Quick Cryptic No. 83 by Teazel

Significantly gentler than the last couple of days, I thought, but it had some challenges. Never felt quite on the wavelength, so I probably struggled a bit more than I should have done. An unusually large number of double definition type clues (nothing wrong with that, I hasten to add – just a statistical oddity).

Plenty of instances of standard crossword abbreviations in play, which newcomers to this dark art will be well advised to be locking away for future use.

1 ATTILAHun is the definition, with the answer also coming from the homophone (“sounds like”) A TILLER (as in “of the soil”) – one who engages in ploughing. Well, when it comes down to it, how many Huns can you name?
4 ACROSSsort of clue is our definition. The wordplay is A CROSS (“a burden” – as in cross to bear)
8 AGREE TO DIFFERpolitely fail to settle is the definition. The wordplay is a bit complex, being built from several components that are run together to give the answer: A, GREET (“welcome”), OFFER (“proposal”) with DI (“girl”) being inserted between the O and first F of OFFER (so the proposal is “about” the girl)
10 KETCHBoat is the definition. The answer is also derived from K (“rear of” – i.e. last letter of – “deck”) with ETCH (“eat out”). Must admit I had not come across this meaning of ETCH, which is apparently based on etchers using acid to “eat out” the lines. td>
11 CRASHEDhaving fallen asleep is the definition. The answer is also constructed from C (“caught”- cricket abbreviation) with RA (“artist” – member of the Royal Academy) and SHED (“outhouse”). For the benefit of real newcomers, this is a good illustration of the importance of initials / abbreviations commonly used in crosswords. C (and other cricketing terms – B, O, M, W) are particularly common, as are card suits, RA (as here), medals (OBE, MBE etc.), degrees (BA, MA particularly – the poor old scientists get less of a look in), clerical offices (RR, REV etc.) and chessmen. You’ll pick up the frequently recurring ones over time
12 CENTREFOLDSnude photos is the definition (although mischievous quibblers might raise the point that the equation between centrefolds and nude photos is confined to certain categories of publications: for example, the centrefold in Anglers Weekly can be a good looking 6lb bream). The answer is also derived from an anagram (signalled by “turning out”) of FELT SCORNED
16 PROJECT – Double definition – not much more to be said really, except that for some inexplicable reason I took ages to get this one – maybe because I live with major IT projects daily at work, and do not tend to associate them with school tasks. It was only when I got the initial P that the penny dropped (so to speak)
17 OBESEfar too heavy is the definition. The answer is also constructed from OBES (“medals” – see comment on 11ac re. initials / abbreviations) with E (yet another one – “English”)
18 HANG BY A THREAD – Cryptic definition – what spiders tend to do, and also indicative of a precarious situation
19 TURNER – Another double definition kind of clue. The master of sunsets (now also being pressed into service in the Herculean task of repositioning Margate as a cultural centre), and “autumn leaf” also being used to steer us (somewhat lyrically) towards turner. I’m not aware of an autumn leaf generally being referred to as a turner, but it works for me…
20 FRIDAYAlmost weekend is our definition. The wordplay from which the answer is also derived is FRAY (“fight”) with ID (contraction of “I had”) coming in (“enter”)

