Times Quick Cryptic No 1143 by Mara

Posted on Categories Quick Cryptic
No obvious hidden themes this week, after the excitement of my last blog.  This did though have a decidedly retro feel to it, with answers like 8, 10, 17, 18 across and 5, 6, 7, 11, 14 and 16 down all contributing to the general zeitgeist.

I slowed myself down a touch by putting in RISK TAKER as my first stab at 10a, but quickly spotted my error when 3d wouldn’t fit.  I still managed to complete in inside 10 minutes though.  Once again with Mara, we can enjoy a high percentage of anagrams and partial anagrams, and (I always enjoy them) a couple of cryptics or &Lits.

1a and 23a vie for CoD, with BOTTLE-OPENER being my candidate for WoD.  I only hope that I can find an opportunity to use it later today!

1  Location where one might serve drink before date (6,5)
SQUASH COURT – SQUASH (drink) in front of COURT (date) – to court someone was an old-fashioned type of dating
Elderly person lord set free (7)
OLDSTER – Anagram (free) of [LORD SET].  As well as meaning an old person, OLDSTER also means a midshipman of four years’ standing or a master’s mate in the Navy
9  Article cheers Greek character (5)
THETA – THE (article, the definite one) and TA (cheers) as in ‘thanks’.  THETA is the eighth (originally ninth) letter of the Greek alphabet.
10 Person who’s up for trying something new? (4,5)
TEST PILOT – Cryptic definition.  Hands up if you thought about biffing RISK TAKER which was the first answer that occurred to me.
12  Source of light in darkness, unbelievable (3)
SUN – Hidden (in) darknesS, UNbelievable
13 Roughly ten diamonds to draw (6)
ENTICE – Part anagram (roughly) of [TEN], followed by ICE (slang for diamonds)
15 Stop looking both ways? (4,2)
PULL UP – palindromic, hence looking both ways
17  Fizzy drink for dad (3)
POP – Double definition, the first possibly UK-centric.  POP is what we call soda on this side of the pond!
18  Something poisonous dealt out, agony in it (4,5)
LEAD PAINT – Another partial anagram (out), this time of [DEALT] and with PAIN (agony) inserted ‘in it’.
20  Feature securing old rope (5)
NOOSE – NOSE is the feature, which ‘secures’ O{ld}.  Some might argue about the equivalence of NOOSE and rope, but I think it is OK if you imagine the sentence ‘the judge awarded him the noose / rope’.
22  Drunkard has arrived – that will teach you! (2,5)
SO THERE – SOT (drunkard) and HERE (has arrived).  SO THERE is the sort of thing one might say instead of ‘I told you so’, or ‘that will teach you!’
23  Naval officer married Lara at sea (4,7)
REAR ADMIRAL – Very nice surface here.  Anagram (at sea) of [MARRIED LARA]

1 Teams in Tbilisi despairing (5)
SIDES – Hidden (in) in tbiliSI DESpairing
Not the usual litany: cup needs refreshing (9)
UNTYPICAL – Anagram (needs refreshing) of [LITANY: CUP]
Walk from street and turn around (6)
STROLL – ST{reet} and ROLL (turn around)
4  Officer has little time for bed (3)
COT – CO (Commanding Officer) and T{ime}
Tool, when turned, let us in(7)
UTENSIL – Anagram (when turned) of [LET US IN]
Patient sort excited over railways, primarily? (12)
TRAINSPOTTER – An &Lit clue (where the whole clue acts as the definition), but also an anagram (excited) of [PATIENT SORT] and R{ailways} (primarily)
7 Spirit key – might drinker need it? (6-6)
BOTTLE-OPENER – Another &Lit from BOTTLE (spirit, as in nerve or courage) and OPENER (key).
11 Not beginning to play the guitar, boy musician (9)
TRUMPETER – To play the guitar might be to strum it (drop the first letter – not beginning) to give TRUM, and this is followed by PETER (boy)
14  In most of Spanish dishes I love cold, starchy food (7)
TAPIOCA – Spanish dishes gives TAPA{s} with the last letter dropped (most of), with I (I) O (love) and C{old} inserted.
16  Oil wood on top of mantelpiece (6)
BALSAM – BALSA (wood) on M(antelpiece) – top of, or first letter
19  Perfect, one town in Kent (5)
IDEAL – I (one) and DEAL (town in Kent)
21  Time about right, engine starts up (3)
ERA – Starts (first letters of) A{bout} R{ight} E{ngine} all reversed (up in a down clue)

29 comments on “Times Quick Cryptic No 1143 by Mara”

  1. I should have waited longer after walking here in 36 degree heat, at least until the sweat stopped and the air conditioning kicked in. I don’t recall being held up anywhere in particular, just being sluggish in general. Did not think of RISK TAKER but did think of HIGH FLYER, which should have triggered TEST PILOT sooner than it did. I made the mistake of taking ‘article’ as the definition, thus looking for a word beginning TA; given that the choices would be tarho or tatau or taphi…, I really ought to have re-thought things earlier than I did. Liked TRAINSPOTTER. For those of you thinking of trying your hand at a 15×15, today is NOT the day. 7:44.
    1. Thanks for the warning. Fortunately I have the rest of the day to contemplate the 15×15.
    2. Just had a look at the back page, Kevin…you’re right. Stared at it for 10 minutes and gave up! Mara, however, didn’t give me too much trouble today. LOI BALSAM; couldn’t get SEASON out of my head, even though I already had 23A. Thanks Mara and Rotter (hope you’ve already employed the 7D this evening!).
  2. Tackled before I made my brain ache working on today’s 15×15, I needed 8 minutes for this one.
  3. Feeling pleased with myself after a sub 1.5 Kevins time, I was thinking about having a rare look at the Big Boy puzzle … I don’t think I’ll bother, it won’t be good for morale!

