Quick Cryptic 841 by Rongo

I’m going through a disappointing run of falling at final hurdles – today’s were 3dn (and therefore 8ac), 4dn and 19ac. This is reflected in my time of 14 minutes. I may try to slow down in order to speed up (not sure that makes sense but I know what I mean!).
COD is a problem – 9ac for the ski/hill dwellers deception, 13ac for ‘challenge when fencing’ or 16ac for the double clue/entendre? Good stuff – thanks Rongo.


1. Up to date – contemporary. Capable of (UP TO/being able to), romantic meeting (DATE).
6. Song – musical number. Good (G) and number (NOS) backwards.
8. Grid – arrangement of bars. This clue is connected to the previous one so ‘… mournful one’ refers to a mournful song (DIRGe) mostly – without the final letter. Recalled=turn the whole thing around to get (GRID).
9. Ski pants – winter sportswear. Deliberately miss (SKIP e.g. breakfast), dwellers in ant hills (ANTS).
10. Casement – type of window. When (AS) inside concrete (CEMENT).
11. Musk – heady scent. Mark (MK) envelops (US).
13. Kitchen garden – vegetable plot. Equipment (KIT), check (CH), a challenge when fencing (EN GARDE), new (N). Excellent! I was trying to place N inside a challenge.
16. Bare – wearing nothing. But (BAR) a smil(E). Works (wth some leeway on ‘ultimately’) as a cryptic definition as well.
17. Culpable – at fault. Anagram (upset) of CALL UP BE.
19. Abdicate – give up power. Become less intense (ABATE) keeping daughter (D) and in charge (IC – e.g. officer in charge).
21. Tyre – wheel covering. In has(TY RE)treat.
22. Pelt – double definition.
23. Minority – being underage. Anagram (freakishly) of IM TINY OR.


2. Per capita – for each person. Excavation (PIT) and a (A), contains (welcomes) Queen (ER) and hat (CAP).
3. Oldie – long-popular track (song). Circle (O), line (L), to end (DIE).
4. Austere – (exercising) severe self discipline. Diabolical pact-maker – f(AUST) losing head, before (ERE). Dr. Johann Georg Faust was an itinerant alchemist, astrologer and magician of the German Renaissance. His life became the nucleus of the popular tale of Doctor Faust from ca. the 1580s, notably culminating in Marlowe’s The Tragical History of Doctor Faustus (1604) and Goethe’s Faust (1808). Legend has it that Faust wanted a life of pleasure and having been involved with the occult learned how to summon the devil. Having done so he made a deal with him for his soul in return for 24 years of service from Satan. Unfortunately, after 16 years he regretted his deal and wanted to withdraw it but was brutally murdered by the devil.
There’s always a catch with these things isn’t there?
5. Edict – formal proclamation. Insert chapter (C) into prepare to publish (EDIT).
6. Slammer – double definition.
7. Net – double definition.
12. Smell a rat – be suspicious. Anagram (fixing) of SMALL TEAR.
14. Chemist – scientist. Haze (MIST) follows revolutionary (CHE – Guevara).
15. Galleon – sailing ship. Anagram (adrift) of GONE containing everyone (ALL).
17. Charm – allure. Tea (CHA), room (RM). Nice image here.
18. Alter – change. Hesitate f(ALTER) missing the initial letter.
20. Bye – double definition. An extra in cricket and goodbye.

26 comments on “Quick Cryptic 841 by Rongo”

  1. I almost threw in the towel on this one, after staring at 3d and 8ac for 2 or 3 minutes; then finally the pennies dropped. Liked BARE a lot. Chris, I’d say that the definition in 23ac is ‘being underage’; otherwise ‘being’ is doing no work (‘I’m tiny or freakishly underage’ would be fine), and ‘minority’ doesn’t mean ‘underage’. 8:28.
    1. I found 23ac interesting as I saw it both ways. I’m happy with minority=being underage (so have changed it) but also I thought the ‘being’ could play the role of word play =/’s/being the definition and minority=the period during which someone is underage.
  2. My hold-ups were AUSTERE and KITCHEN (I had GARDEN). The latter is also my choice for COD, because of the “challenge when fencing”.

    Thanks Rongo and Chris.

  3. Just under ten minutes with LOI 13a KITCHEN GARDEN my COD.
    WOD 10ac CASEMENT- Roger and out!
    1. If Roger is meant in the Jolly sense then welcome back to the high seas of QC land!
      1. I was actually referring to Roger Casement the Irish patriot.
        Thanks for your welcome back, Chris.
  4. 15 minutes, so that’s three consecutive puzzles over my target now , and four consecutive by Rongo. My times for the 23 puzzles he’s set since March 2014 suggest that he’s one of the harder QC setters although he went through an easier middle phase (end 2015 – mid 2016) and has since reverted to type. Today I lost time in particular working out the parsing at 13ac.