1 ALASKA – Another double definition kind of clue. Alaska is indeed a “cold state”, and a “baked” Alaska is a kind of dessert which also, apparently, sometimes goes under the name Norwegian Omelette – despite the fact there is no herring involved (one hopes…)
2 TURN THE CORNER – Yet another double definition. In case anyone has not heard it before, one of the oft-cited examples of the perils of simultaneous translations at international gatherings is an instance at a European economic forum where the Italian speaker said “the Italian economy is turning the corner” – which the English translator rendered as “the Italian economy is going round the bend…”. Ho ho
3 LEECH – And here comes our fifth double definition… LEECH is both an archaic word for a medic (“old doctor”) and also a blood sucking worm (“is a sucker”)
5 CHICAGOCity is the definition. The wordplay also leading us to the answer is “fashionable” (giving us CHIC) with “in the past” giving us AGO. Elegant clue, I thought
6 OFF THE DEEP END – Cryptic definition – not much else to say
7 STRIDEStep out is the definition. Answer also derived from ST (“the way” – abbreviation of street) with RIDE (“to travel”)
9 ORCHESTRAperforming team is the definition (not sure this is quite how the LPO would describe themselves, but hey – this is Crosswordland!) The answer is also an anagram (signalled by “whipped”) of HER ACTORS
13 TREMBLEShow nerves is the definition. The wordplay also delivering the answer is TREBLE (“choirboy”) “about” (i.e. encircling) M (abbreviation of “mass”)
14 UPSHOT – And yet another double definition! The upshot is the “result” of discussion / deliberation, and also a (kind of) description of a “lob” in tennis and other ballgames. Our setter’s nod to Wimbledon fortnight…
15 DEADLYfatal is the definition. The answer is also derived from D (abbreviation of “daughter”) “in” an anagram (signalled by “confused”) of DELAY
17 OTHERAlternative is the definition. Answer also derived from MOTHER (“parent”) without the M (“not married” – M being the abbreviation of married)

37 comments on “Quick Cryptic No. 83 by Teazel”

  1. 12ac had me for a while; I think I needed all the checkers before the penny dropped. Otherwise it was smooth going; 5:05. I didn’t care for 4ac, though; a cross is a burden, but across is not, so there should be some sort of ‘sounds like’ indicator in the clue.
  2. 11 minutes. Teazel was another setter whose first couple of puzzles gave me some trouble but has since become easier, or I’ve become used to.

    I disagree with the comment above as there’s no element of homophone at 4ac. It’s a simple example of what some people call a ‘charade’-type clue where the answer is broken down and each element is clued separately. So, as Nick has already said in so many words: A (a) + CROSS (burden) gives us ACROSS (this sort of clue).

    My own quibble is with TURNER as “Autumn leaf” unless there’s a specific usage unknown to me and not listed in any of the usual sources.

    Edited at 2014-07-02 05:43 am (UTC)

    1. I thought this must be a reference to the song Autumn Leaves. I don’t know the lyrics but assumed there would be some reference to leaves turning… but there isn’t!
      I suspect it’s just a reference to changing colour. Definition 22 in Chambers!
      1. Yes, I just took it as a kind of imagery that was cryptic in the generally accepted sense – somewhat elliptical but sort of works when you get it.

        Now, I’d be the first to say that the preceding paragraph is somewhat at odds with the rigorous rules and conventions of the Times cryptic (I have seen exchanges of comments on the blog for the main crossword regarding possible breaches that are quite terrifying in their intensity – like a game of Mornington Crescent where the losers are executed). However, as your humble blogger today, all I can say is I found it a somewhat unusual – but pleasingly whimsical – kind of clue.

        1. I think it’s actually reasonably precise as long as you’re aware of this definition of ‘turn’. Collins gives ‘to cause (foliage, etc) to change colour or (of foliage, etc) to change colour’.
  3. Very enjoyable puzzle which took over 30 minutes to complete. Last one in and my clue of the day TURNER. OBESE also brought a smile. Did not know the old doctor definition.
  4. COD to 1 across for bringing back Aunt Dahlia calling Bertie Wooster ‘Attila, Dear’ which just beat 10 across which is what I’ve recently been bobbing about on (and thus not doing crosswords). Least favourite was 16 across for the reason Nick points out – if a pupil’s project is just one example then shouldn’t there be a maybe or perhaps in the clue?
    16 minutes – extended a bit by bunging in stroll for 7 down thinking let’s roll = travel and then finding nothing worked for the intersecting clues.

