Times Quick Cryptic No 1098 by Teazel

Posted on Categories Quick Cryptic
Somewhat unusual solve for me today: I was getting through the acrosses rightly, with every one solved, so was busy anticipating an extremely rare perfect solve, only to come unstuck at each of the bottom three acrosses. The top half was a complete biff-fest, with the entirety bunged happily in (and 2d misspelt, naturally). The bottom half then slowed me up again, perhaps by the sudden strangeness of all those blank spaces, and after that oh-so promising start I ended up hobbling in a minute or so under my target. The “aflutter” at 18ac was sufficient misdirection to have me looking for an anagram and a mysterious outfit; 19ac was tricky enough on its own, I suppose; and the number of minutes of my life I’ve spent looking for reverse hidden cryptic crossword clues, but for some reason giving up before going sufficiently far back, would be a morbidly interesting statistic, increased today by a good twenty seconds at 20ac. Good puzzle, much enjoyed on closer inspection, many thanks to Teazel!

1 Plant disease bad at first, not serious after (6)
BLIGHT – B (Bad at first) LIGHT (not serious)
4 Criminal gang with computer technology (6)
BANDITBAND (gang) with IT (computer technology)
8 In search of stylish clothes, in a way (5,1,7)
AFTER A FASHIONdouble definition, after a fashion, with the first semi-cryptic.
10 Swell of waves certain to involve gallons (5)
SURGESURE (certain) to involve G(allons)
11 With baked cheese dish, stuff European family … (7)
RAMEKINRAM (stuff) E(uropean) KIN (family). I’d say “ramekin” now more normally refers to the small ceramic pots you get encasing those overpriced supermarket puddings, with the dish itself presumably being the principal inducement to purchase. The etymology of the earlier baked cheese dish is apparently 16C Dutch for “mini battering ram”, the logic for which is described by the OED as “unclear”.
12 stodge, remarkably undisputed good (4,7)
SUET PUDDINGanagram (remarkably) of UNDISPUTED GOOD. A nice example here of a joint clue, with the ellipses simply meaning that you can read this and the preceding clue as one. This is, in the Times, always solely for the surface reading (a fun image in this instance) and you can completely ignore the dots for the purposes of solving.
16 Flower college planted in a mixture of peat (7)
PETUNIA – UNI (college) planted in an anagram (mixture) of PEAT
17 Garden machinery’s method of operation we start to recognise (5)
MOWER – M.O. (Modus Operandi), WE, R (“start” to Recognise)
18 Some all aflutter in taxi grab English cricket outfit (7,6)
CABBAGE WHITESas in the butterfly: CAB (taxi) BAG (grab) E(nglish) WHITES (cricket outfit).
19 Ready follower is resolute (6)
STEADY – Cryptic definition, because in “ready, steady, go”, “steady” follows “ready”. I originally thought a “steady” could be a ready follower, as in a “rock” or somesuch, but no – its only real application as a noun is as a long(ish)-term boy/girlfriend.
20 Fruit used in reversing hives (urticaria) (6)
CITRUS – Hidden “in” and “reversing” in hiveS URTICaria. I immediately knew it was a reverse hidden, but miserably failed to go as far back as “C”. Dammit!
1 Cook hearing donkey calls (6)
BRAISEheard the same as BRAYS (donkey calls) – a wonderfully preposterous noise, it has to be said.
2 Terrible input failing: it’s possible to be halted (13)
INTERRUPTIBLE – anagram (failing) of INPUT TERRIBLE. Yup, I bunged in “interruptable”, and there’s not even an A in the letters. I’ve a feeling that’s how I’d have (mis)spelt it outside of a (cryptic) crossword as well.
3 Animal runs into water-pipe (5)
HORSE – R (runs) into HOSE (water-pipe)
5 Took for granted sea’s churned with mud (7)
ASSUMED – anagram (churned) of SEAS with MUD
6 Avoiding alcohol is essential for life (8,5)
DRINKING WATER – Cryptic definition, I suppose, I’m a bit hazy on such matters.
7 Renter leaving article in temporary accommodation (6)
TENANT – AN (article) in TENT (temp acc) – “leaving” is a link-word between definition and cryptic wordplay that in this sense means “giving”.
9 Lucky having strength to catch big fish (9)
FORTUNATE – FORTE (strength) to catch TUNA (big fish)
13 Drank a toast initially, drunk in this? (7)
TANKARDanagram (drunk) of DRANK A T (Toast, initially)
14 Gaps in small steps (6)
SPACES – S(mall) PACES (steps)
15 Crucial moments as cold gets stronger (6)
CRISESC(old) RISES (gets stronger)
17 A Muslim leader, I had pork product rejected (5)
MAHDI – I’D HAM = I had pork product, rejected = reversed. Should you wish for an example as to why cryptic crosswords are superior to and occasionally more helpful than non-cryptics, this will provide it.

26 comments on “Times Quick Cryptic No 1098 by Teazel”

  1. I’d guess that 6d is a double def–drinking water=avoiding alcohol, drinking water (stress on ‘drinking’) is essential etc. But I’m pretty hazy on such matters, too. I liked 17d; I wonder, though, if MAHDI will be a DNK for some. 3:57.
  2. 9 minutes, which rather surprised me as it felt as if I had gone over my target 10 by a couple of minutes.

