Times Quick Cryptic No 648 by Corelli

I enjoyed this – nice devices and lots of good surface readings made it a smooth and satisfying solve. A minute over my target ten with 19d unparsed. Had I not been blogging, I would have been content to dismiss “S for short” and “tag for platform” with a question mark and move on with my day. Thankfully, for the sake of blog accuracy, I was not 7d, and a quick look revealed no such synonym for platform, so I had to think again. (It was actually quite a long look as tag has quite a long entry, but it was quicker than checking around first to see if S could possibly be short for short.) That device has caught me out a number of times. COD to 21ac because I liked the simple, neat efficiency of the cryptic, and the surface reading grew on me, becoming one of the nicer ways in which one can ever be reminded of Roy Chubby Brown. Very good fun – many thanks to Corelli.

1 Barnaby’s sin, I abhor, showing up the old country
ABYSSINIA: Hidden in BarnABYS SIN I Abhor, clued somewhat obscurely by “showing up”. Modern day Ethopia-ish.
6 I’d to desert very bright boy or girl
VIV: VIVID is very bright, ID deserts. Mr. Richards and Ms. Westwood were the first examples that sprang to mind.
8 Regret insult being overheard? Nonsense!
RHUBARB: if you overheard RUE BARB (regret; insult), you would also hear a dated word for nonsense.
9 Turned to hound one awaited in play
GODOT: As in Waiting for Godot, got by turning TO DOG (to hound) around.
10 Don’t make it any worse” we all tell one messing about
LET WELL ALONE: Anagram (messing about) of WE ALL TELL ONE.
12 Ruin the party for nations of the world?
UNDO: a “U.N. do” = a nations of the world party.
13 Distress call — nothing that could render you indifferent
SO-SO: SOS (distress call) 0 (nothing) could render you the answer. Does not stand for Save Our Souls, or anything for that matter, but it is easily remembered.
17 Very keen to shoot horse in film, and dwarf
TRIGGER-HAPPY: Trigger (horse, in lots of films) HAPPY (dwarf, in lots of formats).
20 Sheet of paper from loo, if recycled
FOLIO: Anagram (recycled) of  LOO IF.
21 Popular former routine is wide of the mark
INEXACT: IN (popular) EX (former) ACT (routine).
23 Legendary creature, lacking tail however
YET: YETI (legendary creature), lacking tail = remove last letter. If you believe the Abominable Snowman exists, and are upset at the epithet, you can take “legendary” to be figurative.
24 Moral victory by good Conservative
RIGHT WING: RIGHT (Moral) WIN (victory) G (good).

1 Light, graceful Cockney’s needing a shave?
AIRY: HAIRY (needing a shave) in Cockney.
2 Year with no euro for change? I accept the challenge!
YOU’RE ON: Y (year) with anagram (for change) of NO EURO. I’m generally slow to spot apostrophes, and this was no exception.
3 Son and father meeting in the spring
SPA: S (son) and PA (father) meet.
4 Extra dance cancelled?
NO-BALL: double definition, the first being in cricket, the second semi-cryptic.
5 Part of Mediterranean an eagle has nested at regularly
AEGEAN SEA: Regularly here means every other letter of: An EaGlE hAs NeStEd At. Very nicely hidden.
6 Idea mostly incorporated into very old film
VIDEO: IDEA mostly is IDE, incorporated into V (very) and O (old).
7 Not allowed to check Oxford English Dictionary
VETOED: VET (check) OED (Oxford English Dictionary)
11 Criminal dog owner twisted terrier’s tail
WRONGDOER: anagram (twisted) of DOG OWNER ; R (terrieR‘s tail)
14 Singers transformed a prison
SOPRANI: anagram (transformed) of A PRISON. As in: two loving soprani sharing a spaghetto.
15 Material simply, at the end, the opposite of 1 down
STUFFY: Material is, er, STUFF. Simply at the end is Y.
16 Making mistake, cutting head off fish
ERRING: remove the top of hERRING (fish). i really liked this.
18 Very little land surrounded by water gets leased out
ISLET: if it gets leased out, it “is let”.
19 Short platform for men only
STAG: STAGE (platform), with “short” here performing the same function as “mostly” did in 6d.
22 Film about fine little amphibian
EFT: E.T. (film) goes about F (fine). If you haven’t seen this clue before, I dare say you will again.

27 comments on “Times Quick Cryptic No 648 by Corelli”

  1. Finished in 37 mins, which is pretty good for me. For some reason, 1dn and 12ac took me ages. Regarding 10ac, “Let well alone” doesn’t sound quite right to me. Surely it’s “left well alone” or “leave well alone2?
  2. I think this was a bit harder than the norm too. DNK Eft, or rhubarb for nonsense, despite growing up on a diet of Enid Blyton et al.
    I did like the second Cockney clue “erring”.

    And thanks for the explanation of 6 ac, which is obvious now but  couldn’t parse initially

  3. About an hour with a little cheating: I didn’t know eft.

    I guessed 19d was stag party for men only.

