Quick Cryptic Number 617 by Tracy

I’m away early tomorrow so it’s an early post.

The most difficult crossword I’ve had to blog for a while, and very entertaining too. I couldn’t find a hold anywhere, so flitted around the grid, starting with the shorter answers, before the penny dropped in all corners, all roughly at once. In the end, I was very glad to complete without having to resort to aids (other than to check previously unknown words already entered, for the sake of the blog!). COD to 11ac for the definition!

Hope all is correct and clear – if not, just ask.

Definitions underlined.

1 Charming wise men, almost relaxed (7)
MAGICAL – MAGI (wise men) and all but the last letter of (almost) CALm (relaxed).
5 Eat nothing in a hurry (4)
FAST – double definition.
7 Jack and king Welshman rejected (5)
KNAVE – K (king) and EVAN (Welshman) backwards (rejected).
8 Some discover Montana, a state (7)
VERMONT – hidden in (some) discoVER MONTana.
10 Boy‘s piece of music, unfinished (3)
SON – SONg (piece of music) without last the last letter (unfinished).
11 Burning desire to see extremely pretty country (9)
PYROMANIA – outside letters of (extremely) PrettY, and ROMANIA (country).
13 Tell about past (6)
RELATE – RE (regarding, about), and LATE (past).
14 Painter in squat, mostly silent at first (6)
STUBBS – STUBBy (squat) without last letter (mostly), and first letter of (at first) Silent.
17 Cleaner, by a stop, caught early coach (9)
CHARABANC – CHAR (cleaner), A BAN (stop), and C (caught, cricket).
19 Old lady eating duck, old bird (3)
MOA – MA (old lady) containing (eating) O (duck, cricket).
20 Disgraceful event boy recalled, on examination (7)
SCANDAL – LAD (boy) backwards (recalled) on SCAN (examination).
22 Nothing pleasant pending (2,3)
ON ICE – O (nothing) and NICE (pleasant).
23 Heads turned in shock (4)
STUN – NUTS (heads) backwards (turned).
24 Useless person with, initially, a reasonable chance? (7)
WASHOUT – first letter of (initially) With, and A SHOUT (a reasonable chance).
1 Records an album, and leaves? (5,6)
MAKES TRACKS – double definition.
2 Anchor angler at sea holds quietly (7)
GRAPNEL – anagram of (at sea) ANGLER, containing (holds) P (piano, quietly).
3 Flying to palace inhabited by king and queen (9)
CLEOPATRA – anagram of (flying) TO PALACE, containing (inhabited by) R (Rex, king).
4 Large, one extremely distinctive dress (6)
LIVERY – L (large), I (one), and VERY (extremely).
5 Tree set alight (not base) (3)
FIR – FIRe (set alight), without last letter (not base).
6 Power in early golf club (5)
SPOON – P (power) in SOON (early).
9 Managed health club with river outside, clear (11)
TRANSPARENT – RAN (managed), SPA (health club), surrounded by (outside) TRENT (river).
12 Medical officer to come over for sport (9)
MOTOCROSS – MO (medical officer) and TO CROSS (to come over).
15 Disney character, no child (7)
BAMBINO – BAMBI (Disney character) and NO.
16 Pale pig devouring everything (6)
SALLOW – SOW (pig) around (devouring) ALL (everything).
18 Modify trailer fitting (5)
ADAPT – AD (advertisement, trailer) and APT (fitting).
21 Faculty head lacking area for study (3)
DEN – DEaN (faculty head) lacking ‘a’ (area).

29 comments on “Quick Cryptic Number 617 by Tracy”

  1. This was a nice one, indeed, with some tricky clues. I was slowed down at 15d, unable to think of any Disney characters for what seemed like forever; also at 16d, where SALLOW took a while because I associate ‘pale’ with white or gray, sallow with yellow (but of course the clue is fine). I’d join William in giving 11ac the COD, with 3d close behind. 6:24.
  2. Why did we go from 17 ac CHARABANC to COACH or even (AUTO)BUS? A mini Brexit perhaps!?
    When I lived in Manchester in the late sixties charabanc was always used as the preferred method of transport for t’ ‘Wakes Week Outing’! My WOD CHARABANC ab. CHARA.
    It was all part of my tertiary education along with MITHERING and BALM CAKES.

    I thought today’s QC a bit tougher than usual – like the 15×15.

    8.31 and finished both by 8.31am (China Time) so back to bed and a late breakfast.

    horryd Shanghai

  3. Only just made it within my 10 minute target today. GRAPNEL and STUBBS were two answer I thought on the tricky side, but at least there was only one possibility for the anchor if one spotted the anagrist and had all the checkers in place.
  4. Agree with the comments so far, certainly one or two tricky clues, and like the blogger going all over the place. My love of Wodehouse made 6d a write in, how come we never have Mashie-Niblick or Rutting Iron. COD 11a, what a lovely surface. Thanks Tracy and blogger.
  5. I think Tracy is the setter whose puzzles are closest to the difficulty of the main puzzle.

    Still, very enjoyable.

