Times Quick Cryptic No 708 by Mara

Well that wasn’t a great performance – a DNF with 3d remaining (and 2d unparsed, and 21ac queried) at the 18 min mark, after which I gave up and checked the answer. In fairness I do think this was quite a tough puzzle as I only had three across clues entered after the first scan through (11, 15, 22), which would indicate to me a tough main crossword. Perhaps I was off wavelength. If so, it was very nice to be so, because with its consistently lovely wordplay and seamless surface readings this was one of the nicest QCs I’ve done in a while. I couldn’t pick a favourite clue, so I’ll just give joint-COD to everything – except 3d, of course. Hopeless clue. Glad I didn’t get it. You will be pleased to have the Rotter back next week by the way – the Thursday QC blog where the crossword’s actually been completed, and with bonus correct spelling (after my “imaginitive” effort last week). Anyway, many thanks indeed to Mara for this – loved it.

1 Protest — Conservative rotter is a US politician
DEMOCRAT: DEMO (protest) C(onservative) RAT (speak of the devil)
5 Go crazy, flipping
STAB: BATS (crazy, reversing/flipping). I really liked this, but I’m going to stop saying that.
8 Watch, perhaps, to send back
TIMER: REMIT (send, reversing/going back). I remit you to the OED for the verb’s 14 varied meanings.
9 Leading team getting a cut
TOPSIDE: TOP (leading) SIDE (team)
11 A US city, it doesn’t matter which?
ANY: A N.Y. ( a US city)
12 Going straight again, and let out with gun!
UNTANGLED: anagram (“out”) of AND LET with GUN
13 Country is behind you, the farmer
YEOMAN: OMAN (country) is behind YE (you). My last legitimate one in.
15 Fantastic result for Irish province
ULSTER: anagram (fantastic) of RESULT
18 English novelist holy, by the sound of it?
PRIESTLEY: sounds the same as PRIESTLY (holy)
19 Piece of advice to dump
TIP: double definition
20 Driver’s aim, quite a distance?
FAIRWAY: and a “fair way” is quite a distance.
21 One delivering a sermon as poor sportsman fails to finish
RABBI: RABBIT (poor sportsman, with the last letter failing). Thinking about it, I have heard Geoffrey Boycott use it to describe a tail-ender or two. In the US, however, it can be a quick player or fast runner, as well as being a pacesetter in athletics.
22 Positive principle held by Himalayan guys
YANG: hidden (held by) HImalaYAN Guys. Yang is less than the sum of its part without old Yin by its side.
23 Putting in margarine initially, make a British meal
CREAM TEA: put M (margarine, initially) into CREATE (make), A.

1 Song about an aromatic plant
DITTANY: DITTY (song) about AN. I was trying to think of a herb. Dittany, which secretes a gluey, lemony, flammable oil in summer, is also known as “burning bush” and might even, Wikipedia suggests (without sources), be that bush wot burns in the Bible.
2 Parent, one kept over time?
MUMMY: aah, it’s just clicked – double definition, the second one being a cryptic allusion to the Egyptian variety. And Peruvian. And peat boggian. And everywhere really.
3 Communication for all observed: a tool
CIRCULAR SAW: CIRCULAR (Communication for all) SAW (observed). I saw the saw bit quickly enough, but was nowhere near circular.
4 Cunning manipulation of statue
ASTUTE: anagram (manipulation) of STATUE.
6 Three stumble over hindrance
TRIPLET: TRIP (stumble) going over LET (hindrance). For “let” think tennis – from the now archaic verb to let = to hinder, delay, obstruct, etc. (related to the word “late”). So one of those lovely English words that is its own antonym. If you can think of any others please divulge!
7 Money that may have risen?
BREAD: straight definition and a cryptic definition, and a very nice one at that.
10 Tape nearly stretched over a box in sport
PENALTY AREA: Anagram (stretched) of TAPE NEARLY going above/over A.
14 Nothing to restrain view
OPINION: O (nothing) PINION (restrain)
16 Under first of Rembrandts, I place false copy
REPLICA: below R (first of Rembrandts) goes an anagram (false) of I PLACE.
17 Soft bed for an actor
PLAYER: P (soft – piano), LAYER (bed)
18 Fat bird dropping in last of gravy
PUFFY: PUFFIN (bird – drop the IN), Y (last of gravy)
19 Approach Everest from here? Climbing it with risk
TIBET: TI (it, climbing) with BET (risk). And a final lovely clue, to punctuate all the others.