    I also had doubts about the spelling at 2dn, but as the letter in question was unchecked I invested time ticking off the anagrist carefully before committing to paper.

    Trusted to wordplay for MAHDI. I’d heard the word spoken but was not aware of the spelling or that it involved an H.

    I also didn’t know that RAMEKIN was a cheese dish in the sense of the food itself, so for the purposes of justifying the wordplay today I interpreted it as a dish for baked cheese although on reflection that doesn’t quite stand up in blogging terms. Still, any route to the right answer is good enough for most solvers.

    Edited at 2018-05-24 09:40 am (UTC)

  3. 33 Mins with interruptions.

    Last few were cabbage whites, interruptible, after a fashion, tankard and LOI steady.

    Dnk blight as a plant disease.
    Dnk after a fashion meant to a certain extent. I assumed it meant after a while.
    Wasn’t sure about ramekin.

    COD tankard.

    1. I only knew BLIGHT because in a drama class I was involved in many decades ago the play in question had a classroom scene in which the pupils were being taught about (God knows why) the three diseases of wheat: blight, mildew and smut.

      Edited at 2018-05-24 09:46 am (UTC)

  4. 19:19 today so right on target time. I’m a DNK Mahdi person, but got it from the wordplay. I managed to get Fashion in 8a very quickly but it took a while to get the rest of the answer.
  5. I remember mahdi from the film Khartoum ; Laurence Olivier hammed it up beautifully .
    1. I got this from my memories of ‘Dad’s Army’ – Corporal Jones often rambled on about the ‘Mad Mahdi’.If I remember correctly, he ‘did not like it up him’.

      Enjoyable puzzle – FOI 1d. LOI 18a. Thanks to Teazel and RolyToly for an informative blog.

  6. … but still clocked in at 2.5 Kevins. (How does he even write that fast?!)

    Great fun puzzle, thank you Teazel. Loved CABBAGE WHITES in particular, my COD. Same as others – misspelt 2dn with an A, DNK MAHDI but worked it out, DNK that a RAMEKIN was anything other than the little dish and what a great addition to one’s general knowledge to read the explanation in the blog! Thank you Roly.


    1. I’m no. 10 on the leaderboard at the moment; no.2 (I have my doubts about no. 1) did it in 2:18.
  7. Very enjoyable puzzle with plenty of clues that brought a smile to my face – 14, 18 and 19a in particular. I had no problem with Madhi and I think I’m right in saying that it was a blight that caused the Irish potato famine.
    Completed in 13.35 with LOI 2d
  8. One of my best times at 5:57, so on wavelength for this one. Top to bottom solve with pauses at 14d, 16a and 19a, and careful reading of the clue at 11a to spell the dish correctly. Nice puzzle. Thanks Teazel and Roly.
  9. Very enjoyable puzzle. I thought I had finished dead on my 30 minute target on my phone but got the dreaded ‘unlucky’ and it took me another 7 minutes to find Roly’s A in 2D. LOI was 3D – I must have stared at H_R_E for a good 2 minutes before the penny dropped!
  10. Great puzzle today, thanks Teazel! Love butterfly clues, and thought the reversed hidden in 20A was genius. I’m suffering a nasty case of said bumps atm (pollen allergy), so very fitting. Only hold-up was STEADY — wasnt sure quite how “ready” fitted in, so cheers Roly for the explanation.
  11. Like some others I finished this more quickly than it felt, although I took 3 goes at it. Greatly enjoyed CABBAGE WHITE. Wicked piece of misdirection. Never heard of RAMEKIN as a baked cheese dish. Expecting a bit much I thought. As for interruptible, can = able therefore bunged in able. When I found out the “a” was wrong it had to be an “I”.
    All in all, a very satisfying solve.
  12. About 15 minutes today finishing with 1d. No particular hold-ups; the unknown Mahdi gettable from the cryptic.Nice puzzle. David
  13. Thanks Teazel. Just squeezed in under the 10 minutes mark at 9:57. Have to confess that I did not stop to parse 17ac MOWER and had to return to 1ac BLIGHT despite having lost some box topiary to the disease. LOI 2dn INTERRUPTIBLE which like rolytoly I also misspelt initially.
  14. Having arrived at my station early, I had a 10 minute wait for the rattler, and managed to finish this before boarding – very unjoyable. Count me as an ‘abler’ in 2d initially, but managed to spot the mistake before completion.
  15. Found this one of the easier ones, but thought the clues excellent. Only problem with 17d is that if you know Mahdi, seeing the obvious M (Muslim leader) and “I had”, I didn’t look any further than the anagram.
  16. How is 12 across an anagram of undisputed good which has 14 letters when the answer has 12. Is there a convention in crosswords that anagrams can be made with some of the letters of the words. Can someone pl explain 5his to me
    1. Yes, there’s a slight error in the blog (we all make them from time to time). The answer is an anagram of UNDISPUTED followed by G (the standard abbreviation of ‘good’). It’s 11 letters, btw, not 12 as stated in your query.

      Edited at 2018-05-24 08:17 pm (UTC)

  17. Found this one of the easier ones, but thought the clues excellent. Only problem with 17d is that if you know Mahdi, seeing the obvious M (Muslim leader) and “I had”, I didn’t look any further than the anagram.

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