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Quick Cryptic 741 by Pedro

13 minutes with 15dn/20ac being the last to fall. The long clue at 8ac could prove the key to faster times as it provides many crossing letters including the first letter of the long 9dn which helps a lot. Some of the vocabulary isn't the simplest - neither is some cluing but it is very fair which gives this a satisfying feel. Thanks Pedro.


1. Backpack - essential for a hiker? Support (BACK), group (PACK).
5. Span - a period - a span of years. The letter 'I' leaves SPAiN.
8. New South Wales - a part of Australia which is very biffable from (3,5,5). Information (NEWS), released (OUT) linked to (sitting alongside) an anagram (abused) of LAWS HE.
10. Hello - greeting. He will - he'll (HELL), love (O).
11. Austere - harsh. Anagram (is rough) of SEA TRUE.
12. Repair - make improvements to. Attitude (AIR) shown by salesman (REP).
13. Despot - tyrant. Remove blemishes from DE-SPOT.
16. Portion - serving. Queen (R this time - not ER) tucks into elixir (POTION).
18. Ahead - in the lead. Article (A), homophone (on the radio) of caught (HEArD) dismissing the 'R' for Republican.
20. Swashbuckling - gallant. In quiet (SH) put WAS to get SWASH then weak at the knees (BUCKLING).
21. Eats - swallows. Non vegetarian foods (mEATS) skipping the starter letter.
22. Hysteria - wild excitement. Anagram (erupting) of THIS YEAR.


1. Bunch - group. Some bread (BUN) given to church (CH).
2. Cowslip - flowering plant. Border (LIP) with cattle (COWS) overhead.
3. Photo finish - exciting climax? (P)lumpton, anagram (damaged) of HOOF IN THIS.
4. Catnap - sleep. Soldier (ANT) rolled over (TNA) inside better (CAP).
6. Pulse - double definition.
7. Nascent - beginning. New (N), climb (ASCENT).
9. Waste Basket - bin. Anagram (fluttering) of (S)pider, WEB AT STAKE.
12. Riposte - witty reply. One (I) online comment (POST) both put inside about (RE).
14. Premier - first. Not sure why but this word play struck me like a recipe - so here goes - take one sea at Calais (MER) give it an upsurge so that it becomes REM then place the finished article inside jetty (PIER).
15. Injury - harm. Deliberating on court case (IN JURY).
17. Roast - cook meat for example. Run (R), oven (OAST - as in oast houses once used to dry hops).
19. Dogma - principle. Mother (MA) chasing (after) pet (DOG).


( 25 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 10th, 2017 01:43 am (UTC)
I confess I biffed 8ac from the enumeration, parsing afterwards. On the other hand, at 9d I stopped at WASTE even though I knew it was BASKET, as I somehow missed the anagrist the first time. LOI SWASHBUCKLING, which I finally saw and parsed just before I could biff it. 5' on the nose.
Jan. 10th, 2017 01:44 am (UTC)
Up with the bul-bul
9.03 for this moderate challenge. COD 20ac SWASHBUCKLING.

I employ a WASTE-PAPER BASKET but is 9dn WASTE BASKET des rigeurs?

Jan. 10th, 2017 04:55 am (UTC)
Not sharp....
....so 11:31 for me. The answers were all obvious, but I was very slow to see some of them. I take too long to abandon an incorrect analysis of the clue and try something else.
Jan. 10th, 2017 05:22 am (UTC)
The long 8ac was my first one in, so as suggested above, that helped a lot, but on the other hand the long 20ac was my last one in and that hindered progress in the lower half and in the end I completed in 10 minutes.

I agree with our Shanghai correspondent about WASTE-PAPER BASKET. This reminds me that in my last employment some bright spark came up with the idea of doing away with W-PBs which used to sit comfortably under each desk and we were required to accumulate unwanted materials and items on our desk-tops and then take them to a selection of wheelie bins on the landing about 50 yards away. I wonder if this sort of thing has become common practice now?