32 comments on “Times Quick Cryptic No 708 by Mara”

  1. Well done, Roly! Count me as another who struggled to parse 2dn but finally saw it at the last moment. I needed 14 minutes in all, so that’s 3 failures to meet my target 10 minutes this week so far, and only 1 success. “Rabbit” for tail-ender has come up before, which was the only reason I knew it.
  2. Glad I wasn’t the only one to find this hard. Stuck on 6dn and 15ac for ages until the penny dropped that “fantastic” indicated an anagram in 15ac. I’m not sure “three” on its own leads necessarily to “triplet” but I’ll happily be proved wrong here. Gribb.
    1. I also looked at it twice, but there’s no denying in both music and verse a triplet is a group of three (notes and lines respectively). I suppose one might query whether it necessarily works the other way round, to which I’d say, not necessarily, but it’s common enough to be valid in a clue.
  3. A tough one, indeed, but totally fair, and with a large number of well-turned clues, I thought. I slowed myself down where I could, flinging in ‘stun’ at 5ac (all the while thinking, ‘but what’s the def?’), ‘remit’ at 8ac, thinking (why?) that 18ac was playing on ‘wholly’, thinking that ‘sten’ was involved in 12ac. I will say that I twigged early to 2d–but had forgotten by the time I came here. I didn’t know the ‘poor sportsman’ meaning of ‘rabbit, but assumed it, since RABBI it had to be. Liked 11ac, 2d, 6d among others. (‘let’=hinder, by the way, I learned from Hamlet: when the guards try to keep him from following the ghost, he says, “I’ll make a ghost of him who lets me!” 9:41.
  4. I struggled with this one, not helped by a giggling fit caused by COD 18d. A pub lunch on a nice summer day, out in the beer garden, you’re just loading the fork with the last bit a mash and the carefully saved bit of banger and plop. Wonderful clue, never mind COD COY more like. Thanks MARA, and blogger.
  5. There’s also cleave/cleave, and fast/(stuck) fast; other will no doubt come to mind in the watches of the night.
    1. Two lovely ones, made all the better by being a good 1.6 out of 2 on the everyday-ometer. I’ve some useless obscure one that I saw a while ago that’s been on the tip of my tongue all day. Every time I tried to remember it the word “animadversion” kept popping into my head. Does it even sound vaguely the same? Who knows. But that’s the direction any further investigation was sent.
  6. Think this was difficult and solving time was probably almost 2 hours.

    Didn’t get 18a
    Lots of answers I couldn’t parse: 12a, 15a, 21a, 6d, 17d.

    Edited at 2016-11-24 09:14 am (UTC)

  7. Strangely I found this a fairly steady solve, so I was surprised when I found it had taken longer than I’d thought (just under the 10 minute mark), whereas yesterday I struggled and came in at 15 minutes – much less than I had feared. There didn’t seem to be anything too tricky about this for me today (apart from how to spell Priestley!), but then it’s all relative, isn’t it?
    “Let” as “obstruction” occurs of course in the semi-legal phrase “without let or hindrance”.
    Nice to see Izetti holding his hands up for the faux pas yesterday. Respect – as the youngsters are wont to say these days.
    1. Yes. I wonder if it’s about not needing someone else to let (=allow) you do something, this being an implied hindrance.
  8. Pleased to find that others had problems today.
    Mine was that a biffed in dough for 7d which seems better than bread
  9. Another hard one this week, double my usual time. But what a puzzle! BATS brilliant. As noted above, there existed the possibility of biffing DOUGH rather than BREAD, which I did. DITTANY a bit obscure for the QC I felt. RABBIT isn’t really a poor sportsman, but a bowler who can’t bat. Is PUFFY fat? Thanks roly and Mara.
  10. Yes, 5ac BATS was my COD and 3dn CIRCULAR SAW wasn’t.

    WOD Dittany

    Time 12.44 one of my worst ever!

