Times Quick cryptic 744 by Orpheus: Triskaidekaphobia

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Times Quick cryptic 744 by Orpheus

Friday 13th January 2017

This puzzle has everything: lots of musical references, as befits Orpheus; Shakespeare; geography; mathematics; an obscure new word or two; two chemistry references; plus some lovely clue structures at e.g. 10ac, 16ac, 17d. Fitted my general knowledge and specialisms very well, so despite not being able to type, and being fat-fingered, did a better-than-average time online.


7. A bit of rope rarely seen at 1? (5)

OPERA – A bit of r{OPE RA}rely seen at 1 ac, i.e. Covent Garden, a reference to the Opera House and Theatre Royal rather than the former fruit and vegetable market. This clue is most unlike the Times, with one clue referencing another, there may be complaints from purists.

8. Supervise poetry in Old English (7)

OVERSEE – To oversee means to supervise, VERSE (poetry) in O.E. (Old English)

10. Number one book about instinctive feeling (7)

EMOTION – definition is ‘instinctive feeling’ – the definition is at the beginning or the end nearly all the time, great clue this. It’s NO I TOME backwards.

11. Awkward person originally caught in one trap (5)

INEPT – inept = awkward, P (person originally, i.e. first) in I NET

12. It should kindle the fire, all being well (9)

TOUCHWOOD – noun (archaic) ‘ready flammable wood used as tinder, especially when made soft by fungi’. This meaning was completely new to me, even after a childhood of lighting coal fires. One says or indeed does ‘touch wood’ when hoping/wishing all will be well.

14. Whale finally entering quiet area — it’s in a pod (3)

PEA – nice surface, which completely passed me by the first time through. PEAs are in a pod, and so are whales. P for quiet, E for ‘Whale finally’, A for area.

15. A card, this brave fighter pilot (3)

ACE – double definition, an ‘ace’ being a playing card and also a title given to fighter pilots who shot down a specified number of enemy planes. Presumably such pilots are brave, but the word seems redundant here.

16. Jittery old man engaging in theft (9)

PANICKING – equals ‘jittery’. PA = old man, + NICKING = engaging in theft.

18. Graduate following possible setter’s code of beliefs (5)

DOGMA – MA = graduate, Master of Arts following DOG = setter, the breed.

20. Element two animals put together (7)

WOLFRAM – good general knowledge required here, knowing that WOLFRAM is the old name for Tungsten, hence the chemical symbol W for Tungsten. Incidentally the word tungsten comes from the Swedish for ‘heavy stone’ and its atomic number is 74.

22. Apprehensive over Sun getting involved! (7)

NERVOUS – anagram (getting involved) of ‘over Sun’.

23. Stoneworker’s mother and offspring (5)

MASON – MA (mother) + SON. Not much else it could be, except in the senses of jeweller, or maybe (old GK needed here) compositor.


1.London district badly contravened ruling in the end (6,6)

COVENT GARDEN – see the first across clue above. An anagram (badly) of ‘contravened’ + g (ruling in the end, i.e. the last letter). The area was originally a convent garden, but somewhere lost a letter.

2. Bold about note on old stringed instrument (8)

RESOLUTE – definition is ‘Bold’ – RE (about) + SO (note, which isn’t correct, should be SOL or SOH) + LUTE (old stringed instrument). Other parsing suggestions please.

3. Indonesian island’s grain, by the sound of it… (4)

BALI – Name an Indonesian island, and after considering JAVA, get to BALI, which by the sound of it, is barley = grain. Indonesia may in fact consist of 13,466 islands, but you only need a few for crosswords.

4. …an island Oberon represented (6)

BORNEO – after 3d, this is a gimme, if your mind is in that part of the world. An anagram (represented) of Oberon, king of the fairies in A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

5. Full stop in Chaucer initially recurring at intervals (8)

PERIODIC – Definition is ‘recurring at intervals’ – PERIOD (American for ‘full stop’) + I + C (in Chaucer, initially, i.e. the first letters). It is just possible that this is also an allusion to the previous clue, referencing A Midsummer Night’s Dream, a major theme of which, unmentioned at school, is menstruation. Also see 20ac.

6. Man possibly removing article from passage (4)

ISLE – another island, this time the ISLE of Man, AISLE (passage) without the A (article). The mind may boggle at the surface of this clue.

9. Break-up of odd blokes in sci-fi film (12)

ESTRANGEMENT – definition is ‘Break-up’. STRANGE MEN in E.T.

13. Plane figure fashionable once, with label on (8)

HEPTAGON – a seven-sided polygon, a plane figure. Greek for seven angles, HEPT and SEPT being interchangeable, but HEP = fashionable, an old-fashioned term for HIP + TAG (label) = ON. If you look in your pocket or purse in the UK you’ll find two sorts of heptagon, though they are not strictly polygons, having curved edges. And in the near future we will have dodecagonal coins once again! Also, it’s a pity that the word in the blog title is too long for the crosswords.

