Quick Cryptic 796 by Alconiere

Early solving of the two long clues at 3 and 8dn could produce a quick solve of the whole. This is only theoretical as I struggled with both, came in at 13 minutes and found it all rather tricky.
Having said this, most of the clues seem fine on reflection although 2dn, 6dn, 13ac and 15ac could be said to be less than obvious.


1. Scarcity – it’s not enough. Disfigure (SCAR), large town (CITY).
5. Miss – double definition.
9. Allow – permit. A (A), large (L), bovine cry (moo=LOW).
10. Brigade – group of soldiers. Ordered (BADE) to carry gear (RIG).
11. Ivy – climber. (I)s (V)ery (Y)oung.
12. Roast beef – meat. Anagram (minced) of SAT BEFORE.
13. Hourly – very often. If applied to flights to America then ‘very often’ would be hourly. However if my washing up of dishes (see last week’s blog) produced one clean plate per hour I suspect my better half would not describe this as ‘very often’.
Pi (HOLY), divided by universal (U), radius (R).
15. Stayer – horse – one which stays (strong) throughout the race.
Queen (ER) on visit (STAY).
17. Hardliner – fanatic. Had ship (HAD LINER) crossing river (R).
19. Tender – bid – as in offer. Last bit of lam(B) I had =I’d (ID) or possibly lam(B) (I) ha(D).
20. Saviour – person who delivers (saves as opposed to pizzas). Anagram (changes) of VARIOUS.
21. Halle – the orchestra. Lobby (HALL), (E)ntertainment.
22. Yelp – pained cry. You (YE), record (LP).
23. Shoppers – people purchasing. Small (S), jumpers (HOPPERS).


1. Spanish – West European. Bridge (SPAN), is (IS), (H)igh.
2. Alley – double definition. The passage is obvious – the marble less so. It’s a large marble and the term comes from a shortened form of alabaster.
3. Cowardly lion – cryptic definition. The lion from the Wizard of Oz.
4. Tabla – drums. Loc(AL BAT)talion carries the answer upwards/backwards. These drums feature quite a lot in Crosswordland.
6. Irately – seeing red. It’s easier to associate ‘seeing red’ with ‘irate’ but I suppose it works OK. Anagram (to be repaired) of RAIL YET.
7. Sheaf – bundle. He (HE) put in mostly secure (SAF)e.
8. Dictatorship – it’s often a harsh form of rule (see comments re washing up!). Anagram (clumsily) of I DROP A STITCH.
14. Unravel – sort out. A in French (UN), composer (RAVEL).
16. Redress – correct. Re-dress – get one’s kit back on.
17. Husky – the dogs which pull sledges. A husk is a shell so husky=contains/full of shells.
18. North – point of the compass. Anagram (damaged) of THORN.
19. Bilge – nonsense. Say (EG) and Liberal (LIB) both brought upwards.

24 comments on “Quick Cryptic 796 by Alconiere”

  1. A steady, enjoyable solve. Took me a while to spot HARDLINER. FOI IVY, LOI COWARDLY LION, COD REDRESS/SAVIOUR/SCARCITY
  2. 49 mins but technically a dnf as I tried yell, then yeld! before yelp for 22a, thought it was a homophone. Also for 1a I put scarcely first, scar + c (large!) + Ely. Doh.

    A little tricky for the qc but also some good clues:
    17a, 23a, 3d, 14d and COD 5a.

    For 4d I guessed tabla as the only possible hidden. For 12a I biffed roast beef, only seeing the anagram when I came back to try and parse it. 17d husky I biffed and then tried to justify shell = husk, which is fine I guess.

    I don’t recognize the setter but enjoyable so thanks
    Chris and Alconiere.

  3. I thought there were some tricky bits to this one requiring knowledge that some may not have at their fingertips, and the long answers didn’t exactly jump out until several checkers were in place. I was reasonably on the setter’s wavelngth though, and completed it in 6 minutes.

    This is only the 6th puzzle by Alconiere. Previously there were two in 2014, one in 2015 and two in 2016. So far each has appeared in a different month of the year.