  4. Completely missed ABYSSINIA in the clue, part of a very slow start, I blame the hay fever. I think the phrase is ‘LET WELL ALONE’, but surely it means ‘avoid’ rather than the meaning give in the clue? Spent time parsing 18d, and also had an internal discussion about TAG. In general, I think the QCs have been harder so far this week. 8’17”. Thanks roly and Corelli.
  5. An excellent puzzle that I found quite challenging (the SW corner in particular) and took me 28 minutes to complete. 8a came up recently or it would have proved more difficult and working out whether singers or a prison was the definition in 14d held me up a bit. LOI was 18d and I couldn’t pick out one COD but thought 2d, 9a and 17a were very good.
  6. 7 minutes for this very pleasant puzzle by Corelli, only his tenth offering since his first, #13 in March 2014.
  7. Clever and enjoyable crossword. Wasted some time trying to get an anagram from singers to mean prison!


  8. 15 minutes of solid solving today, no major hold-ups or detours. LOI was Stag mainly because I looked at it last -but did take a minute to parse it. COD to 2d but there are other contenders.
    Eft used to appear almost daily in the back page Evening Standard crosswords which I did before moving to QC land. David
  9. Clever and enjoyable crossword. Wasted some time trying to get an anagram from singers to mean prison!


  10. I am a true newbie at anything cryptic and find this forum a wonderful resource, not only because it enables me to get the answers without a horrible 24 hr delay, but also because of the (concise) explanations of how the answers link to the clue. Thank you all very much !

    On today puzzle I made a mistake, which I think arose from a completely ambiguous clue – are such clues allowed ?? As I did not yet have any checkers against which to test it, the error screwed up my ability to get the interlinking (?) words.

    This was the clue and answer: Short platform for men only
    STAG: STAGE (platform), with “short” here performing the same function as “mostly” did in 6d

    My answer was “FORM” – A shortened version of ‘platform’ (thus ‘short platform’) and “for m[en]”.

    1. Hi lj, and welcome.

      Good question about the ambiguous clue. It’s pretty rare for a clue to be totally ambiguous (usually one answer is more plausible than any alternative) but it does happen. No rule against it, as long as only one of them fits the checkers. The trick is knowing when to “abandon certainty” when a crossing clue becomes impossible to solve.

      I don’t think your example fits the bill though, for three reasons:

      1. In your parsing, the clue would consist of two lots of wordplay, but no definition.

      2. “Short” used in this sense would typically (always?) indicate that one letter is to be removed from the end of the word, not that half the word be removed.

      3. I don’t think “M” is a recognised abbreviation for “men”. At least if it is, I don’t think I’ve ever seen it used that way in Crosswordland.

      Good luck with your continued improvement. The more questions you ask, the faster it will be!

      1. Hello lj, and welcome! Nothing to add to galspray’s excellent explanation other than to say I (vaguely) remember the abbreviations taking a little bit of getting used to when I started cryptics – the deeper recesses of a dictionary would allow for a large number of obscure ones but in general, for either the QC or the main Times crossword at least, the list is quite limited and you will pick them up with a bit of practice. The lateral thought you displayed in your answer is harder to pick up and will put you in good stead. Good luck!
  11. I see that you took your customary few minutes for this one.

    On the other hand my wife and I took our customary 6 hours

    BUT I wonder who got the greatest pleasure

    Graeme Brown
    01292 315114

    1. It’s a bit like golf – where’s the fun in finishing only playing 60 odd shots when you can have a 100+ goes.
  12. If it takes a man and his wife 6 hours to do the QC how long does it take to do the 15x….. what sort of life is that!?

    This was admittedly the toughest QC of the week but half an hour at tops – surely!

    It took me nine minutes and thirty seconds with LOI SOPRANI.
    Might I suggest taking up philately, lepidopterology or even tegestology!

    As ever,

    horryd shanghai

    1. I dare say quite a long time if you don’t know the answers, but if Mr and Mrs Brown enjoy doing the QC, then the time spent is irrelevant. Invariant
    2. How rude – horryd indeed. What an arrogant person you are. If two people enjoyed taking 6 hours to solve quite a tricky puzzle why does that make you feel you have to mock them? More power to them and a long and loud raspberry to you.
    3. I hope very much hope that Mr. and Mrs. Brown will continue to try the puzzles and share their experiences.
  13. 45 mins today, but I thought it was much harder than yesterday’s, so I don’t begrudge the extra 5 mins for a fully parsed solution. I agree with others that 10ac is more usually ‘leave well alone’, but we are stuck with 13×13 grid. I don’t remember ever seeing a QC with the answer spread over more than one clue ? Invariant
    1. No nor do I. I don’t really like it though, for some ill-defined reason – I think there’s something a bit ungainly about it perhaps, a bit like clues that reference other clues in the crossword.
  14. 45 minutes for me today so a good challenge. From Roly’s blog I get the impression of the word SOPRANI being a devise used by someone like Gilbert & Sullivan or Flanders & Swann. The plural of soprano is, however, surely sopranos. Any thoughts?
    1. The OED does have both as acceptable, but I agree entirely that soprani would merit a raised eyebrow if used in everyday conversation. I remember tempi cropping up recently, while we’re on the subject – but it can be sometimes be useful for both setter and solver to have a word ending in an i, so I won’t complain!
      1. OK – fair enough if the OED allows it! I could, in fact, imagine using tempi rather than tempos in a musical conversation, but would never use soprani. Nonetheless, thanks for the response.
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