Times Quick Cryptic No 1289 by Tracy

What a neat and entertaining QC from Tracy today! I enjoyed it a lot. Read and admire the concise and smooth surfaces. Plenty of practice of the A + B clue type but, unusually, only two partial anagrams and no hidden words. No obscure vocabulary but a couple of testing clues. I particularly liked 8A, 17A , 22A and 18D for the gentle(?) introduction to how devious a setter can be. Lots of other fun too. 1A, 22A, 5D and, my COD, 20D all gave me a smile. 9A and, appropriately, 15A my last two in, this took me over a minute longer than average. So not on the easy side. How did you all get on? Not too many tales of woe, I hope – this is a QC cracker. Thanks, Tracy, for the fun. [Edit: There is one clue (see below) that a lot of people struggled with and disliked, earning a not-so-coveted Golden Raspberry from commenters. Bad luck, Tracy].

Definitions underlined in italics, (ABC)* indicating anagram of ABC, deletions like this and other indicators “like this”.

3 Called into action? That’s mad (8)
DERANGED – RANG (called) inside (“into”) DEED (action). Great one to start with. I was chuckling already.
7 Study country, southeastern (6)
PERUSE – PERU (country) S.E. (southeastern). Southeastern if you live in Ecuador.
8 Perhaps the small items (8)
ARTICLES – “Perhaps” (definition by example coming up…) ARTICLE (e.g. ‘the’) S (small).
9 Drop key soap opera? (4)
SAGA – SAG (drop) A (musical key with 3 sharps in the signature). A is also the note given to the orchestra by the oboe to tune up. Oddly, my piano teacher, the redoubtable Miss Huck, wouldn’t go to orchestral concerts because she couldn’t stand the sound of the orchestra tuning up. Not that there were many concerts to go to where I was at school in Barnard Castle! [Edit: I thought I was just being ignorant in not equating soap operas with SAGAs straight away. but it would appear several people had trouble with this. In fact, consensus is that this clue merits a Golden Raspberry award. Commiserations to all who got stuck on this one].
10 Prompt line heard (3)
CUE – “heard” signals the homophone… sounds like QUEUE (or ‘line’, which is what our transatlantic cousins call it).
11 Happy having supervision without charge (8)
CAREFREE – CARE (supervision) FREE (without charge). I don’t need childcare for my brood any more. I would have been very happy if it had been free when I did!
13 Most important element (4)
LEAD – Double definition. I toyed with GOLD for this, but, fortunately, failed to convince myself it was the answer.
15 Huge Greek character losing face (4)
MEGAOmega (Greek character) without its first letter (“losing face”).
17 Very with it in European country, so go (8)
VITALITY – Slightly trickier…. V (very) “with” IT “in” ITALY (European country). I hope you weren’t misled by the surface to look for a verb meaning to travel!
19 River far from shallow, mostly (3)
DEE – DEEp (far from shallow) without its last letter (“mostly”).
22 Silly person? I don’t believe you! (4)
GOON – GO ON! (I don’t believe you). Nice example of a setter’s trick – to ignore the enumeration of the answer (4) in the word play (2,2}.
23 Make little of sad dramatic composition (8)
DOWNPLAY – DOWN (sad) PLAY (dramatic composition).
24 Train myself to straddle a horse (6)
MANAGE – ME (myself) outside (“to straddle”) A NAG (a horse). Train = manage feels a litle loose to me, but who am I to judge?
25 A German beer mug for renowned scientist (8)
EINSTEIN – EIN (a in German) STEIN (beer mug). Everybody’s heard of Albert, haven’t they?

