opportunity to “upgrade” stand a fair chance of getting through most if not all of it.

    Edited at 2017-01-24 04:19 am (UTC)

    1. You are not the only one who struggled with the cat (and half a dozen others !), but yes, worth a go. Invariant
  4. Good puzzle today. Held up by only half-remembering the Dickensian character.

    Thanks Bob, Margaret and Chris.

    BTW Chris, I parsed INHIBIT as:
    N (new) + H (hospital) in II (two) + BIT (part), with “check” as the definition.

  5. 21:41, so par for me. In fact felt on the easy side. COD 12a, another of my daughter’s favourite expressions.

  6. Probably my personal worst, too. I think all I got on the first pass was AIRPORT, HILL, EASIEST on the acrosses, TOFU, THE RED P, NATURE, HOPE, MAGS on the downs; then I settled in to not getting it. A painful 12:03.
  7. I found this a little frustrating and probably too hard. West side was the hardest. Lots of anagrams, and some “help” towards the end where I used the word checker as I was running out of time. Last few in were 1a, 1d, 9a and 11a.

    Finished in 90 mins, including breakfast at the desk.

    A lot of the clues/answers were quite obscure for a qc:
    9a, good heavens = my
    17a two part = ii, bit = check
    2d, yon = that
    5d, To be scolded = CATCH IT
    15d, nature = kind

    Dnk engirdle, 18d was clunky. All mixed in with some great (but hard)clues, eg 1a ratings, 21a gap year.
    My COD 7a airport.

  8. Finished in 25 mins, so harder than yesterday. I knew it was going to be a struggle when I saw the unknown (to me) setters and the lengthy clues. Happy to finish, to be honest. A few unknowns for me, but I just put them in and hoped for the best. My LOI was ENGIRDLE. Not heard of the word before so it made the anagram tricky. Gribb.
  9. Once I got going it was slow but steady and very enjoyable. I worked from east to west which makes it a bit trickier, biffed a few so thanks to the blogger for 8d and 14a to name just 2. Don’t be strangers Bob and Margaret, visit again. COD 9a LOI NEON.
  10. I completed my 751st cryptic in a shade under 25mins, which after my extended 750 session training is longer than I’ve become used to in recent times. I’ve been trying to work out what makes one crossword more difficult than another. Multi-part parsing, clearly (18ac); mixed clue types (8dn and 2dn) perhaps … all of which occur in Big Brother in the main paper, which I’ve gathered the courage to try occasionally. Is it setter style? It may be, but give me multiple QCs and I don’t think I could distinguish a Joker from an Orpheus, say. Thoughts from the gnarled and seasoned experts would be welcome.
    1. Ah! Another jackkt record keeper I see!
      As for difficulty of crosswords – it is notoriously hard to predict how others will find them. Unusual vocabulary as a definition combined with unusual abbreviations or devices in the parsing (more often seen in the 15×15) cause blockages. Otherwise it is as you say – complexity of clueing especially where checking letters aren’t conveniently given. Having said all this there is the ‘wavelength factor’ – which I can’t begin to explain.

      Please see comment below about a livejournal account.

      1. The grid itself and they way words interact within it will also affect the difficulty.
        An absence of whole solutions in the top row or left column will mean no first letter checkers for many clues. Compare this to this QC where 1a and 1d not only share the same first letter but also provide the start for eight other answers.
        A large number of mid-word vowel checkers will generally be of far less assistance than multiple consonant checkers.
        Add to this the other factors already mentioned and it’s a wonder we get any completed!
        8’30” today, definitely on the hard side for a QC.
  11. This was quite a struggle particularly after yesterday’s. However, satisfying in the end. As a “newby”, can I say how much I enjoy the QC and how much this blog has helped me in learning how to do the QC. Thank you to all.
    1. Welcome newby! And thanks for your comment – quite some effort and free time goes in by the bloggers on this site – it’s always good to hear that the effort is appreciated.
      If you create a free livejournal account any responses to you get notified by email so you can join in the conversation.
  12. Found this tough going – took about 20 mins – didn’t get a precise time due to a typo in “Neon” where I accidentally put an “r” for the “e”. Was pleased to finish as I had my doubts at one stage, particularly with the NW corner.
  13. Some most unusual constructions, cluing and words even. So I was surprised to find I had finished on par. Thoroughly enjoyed it thank you.
  14. Enjoyable puzzle that I found a bit harder than average (though I also found today’s main cryptic a bit harder than average). Though 12D works if you consider “gathers” as a link word, I had the definition as “gathers blackberries”, i.e. with the answer being a verb form rather than a noun. Works either way, I guess.
  15. A refreshing challenge from Bob and Margaret, whose last outing I missed as wasn’t then retired. Twice yesterday’s time. CRATCHIT took a while. Incidentally 12ac is the same in French. ENGIRDLE a quaint word. Very good experience, thanks Bob and Margaret and chris.
  16. Well that was quite a struggle. Two sittings and well north of the hour. Variety helps of course, so I look forward to the next B&M special. . . in 18 months time. Invariant
  17. After yesterday’s pleasant stroll this was a cross country run through hail and mud – and I collapsed well short of the finishing line. Being able to view this blog is a warm blanket and a cup of hot Bovril, and I feel duly revived. Thank you to the contributors.
  18. I found this a very enjoyable challenge which felt a bit more cryptic than usual to me, more like the 15×15 in clue style. After my first run through I thought I was going to be in big trouble but it turned into a slow but steady solve. I had most trouble with the NW with my LOI being 2d, where I couldn’t see past slaters and tilers for a whil. Too many good clues to pick out one but I would encourage the powers that be to see if B&M are available a little more frequently. Solved in 26 minutes
  19. We are learning to do these crosswords, and thought we were getting on famously with understanding the clues…..a year down the line.
    But today’s crossword had us struggling. We thought it was very hard for a supposed easy cryptic. We managed all but two in the end.
    Hope the next one is a little easier!
  20. We have been doing the QC for over 12 months now, and found this quite a hard slog, but a good challenge. Finished it in about an hour with one error, 17a putting inhabit in, think our brains were somewhat addled towards the end. It is good to have a range of difficulties, thanks for all the comments and to the setters. Elin and Ian
  21. I was in Rochester today and decided to solve this in a pub after a pleasant visit to the Guildhall Museum which has a lot of Dickens about it.
    The puzzle was harder than yesterday but I got 1d and 8d early and I was doing well when I had to stop. I noticed the Dickens clue and thought with the checkers I had it ended in Twist. That needed correction prior to my last two, 13d and 12a. 20-30 minutes in total. I liked 7a which also held me up for a while. David
  22. An enjoyable challenge today which took me about 40 mins. I thought it was a perfectly fair quickie – there were quite a few clues that i tried to decode which turned out to be double definitions which slowed me down but that’s part of the setters’ art. (Note the position of the apostrophe!)
  23. As a newcomer to cryptic crosswords I find it helps me learn if the answers are unbearable the answer with the definitions underline so I have a fighting chance to work it out.
  24. Completed in approx 45 mins!, as I still regard myself as a newbie after about 9 months, was really chuffed! Can usually get about 99% of QC, so definitely improving – thanks a lot to this blog.
    Have learnt so much(occasionally even try 15×15 when prompted by bloggers, but have to say, struggle even when the answer is explained!)
    Still, onwards and upwards! Cheers.
  25. Came to this after my team won the pub quiz on a tie break. Some of the clues took a while to get my head round but I scraped in under 10 minutes at 9:40. FOI, TOFU. LOI AIRPORT. An enjoyable puzzle. Off to bed now. Thanks B&M and Chris.

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