Quick cryptic No 733 by Teazel

I don’t think I remember a QC as difficult as this, taking me a full 31 minutes – I definitely wasn’t 23a 8a, and the answers failed to 4d for what felt like an eternity.  Some of the long anagrams helped a bit (3d, 10d and 17a), and without these, I think I’d still be solving.

I may have been slow as a result of over celebrating Christmas, or due to lack of practice over the same period, or because I was trying to rush as I am driving to Edinburgh today to celebrate the New Year, so there is an excellent chance that I will be equally slow when I next blog.

I wish you all a happy and rewarding 2017, and my thanks to Teazel for providing an amusing and challenging puzzle this morning.

Such a bad argument in widely-distributed letter (8)
CIRCULAR – A double definition which I needed some of the checkers to get.  The first being a CIRCULAR argument (which goes into a loop, relying on its own conclusion to make the point), and the second a CIRCULAR letter.
5  British elimination in contest (4)
BOUT – B{ritish} OUT (i.e. eliminated)
8  Implying no one here mentally alert (3,5)
ALL THERE – If they are ALL THERE, no one is here, and ALL THERE is defined in my Chambers as ‘completely sane, of normal intelligence, not stupid, alert’
Nail for horses harness (4)
TACK – Another double definition, the first as in thumb TACK, the second a generic term for riding harness, saddles, bridles, etc
11  Team bonus in exam (6,4)
ELEVEN PLUS – Team is ELEVEN (as in the number of players in a cricket or football team (other sports may also sport eleven players), and bonus is PLUS.  The ELEVEN PLUS was something that people of my generation in England will remember, and it decided which type of secondary education one advanced to (academic, non-academic or technical), in the form of grammar or other schools
14  String theory so difficult a problem (6)
KNOTTY – KNOTTY can mean difficult, which is certainly true of string theory, and strings can be KNOTTY as in they can contain knots.
15  Crayon left beside stick (6)
PASTEL – To stick is to PASTE with L{eft} beside it.  PASTEL is a chalk like crayon, or a drawing made with them
17  A porridge I mixed up for rodent (7,3)
PRAIRIE DOG – This was my FOI (first one in) and is an anagram, nicely indicated by ‘mixed up’, of [A PORRIDGE I].  By the time this dropped into place, I was beginning to panic, because so far, none of the earlier across clues had given any answers
20  This conceals sound from valley (4)
VEIL – A veil conceals and sounds like a vale
21  Take scissors to pattern? Stop that! (3,2,3)
CUT IT OUT – If one took scissors to a pattern, one might CUT IT OUT, which is also a command to stop doing something.  This was my next one in after 17a
22  Look rudely about for some cotton? (4)
REEL – to look rudely is to LEER, which is reversed (about) to indicate a REEL, which could contain cotton.  Other types of REEL are also available, hence the question mark at the end
23  People correspond, but not on paper (8)
MENTALLY – People in this case is indicated by MEN, and correspond is TALLY.  If you do something MENTALLY, it is not committed to paper.

1 Fellow caught by chance (4)
CHAP – C{aught} by HAP.  I thought of this answer immediately I saw the clue, but was unconvinced that HAP was a real word.  I assumed that it was short for ‘happenstance’, but it actually does exist in its own right (according to Chambers).  Both HAP and happenstance mean chance.
Part right: bravo (4)
ROLE – R{ight} next to OLE.  OLE is usually seen with an accent, which threw me for a while.  If I could work out how to do so, I would have written it with one.
3  In hour, spy let out material normally sat on? (10)
UPHOLSTERY – My first down answer, again an anagram, indicated this time by ‘out’, with [HOUR SPY LET] as the anagrist
Turn up near river, not 8 (6)
ARRIVE – This is a clever and unusual hidden clue, the answer being hidden in {ne}AR RIVE{r}.  The indicator for the hidden part being that it isn’t 8 (across) as in ‘not all there’.
How meal may be served effortlessly (2,1,5)
ON A PLATE – Amusing cryptic clue.  To hand or give something ON A PLATE is to allow them to achieve it without effort
7  Grab fine material, as lawyers may (4,4)
TAKE SILK – Grab is TAKE, fine material is SILK.  When a lawyer ‘TAKE’s SILK’ they become a Queen’s (or King’s) Counsel
10  Stagnation shocked opponent (10)
ANTAGONIST – Another friendly anagram.  On this occasion, the anagrind is ‘shocked’ and the anagrist is [STAGNATION]
12  Effortlessly clear rubbish container: finished (4,4)
SKIP OVER – The rubbish container is a SKIP and finished provides the OVER
13  Adopt local ways and love tucking into vintage, getting drunk (2,6)
GO NATIVE – Yet another longish anagram.  The indicator, or anagrind is ‘getting drunk’ whilst the anagrist is [VINTAGE] and [O] (from love tucking into)
16  Carefully study country’s energy (6)
PERUSE – PERU’S plus E{nergy}
18  Court line in clothing material (4)
WOOL – To court is to WOO with L{ine} added
19  Saint always a support(4)
STAY – Saint gives ST and always gives AY which I believe to be either archaic or poetic for ‘ever’

19 comments on “Quick cryptic No 733 by Teazel”

  1. 37:13 so another one on the hard side. Really struggled in the SW corner with the second word of 12d proving elusive. We had an anagram for PROTAGONIST a few days ago. For some reason I had retained HAP in the depth of my grey matter, but still another slow one. COD 14a.

