Quick Cryptic 942 by Mara

The usual mix from Mara of some very straightforward stuff to help newcomers get some early runs on the board, and some trickier fare that is more at the 15×15 level. Which, all in all, makes it pretty much spot on for a QC I reckon.

13a was a wee gem in its own way – clever, elegant and original: it certainly provided me with a rewarding “penny drop moment” when I finally spotted what was going on. That said, I suspect (though I may be wrong) that newbies may struggle with this one as it does not fit readily into the more typical clue types, and requires you to think outside the box. But it’s the sort of clue where, if you do get it as a new solver, your confidence levels should increase considerably.

11a, though more orthodox in terms of construction, was also quite tricky I thought, and would not have been out of place in the 15×15. And 14dn was a very nicely constructed hidden.

So, thanks to Mara for a most enjoyable puzzle, and I’ll be interested to see what the rest of you made of it.

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

1 Just terrible alongside Labour leader (6)
LAWFUL – AWFUL (terrible) goes ‘alongside’ L (Labour leader)
4 Land also at sea (4)
LAOS – *(ALSO) with “at sea” signposting the anagram, giving us the small landlocked country (or ‘land’) which aspires to become the “battery” of south east Asia through its ambitious hydroelectric power schemes
9 Funny spat in polished comedic genre (9)
SLAPSTICK – *(SPAT) – with “funny” indicating the rearrangement – ‘in’ SLICK (polished)
10 Bird stuck in the mud (3)
EMU – Hidden in (stuck in) thE MUd
11 Sad direction taken in trial (5-7)
HEART-RENDING – TREND (direction) inside (taken in) HEARING (trial)
13 As is “T” for “Tiramisu”, perhaps? (6)
AFTERS – Nifty cryptic wordplay – T is “after S” in the alphabet, and if you’re lucky you might get tiramisu for pudding (or ‘afters’ in non-U English). Lovely stuff.
15 Energetic sort many recalled in party (6)
DYNAMO – MANY reversed (recalled) ‘in’ DO (party)
17 Final part getting house in order (4,8)
HOME STRAIGHT – If you are getting your house in order, you might be said to be getting home straight
20 Field in spring, cut (3)
LEA – LEA{p} (spring cut)
21 Latest run for paper (9)
NEWSPRINT – NEW SPRINT (latest run). Neat.
22 Rugby in state of disrepair (4)
RUIN – RU (rugby union) + IN
23 Writer implicating boy in fraud (6)
CRAYON – RAY (boy) in CON (fraud)
1 Tilt table (4)
2 Cry out loud for marine animal (5)
WHALE – Sounds like (out loud) WAIL (cry)
3 Predictable uprisings run out of control (12)
UNSURPRISING – *(UPRISINGS RUN) with “out of control” signalling the anagram
5 US crime appalling within borders of Alabama (7)
AMERICA – *(CRIME) – with “appalling” indicating the rearrangement – inside (within) A A (borders of AlabamA). This took me a while to spot as I was looking for something more complicated!
6 So urgent to cook fish (8)
STURGEON – *(SO URGENT) with “to cook” signalling the anagram
7 Record attack written up with accuracy, ultimately (5)
DIARY – RAID reversed (attack written up) + Y (last letter – ‘ultimately’ – of accuracY)
8 One totally exposed in the water? (6-6)
SKINNY-DIPPER – Cryptic definition that’s barely (no pun intended!) cryptic
12 Bishop has composed chorale for a single man (8)
BACHELOR – B (bishop) + *(CHORALE) with “composed” pointing us to the rearrangement. For those who enjoy good surfaces, I thought this was a beauty.
14 Things beaten in defeat, I’m panicking! (7)
TIMPANI – Hidden in (‘in’) defeaT IM PANIcking – a fine example of this clue-type
16 Boast new top (5)
CROWN – CROW (boast) + N (abbrev. new)
18 Scary — like a moustache? (5)
HAIRY – I think further explanation is somewhat superfluous!
19 College record elevated (4)
ETON – NOTE reversed (record elevated)

21 comments on “Quick Cryptic 942 by Mara”

  1. 28 minutes, last two were the well hidden timpani and afters, which was unparsed until I came here.

    COD America.

  2. DNF, as did not get 11a. Checkers we’re not helpful, and was half looking at synonym for Trial.

    ETON again, that’s certainly a chestnut.

    13a : I didn’t parse until the blog.

  3. Just in under the wire with 10 minutes again. 7dn was my last one in after I had started an alphabet trawl, so I was fortunate it began with a D. I don’t often bother with surface readings but couldn’t avoid noticing how good they were today.
  4. I failed to get 13a after 10:55. ASTART anyone? T is a start to Tiramisu. (I did this at 3:30am as I couldn’t sleep). Thanks setter and Nick.
    1. Ha, yes, ASTART here too! And I’m ashamed to say I put TEARS RUNNING for 11a…well, it fitted even though I knew it wasn’t right. Like Nick, AMERICA took me a while. Great cluing, thanks Nick and Mara.
  5. Yes, I thought of ASTART for 13ac as soon as I had the checkers, and then having no idea for anything better eventually decided to submit. Of course, when I resorted to an aid for all the words that fit, I kicked myself on seeing the right one.
  6. Sixteen minutes on the rattler for me this morning, slowed down by LOI HEART RENDING. I got AFTERS quite quickly, but for the wrong reason, as T appears after an S in the clue, as well as in the alphabet!
  7. Around 40 mins for me, so challenging. Stuck on AFTERS (which I never did parse, so thanks blogger, very neat clue I thought now that I understand it) and for some reason HOME STRAIGHT which just would not come as I was stuck for a long time on home stretch.
    AFTERS reminded me of the old chestnut H,I,J,K,L,M,N,O (5 letters).
  8. 50 mins, with at least 10 of those looking at loi 13ac a*t*r*, before the penny dropped (though using the same reasoning as Rotter). Bit of a struggle, but I enjoyed 17ac and the challenge of finding a direction to go inside hearing for 11ac. Invariant
  9. 27 minutes so that wrecks my average for the week but takes me back into more normal territory for times. I was another who did not manage to parse AFTERS so many thanks, as always, for the blog.
  10. Mara seems to be back on form today after a run of relatively straightforward puzzles from him.
    I had similar problems to others e.g. 11a, 14d and 13a (which I never got close to parsing).
    COD (now I understand it) and LOI 13a, completed in 23 minutes.
    Thanks for the blog
  11. Not sure why the blogger thought this was easy, it was the hardest of the week so far dnf for me, but then I don’t like Mara puzzles

    1. Er, just as a point of information, I did not think this was easy: what I actually wrote was
      “The usual mix from Mara of some very straightforward stuff to help newcomers get some early runs on the board, and some trickier fare that is more at the 15×15 level” – i.e. good mix of easy and hard.
  12. Quite tricky this I thought. One or two I could not parse but I finished in 18 minutes after putting Astern in for 13a. I had considered Afters (eg for the pudding ) and rejected it. Thanks for the enlightening blog. David
  13. Nineteen minutes here, so about two thirds as long as the 15×15 took me today! Perhaps I’m tired but it seemed rather a struggle, with 13a AFTERS coming in last, appropriately. FOI 1a LAWFUL, COD 13a, though I enjoyed the nicely-hidden 14d TIMPANI.

    Thanks Nick and Mara.

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