  6. Enjoyed this a lot. Was very glad to read William’s intro as I felt exactly the same – hard to get a foothold. Was delighted (and quite surprised in the end) to finish without aids in just under 20 mins. Charabanc and Spoon were both leaps of faith based on the cryptic.
  7. A typical Tracy offering, with clues that make you wonder which end to start at. Like William, I was just grateful to complete this, though in my case it took around 50 mins, with 15d LOI. Charabanc was my favourite today – a lovely word. Invariant
  8. Very tricky and a DNF. I didn’t help myself by carelessly putting PALLID for 16d and not bothering to parse it ( is this what ‘biffing’ means?) and then having no chance with 24a. Also couldn’t get my brain to see ‘squat’ as anything other than a noun or verb until I came to the blog. No complaints though, each time this happens a little learning (notwithstanding Pope’s warning) takes place.
    1. I thought of ‘pallid’ first, too, but for once held back. The verb ‘biff’ was created from BIFD (Bunged In From Definition), which I believe was coined by grestyman. So since you had the definition, (and, I assume, the ALL part as well), I’d say yes, you biffed it.
  9. A couple of fire-related clues in an excellent puzzle. Many clues hear worthy of the 15×15, which is exactly the idea of the QC. I’m doing much better on the 15×15 these days. My COD for 11a which had me chuckling. About 15 mins for this with the artist my LOI. Thanks Tracy and blogger.
  10. Yes, based on my completion time of 20 minutes against my target of 10, about double bubble for difficulty, but very enjoyable nonetheless.

    After my first read through I had about 5 or 6 answers, but none of them connected on the grid causing a bit of a confidence crisis until the gaps started to fill in on subsequent readings. My CoD was 13

  11. I blamed the hayfever for me coming in at just under ten minutes but the puzzle definitely harder in QC terms. COD 17ac. Thanks Tracy and blogger.
  12. Definitely tricky today, had only got 5 or 6 clues in my allotted 25 mins. But more came after a break & a swim in Hampstead ponds provided final inspiration. DNK 2dn or 6dn. Thanks William for the blog and Tracy for providing brain food in the sun.

  13. I didn’t think I was ever going to complete this excellent puzzle, but perseverance over 3 sittings finally saw me home, in what I would guess was well over an hour. Whilst vaguely familiar with 17a I thought it ended with a ‘g’, which didn’t help matters, especially for 12d. I missed the anagram in 3d (LOI) and biffed it from the checkers. It also took me an age to work out what was going on in 11a, my COD.
    I need a lie down now.
  14. I had spent 46 minutes on this with just 24a to complete. I could not see the answer so read the paper.
    Coming back to the puzzle I had another look at PALLID which I had entered for 16d (without great confidence; but there are probably lots of words for pigs).
    A closer look at 24a gave me WASHOUT and suddenly 16d was easy.
    So about 50 minutes in total ; a tough but very enjoyable test. GRAPNEL a new word for me and liked many clues including 7a. David
  15. Last week I wrote that more of the newbies should comment, so here goes. Yesterday’s which I spent about 35-40 minutes on and had one clue left, was a fair quick cryptic, and about the right level. Today’s was anything but. Over an hour only 7 or 8 answers. I could have just not been on the wavelength of the setter, or the setter needs to rethink the level of the quick cryptic.

    Again it would be useful to get feedback from other beginners, but many more like Tracy and I would simply not bother.


    1. Tim, I think you can see from the other comments that Tracy is at the harder end of the QC spectrum, and this was certainly one of her more challenging offerings. All I can say is read the blog each day for the ones you can’t do and eventually it should all start to make sense. Alternatively, you can just avoid setters beginning with a T. . . 😊 Invariant
      1. Tks. Will not give up yet, and I am learning, but it does seem painfully slow at times when I come across a puzzle like thus. Of course it could be I am just thick!!
      2. Tks. Will not give up yet, and I am learning, but it does seem painfully slow at times when I come across a puzzle like thus. Of course it could be I am just thick!!
    2. Namesake: I have been doing the QC regularly for about 12 months, I now complete it virtually every day without aids, 12 months ago I would have needed a dictionary, thesaurus at least. I now do the 15×15 with about a 60% success rate, it took about 2 months for my first completion, if you look at the comments you will see how I did today, tomorrow is another day. The blog is a tremendous help, once I discovered it my completion rate increased dramatically. Keep at it.
      P.S. Merlin has been commenting on the QC for a while, yesterday was his first comment on the 15×15, that tells a tale.
  16. Having cracked the main cryptic on Monday this brought us back down to earth with a bump. The QC seems to be getting harder these days and hopefully this is only a phase as I could understand how some newer “solvers” might be put off.
    As ever thanks to the bloggers as we biffed a few of these today!
  17. I agree that this was at the tougher end as I only got eight at the first read through and there were several head scratching moments. Like others my COD was 11 across, and 15 down was a satisfying Doh! moment. I thought the main crossword was very difficult today. It took me an hour and a quarter and this one took 22 minutes which is longer than usual.
  18. A big fat DNF. The first for ages and not even close. But I enjoyed the challenge.
  19. A DNF, and the first this week! 14a Stubbs was beyond me as was 12d motocross and I failed to see how easy 15d bambino was. No excuses but certainly a teaser that took me a couple of hours before throwing in the towel. Look forward to tomorrow..,
  20. Just noting my DNF, but annoyed as I didn’t see VERMONT. No excuses. A tough one today.

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