Quick Cryptic 925 by Flamande

Posted on Categories Quick Cryptic
Rather tougher than the usual Flamande, I think, with a fair dollop of general knowledge required, including a couple of actors whose peak was arguably in the 1940s/1950s. I do like some general knowledge in puzzles rather than just “words”, and here the wordplay is reasonably helpful if you don’t happen to have the necessary knowledge. Films are certainly not a strong point of mine, but I’m more comfortable with them than with Times staples such as, say, Shakespeare. Having said that, “The Complete Works” is getting perilously close to the top of my bedside pile of reading matter, so some of my Shakespeare deficiencies may well be remedied in the next few months.

Definitions are underlined, omission = {}

1 Pieces of timber to repair wide roof (8)
FIREWOOD – anagram of (to repair) WIDE ROOF
5 Weapon brandished in Cossack rising (4)
KRIS – hidden (brandished) in CossacK RISing, to give (Chambers): “A Malay dagger with a wavy scalloped blade”. I think I knew this from some adventure book from my childhood. I was a little uncertain as to whether the “brandished” was the hidden indicator or just the “in” – if the latter, then the definition is “Weapon brandished”, which I think also works.
8 Vermin repulsed fish and bird (8)
STARLING – reversal of (repulsed) RATS (Vermin), + LING (fish). In Crosswordland, ling leads a double life as both a fish and another word for heather.
9 Go, perhaps, for hunted creatures (4)
GAME – double definition, the first an indicated definition by example using the Chinese board game go (though for some reason my Chambers says it’s Japanese)
11 Not much loud music in city of Arkansas (6,4)
LITTLE ROCKLITTLE (Not much) + ROCK (loud music), to give the state capital of Arkansas
14 Claim covered by local legend (6)
ALLEGE – hidden in (covered by) locAL LEGEnd
15 Animated character dad and I listened to (6)
POPEYEPOP (dad) + homophone of (listened to) I
17 Highly critical of curios one’s collected (10)
CENSORIOUS – anagram of (collected) CURIOS ONE’S
20 Pass round crackers with English cheese (4)
EDAM – reversal of (Pass round) MAD (crackers) + E (English)
21 New garden incorporating first rate system for channelling water (8)
DRAINAGE – anagram of (New) GARDEN around (incorporating) AI (first rate)
22 Fizzy drink son or daughter accepts for starters (4)
SODA – initial letters of (for starters) Son Or Daughter Accepts
23 Broadcast Martin’s arranged on time (8)
TRANSMIT – anagram of (arranged) MARTIN’S, + T (time)
1 Most of staff, after restructuring, secure (4)
FAST – anagram of (after restructuring) STAF{f} (Most of staff, i.e. the word “staff” without its last letter)
2 Study religious education, leading to a first in divinity (4)
READRE (religious education) + A + D (first in divinity, i.e. the first letter of the word “divinity”)
3 Western jazz musician gets the boot (10)
WELLINGTONW (Western) + ELLINGTON (jazz musician, i.e. Duke, composer of jazz standards such as Mood Indigo and In A Sentimental Mood)
4 Fancy gold and brown backing on rear of vehicle (6)
ORNATEOR (gold) + reversal of (backing) TAN (brown), + {vehicl}E (rear of vehicle, i.e. the last letter of the word “vehicle”)
6 Thought about taking on a young male editor (8)
REASONEDRE (on) + A + SON (young male) + ED (editor)
7 Spotted actor named Gregory in sleigh (8)
SPECKLEDPECK (actor named Gregory) in SLED (sleigh). Film buffs may be spoiled for choice here but I couldn’t think of any other acting Gregorys off the top of my head.
10 Firmness of purpose, note, to get answer to crossword? (10)
RESOLUTIONRE (note) + SOLUTION (answer to crossword?)
12 Protesters run into border territory (8)
MARCHERSR (run) in MARCHES (border territory). For march, Chambers has: “(in pl; also with cap) a border district” – I think this caused a bit of a discussion the last time it came up, as it wasn’t a widely known term. Devotees of the RPG Traveller may remember that one of the most distant sectors in the playable universe was called the Spinward Marches.
13 A country welcoming young chap, star of many a western (4,4)
ALAN LADDA + LAND (country) around (welcoming) LAD (young chap). From regular quiz machine usage at uni, I knew that this chap was the leading actor in Shane but that’s the extent of my knowledge – I couldn’t pick him out of a line-up. The web tells me that he also appeared in Westerns such as Whispering Smith, Stampeded, and The Badlanders.
16 A daily source of reflection? (6)
MIRROR – double definition, the first a reference to the newspaper
18 Friendly, minutes after fighting (4)
WARMM (minutes) after WAR (fighting)
19 Handled matted fabric (4)
FELT – double definition

34 comments on “Quick Cryptic 925 by Flamande”

  1. Fairly straightforward, although LOI 13d took me a while; even I barely remember ALAN LADD, and only from ‘Shane’, which I don’t remember. Ladd was very short (as was Mae West), and the cameraman had to make adjustments (ditto). All this time I’d thought of GO as a Japanese game, although it doesn’t surprise me to learn that it originated in China. It’s certainly one of the most popular games in cryptics. 5:02.
  2. As per George I was ‘frozen out’ of ‘Live Journal’ yesterday – Clunk-Click every trip! Time for a change methink!

