Quick cryptic No 673 by Pedro

Posted on Categories Quick Cryptic
This was a cracking QC, which I suspect may have been a step too far for some, with very oblique anagram indicators, foreign words and phrases, biblical and unusual words.  It certainly caused me some difficulties and took well over twice my target time to complete, at about 23 minutes.  Either it is much harder than usual, or the rioja that I enjoyed last night has depleted my resources.  Many of these clues I thought worthy of the 15 x 15, so I thoroughly enjoyed the challenge – thanks Pedro.

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

Parrot’s bill stuck in mouth (5)
MACAW – Well, so far so good – mouth is MAW with a bill or AC (account) inserted.  FOI (first one in) and I was up and running
Signal to act as swindler (6)
BEACON – For some reason this was my LOI (last one in).  If you were a swindler you would BE A CON
9  Skill put into small cocktail (7)
MARTINI – skill is ART put into (small) MINI
10  Stick?  Stick at the crease, it seems (5)
BATON – our cricketing clue already!  Being ‘at the crease’ in cricket is to be batting, and to stick at the crease would be to BAT ON
11  Suffering wet weather, not in a shaft of sunlight (3)
RAY – wet weather is ‘rainy’, take out the ‘in’ as instructed by ‘not in’ and you get RA{in}Y.  I’m not sure what the ‘suffering’ adds to this clue – it would have worked just as well without the first word IMHO
12  Actor heading for theatre, in shape after running (8)
THESPIAN – heading for theatre gives T followed by an anagram (very obliquely clued by ‘after running’) of [IN SHAPE].  I imagine a number of solvers would struggle to spot the anagram indicator here, as I did originally
15  Quite scared at struggling, something not initially enjoyed (8,5)
ACQUIRED TASTE – anagram of (clued by ‘struggling’) [QUITE SCARED AT]
17  Insects circling hot monster (8)
BEHEMOTH – the insects are a BEE and a MOTH circling around H{ot}.  In the bible the behemoth was a great beast, possibly a hippo, but it is also used to indicate something huge or gigantic (or monstrous!)
18  Man to climb back, briefly (3)
SIR – to climb is to rise, briefly drops the last letter to give RIS{e} and reversed (back)
20  Decoration that’s partly cosmetic, in general (5)
ICING – hidden answer in {cosmet}IC IN G{eneral}.  To ice a cake is to decorate it
22  Wild Brazilian city, as far as we are concerned (7)
RIOTOUS – ‘As far as we are concerned’ is the same as TO US, which goes after the most famous Brazilian city RIO
23  Well, going round ship is a problem (5)
HASSLE – in this case we are looking for well as in HALE and hearty, with the ship as SS in the middle
24  Ken changed two pounds for toll (5)
KNELL – anagram (changed) of [KEN] followed by two pounds LL (the pound sterling is also the L{ibra}, but usually written as £.  In crosswordland pound often indicates ‘L’

1.  The writer with message in story about one monument? (8)
MEMORIAL – The writer here is the Setter describing himself, giving ME.  The message in story is a MORAL, and the whole thing is assembled and surrounds (about) one or I
Bear to shout when crossing a river (5)
CARRY – yes, I too was misdirected and started looking for a different type of bear.  To shout is to CRY around A R{iver}
Part of body showing weight – is it lean after exercise? (9)
WAISTLINE – Weight provides the W followed by an anagram (after exercise) of [IS IT LEAN]
5  English books fall back (3)
EBB – E{nglish} followed by two B{ooks}
Weapon’s quality, but missing top inside (7)
CUTLASS – ‘but missing top’ is {a}LAS, and this is ‘inside’ CUTS, which presumably indicates quality, as in the ‘cut of his jib’.  I am struggling a bit with this and would welcome any help offered, as my parsing isn’t entirely satisfactory.  Having thought some more about this, a quality of a weapon such as a CUTLASS is that it CUTS, so maybe that is the explanation?
7  Some men in England forming baseball team (4)
NINE – hidden answer in {me}N IN E{ngland} which is a lot easier to spot if you happen to know that there are nine men in a baseball team.  Just as on this side of the pond we might describe a cricket team as an ‘eleven’, as in ‘first eleven’.
Jogger on the Champs-Elysees? (4,7)
AIDE MEMOIRE – lovely misdirection here as I am sure that we all had a picture in our mind of a chap running up that most elegant of Parisian streets.  Unfortunately, it isn’t that kind of Jogger, but a memory jogger, called both here, and in Paris an AIDE MEMOIRE.
13  Farm tool? Salesman’s patter promoting first of kind (9)
PITCHFORK – a salesman’s patter is a PITCH, promoting is FOR and first of kind is K{ind}
14  Prince is detained in genuine act of vengeance (8)
REPRISAL – Genuine is REAL with PR{ince} and IS (is) detained therein
16  Doubts passion will be kept up in endless crusade (7)
QUERIES – a crusade is a QUES{t} with the ‘t’ dropped as we are instructed it is endless, and passion is IRE which needs to be inserted (kept) and reversed as it is ‘up’ in a down clue
18  Son to manage range (5)
SCOPE – S{on} gives the first letter, with COPE (to manage) to follow
19  Dark period almost close (4)
NIGH – Dark period is NIGH{t} with the last letter dropped (almost).  The end of this crossword is NIGH
21  Woman who’d be upset by convict (3)
GAL – The convict is a LAG, who becomes a woman after being reversed or upset.

42 comments on “Quick cryptic No 673 by Pedro”

  1. I thought I was getting quite good at these quiptics but the last few days have been very hard, this took about an hour and 15 mins.

    Cheated a bit on 17a behemoth using the check function for moth, did not get 8d aide memoire.