  11. Blimey they keep getting harder this week. This one took me 40 minutes which is double my target time. Count me as another who biffed Dough for 7d which made an already tricky NE completely impossible until I eventually saw my error. Also got very stuck on the 2d/11a combination and was grateful that the unknown 1d was kindly clued. I eventually stumbled over the finish line with an unparsed 12a, where I completely missed the anagram for some reason.
  12. I do believe these are getting harder by the day. Over an hour today, admittedly not helped by having dough in 7d for far too long, but dittany, yeoman for farmer, let for hindrance and pinion for restrain are all a tad obscure for a QC. I hope no one was trying the QC for the first time this week. Invariant
  13. Also found this tough going – 24 mins for me. Not helped by Float at 7d which then stuffed all the crossers for a bit. Couldn’t parse 13a and 23a properly either. Definitely been a more challenging week
  14. At first glance I thought this looked tough -and it was. I did manage to keep going however; all done bar 15a in 22 minutes. Then after a second and third look, the penny finally dropped and I saw Ulster (one of many excellent clues).
    Looking at the blog I have managed to get it all correct but:
    Dittany was unknown and I could not parse 2d and 6d. A top quality test- well done Mara and sympathies to our blogger. David

  15. Having struggled and failed on the 15×15 today—I am really not in the mood, it seems—only a technical DNF for me, having pressed “submit” and been presented with a couple of typos for my LOsI, namely “mumyy” and “puffcn”. I knew what I meant, so after an 18-minute struggle I’m going to count it as a win. The MUMMY I meant to type was unparsed, so thanks for allowing me to kick myself.

    I’d have been baffled by the RABBI, too, if that meaning of “rabbit” hadn’t come up earlier in the year in the 15×15, and I think that’s also true of DITTANY.

  16. Goodness me – must be my slowest QC ever. Definitely more like the normal cryptic. FOI DEMOCRAT LOI OPINION COD ANY

    Goodness knows what DITTANY is doing in a QC!

  17. I concur. Excellent puzzle which kept me entertained for 20 minutes, double my old target time, which I am now revising upwards.

    However, I did finish and parse everything (having the same difficulty and delay with MUMMY as everyone else). I was also slow to think of the right driver for 20, and I got UNTANGLED before looking at the clue for 7d, so whilst DOUGH occurred to me, the D at the end had me looking for an alternative reason for ‘may have risen’ in the clue, but clearly HGUOD made no sense. It took a while to think of BREAD.

    COD was definitely 11a – beautiful!

    Let’s hope that next week is easier, at least on Thursday. Nice, honest blog Roly, well done.

  18. I suppose maybe the objection is maybe tongue-in-cheek, but I can’t see why it’s a bad clue. Accurate definition, no redundant words, cryptic part seems to work…

    I should say I am stil pretty bad at these things and I’m in my early days of doing them (fewer than 15), so I probably don’t have a great feel for what is good and what isn’t.

    Also, to be clear, I didn’t get it…

    1. Sorry, you’re absolutely right, I was just being silly. But seriously, there is no such thing as being bad at cryptic crosswords when you start off – everyone is, because every good game has a rule or two and a little bit of jargon to get used to. But from what I can glean you’re learning quicker than I did!
  19. For the first time ever l could not get started. Is this really a QC if even the experienced solvers are having difficulties?
    1. Given that I spent twice as long on the 15×15 this morning before finally giving up with only about a dozen answers filled in, I’d say it’s at least a QuickER Cryptic today.

      As the 15×15 most definitely has its up and down days, perhaps the QC doing it too qualifies as good practice…

      1. That’s very true, Matt. And I think not knowing whether it’ll be a stinker or a gimme does make it more interesting. Also, Anonymous, spare a thought for those of us who had to stare at a blank grid very frequently when learning the ropes before there was such a thing as a QC!
  20. We have been doing these for a while, but found this a real struggle, even to get started. Very cleverly disguised clues but perfectly fair. Finished with some help in about 45 minutes. Enyoyed 2d and 11 a, good exercise for the brain, thanks to setter and blogger. Elin and Ian.
  21. Rabbit also a golfer with handicap more than 16. So another example of a not so good sportsman
  22. A common word in Australia for a tail end batsman, used in the film ” Bodyline” based on the infamous English cricket tour, using the bodlyline theory of bowling.
  23. I’m wondering if the term Rabbit isn’t older than cricket, and actually a reference to the proverbial poor sport rabbit (boasted about coming first, but actually lost) in Aesop’s fable?

    Could the cricketers have picked it up from here?

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