    This was a slow start to the week which bodeth dodgy! 11.49

    13dn actor Alan Ladd his last film was ‘The Carpetbaggers’ – died youngish. My COD.

    Nice to see Gregory Peck getting a mention – he’s on the CRS circuit!

    WOD 15ac POPEYE

  3. 37:26. DNK KRIS and never heard of ALAN LADD, so he was LOI. COD LITTLE ROCK.

    This Grid has only clues with an even number of letters.

  4. … contains quite a few unusual words, but if you trust the wordplay then it is within the reach of Quicky solvers.
  5. Seemed hard for a quickie on Monday.

    Dnk Alan Ladd, censorious, kris, or the game go.

    Marchers was also chewy, LOI &COD

  6. I found this a particularly enjoyable puzzle which I completed in 15 minutes. I was fortunate that most of the GK clues I was able to dredge up the answers to relatively quickly – apart from the unknown 5a (LOI). Lots of excellent clues but 15a gets my COD, for making me chuckle.
  7. … since over-running engineering works at Sevenoaks have b*ggered up the trains and my 45 min journey looks like taking an hour and 20 … so looking for diversion …

    Anyway. Got through this slowly but steadily. Unlike mohn2 I am not a fan of random and slightly obscure general knowledge answers but with all the checkers I was able to google “is there a film star called Alan Ladd?”. (Gregory Peck, per contra, entered the English language via Cockney rhyming slang.)

    The kris is a bizarre-looking weapon, I wonder what the theory was behind making it wavy?

    Finished between Nutfield and Redhill on this ghastly diverted journey.


    1. I don’t watch many films at all so I tend to assume that film stars who are only tangentially known to me are probably much better known to the average person, however it does appear from your comment and others that Alan Ladd is by no means universally famous! I didn’t know the Gregory Peck rhyming slang, but he at least was still acting well into my lifetime, whereas Alan Ladd died more than 50 years ago.

      As long as solvers have another route to the answer (i.e. via the wordplay) then it seems fair, and in this case I thought the wordplay was pretty close to being unambiguous. Unfortunately, at some point all solvers – even experienced ones – will encounter words that they don’t know, and in such cases you have no choice but to construct the answer from only “half” the clue. It’s satisfying when you get it right, but does feel like a bit of a swizz if the wordplay is ambiguous and you guess wrongly.

      Hope you aren’t still on a slow-motion tour of the home counties …

      1. I don’t think the word play was that helpful as I tried to fit quite a few countries before landing on land!
        1. I was thinking that the “young chap” was potentially ambiguous (maybe DAN or HAL or something similar) but yes – the country is too if land doesn’t immediately spring to mind.
      2. Thank you! It was a dreadful journey – just boarded a train home and hoping for a normal trip back.


    2. Once you have stabbed someone with a wavy blade it pulls out again easily for instant reuse. A straight blade does not pull out easily.
      For the same reason bayonettes have hollows in the sides, and some daggers are diamond shaped in cross-section and tapered.
  8. I agree there was a lot to enjoy here but I have an issue with Ladd and Peck. My 30 year old son follows me in enjoying crosswords – what chance would he have had with today’s.
    1. To echo part of my response to Templar above, there will always be occasions when solvers don’t know a word and have to derive the answer by other means. The Alan Ladd clue has wordplay that’s fairly unambiguous, even if the answer isn’t familiar. The clue referencing Gregory Peck is perhaps harder – you’re stuck with trying to guess a word meaning “Spotted” from S?E?K?E?, or possibly S?E?K?ED with the 2nd or 6th letter L If you spot the sleigh=sled equivalence. Not impossible, but guessing answers from the definition and checking letters is no doubt less satisfying than deriving the answer from wordplay.

      I think the main contentious aspect of Ladd and Peck as answers/wordplay is that knowledge of them is biased towards people who were alive in the 1940s/1950s. This contrasts with subjects upon which the Times crossword has historically drawn, e.g. mythology, classical music, literature, etc, knowledge of which has endured for centuries and which is not necessarily any less available to youngsters than older people. Times puzzles are generally quite sparse on “modern culture” – to any younger solvers who found this one off-putting, I’d say that it isn’t the norm, but in such cases just approach solving them as you would any other unknown. In the long run, from a Times crossword point of view, knowing a raft of Shakespearean characters is always going to trump knowledge of film stars of yesteryear.