  2. 21 minutes, 5 of which spent on the (unfair) jogger. An aide-memoire is not a jogger.

    Otherwise medium difficulty. If anything, today’s 15×15 is slightly easier (except for a couple of clues), so I recommend it.

    Edited at 2016-10-06 08:52 am (UTC)

    1. Of course, how stupid of me, many thanks. I just couldn’t see the wood for the trees having seen the {a}LAS. Go to the top of the CLASS.
  3. Another tough one today I thought. Liked AIDE-MEMOIRE (with an ‘e’, rotter). COD WAISTLINE for its lovely surface. Thanks rotter and Pedro. I wonder if tomorrow’s QC, which I’m blogging, will be any more challenging?
    1. Who can possibly know what the future may bring, Rob?

      Edited at 2016-10-06 10:05 am (UTC)

  4. I actually found this quite straightforward apart from 8dn, which I was never going to get as I’m not familiar with the term and even with the checkers is was not going to get. Thought pitchfork was a great clue.
    1. Actually, what am I on about? Of course I know what an aide memoire is, but thought the clue was a tad too difficult.
  5. I must have broken into a smile about 10 times as different pennies dropped. This is my proposal for the quality of a crossword: Smile Score (=10 in this case). Congratulations, setter; thanks, blogger.
  6. I think i was marginally quicker on the 15×15 today, having stared, like many it seems, for ages at the 8/17 pairing. I thought my initial parsing of CUTLASS as CUT (G)LASS was inspired – if wrong.
    1. Rinteff – you and me both on the parsing of CUTLASS! Like others held up for ages on 8d. Even once I’d decide it must mean memory jogger. Unfortunately it still took 2+mins to actually jog mine. 16mins overall.
  7. I agree this was hard. I needed 11 minutes for all but the AIDE-MEMOIRE which added another 6 minutes to my time. I don’t see anything wrong with the clue as such as suggested above, rather a clever cryptic I thought, but it is pushing the QC boundaries a bit further than we have come to expect.

    After completion I took a while to sort out the parsing at 6dn before coming to the same conclusion as Sawbill.

  8. They are getting harder by the day ! Gave up after an hour with only 8d left, but I’d been stuck on it for 15mins. Whilst it was a good challenge (CoD 10ac), this level of difficulty is not going to help or even encourage newbies. Invariant
    1. Can I ask what “invariant” means at the end of a post? Seen this quite a bit. Thanks.
      1. It’s somebody’s name, or nickname .. many of us consider it rude to make completely anonymous comments – I seldom bother replying to them. But not everyone wants to open a Livejournal account in order to get a user name and avatar.. so just put their name at the end.
        1. Also, I understand that some people are just plain prevented from signing up—the Great Firewall of China getting in the way, and so on—but can still post, so have to be anonymous.
          1. I would like a LJ account, but Invariant has been used up (I know, it’s hard to believe), so I have to be anon with a tag. Invariant
            1. I’d be just “gothick” on here like I am everywhere else if it hadn’t been taken already, when I signed up 12 years ago. LJ used to be incredibly popular…
      2. It’s the poster’s pseudonym. We encourage anon posters to add something to distinguish them from other anons.
  9. Thought I’d try the QC today, having failed on the 15×15, which seems to be getting harder and harder for me, unfortunately. All done in about ten minutes; loved BEHEMOTH. LOI REPRISAL.
  10. I struggled wirh this one on a horrendous rail trip to Southend – a lorry had hit a bridge somewhere. I finished the last few quite quickly when I returned to it then realised when I checked the blog it was a DNF, I had biffed STOVE for RANGE and not checked it.

    Edited at 2016-10-06 01:19 pm (UTC)

    1. I also played with STOVE initially, but couldn’t make sense of TO VE out of ‘to manage’, which forced a reconsideration.
  11. Stumped by half a pitch length by 8dn. Obviously deceived by Jogger but also vainly wracking my brain for some elusive quality of the Champs E.
    Emptied my mind and thought I’d get it through the first word: _I _E. Fine, mile (is the Champs a mile long?), dine, dice. No luck. I’ll go through the alphabet: must be a consonant, bide, bile, bite, c, c, d,

  12. I looked at the 15×15 first today and did about half of it very quickly before coming to the QC. I found the QC considerably harder!
    I just managed to finish the QC -LOI was 8d- very hard without either first letter and was delighted when the penny dropped. Struggled with Behemoth too. About 40 minutes.
    Then I went back to the 15×15 and I found it pretty straightforward bar two clues (10a and 15a) which I am now going to look up. Also about 40 minutes.
    Try it if you want to test your progress. David
  13. 8dn was my LOI and so I was in at 10.27 – a very tough clue as Galspray et al pointed out. I don’t think it was out place in the QC – so COD.

    What will tomorrow bring?

    horryd Shanghai

  14. That was the hardest QC I can remember for quite some time. After 20 minutes (my target time) I’d only completed about a third of the grid. A few sittings latter I fell across the line with 8d, which actulally came to me whilst driving. No idea how long it took but I’d be surprised if it was less than an hour. COD 4a
  15. Struggled across the line with 8d being the last in, looked at it for ages before the light dawned. Found the whole crossword full of problems and needed aids to finish. Elin and Ian.
  16. Good puzzle today.Some of my biggest struggles to parse were with the smallest words, like Ebb and Ray. I could see the probable answer but could not justify it from the clue.
  17. Way to difficult for me, this was almost a dns rather than a dnf. Only managed a couple of answers.


  18. I agree with last post which I was relieved to see as I could not even begin! This is not an encouragement to newbies. Usually I can get half to two thirds and occasionally finish. Chris RS
    1. Don’t be discouraged – this was a real stinker, and hopefully a one-off at this level. Invariant

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