Quick Cryptic 786 by Tracy

Just clicked over 10 minutes for this – would have been faster if I hadn’t enjoyed working out some of the, at times, intricate word play. Joint CODs to the two long down clues 3 and 5. A good QC, doable but with interest and including a newly learnt definition – thanks Tracy.


1. At first sight – immediately. Anagram (off) of FITS STRAIGHT. Very appropriate surface.
9. Carat – that weighs 0.2 grams (I haven’t even looked this up as it ‘must be’). Article (A) in trolley (CART).
10. Gondola – boat. Almost left (GON)e with an anagram (unstable) of LOAD.
11. Raw deal – harsh treatment. Wood (DEAL), not treated at all (RAW).
12. Whelp – give birth. With (W), assistance (HELP).
13. Scream – laugh. Second (S), best (CREAM).
14. Graze – scrape. Fight (SCRAP), nos(E).
17. Issue – double definition.
19. Gabriel – boy. Girl (GAL) eating cheese (BRIE).
21. Platoon – squad. Also (TOO) inside arrangement (PLAN).
22. About – here and there. A (A), period of illness (BOUT).
23. Right-hand-man – most valuable assistant. Correct (RIGHT), to give (HAND), island (MAN).


2. Turf war – territorial dispute. ‘The turf’ is a track where horse races are run e.g. Newmarket.
3. In the same boat – similarly affected. Jerome K. Jerome wrote ‘Three Men in a Boat’.
4. Sagely – with wisdom. Speak (SAY) about set (GEL).
5. Sandwich board – employed in advertising. Also a fair description of the council in Sandwich, Kent.
6. Gnome – double definition. LOI as I was wondering about rivers running through Zurich and had never heard of gnome meaning a maxim expressing a general truth or principal (saw). The other definition of a Zurich or Swiss Banker was more obvious (particularly if you bring Gringotts Wizarding Bank to mind).
7. Trample – walk all over. Anagram (to change) of MP ALERT.
8. Scar – mark. Alarm briefly (SCAR)e.
13. Skipper – captain. Small (S), smoked fish (KIPPER).
15. Arizona – state. Anagram (about) of song (AIR – making ARI), Song (ARIA) around endless division (ZON)e, a (A).
16. Agenda – timetable. Notice (AD) and article (A) containing information (GEN).
18. Slang – colloquialisms. In curiou(S LANG)uage.
20. Late – double definition.

24 comments on “Quick Cryptic 786 by Tracy”

  1. FOI SCAR, LOI GABRIEL in 11:33. I seem to be slower doing these puzzles before a night’s sleep. Will have to resist the temptation to do them when the new edition appears. I spent at least a minute of this time going over and over correcting previous entries that were overwritten by my thinking I was entering an across when I was actually doing a down, and vice versa. Grrhh. Otherwise, nice puzzle. Thanks Tracy and Chris.
  2. Another very good puzzle, and easier than yesterday 🙂


  3. FOI & COD 6dn GNOME LOI 4dn SAGELY in 6.17 so on the easier side.

    WOD 1ac TURF WAR

  4. I think that’s ZON (endless division) embedded in ARIA (song). ‘About’ can indicate surrounding, or reversal, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen it as an anagram indicator.

    Edited at 2017-03-14 05:57 am (UTC)

    1. Thank you. My effort with song=air seemed a little clunky as I wrote it – blog updated with your correct interpretation.
    2. Thank you. My effort with song=air seemed a little clunky as I wrote it – blog updated with your correct interpretation.
  5. There were several pennies that didn’t drop right off; I think my first across was SCRAPE. But 2d was a gimme, especially as I’m currently reading the book (with not much enjoyment, frankly). GNOME was rather nice, although the ‘maxim’ meaning is not, I would think, widely known or used; maybe more of a 15×15 clue. I didn’t know what Newmarket is, so although I had WAR, I needed the checkers to get the TURF. 5:12.
  6. 57 mins, had all but 1a, 10a, 14a, 4d, 5d, 6d done in 20 minutes.

    A dnf though as I put at first light, and had a few guesses for 6d until computer said yes for gnome.

    Didn’t know either definition for gnome so no chance for that one, when it wasn’t Limmat I knew I was in trouble.
    Why does saw = a maxim expressing a general truth or principal (gnome)?