    Merlin_55 (having trouble with LJ)

  2. I must admit that my heart sank after a first pass yielded precious few but as soon as I got a toehold in the SE corner then it flowed quite freely. Glad it wasn’t half as bad as my car crash of a few days ago.
    HAP was a word I haven’t come across on its own, but deduced from words such as “mishap” and “hapless”. It was my LOI.
    Greetings are reciprocated, Rotter, and the same to everyone else on this site.
  3. Another car crash here, and in fact I gave up overnight with 14ac and the first word of 12dn outstanding. On resumption this morning the answers came to me easily enough so I think last night my brain must have gone into a solving loop from which it would never have recovered without sleep. I lost track of time but I’m counting it as 30 minutes (3 x my target) which is the best I can estimate.

  4. was the scourge of my generation and beyond – does it still go on anywhere!?

    I didn’t find this particular ‘exam’ too difficult at 8.51 – but I think ‘being of a certain age’ helped.


    1. Eleven Plus is very much alive and well, but only in certain parts of the country. Bucks and Kent are the main counties where it is still in place but there are lots of other places where there are random Grammar Schools. If new Grammar Schools materialise then it will spread. If anyone has ambitions to be a private tutor then move to one of the areas which has it and set up your own 11+ tutoring company. It’s a licence to print money.

      75 minutes for me today but with lots of interruptions. Glad I was not the only one to struggle!

  5. Above average today, with much thought required for 8ac and 7d. On reflection, I may be being too precise: it is barristers who TAKE SILK, and string theory is physics, whereas knot theory is mathematics. I missed the ELEVEN PLUS by one year, it was abolished in London in 1964 I believe, but its pernicious effect lives on. Incidentally, the whole basis for the eleven plus, indeed the whole basis for dividing schooling at eleven, came from the deliberately falsified results of one Cyril Burt. After he died, it was found that he’d fiddled his research into separated twins.
    1. I took my eleven plus in London in 1966 and I passed.
      Thanks to all bloggers for those of us who are just getting going on these. I actually finished about 60% of this one.
      Is there a problem with Live Journal as I can’t log in and password reset has not worked?
  6. I found this a challenging but steady solve. With nothing notably difficult or obscure. I particularly enjoyed 8ac – all there = no one here. Very neat.
  7. I found this extremely hard and the SW corner defeated me, not least because I had ‘skip past’ for 12d, which works but for the (absent, in my case) checkers.
    I like the ebb and flow of the difficulty of the QC – after two years I vary between 10 minutes at the very best and DNF for the hardest, like this one. But it does seem to me strange to have posted two quite hard ones at a time of year when people might be tempted to get started…?
  8. I find Teazel’s puzzles fall into either the straightforward or the difficult with not much in between. This one was at the harder end of the spectrum for me but I still enjoyed Teazel’s wit in several of the clues – 8a, 23a, 14a. LOI 15a, as I didn’t know that definition of crayon. Completed in 22 minutes.
  9. Overall not that difficult I thought. Some easy clues -6d, 21a -and some obvious anagrams -17a- helped. But I did have hold-ups in NW and SE. I took ages to get 1a and was uncertain about 1d, but it felt OK. Once you saw the hidden, 4d was easy. My last two were 23a and then 19d. My Scottish friend always signs off “Yours aye”; it took me a while to see the alternative spelling. Just over 20 minutes for me. Thanks Rotter and setter. David
  10. I also got stuck in SW corner mainly because I thought 22a was LEER (reversing for cotton reel) so I couldn’t get the second word of 12d and got stuck with 20a too. Was also slow to get started at all. Definitely on the hard side!
  11. One of my slowest QCs, although I only had one answer left to go after 10 minutes. The problem seemed to be 23ac. I’d biffed CORD for 18dn, so nothing fitted. Gah!

    A good example of a time when you completely mis-parse a clue or clues and can’t persuade yourself to start from scratch.

  12. Second tricky QC this week with plenty of lovely clues worthy of the 15×15. 1,8 adn 21a and 4, 12 and 16d all raised a smile. 7d and 15a my last 2 in. Thanks Teazel and Rotter,. 10:22

    Edited at 2016-12-29 03:25 pm (UTC)

  13. This flowed quite well mainly down the E but got trickier and took me ages to get 23a and 18d to finish. So I estimate about an hour in all.
    FOI 5a, LOI 23a, COD 16d.

    Can anyone tell me if the blog on the Christmas Turkey is live anywhere? I did copy the blog just before Christmas but wonder if it has been extended since. In particular I would like to confirm it equates to a 15×15 rather than a QC, and an estimation of difficulty. I managed 2/3rds with some biffing but am still no wiser in understanding the explanation for at least one clue!

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