Edited at 2017-01-10 05:23 am (UTC)
Jan. 10th, 2017 06:33 am (UTC)
WASTE BASKET seemed (seems) fine to me; I wonder if there's a transpondular difference (I'm Murcan, I assume that horryd, like Jack, is from another place).
Jan. 10th, 2017 08:10 am (UTC)
Waste in US
Definitely waste basket in States, where electoral college needs to go!
Jan. 10th, 2017 08:38 am (UTC)
Waste baskets
There are more basket-cases in America than anywhere else I suggest. This is The London Times not The NY Times - I fear we may have an American setter - I can only hope he/she is of the Meryl Streep persuasion!

Your Shanghai correspondent
Jan. 10th, 2017 09:02 am (UTC)
About 25 minutes after subtracting interruptions.

Last 2 in were 4d and 11a.

For the parsing of 4d, cap = better, is this as in can you cap/better that?
Jan. 10th, 2017 09:11 am (UTC)
He capped off a superb innings by hitting the final ball for six.
Adrian Bailey
Jan. 10th, 2017 02:38 pm (UTC)
Not sure why you put up this example. You can't substitute "better" for "cap" in it. He bettered off a superb innings?

A useable example would be "He capped his performance in the 1st innings with an unbeaten century in the 2nd."
Jan. 13th, 2017 03:48 pm (UTC)
Thanks - yes I agree - i shouldn't have included the word 'off'.
Jan. 10th, 2017 11:33 am (UTC)
He capped off a superb innings by hitting the final ball for six.
Jan. 10th, 2017 12:30 pm (UTC)
Before being given out: hit the ball twice ? 😊 Invariant
Jan. 10th, 2017 10:02 am (UTC)
Yeah, I found 4dn hard and it was my LOI. The clue is quite wordy that it took me some time to actually work out what I was looking for. Apart from that, a stimulating yet moderate crossword. Gribb.
Jan. 10th, 2017 10:17 am (UTC)
First-time post after 6 months of avid lurking. Really appreciate this blog and the explanations - helped me loads. Now at a stage where I can more-or-less complete every day. Also thanks to other contributors. How else would I get to learn about "Murcan"?😀
Jan. 10th, 2017 11:36 am (UTC)
We do like lurkers on the site - but we appreciate posters even more. Congratulations on what seems great progress. Onwards and upwards!
Jan. 10th, 2017 10:31 am (UTC)
Buckling my swash
Biffed 8ac, but delayed by 4d and 6d. I believe PULSE is no longer taught on first aid courses, the taking of it that is, because it was found that health professionals as well as first aiders could not interpret it meaningfully. 9' thanks Chris and Pedro.
Jan. 10th, 2017 11:04 am (UTC)
A very pleasant 27 mins solve, with 13ac just beating 14d in my CoD list. A biff first, parse later approach certainly helped with 8ac and 20ac. Invariant
Jan. 10th, 2017 01:55 pm (UTC)
About average difficulty for me today with a 17 minute solve. Last 2 in were 5a and 6d - I'd never really thought about where pulses 'lived' before. It took me a while to figure out the parsing of 4d but got there eventually and had to parse 20a after biffing. COD 15d.
Adrian Bailey
Jan. 10th, 2017 02:46 pm (UTC)
Medium hard today. Most of the clues were getting towards the difficulty of the standard cryptic. FOI HELLO LOI CATNAP COD SPAIN
Jan. 10th, 2017 04:03 pm (UTC)
Found this fairly straightforward helped by the easier long clues. Failed to parse catnap, thanks to bloggers and setter. Abt 25min which is about medium for us. Elin and Ian.
Jan. 10th, 2017 04:23 pm (UTC)
No great problems, but it took me longer than it ought to have done to spot 15a/16d. Saw the parsing of NSW as I wrote it in. 20a just jumped off the page at me in a cavalier fashion. 10 minutes. FOI BACKPACK. LOI PORTION. Thanks Chris and Pedro.
Jan. 10th, 2017 06:37 pm (UTC)
Hidden message?
Looking at my answers I see "austere despot ahead". Maybe in New South Wales?
Anyway I completed the puzzle in just over 20 minutes. LOI was 4d because I could not parse it. Prior to that 5a and 6d held me up.
I think REPAIR means to put back into original condition; a minor quibble. David
Jan. 10th, 2017 09:04 pm (UTC)
Good point. I suppose one might argue that if something was in a state of disrepair and was repaired then its condition has been improved. A bit tenuous though.
Jan. 18th, 2017 10:44 am (UTC)
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( 25 comments — Leave a comment )

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