Quick Cryptic 832 by Flamande

One at the easy end of the spectrum which should provide encouragement to those taking their early steps in crosswordland. Nice mix of clue types, and a couple of clues (13d and 14a) where, whilst the answer might have been easy enough to work out from definition and cross checkers, the supporting wordplay required a bit more thought.

Thanks to Flamande for a pleasant puzzle.

Definitions underlined: DD = double definition: anagrams indicated by *(–): omitted letters indicated by {-}

Note: for some reason the Preview Entry function was not working on LiveJournal so I have not been able to do my usual final checks – apologies for any errors / lay out issues.

1 Singer keen to make a comeback (4)
DIVA – AVID (keen) reversed (to make comeback)
3 Bird looking hard round lake (8)
STARLING – STARING (looking hard) goes ’round’ L (lake)
9 Recover a Beatles song (3,4)
GET BACK – DD. Personally I preferred the B side of the single, “Don’t Let Me Down…”.
10 Disregard female accompanied by yob (5)
FLOUT – F (female) ‘accompanied by’ LOUT (yob)
11 Lazybones is uncommonly riled (5)
IDLER – *(RILED) with “uncommonly” pointing us to the anagram
12 English and French articles about married woman (6)
THELMA – THE and LA (English and French articles) go around (about) M (married)
14 Initially he stands for this ambassador (3,10)
HIS EXCELLENCY – Easy to put in straight from definition, but took me a while to spot the wordplay: ‘Initially HE stands for this’
17 Old relic sons wrapped in thin metallic sheet (6)
FOSSIL – SS (sons – note the plural) “wrapped in” foil (thin metallic sheet)
19 Service station concealing defects (5)
VICES – Hidden in SerVICE Station (with “concealing” giving the game away)
22 One way or another she’s a precocious female (5)
MADAM – Palindrome (one way or another)
23 Fund of money, for example, stashed away by dodgy
gents (4,3)
NEST EGG – EG (for example) taken into (stashed away by) *(GENTS) with “dodgy” signalling the anagram
24 Scary relative touring Northern Ireland (8)
SINISTER – SISTER (relative) goes around (touring) NI (Northern Ireland)
25 After half-term, extremely short exam (4)
TEST – ‘Extremes’ (i.e. first and last letters) of ShorT come ‘after’ TE{rm} (half-term)
1 Tussle … between boxers? (8)
DOGFIGHT – Cryptic based on the double meaning of boxer
2 Little Valerie describing information technology as crucial (5)
VITAL – VAL (little Valerie) going round (describing) IT (information technology)
4 Do something risky and finish in deep water (4,3,6)
5 Weapon — something of little value with tip broken off (5)
RIFLE – {T}RIFLE (something of little value) loses its first letter (tip broken off)
6 Somehow I ran on, covering miles in demanding sports
IRON MAN – *(I RAN ON) – with “somehow” suggesting the anagram – with M also appearing in the mix (covering miles)
7 Get organised, securing one place to stay in France (4)
GITE – *(GET) – with “organised” signalling the anagram – ‘securing’ (i.e. taking in) I (one)
8 Set of data soundly deceives mother at first (6)
MATRIX – TRIX sounds like TRICKS (soundly deceives) with MA at the beginning (mother at first)
13 When speaking, I mention vision (8)
EYESIGHT – Sounds like (when speaking) I CITE (I mention)
15 After Scotland’s peak, now master Welsh mountain (7)
SNOWDON – S (Scotland’s peak) is followed by NOW DON (now master)
16 Very generous, like ladies and gents? (6)
LAVISH – DD, the second being an amusing pun based on lav-ish
18 Greek island‘s request for help to save American (5)
SAMOS – SOS (request for help) keeps (‘saves’) AM (American)
20 Snack served up in Boulogne, perchance (5)
CREPE – Reverse hidden in (served up in) BoulognE PERChance
21 Exam pass oddly ignored when autumn term’s over? (4)
XMAS – Every other letter (oddly ignored) of eXaM pAsS