    Enjoyed this one and it was steady progress all the way through. Pen chewed only over TRAINSPOTTER where at first I thought the anagrist was “excited over r” (with “sort” indicating the anagram abs the definition being “patient”). Some lovely clues, with my COD shared by 1ac and 10ac. Thanks Mara and Rotter.


  4. A good balance of clues that required some thought (1, 13, 18 across and 6d) mixed in with some gentler stuff to provide useful checkers. I also toyed with risk taker before working out what was going on with 10a.
    Enjoyed 1a and 14d in particular, completed in 15.49 with LOI 18a.
    Thanks for the blog
  5. Well, I’ve done it but only because the Kevinometer was running slow today – 7:33.
    Loi 5dn and cod to 23ac for the surface and 6dn for cleverness – for which thank you Mara. Thanks also to the Rotter for the blog and the invention of crossword chronometry(!).
  6. Just scraped in under 14 minutes, quite quick considering the bad head from last night.

    LOI balsam. CoD Sun or lead paint.

  7. I think the 15×15 used up more of my mental capacity than I could spare because, like Kevin, I felt like I was wading through treacle with this one. Credit to Mara too for some less obvious definitions.
    Sub-K but only just at 7:22. I can only echo his warning about the other puzzle: be afraid, be very afraid.
  8. 11:57. Would have been sub 10 mins but I struggled with my LOI 1a SQUASH COURT. Also started off very slowly trying to solve the anagrams at 8a and 2d.
  9. No particular problems today, and it took me 8:29 to complete with TRAINSPOTTER LOI. Liked SQUASH COURT and BOTTLE OPENER. Thanks Mara and Rotter. Time to do battle with the 15×15 now. I may be gone some time…….
  10. Took me a while to get into this puzzle, but once I had got onto Mara’s wavelength it flowed quite well. Particularly enjoyed the surfaces of 10ac (my COD) and 23ac (although there are only 2 Naval ranks that fit 4,7). I read a book recently about a test pilot who had flown something like 480 different types of aircraft, not including different variants of the same type. Amazing man.
    At the harder end of the scale, and great fun for it.
  11. Well, that was quite a step up from yesterday’s QC, and it took me the wrong side of 30 mins to complete. Looking back, none of the clues were that difficult, but then they never are once you know the answers. Took some time to see Entice, and how 18ac worked, but my favourite today was the simple but neat 15ac, Pull Up. Invariant
    1. Steady solve in 9:53. Nice puzzle. Will take a look at the 15×15 and no doubt retreat rapidly!
  12. I meant to say earlier that POP is, or was, used in the US; if I recall correctly, it was one of the words that linguists used (like ‘flapjack/pancake/griddlecake’, or the pronunciation of Mary/merry/marry) to pinpoint dialects of US English. It was not an item in my dialect, as it happens.
  13. I thought this was a very high quality puzzle. All the clues seemed to have an elegance and I noted 10a and 15a as my favourites.
    It was not too hard for the experienced QCer; I took 14 minutes. FOI was 1d after a minute looking for an entry point. LOI was 16d.
    Thanks Mara and Rotter for the blog. David
    PS I looked at the 15×15 before coming here. I managed to solve a couple of clues but it did look like a tricky one.
    1. I am not sure what an experienced QCer is, as the crossword is supposed to be for noobs, but I agree with you about that ‘certain elegance’. Rather a good puzzle I think, but impossible to judge for those who see little difference in difficulty across the QC.
      1. I think I would consider myself one, I’ve been doing the QC for 2 years, I try the 15×15 as often as I can but because it takes at least an hour, I don’t have time with work/kids getting in the way!
  14. Once again, I started well and thought I would ‘pull a fast one’ but it took me nearly 2.5K. I liked pull up, balsam, and so there.
    Thanks to Mara and the rotter. John
  15. I’ve currently taken to doing the Quickie while (due to unusual domestic arrangements) Mrs Z is occupying the same room watching a string of increasingly stultifying dating programmes. I think I should have that allowed as a handicap, but I still managed a 7.34 time. Sometimes I can work straight through in clue order, but not today.
    As for this being designed for noobs, well, yes, but I’ve been doing the Big One for almost 50 years now, and I still enjoy this gentler fare. Not just as distraction from bimbos and himbos pairing up vacuously (and unconvincingly) but (today especially) as a comfort after the titanic struggle with the 15.

    In a completely different (yet curiously apposite) setting Mrs Patrick Campbell spoke of “The deep, deep peace of the double-bed after the hurly-burly of the chaise-longue.” Yeah, that.

    Edited at 2018-07-26 09:05 pm (UTC)

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