1 Split peas, ridiculous price (8)
SEPARATE – All the way to the downs before we get our first letter wrangling… (peas)* “ridiculous” gives us SEPA. Add RATE (price).
2 Copper linked with unusual poison (6)
CURARE – CU (or rather Cu, the chemical symbol for copper) RARE (unusual). The surface sounds like part of a whodunnit? plot
3 Beloved daughter on organ (4)
DEAR – D (daughter) EAR (organ of hearing).
4 Reluctant to quote over dividing lease (8)
RETICENT – Take CITE (to quote), turn it “over” and insert into (“dividing”) RENT (lease). Another smooth surface.
5 Steal the Spanish coin (6)
NICKEL – NICK (steal) EL (the, in spanish). An American coin, of course, not Spanish.
6 Pitcher found in drain, missing lid (4)
EWERsEWER (drain) without its first letter (“missing lid”). Another neatly plausible surface.
12 Wake-up call concerning girl unwell inside (8)
REVEILLE – RE (concerning) with EVE (girl) ILL (unwell) “inside”.
14 A learner driver unlucky about height, nevertheless (8)
ALTHOUGH – A L (learner driver) TOUGH (unlucky, as in “tough luck”, ha ha) “about” H (height).
16 Handsome young man in cricket side, one in advertisements (6)
ADONIS – ON (cricket side, aka the leg side) I (one) “in” ADS (advertisements).
18 Caption, for example, appearing in advance (6)
LEGEND – E.G. (for example) inside (“appearing in”) LEND (advance, the verb). Not “in advance”. Nice potential misdirection.
20 Oases, principally, in awfully big desert (4)
GOBI – First letter of Oases (“principally”) in (big)* (“awfully”). Ā  Here’s one of them…

And it is, indeed, an awfully big desert!
21 Religious song from that man on the radio (4)
HYMN – A second homophone to finish with… sounds like HIM (that man) “on the radio”.

50 comments on “Times Quick Cryptic No 1289 by Tracy”

  1. Sped up a lot when I realised the down clues, for some reason, were much easier than the horizontal ones

    Loving the addition of pictures to the blog

    Edited at 2019-02-15 05:07 am (UTC)

    1. The legendary Dr.Sykes (the Magoo of his day) once posited the theory that most compilers work their advance ideas into the “across” clues, and that the “down” clues are then fitted around them. He felt that the “downs” were often simpler than the “acrosses” as a result of this. He recommended solvers to try to nail “1A” straight away, and then work downwards – a method I still use when I can.
      1. Interesting. I’ve often thought the downs were easier, but put that down to having warmed up on the acrosses and got some checkers. I’ve sometimes thought that maybe I should start with the downs to test that. I think I will!
  2. Quite tough, guessed it was tracy on my phone.
    spent ages on goon, curare, vitality, separate and loi saga.

    Cod carefree.

  3. Very enjoyable but quite hard work as I was solving on the back foot all the way through having needed to start at the bottom of the grid and work my way up. In the end I struggled to come up with SEPARATE, CURARE and SAGA (in that order), the last of which is a somewhat indirect definition in a A=B and C=B therefore A=C sort of way.

    At 13 minutes this was my 4th 10-minute target missed this week after last week’s clear round. I have to go back to last November to find such a poor performance

    Edited at 2019-02-15 05:55 am (UTC)

    1. My own times this week have been slow too – 4 out of 5 over a minute longer than average, so it may be difficulty of the puzzles rather than poor performance. Now, if we had a SNITCH for the QC…
  4. The end of the week was tough for me. Both today and yesterday were more of a struggle and less of a pleasure than usual. I couldn’t parse DERANGED but with 24 minutes on the clock I thought I’d better press submit and press on. The blog reveals what an excellent clue it was. Acrosses harder than downs, top harder than bottom and NW harder than NE – but none of it easy. Telegraph tomorrow to give my brain a rest. See you all Monday.
    1. Is the Daily T cryptic a similar level to the QC? Maybe I should have a go at it, then…
      1. Easier than the Times 15×15 for certain, both for fewer obscure words and for making lower demands on general know!edge. Hints and tips from the excellent big daves crossword blog. If crosswords were included in a telegraph subscription I’d never have ended up here (glad i have though)
  5. 33 minutes so well over target and a DNF with SAGA, but I didn’t mind as all the clues and surfaces were excellent.
    Thanks to Tracy for another great puzzle.