38 comments on “Quick Cryptic 832 by Flamande”

  1. Like Vinyl, I wondered about ‘precocious’–not a meaning of MADAM that I’m familiar with–but it had to be. I biffed SNOWDON from the S (note this can only work with a down clue) because it’s the only Welsh mountain I know; parsed later. I’m not sure why the setter included suspension dots in 1d. 5:40.
    1. A phrase that was frequently used by my parents a propos any young girl they did not approve of – so a straightforward one for me and apologies for not commenting further on it.
      1. Thanks; the extended phrase is a lot more recognizable. Did your parents characterize such girls as ‘common’?
        1. Not necessarily – if anything it was the more upmarket gels who had a tendency to be PLMs in my parents’ view. That said, my Mother – bless ‘er – regarded a remarkably high proportion of the population as being “common”…
  2. Definitely on the easier end of the spectrum, taking me 7:01, which is approaching a PB for me. FOI VITAL, LOI XMAS. No hold ups. A confidence booster. Thanks Flamande and Nick.
  3. 8 minutes again. Never heard of IRON MAN. MADAM as precocious female has come up before but possibly not in a QC. It’s often preceded by “little”.
    1. I did this in the absence of a 15×15. The Club site has a retro from 1970. Do you have a working URL for 26727 which is a Qual? (The one on the newspaper site doesn’t work.)
    2. I know an ex squaddie who does these things. It involves a lot of running swimming and cycling without a break. Definitely not for me!
    3. A huge sport in Australia (from which I am relatively recently returned after 15 years serving my time) and, I have to say, participants are extraordinarily impressive athletes. Local adverts (and parental guile) testify to the fact that the most effective way to enthuse young kids about wholesome food is to refer to it as “Iron Man food”.

      Edited at 2017-05-17 12:48 am (UTC)

  4. 17 minutes so finally a good score.

    I did a half iron man in Dubai in Jan so that was a nice clue.

    Lots of nice clues but my fave to 13d eyesight or 16d lavish.

  5. Even with your explanation it took a moment for the penny to drop – forgive my own pun 🙂
  6. To anyone who found today’s QC on the easier side, may I recommend the Times Qualifier 15 x 15. Far from being more difficult, they are generally easier in my opinion. Today I took 15 minutes instead of my usual 30 or my DNF (Did Not Finish) yesterday.
  7. But I still needed the blog to explain HIS EXCELLENCY to me – thanks Nick!

    Favourite was DOGFIGHT, very neat

  8. Finished in 18 minutes, so my best time in a long, long time. LOI was HIS EXCELLENCY and needed this blog to see how it worked. I dallied over XMAS, thinking that such a colloquialism (or is it?) wouldn’t appear in crossword land. Loved LAVISH, and this was one of the last to go in. Thanks, Flamande. Gribb.
  9. Hurrah, 20 minutes all in. Couldn’t parse 14A and took a while to “see” (!) 13D, as you guessed I might, Nick. Still think 14A is a bit…off? I liked 17A (though at first I wanted to put MISSAL), 20D and – yes – LAVISH made me smile. Great fun. Might have a go at the back page while I’m on a roll…
    1. Bloody hell, scrap that last bit. I *think* I’ve got ALFRESCO but that’s about it. Don’t get above your station, Brooke.
      1. What have you got ALFRESCO for? I’m actually doing OK on this, (I’m usually awful) but don’t see where ALFRESCO could be at all. Is it 15ac? But 16dn’s GALLIPOLI would prevent that. Cheers. Gribb.
        1. For ALarming FRacturES on the outside…but not sure where the CO comes from. As I said, it was only a guess and with no checkers I gave up, anyway. Just had a bash at Sunday’s with my mother – she was infuriated I got LLANO for “plain” 🙂
          1. Dear all
            Please don’t comment on other current crosswords on this thread, they have their own. Mentioning specific answers may spoil enjoyment for others yet to attempt the puzzle under discussion.
            Moan over.
            4′ dead today.
    2. Interesting (well, relatively speaking…!) See Jack’s comment on this below – and my somewhat waffly reply.