    Edited at 2017-05-30 01:13 pm (UTC)

  5. DNF, KITCHEN GARDEN, was too good for me. COD 9a, I like multi word clues which can be split in two ways.

  6. 7.38 for this trickier than average offering. I too ended up with the 3/8 combination left and there were several others that needed careful reading. KITCHEN GARDEN and AUSTERE would certainly not be out of place in the main puzzle.
  7. This was quite a chewy offering from Rongo with several clues that needed a lot of thought. I didn’t even get close to working out the parsing of 13a, thinking that fencing meant enclosing the ‘n’, but the checkers made the clue biffable. 3 and 4d (LOI) also proved tricky to figure out. COD 13a now that I understand it, completed in 19 minutes.
    Thanks Chris and Rongo
  8. Started north of Orpington but not finished till walking through the Savoy Gardens

    I don’t remember ever having seen Rongo before. Not immediately enamoured, rather too “itsy bitsy” clueing style for my taste (“area” for “a”, “line” for “l”, “check” for “ch” etc).

    I liked UP TO DATE, CASEMENT and BYE, all of which had an elegant simplicity. As a skier for 40 years, I have never heard anyone refer to “ski-pants” other than a friend’s elderly American mother-in-law!


    1. My son’s a freestyle skier – ski pants is the usual term for the lower garment which style (and possibly flexibility for turns in the air) are worn so low they put sponsored boxer shorts on display!
  9. Took me around 40 minutes in the end, much of that spent (unsuccessfully) trying to work out some of the parsing. FAUST completely beat me, and didn’t spot EN GARDE at all (lovely clue now I have had it explained), All in all a good challenge, so thanks to setter and blogger.
    PlayUpPompey (or maybe it should be PlayUpHants given the change of season).
  10. Wrong side of 20 minutes for me at 21:30, but all gettable, and fully parsed.

    I have only blogged Rongo once, when I noted that I was comfortably inside my target time, so from my perspective this was a step up for the Setter.

    Thanks Chris for the informative blog, I spotted Faust, but didn’t really know much about him.

  11. I found this chewy too, with 3d and 8a holding me up for several minutes until the penny dropped at 3d making 8a my LOI. FOI was AUSTERE with Faust springing to mind. I biffed 13a from checkers when I saw KIT, but it really is a clever clue when fully parsed. Lots of careful thought required for many clues. 11:58. Nice puzzle. Thanks Rongo and Chris.
  12. Definitely on the tricky side. Took two sittings, with 4d, 13ac (first part) and 22ac holding me up. Did eventually manage to parse 13ac – nicely misdirected by Rongo – and it gets my vote for CoD. Slight moan in that cement and concrete are not synonymous, but the answer was clear enough. Invariant
  13. Despite getting 1a the NW held me up a bit. Last two were 2d and finally 8a.
    In the end no big problems as I knew Faust and all seemed clear. Liked 3d. 19 minutes. David
  14. Quite demanding today. DNF as got myself into a drawn-out pickle with 13a
    until I couldn’t see the wood for the trees (or the ‘en garde’ for the fencing challenge).
    Have just ordered Tim Moory’s book which will hopefully help to avoid more pickles!
  15. I had always expected that two connected clues separated by an ellipsis meant the two words represented a recogniseable phrase.

    I considered both Song and Grid – but couldn’t make a connection.

    Am I missing something?


    1. By and large, the suspension dots don’t mean anything, and can be ignored.
    2. See the blog comment above – there is a connection on this one but it’s not a connection between the two answers. The mournful one in the clue of 8ac refers to the ‘song’ of 6ac and so is a mournful song i.e. a dirge.
    3. Sometimes the ellipses can mean that there is a connection between the two clues/answers – that is the case here, as mentioned in the blog, where you need to know that the answer to 6A is SONG in order that the “mournful one” mentioned in the clue for 8A has the appropriate context (i.e. mournful song). And sometimes the ellipses are there purely because the surface readings of both clues work better that way and there is no connection between the clues/answers. However I have never seen the situation you mention, where the two answers represent a recognisable phrase – that may be a feature of puzzles elsewhere but I don’t think you’re likely to see it in the Times.
  16. Well, I must be improving. I did sort of finish, but with some electronic assistance.
    Oldie, for example, didn’t spring to mind. No problem with faust losing his head or minority as being under age. I wondered about the fencing challenge being en garde but couldn’t fit it in immediately, then I forgot about it when I finally twigged that it was some form of garden. Pish ..
    I admit that I do cheat by putting the answers in the online version and checking that they’re correct before writing them in, unless I’m sure they’re right – ie that I can see how they’re built. I really struggle with some of the more convoluted parsing – I got per capita, eventually but had no real idea why, so thanks, Chris, for the explanation.
    I was sure it was ‘ski’ something but had never heard of ski pants and missed the anthill allusion.
    As an ex-civil engineer, I agree that cement<>concrete!

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