      1. Sure! To confess my own ignorance I had never heard of a Kris or an oriental game called ‘go’ but the answers worked and research confirmed my suspicions. It’s only my opinion but I think there is often a skew inasmuch as answers are more accessible to people (particularly men) of a certain generation. I’m a little younger but old enough to hear bells ringing and so found the Ladd/Peck answers quite easily and exactly as you outlined. Left me irritated rather than satisfied 🙂
  9. 10:05, so just over my quicky target time of ten minutes. The delay was entirely the fault of 12d, where I picked the wrong R and spent an age trying to work out why MACHERS would mean border territory. D’oh!
  10. I found this pretty straightforward, but I do agree that it required a fair amount of rather ancient GK. Even Little Rock I know only from the race riots (in the 60s?), and I haven’t heard of Alan Ladd for many a year.
    Nevertheless, enjoyable start to the week.
  11. No trouble with Little Rock. If you’ve heard of the Clintons you should know it. MARCHERS took a little while to construct and was my penultimate, just before FELT. Alan Ladd was one of my mother’s favourite actors and I knew Gregory Peck. 8:04. Thanks Flamande and Mohn.
  12. Sadly a DNF start to the week, as I opted for Hare at 9ac not having thought of Go as a game. Such is life. Apart from that, an enjoyable 35 mins or so. I’m slightly surprised that Alan Ladd is unknown to many, given that Shane would make most top 10 Western lists. You’ll be telling me next that Gary Cooper was Tommy’s brother. . . Invariant
  13. I warmed up today looking at David McLean’s Sunday puzzle which is pretty tricky -and unfinished for me.
    This seemed relatively straightforward and I knew the relevant GK so finished in 14 minutes with 6d.
    Good to see Alan Ladd get a mention.
    I see also that amongst the prizewinners for Saturday is D Manley, Oxford. Well done!
  14. I biffed in IRRIGATE for 21a – it seemed to fit with channelling water and the R and I I had for second and fourth letters even though the part of speech seemed off. Then when 18d and 19d fitted I thought no more about it.
    Until I finished on my iPad and it said I was wrong. I saw drainage almost immediately but it was too late.
  15. Outside my target time at 35.55, but finished without aids, which is the real target. Got Alan Ladd from the clue, but didn’t know him. Similarly, I just hoped that “KRIS” was a word, as it was the only word that would fit.
  16. Lots of interruptions so I dont know my time, but certainly not good. Didn’t know kris, but guessed BRES on the basis that a Cossak might be a Serb (both are Slavs) and then it would be rising. Never Heard of Alan Ladd, but the parsing was fairly easy. However I still strongly agree with the sentiments above, I was minus 4 years old when Alan Ladd had his last hit, and even Popeye is a bit long in the tooth now. Why no more modern film stars or cartoon characters? We are now one sixth of the way through the 21st century but the setters still seem to be locked in the first half of the 20th. (and don’t get me started on military, cricket and U/non-U).
    As I write there is an ad for GWR on the telly (not the TV set) featuring the famous five – ho hum.

    Edited at 2017-09-25 04:39 pm (UTC)

    1. I’m probably not the best person to make a defence of the Times, as for entertainment value I prefer the puzzles in the Guardian and Independent, but the Times does have a number of quirks that give it its distinctive flavour. It tends to draw its general knowledge from categories such as literature, classical music, etc – modern culture does not often get a look in. I’m not sure whether that’s because originally the puzzle was supposed to reflect the knowledge that a well-educated gentleman (whatever that is) would have, or if it is just because those subjects have stood the test of time. I’ve been doing Times puzzles for so long now that I’ve gotten used to the fact that many of the typical general knowledge subjects don’t align with my own interests, and I view it more as an opportunity to learn something new.

      One of the rules in Times puzzles is that living people (except the Queen) can’t be used as answers. I don’t know the origin of that rule, but that partly explains why we don’t get modern film stars making an appearance. Having said that, I’d still be gobsmacked to see, say, River Phoenix as an answer in a Times puzzle.

      1. River Phoenix would make a great clue. And I’m sure I’ve seen Michael Jackson as an answer recentlyish so perhaps not as unlikely as you think
  17. An unusually late solve for me, which might explain why the bottom half of the puzzle took so long.

    09:40 in the end, slowed mostly by the unknown ALAN LADD and the anagram at 17a where I finally had to write the letters out to see it. Mind you, even if I’d worked it out in my head I still might’ve needed a few attempts to spell it correctly…

    Also should’ve trusted my initial instinct to think about “marches” in 12d, even though it seemed a bit esoteric for the QC. Must stop trying to second-guess the setters.

    FOI 1d, LOI FELT. When I thought “LITTLE ROCK” I saw Bill Clinton in my mind, so clearly he’s permeated my unconscious to some degree.

    Thanks to setter and blogger.

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