Quick Cryptic No 643 by Tracy

Posted on Categories Quick Cryptic

This started quickly and finished slow for me, with the left-hand side of the grid being completed before any significant incursion into the right-hand side. It took about 15 minutes, so for some reason was scoring about 50% harder on the Rotterometer scale than usual – I wonder how you all found it.

Some nice misdirections, plenty of anagrams, a sprinkling of double definitions, all perfect fare for the QC. Thanks to Tracy for an enjoyable puzzle.

Definitions are underlined, anagrams indicated by [square brackets] and deletions with {curly ones}


1 I agree to pick up judge (4,4)

HEAR HEAR – To pick up is to HEAR, and to judge is to HEAR, and together they make the well-known exclamation of approval (I agree!) from the hearers of a speech

5 Sales campaign conceals dishonest scheme (4)

SCAM – Hidden word in {sale}S CAM{paign}

9 Daughter left for Channel port (5)

DOVER – D{aughter} and OVER (left) – my FOI (first one in)

10 Wiped out text, start to finish, about elected Conservative (7)

EXTINCT – take TEXT, move the first T to the end (start to finish) and insert IN (elected) C{onservative}

11 What may be extracted from first half of olives treated? (3)

OIL – anagram (indicated by treated) of [OLI]{ves} (first half). The whole clue can also work as the definition, making this a kind of &lit

12 Traditional in Harrow for example (3,6)

OLD SCHOOL – A kind of double definition. Harrow school was founded in 1572, although there is some evidence of a school on the site since 1243, which makes it pretty old – pre-America as we tend to say in our house!

13 Waste energy making jam (6)

SCRAPE – Waste equals SCRAP with E{nergy} to make the kind of jam that Billy Bunter used to get in to, rather than the preserve. My COD (clue of the day) for the misdirection

15 The last word I caught back in picture palace (6)

CINEMA – AMEN (the last word) with I C{aught} all reversed (back) – my LOI (last one in) for no discernible reason – it should have been easy

17 Embargo on developing a missile (9)

BOOMERANG – anagram, indicated by ‘developing’, of [EMBARGO ON]

19 Well-liked dad (3)

POP – double definition. I worried about the well-liked abbreviation of POPular, but my Chambers says it is OK

20 Beatles song with odd title starts to beguile everyone (3,2,2)

LET IT BE – anagram of [TITLE] indicated by ‘odd’, with (starts to) B{eguile} E{veryone}. Beguile is my WOD (word of the day)

21 Confused, sailing in the Mediterranean (2,3)

AT SEA – another double definition

22 Nimble undercover agent runs inside (4)

SPRY – undercover agent (SPY) with R{uns} inside

23 Surveillance post exposed (8)

STAKEOUT – STAKE (post) OUT (exposed)


1 Ghastly house I’d renovated (7)

HIDEOUS – anagram, indicated by ‘renovated’, of [HOUSE I’D]

2 Moving van I left in smithy’s block (5)

ANVIL – another anagram, indicated by ‘moving’, of VAN I L{eft}

3 Edible type of mushroom, an overflowing supply (4,2,6)

HORN OF PLENTY – a double definition. HORN OF PLENTY is both a type of edible fungus and a cornucopia or abundant source of supply

4 Winning answer had to involve English (5)

AHEAD – A{nswer} with HAD involving E{nglish}

6 Forgive swindler swindled (7)

CONDONE – Swindler (CON) is himself swindled (DONE)

7 Perhaps gold award after change of heart (5)

METAL – Gold is an example of a metal. The award is a MEDAL experiencing a change of heart, i.e. substituting a T for the D to give the answer.

8 Carrying cloak, an item robber may wear (8,4)

STOCKING MASK – Carrying gives STOCKING, as in we are stocking a particular item, and to cloak is to MASK. A STOCKING MASK was de rigueur for all villains in the crime films that I grew up with.

14 Bird, duck in list (7)

ROOSTER – something of an old chestnut this one. Duck is a score of zero in cricket, indicated by O, which is inserted in ROSTER (list)

16 Stop after snake makes for pitch (7)

ASPHALT – The snake is an ASP and to stop is to HALT, and think pitch as in tar or, erm ASPHALT

17 Building Society initially keeps bad accounts (5)

BILLS – bad is ILL inserted in B{uilding} S{ociety} (initially)

18 Prevent a check pinning rook (5)

AVERT – the check is A VET (as in to vet a candidate), with R{ook} inserted

19 Quickly spilling drop of red sauce (5)

PESTO – Quickly is PRESTO, spilling (removing) the R{ed} to leave the Italian sauce made with basil, cheese, pine nuts and olive oil (as in 11 across)

25 comments on “Quick Cryptic No 643 by Tracy”

  1. Great blog, thanks.
    Completed in under an hour so I’m happy!

    Struggled with 10a, 15a, and 3d.

  2. Back to target 10 minutes today after yesterday’s diversion. I also thought twice about POP for “well-liked” but I suppose that’s what “pop music” is about.
  3. SCRAPE 13ac – my COD too – very 12ac.

    I was done in 9.09 so I would put this down as slightly harder.


    IMO you Mr.Rotter are the pick of the QC bloggers at present.

    I would suggest you upgrade to the 15×15 before too long.

    horryd Shanghai

    1. Very nice of you to say so horryd, and thank you for the nice comments. However, I think there are a number of good bloggers on the QC whose blogs I always enjoy reading.