    Edited at 2017-03-28 04:57 am (UTC)

  4. Finished in just under 30, but had no idea why “hourly” and “cowardly lion” were right. The brainless, heartless part of 3dn is brilliant, if misleading. 8dn and 17ac were also a struggle to get. All in all, I’d say slightly at the harder end. Gribb.
  5. I found this particularly tricky and took 17:44 to complete. Mind you, I had just spent a convivial evening at the folk club in Verlaine mode. None of the answers jumped out at me and as Chris says, a number of clues were less than obvious. I did know the marble meaning of ALLEY though. Liked COWARDLY LION and UNRAVEL. FOI ALLEY, LOI STAYER. Thanks Alconiere and Chris.
  6. Found this tough going and was staring down the barrel of a DNF. 3d is a brilliant clue but I only twigged it after putting in Lion.

    Came in just under 20 mins at 19:50.

  7. I got 19d straightaway and started at the bottom. After ten minutes I had less than half done and had to break off. On return I used my experience from doing the Saturday puzzles and managed to finish in just over 20 minutes.
    I thought this was a tricky QC but good fun. My daughter has just watched The Wizard of Oz so the lion came to mind; a good clue worthy of a Saturday. I liked 5a and 12a. Thanks to the setter-and our blogger. David
  8. A slow start, and was expecting a DNF. However, powered through and finished in a respectable 26 minutes. I have no idea why “Pi” becomes HOLY, so biffed it in. Was expecting it to be wrong, as was not overly convinced Hourly was the same as “very often”. A matter of perspective. I too didn’t understand the second definition of Alley, but enough crossers and one clue to be confident of the right answer.
  9. Bifffed in Cowardly Lion – not familiar with Oz; but can’t see brainless and heartless.

    Will ruin rest of my day unless I can be enlightened . . .


    1. In The Wizard of Oz the lion (who lacks courage) is accompanied by a tin-man (who lacks a heart) and a scarecrow (who lacks a brain).
  10. I thought this was a cracking QC, full of enjoyable clues. On the hard side for sure, but one of those puzzles where it’s a pity there is a grid, if you follow me, with the solving of each clue on its own adding to the pleasure. What a pity that we don’t see Alconiere more often. Invariant
  11. Unlike others, I thought that this was a nice straightforward solve and came in just under 15 minutes, which is well below my 20 min target. I guessed alley though from one half of the DD.
  12. Found this a tough solve taking an hour to complete, but an enjoyable workout. Needed help with 2d, marble passage and the drums at 4d. Thanks to setter and for comments above which are always helpful. Elin and Ian.
  13. DNF for me today, failing to get 13a and 14d. I thought I’d managed to log the Pi/Holy link in my memory bank a while back but it completely slipped my mind today and I couldn’t get past the number. Without the U the unknown 14d was a complete mystery to me.
    Other than that I thought this was an excellent QC and agree with Invariant that we don’t see this setter more often. COD 3d
    Thanks for the blog
  14. A tease! Lots of right answers for the wrong reasonings…. although it’s good to get a ‘result’ I do prefer to get the parsing correct too. For example 10a I felt included an anagram of gear and with the checkers, brigade appeared. Similar stories elsewhere. So an unsatisfactory but full result. Thank goodness for the blog. Thx all
  15. I had never come across TABLA before and because I had decided that the local battalion was TA (by definition TA units are local battalions) I was looking unsuccessfully for a word meaning “up” to put inside it. So 2 DNFs on the trot. Ah well, tomorrow is anther day.
  16. Loved the COWARDLY LION. Very clever clue, provided you know the story of Wizard of Oz of course
  17. Definitely felt tricky compared to others and technically DNF as I got a few wrong.

    Was trying to find a proper town for 1a, but couldn’t think of anything beyond Scarborough – as a result got 4d wrong as well, although I’ve never heard of TABLA if I’m being honest.

    As above, I thought 10a BRIGADE was a combination of an anagram of Gear with bid (for ordered). Probably not right when thinking about it, but got it anyway.

    I also had no idea about Pi being used for Holy, but I guess that’s down to experience. I can see now it’s short for pious, although I was convinced it was some form of actual pie, until I got 1d and it had to be HOURLY.

    I got 20a but wasn’t sure about SAVIOUR for delivers, but again it seems to be a religious reference.

    FOI was 19a, enjoyed 3d and 22a, but COD was 14d for which I ended up humming the Bolero for some time after.


  18. A tease! Lots of right answers for the wrong reasonings…. although it’s good to get a ‘result’ I do prefer to get the parsing correct too. For example 10a I felt included an anagram of gear and with the checkers, brigade appeared. Similar stories elsewhere. So an unsatisfactory but full result. Thank goodness for the blog. Thx all

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