  6. Some tricky stuff today I thought. I was staring at 15a and 9a in the end. I am weak on the Greek alphabet and operas, so neither inspired hope. I finally got MEGA after nearly putting HETA or a number of similar wrong answers.I thought NANA might be an opera but as soon as I entered it, the computer said NO.Then SAGA occurred to me (is it because my house insurance needs renewing? -all insurance is a saga these days).
    19:38 in total and having DEMENTED at 3a for quite a while did not help. Remembered CURARE from previous puzzles.
  7. Too tricky for me. Gave up after 25 minutes with several still unsolved including curare (unknown to me), saga, goon (not a word I often come across), legend and vitality. Still liked the puzzle though. Must improve!
  8. I thought this was tough but enjoyable and there were many clues where I was successfully misdirected by Tracy. 29 mins in the end for me which is well above my 20 minute target.
  9. And I was 25 minutes, even further above my top target – worst time I can remember. FOI CURARE strangely enough, but finally had to resort to an alphabet trawl to get SAGA.
  10. Like the curates egg for me – but overall much that is tenuous . I may be being obtuse but I don’t understand 8d
    1. In grammatical terms, articles are words like “the”, “a” and “an”. Consequently, in this clue, “perhaps the” means that “the” is “perhaps” an example of the final answer, that being “article”. Then you add “s” (“small”). Hope this makes sense!
  11. Certainly harder than yesterday’s QC. Most went in quite smoothly but, like David (above), I wasted time having biffed DEMENTED for 3ac. I had problems with GOON and hence LEGEND and the best hidden trip-wires were in the NW – SAGA, MEGA, & SEPARATE. Ah well, a disappointing time (22 mins) but a good puzzle. Thanks, both. John M.

    Edited at 2019-02-15 10:39 am (UTC)

  12. I didn’t find this too difficult, although I biffed ARTICLES and ALTHOUGH without fully understanding them. Liked VITALITY and CURARE. 8:08. Thanks Tracy and John.
  13. …. since the initial reading threw no light on the first four clues. Once I got started, there were no real problems, although ARTICLES and VITALITY were parsed post-solve.

    LOI SEPARATE (I’m not sure why I couldn’t see this much more quickly !)
    COD DERANGED (spotted once the R and N were in)
    TIME 3:44

  14. A QC stinker for me, taking 24 mins (after blitzing yesterday’s 15×15 in 14 mins!). As observed by others, the downs were usual QC standard but the acrosses … oh my goodness. All fair enough once solved but several of them took quite a wrestle, especially DERANGED (once I had “demented” in my head it proved very hard to think of anything else even though I could see it was wrong), ARTICLES (spent time trying to make an anagram (“perhaps”) out of “the small”, only discarded when the C appeared from CAPTION) and LOI SAGA (alphabet trawl and the answer greeted with a disappointed shrug, since “soap opera?” for SAGA is a weak definition in my view and bordering on GR).

    Hey ho, if I reverse the times from yesterday’s 15×15 and today then I’m doing fine! Thanks Tracy and John.


        1. ‘Golden Raspberry’ as coined by louisajaney so that we can express our displeasure.
          1. In view of the consensus, I’ve updated the blog. It was my last one in. I too had not previous thought of soap operas being sagas, but when I found SAG, I thought, “Oh yes, so they are”. But it was a bit of a stretch for a QC clue, so I concur on the award.
  15. I found this hard. It didn’t help that I had “demented ” for ages as 3 across even though I knew it didn’t quite work, and ditto, “Aida ” for 9 across (with “Ai” as “key ” ). I can see how “saga” works here, of course, but I hadn’t thought of this word to mean soap opera even though it clearly does mean that. In addition, I toyed with “menage” rather than “manage” for 24 across because the former belongs to the semantic field of horses and because I don’t really think that “manage” and “train” are good synonyms. Ho-hum. Monday will hopefully be a better day! Thanks, John, for a lovely blog and thanks, too, to Tracy for a stiff end of the week challenge!
  16. Quite a challenging puzzle today I thought, but very enjoyable. I finally fell over the line in 9:28. I stared at 2d for quite awhile, then the penny dropped. So LOI was Saga. Thanks to Tracy and John.