    Other tricky bits:
    dnk 12a whelp.
    biffed 21a platoon.
    23a I couldn’t see where the hand came from.
    3d Didn’t twig the Jerome connection.
    5d board for council is a bit of a stretch.

    COD 19a Gabriel.

    Edited at 2017-03-14 04:45 am (UTC)

    1. ….two syllables is the (ancient) Greek word for thought or opinion. More commonly perhaps in ‘gnomic utterance’ – which suggests a saying to that is obscure or difficult to understand – such as those of the Delphic oracle. JJ
  7. I don’t spend time working out individual clues in a QC until I’ve got a firm foothold in the grid from the easy pickings, but today I must have tried seven or eight clues before solving one, and even then I was unable to make much progress building on my answer. For a while that is. Eventually I got going properly and completed in a few seconds under 10 minutes.

    “Three Men in a Boat” came up very recently in the 15×15 as it does from time to time, often with reference to “Harris” who was one of them. Today we had one of the others, Jerome, which was more helpful as it’s both the first and last name of the author himself although in the book he’s only referred to as “J”. The third man was George, to say nothing of the dog, Montmorency.

    The 1956 film starring David Tomlinson as J., Jimmy Edwards as Harris and Laurence Harvey as George is currently showing in the UK at various times on the excellent “Talking Pictures TV” available on Sky and Freeview.

    Edited at 2017-03-14 06:04 am (UTC)

  8. Much easier than yesterday but still a dnf as i have never heard of gnome. Very obscure. But expanding vocab was one of the reasons i started the QC, so i cant complain too much.
  9. A second DNF a row for me because of gnome. I biffed in “goose”, in the sense of “have a goose at that”. A stretch indeed. Other than that, it was very straightforward. Although I’ve never heard of whelp before or “issue” for children, so was good to learn those two. Gribb.
    1. My dad used to refer to me and my brother as “a whisket of whelps” and I assumed it was quite a common expression, in the North at least, but I can’t find any other reference to it. Nice if it was just a Bailey family thing!
  10. Those of us old enough to have done National service will baulk at the idea that a platoon can be the equivalent of a squad. A platoon usually comprises three sections, each normally under a corporal, while the whole platoon is commanded by a 2nd Lieutenant. A squad is more akin to a section, unlikely to be more than a dozen men in my perhaps old-fashioned view. DM
  11. 3d went straight in and nothing really held me up. I waited till the end to see that Gnome was probably right; I did not know the second meaning. Thanks for all the elucidation. Finished in under 11 minutes. David
    PS I had thought Sandwich was in Kent but I still got it.
    1. Sorry -had been looking at the clue in today’s 15×15 which references East Sussex before writing my comments. Sandwich is in Kent, as the clue here says. David
  12. Back under 5 minutes again today after yesterday’s struggle. Nothing really needing a second look. GNOME is one for newcomers to file away – you will see it again!
  13. DNK either definition of GNOME (ergo DNF), but it was fairly plain sailing apart from that.
  14. Never heard Gnome in the sense of a maxim, although the Gnomes of Zurich is fairly well known. As someone oreviously pointed out a squad is a sub-section of a platoon (in the American Army) but it is not itself a platoon. In the British Army a platoon is divided into sections. Otherwise all fairly straightforward.
  15. Lots of very good clues today in what was a not too tricky puzzle – although I held myself up by missing the very obvious anagram at 1a. In fact after my first run through the across clues I didn’t have a single answer so I worked my way up from the bottom. Had not heard of the chap in 2d but once most of the checkers were in place it couldn’t be much else and was unfamiliar with the first definition of gnome, so thanks for the education chris.
    Completed in 16 minutes, LOI 6d, COD either 19a or 5d
  16. I think I only got a couple of the across clues on the first run, and thought this was going to be another Tracy special, but had more luck with the downs. All done and dusted in 26 mins, so not as bad as I thought. Interesting that gnomes of Zurich isn’t well known to some solvers – I suspect it is to anyone who lived through the financial ups and downs of the 70s. Invariant
  17. Struggled rather with no acriss answers on first read through. FOI 13d ( we’ve had this before) and got a handle on the SW and after a break had more success limping home in 55 minutes. LOI 19al. COD 5d. As yesterday 3d and 5d didn’t prove hard once I got on the wavelength.

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