14. Senior nun’s urge to tour Brazilian port (8)

PRIORESS – Definition is ‘Senior nun’, the apostrophe indicates ‘is’ PRESS (urge) around (to tour) RIO (Brazilian port). A prioress is next in rank below an abbess, but a prioress can be head of house in certain orders.

17.Fairly recent desire to support Tyneside (6)

NEWISH – excellent clue this, WISH (desire) underneath (to support) NE (North East) where Tyneside, representing the region, may be all that most people down south know about the North East. cf Kent for SE.

19. Travel on railway? It’s bloody! (4)

GORY – Go (travel) on RY (abbreviation of railway). GO + RY = GORY, full of gore, blood. I left that particular hell some years ago, but still allow double the time to go from A to B by rail.

21. Walk unsteadily, being flabby (4)
LIMP – Those who limp are often quite steady, but it works.

Please comment on the puzzle and on the blog.

19 comments on “Times Quick cryptic 744 by Orpheus: Triskaidekaphobia”

  1. An excellent workout but quite hard, I thought, and I required 14 minutes to complete the grid. I’m not keen on cross-references and unusually we have one in today’s 15×15 too. SO is fine as an alternative spelling of the musical note.

    Edited at 2017-01-13 01:33 am (UTC)

  2. I cordially dislike cross-referencing clues and am not happy to see one in a Quickie; but I really dislike them when they refer to a clue probably not yet even read. 1d, though, is a nice anagram clue. COD to EMOTION. 5:06.
  3. I started doing the Telegraph Crossword went I was about 12 and thus found cross-references were quite commonplace. Thus they do not bother me one jot. As a writer cross-referencing is just part of the job. Neither the example in this QC or today’s 15×15 were particularly difficult.
    Time 10.19
    Held up by sticking in EGOTISM at 10ac thus LOI BORNEO was a bit on the stubborn side. Thus Oberon must be the Wildman of Borneo.


  4. I don’t mind cross-referencing clues, but I agree with Kevin re not having read the referenced clue. On this occasion it meant I solved 1dn without even seeing it, which seems to sort of defeat the purpose.

    MASON and EMOTION are chestnuts, but the surface for 6dn was worth the price of admission.

    Thanks Orpheus and Rob. BTW Rob, check out 13ac in the Boxing Day Jumbo number 1242. You got your wish.

  5. Spent an age on the above. I think they are very hard clues. Never heard of touhwood, and hep = hip is one I’ve seen before, but rather archaic. I’m pretty sure we’ve had dogma already this week? Gribb.
  6. For me this was a steady solve. Some good clues of appropriate difficulty for the QC. No problem with the cross-references. My FOI was 23a so I did not solve from the top. Final two were 2d and 6d. I stopped after 17 minutes with just 6d left. I could not think of a synonym for Passage; I had rejected Isle and was looking for a man’s name! Returning to the puzzle it came to me immediately; and I have seen this clued similarly in the past. At least I finished correctly today.
    Thanks Rob for the blog and the clever blog title. David
  7. I am one of those delighted to finish inside 20 minutes. So, with lunch at one, I start at 12.45. 1.30 lunch still uneaten. Return and wonder why I didn’t see prioress a bit more swiftly and, with a little help from Crossword Solver, I stagger over the line. On reflection the hardest puzzle for months. Knowing the Greek alphabet often helps, but the price of a restricted education means that wolfram is new to me and when the only three-letter animal starting with r seemed to be the rat, I was in trouble as estrangement is a word I have probably never used in speech or writing. Now I have that flat feeling – I’ve finished; and if I moved to the 15 x 15 I would waste too much of the day! DM
  8. Set off at a rapid pace and then slowed a bit as usual, finishing in 9:30. FOI OPERA without referencing 1d which I therefore worked out from scratch later in the solve. Saw 6d straight away as something similar cropped up recently. Didn’t notice the surface of the clue but did laugh when it was pointed out. LOI BORNEO. Thanks Rob and Orpheus.
  9. I had a good start but then got stuck especially with 9d which I really wanted to be a sci-if film title! I liked 6d ISLE and got 13d from plane figure with a few letters (and as a mathematician I should know their names). 38 minutes. Not really getting faster but completing most now, so I am happy.
  10. We found it a steady but slow solve, last one in 9d. Thanks for the title which we had to look up, you live and learn even at our advancing years! Elin and Ian.
  11. Started quickly enough, but after 30 mins I was looking down at a grid with a huge hole in the middle. Eventually I managed to get 13, 16 and (CoD) 12 in that order before finally finishing with the sneaky 6d island. About an hour in total, so definitely on the tricky side today. Invariant
  12. I will attempt to remember the title – in case it ever pops up in a pub quiz. 17 mins of steady solve wondering if I’d ever fill in the middle section.
  13. A steady solve for me today at 18 minutes with the unknown 20a as my last one in. Particularly enjoyed 16a. A very thorough blog as always robrolfe.

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