  17. After 30mins SAGA defeated me. I find it difficult to equate Corry with Norse mythology. That’s my excuse and I am sticking with it. Overall I found this pretty tough going and very enjoyable with some lovely surfaces. COD GOON, with EINSTEIN a close second. Both made me chuckle.
  18. I found this Tracy QC very tough but mostly enjoyable, the exception being 9a SAGA which just doesn’t work for me. I rarely need 30 minutes for a QC but I did today. I guessed CURARE and was held up at the end with my last two in 9a SAGA and LOI the intersecting 1d SEPARATE.
  19. I thought I had made heavy going of this, but I now see that I am in good company. The NW in particular was a blank area and needed a second sitting before Curare/Peruse gave me the required foothold. Even then, loi Saga was an alphabet trawl. Definitely a tricky Tracy day, but I did enjoy Vitality along the way. My thanks to John for explaining what was going on with Articles and Reticent. Invariant
  20. Amazing. I have been in and out of this as had a busy day today. Finally sat down and found this an enjoyable challenge, which is what it should be. Totally stuck on 9 across, gave in and checked this excellent blog. And hey ho I’m not the dummy I thought I was as it has caused a bit of a stir!
    1. Join the club. I had the same thought myself about taking a while to see 9A, and then I got all the comments on the blog. I count myself lucky that I thought of SAG quicker than most.
  21. Pretty tricky for me. Completely unconvinced that manage and train are synonymous. Unless someone can provide a sentence where they clearly are.

    1. Chambers has, under manage, “to train (a horse etc.) by exercise”. e.g. A football manager manages/trains his team through exercise. I don’t know anything about managing/training horses, though. I did say in the blog I thought it a bit loose, but if a definition is there in the dictionary, a setter can legitimately use it.

      Edited at 2019-02-15 06:19 pm (UTC)

      1. The football example is spurious, as evidenced by some teams having a separate manager and trainer , which would be impossible if they were the same thing. However , i guess I’ll have to suck up the example from the wacky world of horse racing …šŸ™‚
  22. Held up in the NW corner by CURARE and the disappointing SAGA, but there were also other tricky clues scattered around such as 23a. Particularly enjoyed ARTICLES and limped over the line in 19.49.
    Thanks for the blog
  23. A late entry after a day back at school with Year 3, several drinks to celebrate the end of the week and in front f the rugby. 17.35 seems not too bad in the c. and considering other comments. Chewy and decent challenge. LOI DERANGED. Would still like to know if alcohol improves or detracts from solving time.
    1. From previous discussions, I think the view is that the first one might help but after 3 drinks it doesn’t. Our esteemed blogger Verlaine, at the 2017 Championships, having failed through 1 wrong letter to qualify for the Grand Final, had a few beers at The George before going to sit at the back of the Grand Final and tackle the puzzles. His conclusion was that it didn’t help.
  24. Another very hard ā€œQCā€. Another 4 hours and missed saga, legend and goon.
    The clues were so convoluted it was practically like a Times 2 half the time.
    Goon. Go on? Really…?
    Biffed half the clues..
    Might as well try the 15×15 for a couple of hours – or an old book of the Telegraph
    Or perhaps time to admit my brain will never get goon/ go on..
  25. Sorry to hear you had such a struggle. I should perhaps have noted in the blog that GO ON is an example of a setter’s trick – to ignore the enumeration of the answer (4) in the word play (2,2}. I’ll add a note to that effect. Keep practising and it will become easier.

    Edited at 2019-02-17 07:28 am (UTC)

  26. Tackled on Sunday, so a relaxed approach dipping in and out during the day. Enjoyed the puzzle very much – lovely surfaces, challenging, but good when the word finally springs to mind. Didn’t have a problem with SAGA (not that I got it on the first pass of course), enjoyed GOON, DERANGED and VITALITY when I got them. HYMN I got immediately, perhaps it being Sunday helped.
  27. I found myself humming along nicely until 1d & 14d seemed deafeatingly opaque. I like reading comments from others and feel cheered by some people’s honesty and frustration

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