Times Quick Cryptic No 704 by Tracy “It’s coming through a crack in the wall….”

Times Quick Cryptic No 704 by Tracy

Friday, 18 November 2016

“It’s coming through a crack in the wall…..”

Is this week any better than last? And what about the crosswords? You’ll have to decide. At least we now know that Leonard didn’t learn the result of the US election.

A pleasant Friday offering from Tracy, featuring two uses of ‘utter’, an interesting type of clue at 4d, and several possible, or possibly imaginary, allusions to current events. Perhaps one of the 75 outstanding court actions may lead to the 21d.

This took me an above-average nine minutes, held up by 1d and 17d, where I was over-thinking.


7. Smithy’s block in Victorian village (5)

ANVIL – in Victori{AN VIL}lage. You do not see many smithies nowadays, although the occupational surname remains the most numerous both in Britain and the US, at just over 1% of the populations.

8. Weakness of female, unwell (7)

FAILING – F = female + AILING = unwell.

10. Breathe badly? Medicinal drink’s required (4,3)

HERB TEA – anagram (badly) of ‘breathe’.

11. Petite in life, dancing name (5)

ELFIN – ELFI = ‘life, dancing’ (i.e. an anagram) + N = name. One meaning of elfin, quite different to Tolkien’s ‘elvish’. Reminds me of the evangelical Christian ‘crusade’ in the not-too-distant past where various anagrams of LIFE appeared on buses. One of them turned out to be a swear word in Punjabi.

12. Fall on cycle tour (5,4)

ROUND TRIP – Definition is ‘tour’, ROUND = cycle, TRIP = fall.

14. Short cutting remark in pub (3)

BAR – BARB = cutting remark, short, i.e. remove the last letter.

15. Trendy new place for a drink (3)

INN – More alcohol, IN = ‘trendy’ + N = new

16. Last on tap drunk after giving birth (9)

POSTNATAL – An anagram (drunk) of ‘Last on tap’

18. Complete page missing from club (5)

UTTER – Definition is ‘complete’, as in ‘it’s an utter nightmare that Trump was elected’, PUTTER (club) – P (page). ‘State’ is a common indicator of utter, meaning the verb.

20. Very old act, nine involved (7)

ANCIENT – An anagram (involved) of ‘act, nine).

22. Hemingway, perhaps, penning article, becomes serious (7)

EARNEST – Definition is serious. ERNEST (Hemingway) including (penning) A = indefinite article. I thought this was a gimme, despite the lovely surface.

23. Ridiculous talk about Republican, surly in manner (5)

GRUFF – GUFF (ridiculous talk) about R (Republican) = GRUFF (surly in manner, as in Billy-Goat-Gruff). Just possibly refers to the President elect.


1. Priest — think he could be one? (6,6)

FATHER FIGURE – FATHER = ‘Priest’, + FIGURE = ‘think’. This held me up for ages, mainly because I’m too old to have a father figure, and many of the priests I know are female.

2. Reverse across bend (8)

OVERTURN – {OVER = ‘across’ + TURN = ‘bend’ } = OVERTURN, reverse.

3. Left in container in small piece of ground (4)

PLOT – L (‘left’) in POT (‘container’) = PLOT (small piece of ground).

4. A fine honest business (6)

AFFAIR – Definition is ‘business’ – A + F (fine) + FAIR (honest). Is this a &lit clue? Or is there a name for this literary device, assuming it’s a sort of negative &lit? Discuss.

5. Unpredictable, expansive old writer (4,4)

WIDE OPEN – as in the possible result of e.g. a Test match or an election. WIDE = ‘expansive’ + O = ‘old’ + PEN = ‘writer’.

6. Quarrel difficult, losing head (4)

TIFF – A quarrel, formed by STIFF (‘difficult’) losing its first letter.

9. Widespread stick for officers advising commander (7,5)

GENERAL STAFF – GENERAL = ‘Widespread’ + STAFF = ‘stick’ = GENERAL STAFF. Let’s hope the US equivalent have brains and are morally brave.

13. Left stage in middle of act (8)

DEPARTED – Definition is ‘Left’. PART = ‘stage’ in middle of DEED = ‘act’.

14. Flatter boys’ leader, say, on winning (6,2)

BUTTER UP – Today’s second meaning of UTTER. Definition is ‘Flatter’, the verb. B (‘boys’ leader’) + UTTER (‘say’) + UP (‘winning’).

17. Sea air? (6)

SHANTY – A nearly straight clue, where ‘air’ means a song.

19. Cutting pastry (4)

TART – A double definition, one an adjective, one a noun.

21. Caught? Then long time in prison! (4)

CAGE – Definition is ‘prison’ = CAGE. C (‘Caught, as in cricket) + AGE (‘long time’).

