Quick Cryptic 875 by Mara

Posted on Categories Quick Cryptic
The last puzzle I blogged was notable for having a grid with a dozen of the answers sporting unchecked initial letters – this time around, there are only four answers with that property, in theory making life easier for biffers everywhere. This unfortunately turned out to not be as helpful as I would have hoped, as 1A was one of my last entries hence the six down clues hanging off it all had to be solved without their initial letter in place. That, of course, is entirely the solver’s fault rather than the grid’s.

I found this offering from Mara to be a little harder than average – not because of much in the way of difficult vocab (apart from one word, mentioned below), rather because of not seeing how the wordplay might work in clues such as 1A and 20A. COD to 22D – not hard, but a nice surface.

The puzzle can be found here if the usual channels are unavailable: http://feeds.thetimes.co.uk/puzzles/crossword/20170717/24883/

Definitions are underlined, {} = omission

1 Pay cut, story unrivalled (12)
INCOMPARABLEINCOM{e} (Pay cut, i.e. the word “income” (pay) without its last letter) + PARABLE (story)
9 First of criteria fit for message (5)
CABLEC (First of criteria, i.e. the first letter of the word “criteria”) + ABLE (fit)
10 Natural bend on cigar (7)
ORGANIC – anagram of (bend) ON CIGAR
11 US city or territory, old (7)
ORLANDOOR + LAND (territory) + O (old). City in Florida renowned for its theme parks.
12 Plunder weapon (5)
RIFLE – double definition
14 Reports claiming poor nag is left to rot (9)
STAGNATESSTATES (Reports) around (claiming) anagram of (poor) NAG
18 Part of Sicily, richly expressive (5)
LYRIC – hidden in (Part of) SiciLY RIChly
20 Title say removed from essay and paper (7)
ESQUIREES{say} (say removed from essay, i.e. the word “essay” without the “say” part) + QUIRE (paper)
21 Rod contains desire for hot stuff (7)
CAYENNECANE (Rod) around (contains) YEN (desire), giving us (Chambers): “A very strong, pungent red pepper made from several species of capsicum”
23 US state where I had a house (5)
IDAHOI’D (I had) + A + HO (house). Northwestern US state renowned for its potato-growing capabilities.
24 Devil started a bit differently, it’s shown (12)
DEMONSTRATEDDEMON (Devil) + anagram of (a bit differently) STARTED. You could also interpret “a bit differently” as merely meaning “swap two letters around” – it’s obviously still an anagram but it doesn’t suggest any wholesale manoeuvring is required.
2 Device that sprays blue rinse all over the place (9)
NEBULISER – anagram of (all over the place) BLUE RINSE. Perhaps the most obscure word in this puzzle but from the same root as nebula, nebulous, etc, a nebuliser is generally used for dispensing medication. Not sure how familiar people will be with a blue rinse, but it’s a hair colouring employed by ladies wishing to add a bit of zing to their greying locks. Obviously this is irrelevant from the point of view of solving the clue, but without that knowledge the clue’s surface might seem a bit odd.
3 Canoe I manoeuvred over a Southern Hemisphere area (7)
OCEANIA – anagram of (manoeuvred) CANOE I, + A
4 He or she, perhaps, has to consolidate declaration (13)
PRONOUNCEMENTPRONOUN (He or she, perhaps) + CEMENT (to consolidate)
5 Jolly man? Got it! (5)
ROGER – a reference to the Jolly ROGER flag, with the definition referring to the word used in signalling and communications to indicate a message has been received
6 Grub’s ending in waste receptacle (3)
BINB (Grub’s ending, i.e. the last letter of the word “Grub”) + IN
7 Pass old germ orally? (6)
EXCEEDEX (old) + homophone of (orally) SEED (germ)
8 Exclusive southern home for chickens! (5)
SCOOPS (southern) + COOP (home for chickens)
13 A face isn’t made to beguile (9)
FASCINATE – anagram of (made) A FACE ISN’T
15 Quite awful Los Angeles drink (7)
TEQUILA – anagram of (awful) QUITE, + LA (Los Angeles). Slips down very easily in a margarita.
16 Leader of clan in tartan, serene (6)
PLACIDC (Leader of clan, i.e. the first letter of the word “clan”) in PLAID (tartan)
17 Old king, brave man heading for defeat (5)
HERODHERO (brave man) + D (heading for defeat, i.e. the first letter of the word “defeat”)
19 Law works (5)
CANON – double definition, the first referring to (Chambers): “A law or rule, esp in ecclesiastical matters”, the second referring to (Chambers): “Works forming any similar standard”, e.g. the Western Canon
22 Root vegetable taking a month to come up (3)
YAM – reversal of (to come up) MAY (a month)