    Edited at 2014-07-02 07:18 am (UTC)

  5. Head full of cotton wool today obviously. 15 minutes then another 5 trying to get 12a and failing! I think that’s my first DNF for a Quickie. Didn’t like 16a or 19a – they just don’t work for me. Also helps if I could spell Atilla (sorry, Attila)!
    Well done Nick for the blog.
    By the way, Chris, am I the only person in the whole world that just can’t stand Wodehouse & his egregious invention Bertie Wooster? Believe me I’ve really tried to appreciate him and to see why others worship him but I’ve still got a stony face.
  6. 35 minutes. Personal best for quick cryptic. Have been off work for past two months with a broken foot and this new crossword came just at the right time for me. Pity it isn’t available at the weekend. I have also noticed a big improvement in my attempts at the main cryptic, doubtless helped by practice here.
  7. I paused a bit over 18ac because HUNG BY A THREAD also fits. It’s still a DD, but the definitions are ‘a spider may be’ and ‘in a precarious position’. In the end I decided HANG was a bit more elegant but I can’t see how HUNG could be disallowed.
    1. Agreed, a fine line – but I think the clue is definitely present tense – “in a” rather than “was in a” (or similar)
        1. I don’t believe that ‘hung by a thread’ can equate to ‘in a precarious position’. If anyone said to me that the spider in the bathroom was hung by a thread, I would wonder why it needed someone else to do its spinning for it (‘hung by a thread by who?’). And while that clause is grammatically possible, there is a difference with idioms, such as the figurative ‘hang by a thread’, which allow by the nature of things much less flexibility, in this case use in the passive. Compare ‘life hung by a thread’ and ‘life was hung by a thread’. (A picture being hung on a wall is merely a straightforward use of the passive with a normal transitive verb.)
          1. If ‘hang by a thread’ can mean ‘be in a precarious position’ then I don’t really see how ‘hung by a thread’ can’t mean ‘in a precarious position’. I take your point about wondering who hung the spider, but I think it’s a bit over-literal. I can say that something is stuck to the wall without necessarily worrying about who, if anyone, stuck it there.
            1. Well, your email at 10:22 am sets active voice ‘hang by a thread’ alongside passive voice ‘hung by a thread’. My point is that idioms are effectively fossilised and the language user cannot “chisel” the fossil to eke out his desired meaning. Which is another way of saying it’s not felicitous usage, as linguists say.
              1. I agree that in the phrase ‘hang by a thread’ the verb ‘hang’ is normally active. However I certainly don’t agree with you that idioms – or indeed anything in language – are ‘fossilised’ so I struggle with the idea that active voice ‘hung by a thread’ can be called wrong, and a quick google reveals that people do (occasionally) use the phrase this way. I certainly agree that it’s not felicitous usage, though, which is what led me to plump for HANG in the first place.
                1. No, it’s passive voice ‘hung by a thread’ that I am talking about/objecting to. Of course, active ‘life hung by a thread’ is fine. (Compare ‘life was hung by a thread’.)
                  1. Sorry, I meant passive! Quite important to get that right in this sort of discussion really.
                    My point remains. I can’t see ‘life was hung by a thread’ as wrong.
  8. 7 mins, and I didn’t find it too easy. Maybe my brain was still fried after the nightmare I had with the main puzzle. The UPSHOT/TURNER crossers were my last ones in. At 18ac I read “in a precarious situation” as a present tense definition so I went with HANG and didn’t consider “hung”.
    1. If it’s HANG then you have to split the clue in a different place:
      > ‘A spider may/ be in a precarious position’ gives you HANG BY A THREAD
      > ‘A spider may be/ in a precarious position’ gives you HUNG BY A THREAD
      1. Crikey! This is getting way out of my league. However, can I respectfully suggest that re. the second of the splits, if you are “in a precarious position” you are hanging by a thread: isn’t “hung” perfect tense denoting something that occurred in the past (and inconsistent with the current vibe of “in a”)?

        I’m no grammarian, so I may well be wrong here. But, felt obliged to add my two cents’ worth to the debate.

        1. Not necessarily: ‘hang’ can be both transitive and intransitive, so you could say that a picture ‘is hung on the wall’. It’s not very elegant, but I don’t think it’s wrong.
  9. How do I register for a name. I don’ t seem to be able to find the link to do it. Thanks.