      I’m not sure I am ready for the 15 x 15 yet, even if there were an opportunity. My average time is more like 40 minutes than the 10 or so I spend on the QC, and I’m sure I would feel enormous pressure if blogging that one – I have nothing but admiration for the guys and girls that do it already.

      Thanks again

      Edited at 2016-08-25 08:54 am (UTC)

  4. Gave up after an hour with 1ac, 4 and 10 missing – all obvious enough once I had looked at Rotter’s excellent blog. And it had all started so well, with a good number completed at the first pass. Tracy is still proving tricky for me at least. Invariant
  5. Liked 1ac, using the ‘pick up’ indicator for a homophone as a clue. 12ac probably a write-in for Brits. As rotter points out SCRAPE can be both the spread and a predicament, so a lovely clue. Like jack, I am not that happy with POP, but hey-ho. On 20ac, the Beatles used LET IT BE in the sense of ‘leave it alone’ or ‘allow things to happen and don’t worry’, but if you regard it as the subjunctive, it has the same meaning as Amen. 3d brought back memories, despite never having heard of the mushroom. As 12 year-olds learning Latin, we were much amused by the translation of ‘in cornu’, which appears in Caesar’s writings. Sub 5′ today. Thanks rotter and Tracy.
  6. Solving on the day for once. Did my syself no favours by biffing DELETED for 10ac – fixing that delayed me from meeting my target 6′. Some nice clues from Tracy as ever and good blog Rotter – thanks.
  7. Tracy once again showing that she/he is the trickiest of the QC setters!

    Had to cheat on the mushroom, and don’t think I’d have got it if I’d stared at it all day. Nevertheless, a fair puzzle; some clues of which wouldn’t go amiss in the 15×15? What do others think?

    Thanks for blog, Rotter, great as always.

  8. I was stuck until I deleted Deleted which I had put in (not confidently) for 10a (I see a fellow solver did the same).
    This error led me to Medal at 7d (unlike the athletes who medalled at the Olympics).
    Having looked hard at 4d I corrected my error and then finished it all off. I was unsure about the parsing of 7d, 18a and 8d so was happy to get all correct in about 30 minutes. Thanks blogger and setter. David
  9. Had “medal” instead of “metal” so meant was a DNF because that messed up 10ac for me! Ah, never mind.
  10. The two long down clues in today’s 15×15 give you a good start to a challenging but do able puzzle. Not much harder than some of Tracy’s little teasers. Invariant
    1. Took your advice and had a go
      some lovely clues e,g, sweet girls with hidden power are knockouts (3,4) would make many QC players cod, including mine
      however (after I checked the answers) some vocubulay way beyond mine, and some curious answers where the anagrind is part of the answer e.g. “seat” as the clue and “eats out” as the answer
      And then are the complete mysteries eg “break, whether or not resistence is maintained” which i can,t parse even after I have not only the answer. but also the parsing
      I have completed the 15×15 occasionally on holiday when I have a day or two to spare, but for now i think I´ll stick to the QC,

      Edited at 2016-08-25 08:57 pm (UTC)

      1. Graham, Glad to hear that you gave it a go. I agree that sometimes the 15×15 parsing is at a different level than we are used to in QC land. Eats Out had me scratching my head as well, but in the end I thought it was a reverse anagram – if out was the anagram indicator of eats you could get seat, if you follow me. Similarly, Bust or Burst – ie with or without resistance (R) – are both examples of Break.
        I’m just happy that I can now occasionally succeed with the easier 15×15 puzzles, and I will flag them as such when I stumble across one. Invariant
        1. |Many thanks for the help – I look forward to getting the tip when to have another go
  11. I’m glad to hear that I wasn’t the only one who found this tricky. The SE corner (particularly 15a, 18d, 23a and the 2nd word of 8d) invoked a lot of language unsuitable for The Times. It eventually took me 3 sittings and I would estimate around 40 minutes to finally see the light and complete it. COD 7d
  12. …which is about as fast as I can tap in the answers on the ipad. 13a brought back memories of the threat of ‘bread and scrape’ for tea if money was tight.
    1. the “scrape” in your example would have been lard, or perhaps subsequently margarine. Not sure scrape=lard or scrape=margarine, either way round would be fair in a QC !
        1. mine too, but a scrape both sides and then fried – heaven. Surprised we have any functional arteries left between us.
  13. …which is about as fast as I can tap in the answers on the ipad. 13a brought back memories of the threat of ‘bread and scrape’ for tea if money was tight.
  14. 14 minutes here and a good work out, I thought I’d seen the ‘Dover’ clue somewhere recently and I shared the initial mistrust then nod of the head for ‘pop’. Plenty to enjoy – thanks all.
  15. not sure about metal / medal, both considered at length and discarded as the clue has always hitherto said what is coming out and what is going in
    Also only guessed extinct (which then decided metal/medal) and had no idea of the parsing: much more devious than normal for the QC. Did anyone get it from the parsing? or did we all just bif it and maybe / maybe not work out the parsing later
    No problema with the mushroom, but no real COD candidates either

    Edited at 2016-08-25 07:11 pm (UTC)

  16. Did exactly the same as anonymous- putting medal and then not being able to do 10ac!


  17. Having gone a month with no more than two clues unsolved, and having finished on in a record time this week, I didn’t even get half way through. If that was a quick cryptic, I am doing the wrong puzzle. Thanks to the blogger for keeping despair at bay, at least until the next one at this level of difficulty.

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