Please comment on the puzzle and on the blog.

22 comments on “Times Quick Cryptic No 704 by Tracy “It’s coming through a crack in the wall….””

  1. I thought I was going to be well inside 10 mins tonight, but I got the “Unlucky” message and struggled to find my mistake. What I’d done was enter DEPORTED, my brain having seen “left” and thought “port”…

    Not too tricky, though tricky enough to need at least one crossing letter to solve a lot of the clues – that’s good setting imo. I was quick enough to see the long answers were FATHER …… and GENERAL ….. but needed other answers before the penny dropped.

  2. Fairly straightforward, although I needed the checkers to come up with 5d. 17d without its ? would be a straight clue perfectly appropriate for a Concise. 4:29.

    Edited at 2016-11-18 04:33 am (UTC)

  3. Held up by the above for ages and eventually gave up.Thought about putting SHANTY for 17dn but didn’t think it made complete sense. 1dn is very tricky, I think, whilst was thinking of different meanings for “complete” and “club” than the ones used in 18ac. Apart from these three clues, it was straightforward. But it seems everyone else had no issues at all. Gribb.
  4. I don’t think 4dn is an &LIT Rob, the wordplay is quite distinct from the definition isn’t it? Just a standard clue for my money, perhaps it’s the nice smooth surface that gives it an appearance of &LIT?

    Fun puzzle, thanks Tracy and Rob.

  5. I finished in just under my 30 minute target, mainly by following the checkers rather than taking the clues in order. LOI and COD was 17D, a lovely piece of deception which had me looking for a DD (being next to 19D didn’t help).
    Excellent blog, just the rigjt amount of info.
  6. This all seemed to go quite smoothly, giving me a 32 min full house – easily my best Tracy time. 1d (2nd part) and 17d were my last pair, but writing them out horizontally, as usual, did the trick. Invariant
  7. We are very new to cryptic crosswords and really enjoy the challenge. Your nswers are our very last resort and save us from going nuts when we can’t work out the answer or have what we think is the answer but can’t decide why it is that word. Never mind boasting about how few minutes it takes you to complete the crossword we are just happy if we finish without help!
    1. Well done anon, it’s a fun journey you’ve set out on.

      Just a gentle clarification….I don’t think there’s any boasting about times on here. These blogs were established long ago partly to record times taken to complete the daily puzzles (hence “times for the Times”). This was seen as some sort of guide to the relative difficulty of the puzzle.

      The really fast solvers, the ones with something to boast about, don’t tend to post on the Quicky. But unsurprisingly they’re not really boastful types anyway.

      1. Glad you have clarified why people mention their solving times; I’m newish to cryptics and have also (rather defensively no doubt) assumed the mention of solving times were somewhat boastful. Glad to know that’s not the case as I’m still to solve a complete QC myself! One day…
  8. 11:47 for me, with the last word of 1d being LOI, and nothing particularly holding me up, I think.
  9. Two completed crosswords in consecutive days, I’m pretty pleased with that. This time just inside 30 minutes. I’m not sure I could even write the answers in less than 10 minutes. Hats off to you guys. There seems to be such a huge jump from the quick cryptic to the normal Times Crossword…Lucky to get a couple of answers there, at the moment.
  10. This will be an echo of other’s comments. I found this quite a challenge; not easy to get a foothold but I did keep going with my last 3 being 6d, 11a and 1d.
    And ,yes, 1d was the last to fall and it was the second word I needed. A very good clue I think but my favourite was 17d -Shanty. 18 minutes and no errors today. David
  11. For anyone interested , there’s a very good documentary about LC (filmed about 1988) currently available on BBC i Player (BBC 4). I watched it last night. David
  12. I had (Bonny Bobby) SHAFTO for 17 down – it fits, and, as all Northumbrians will know, is as fine a sea shanty as they come.
    1. Nice try – but ‘the air’ is ‘Bobby Shafto’ not ‘Shafto’ on its own. Had it been a(5,6) then the cigar would have been tyours!
  13. No problems today as my time of 11 minutes indicates, which is about as quick as it gets for me. As others found the toughest bits were the second words of the two long down clues. LOI 2d.
    Thanks for the blog
  14. Another ‘not so difficult’ but plenty for me to tease out. Missed the clue ‘think’ in 1d so helpful blog reminding me to see the important economy usually present in clues. Biffed 14d butter up and worked it out once confirmed by the checkers. Nice puzzle to solve from Tracy and helpful blog too. A good QC week all round I think, so well done The Times too!
  15. About an hour.

    The second word of 1d defeated me and I cheated by revealing the first letter. The clue is not the most helpful.

    Then the remaining 18a utter and 19d tart slipped in easily!

Comments are closed.