    As an aside today’s puzzle was better than yesterday’s although I still did not finish it. It will take me a long time to get the process but the blog helps.

    1. It’s ages since I first registered to use Live Journal, but on the top line of this page on my laptop is an option to go to ‘account’ where you can select a user name. Hope that helps.
  10. I’m glad to see more apparent beginners get the hang of this crossword lark. Thanks for a really good blog, Nick. my take on hang/hung is that you have to split the wording so that the first part does not include BE, but the second part does. 8mins so I found it on the easy side but, as mentioned earlier, I’m glad more people are getting the hang of it. Your times will come down!
  11. Indeed, and even better, my ODE which I failed to consult earlier has “of leaves, to change colour in the autumn”, so I withdraw my misgivings.
  12. I’m still waiting for my time to come. For a few weeks I thought I was getting there but just lately…….
  13. This was the first Quick Cryptic that I got nowhere near solving, missing out on 4a,8a,12a,16a,19a,2d, 5d,7d & 14d. Naturally if I’d solved some of them, others would have fallen. They do seem to be getting harder and it would be a shame if they became inaccessible to beginners and were just a cut down version of the main crossword.
    1. PRO (for) + TEST (pupil’s task) might just about work but that would leave ‘stick up’ = PROTEST as the definition, and I don’t think that’s on.
  14. I thought turn as in the leaves turn every autumn was completely fair. Project is what modern day teachers give out instead of good old-fashioned homework these days. Sounds much grander!
    18 mins for me today.
  15. Thank you – got totally hung up on 19 across as I had stupidly put in Rafael.
  16. I finished quite easily today although I was hung up on C_I_A_O and 12A for some time but CENTREFOLDS fell into place once I’d cracked CHICAGO. 4A ACROSS made me smile 🙂

    Several people today have suggested the puzzles are getting harder but I disagree. Having never solved cryptic crosswords before I’ve had a go at most of the 83 Quick Cryptics to date and have perservered so that I can now solve about 3 a week. I see no evidence they’re getting progressively harder but there are days when they’re easier and days when they’re virtually impossible for a novice. Personally, I think the hard puzzles go rather against the spirit of a “Quick” crossword and would prefer if they were all more accessible. Actually, if we’re going to keep having hard ones I’d vote for getting them on Fridays so we’ve got the whole weekend to keep trying.

    Finally, it’s lovely to see more fellow novices turning up on this forum where I’ve been worried that I’d be labelled as the mouthy newcomer! It’s such a great place to learn the tricks of the trade from the very kind clever people who write the blogs. What’s a really good idea though is to sign up for a LiveJournal id (normally an option at the top of the screen) or at the very least, write your name at the bottom of your contribution so people know who you are.

  17. A rare success for me (that’s 3 completed out of around 15 now). It seems that when Teazel uses obscure definitions (eat out = etch) they are easy to guess (5 letter boat beginning with k). Inspired me to have a go at the main crossword – got 6 answers, a big improvement on the zero I’d have got two months ago.
  18. Strangely, the answer given in Thursday’s paper for No 83 7down is “strode” which does not even make any sense given that the clue was “step out”, not “stepped out”.
    The choices given on this form for ID other than anonymous include Twitter, Google+, Facebook and some others, none of which I subscribe to. There does not seem to be an option to choose a name.
    1. Hi Anonymous Person

      Have not seen the paper as I live in Australia and only get the online stuff. However, if it says STRODE then, frankly, that is an error.

      Unfortunately, such an error would be entirely consistent with the general levels of incompetence exhibited by The Times with regard to the Quick Cryptic – to the point where (on this site – which is full of dedicated followers of Times output) the Times IT Department is increasingly frequently referred to as SNAFU Central.

      It is indeed a great shame that a once great newspaper, revered as a global brand and yardstick of excellence, should now be regarded even by some of its most loyal supporters (from the crossword community) as an epitome of incompetence. Interested to see if anyone from The Times cares enough to be reading this and, if they are, whether they have an explanation.

      Edited at 2014-07-03 09:32 pm (UTC)

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