17 comments on “Quick Cryptic 875 by Mara”

  1. I found this trickier than some, with 1a coming late in the solve, as for our esteemed blogger. FOI was SCOOP and LOI EXCEED. My time came up at 12:45, but I did have a 3 minute break for a sudden call of nature. Serves me right for starting the puzzle after coming in from the pub without sensible preparations! I had to write out the fodder for 2d which then gave me a way into 1a. Nice puzzle. Thanks Mara and Mohn.
  2. I only noticed when I came here that I never did parse ESQUIRE; just popped it in thanks to the Q. DNK NEBULISER, but the B L made it seem inevitable. 24ac just now reminded me of the Peter Cook/Dudley Moore sketch, where Dudley asks Peter when he stratted his work (of teaching ravens to fly underwater https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JhS35f015SQ ). 4:27.

    Edited at 2017-07-17 12:16 am (UTC)

  3. 2dn NEBULISER my WOD and was known – but it all seemed a bit plonky.

    COD 15dn TEQUILA 19dn CANON was good too!

  4. 3 weeks with no crossword action meant this felt sluggish, but all done in 46 mins.

    dnk quire for paper, knew the word nebuliser but not what it did.

    LOI stagnates.
    COD 8d scoop.

  5. 8 minutes, helped by knowing the slightly obscure NEBULISER and spotting it immediately as my First One In. It occurred to me re 5dn that this morning a certain ROGER is indeed a very ‘jolly man’ having ‘got it’, his 8th Wimbledon singles title.
  6. A bit trickier than normal, with particular trouble over EXCEED. I just was not thinking of that meaning for “germ”, racking my brains for synonyms for “bug”, “virus”, etc. I was also convinced 1ac was going to end in “fable”, so that held me up a while. All in all, done in 22. Gribb.
  7. So harder than average.

    Mind you a lot of time was spent on 14ac which was my LOI and which seems a poor clue to me – can’t see how “is left to rot” (passive) = STAGNATES (active). A more accurate definition would surely have been “rots” or “is rotting”. Anyway, got there in the end.

    COD = TEQUILA, which is indeed quite awful and which also seems to be unaccountably popular in LA.


  8. 8 minutes with a higher percentage than usual not falling at first read. My technique in that case is to move straight on to the next and it left quite a lot of mopping up to do at the end. LOI, inexplicably, STAGNATES.
  9. EXCEED was my LOI. Took me ages to spot what was going on there. A couple of very meaty anagrams that took some getting to grips with and I guess NEBULISER will be unfamiliar to many. I used to work in pharmaceuticals so am familiar with it.
    Good challenging start to the week.
  10. I took 17 minutes to get all of this apart from 14a.
    I guessed Nebuliser and thought 15d a great clue.
    Mara is often tricky and I put the puzzle down with just 14a outstanding. Later I looked at it for ages before finding Stagnates, because it fitted, and then I had to work out the parsing. I think it’s OK. My problem was seeing the definition.
    Good challenge. David
  11. I really struggled with this one, not helped by being completely bamboozled by 1a and the NE in general. Eventually completed in 45+ minutes over a couple of sessions. Not sure what the problem was today but found it difficult to identify the definitions in a number of clues.
  12. Thought I had 7 down with “eschew”! Even if I couldn’t work in germ.
  13. 14a: clue for STAGNATES just not good enough. Should not have got past crossword editor.

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