      Edited at 2017-05-17 05:46 pm (UTC)

  10. Oh, dear …. I didn’t find it easy at all. I put a number of answers in without knowing why they were right. Thanks to Nick for the explanations.

    Ho hum ….

  11. Took a while to get going with 7dn being FOI…the rest seemed fairly striaghtforward, albeit I thought the SW corner was more tricky.

    (A question: are the corners designed to be of different difficulty?)

    “Madam” didn’t twig initially for precocious, but for once I did spot the palindrome. However, in the context of a child it now makes sense. In addition, I didn’t equate “sinister” with scary. Didn’t get the wordplay for 21dn but biffed it as it was the only thing that seemed to fit. Upon reflection, that also now makes more sense and was the LOI.

    Have to admit, was expecting a pangram with he use of “x” and “y” etc.

    My COD was 17ac.

    Thanks as usual.


  12. I’m with many others – best time in ages (14:06) and much amused by Lavish
  13. 19:40 for me. Not far of PB of 18mins, something. I’m always very happy to be below 20 minutes, as my usual target is 30. Last one in VICES, just didn’t see the hidden word, or pick up on it’s (now) obvious indicator.
  14. I made things in the SW corner a bit trickier for myself as I invented a new Greek island called Sosus, which left me stumped for a while over 20a. I also dallied over writing in Xmas (LOI) as I wasn’t sure abbreviations were ‘allowed’. Got there in the end in a leisurely 16 minutes. Enjoyed 14a and 1d
  15. It occurred to me whilst solving but I forgot to mention it earlier, whether cluing HIS EXCELLENCY as “initially he” is breaking the convention regarding use of capital letters in clues. According to this it’s permitted to add capitals in a cryptic meaning but not to leave them out when they are required for the actual meaning. “HE” may stand for His Excellency, but “he” doesn’t. Perhaps “initially” has some bearing on this. I’m not even sure if the “rule” is supposed to extend to abbreviations.
    1. Yes, a similar thought (or at least a slight sense of unease with the cluing) also crossed my mind, although I’m not particularly au fait with the “rules” at this detailed level.

      I thought it was probably on the right side of the line in that the “literal” definition was “ambassador” whereas the “he” was part of the supporting cryptic wordplay (in which case – as I understand it – the setter can monkey around to his heart’s content with misleading capitalisation / non-capitalisation). Or maybe I’m missing the point!

      1. I see the point here – capitals are still something I’m getting to grips with. It’s hard for a novice to know whether to ignore them – along with various punctuation marks – or imagine them there…perhaps the latter in this case? Tbh, I was that chuffed I finished so quickly (for me) that it was cause for celebration.
        With these Ferrero Rocher, Nick, you are really spoiling us 🙂
      2. Insofar as there is a “rule” (or “convention” as I prefer to think of it), this is how it was explained some years ago by Peter Biddlecombe, TftT founder and now the Sunday Times Crossword editor:

        Words that require capital letters in the cryptic reading must have them. However, ‘deceptive capitalisation’ is permitted. In other words, a word with a capital letter in the clue doesn’t necessarily have a wordplay meaning requiring a capital letter – so Joanna Strong’s instrument (10) could be PIANO,FORTE.

        This may not be exactly in line with how I tried to explain it in my original comment, however I still have a feeling that “he” for “His Excellency” is not quite playing fair.

  16. I came to this rather late after a day getting soaked on a golf course.
    A pleasant puzzle. Started quickly but had a few hold-ups. Last two were Nest Egg and Eyesight. No time recorded but not too long. David
  17. I came to this rather late after a day getting soaked on a golf course.
    A pleasant puzzle. Started quickly but had a few hold-ups. Last two were Nest Egg and Eyesight. No time recorded but not too long. David

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