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Quick Cryptic 742 by Hawthorn

I've had the pleasure of blogging a few Hawthorn puzzles recently, and they have always been beautifully crafted. This one is no exception.

I've now totally given up on predicting degree of difficulty around the QC (when I think it's an easy one, others say it's hard - and vice versa). All I can say is I solved it in about 15 minutes, which is about average for me (but then again I am a slow - but thorough - solver), so for those who are interested in solving times I'm afraid I'm not much of a yardstick. I just enjoy the elegance of the challenge and the beautiful process, and the hell with how long it takes: in many ways, the longer the better.

Good QC fare I thought. No real obscurities (although you will need to be somewhat familiar with popular UK cars in bygone decades) and 18d might be unknown depending on your TV watching in the '60s (not to mention your geographic location) although the wordplay is generous. Thanks very much to our setter.

Definitions underlined: DD = Double definition: Anagrams indicated by *(--): Omitted letters indicated by {-}

Across
1 Spin bowler’s trick presenting a problem for the author
(7,5)
WRITERS BLOCK - *(BOWLERS TRICK) with "spin" as the anagrind. I had to wait until the cross checkers were in place before I finally got this, as our setter had successfully sent me up a few garden paths. Initially I thought the definition was "spin bowler's trick" so I was going through wrong 'uns etc. to no avail. Then I thought we were looking for an author. Got there in the end.
9 Parrot of old lady put with cashew when she is absent (5)
MACAW - MA (old lady) + CAW - CA{SHE}W (cashew when SHE is absent)
10 Adolescent is after food container in workplace eatery (7)
CANTEEN - TEEN (adolescent) 'after' CAN (food container)
11 Rupture regularly found in noble gas particle (7)
NEUTRON - UTR (rUpTuRe regularly - i.e. every other letter) inside (found in) NEON (one of the noble gases)
12 Delete Times puzzle at the end (5)
ERASE - ERAS (times) + E (puzzlE at the end)
13 Southeastern upper-class type to embark on journey (3,3)
SET OFF - SE (south eastern) + TOFF (upper-class type). "Don't care if you've got a first class season ticket, mate - there's no trains today 'cos we're on strike..."
14 Long narrow inlets start to join in Capri and Granada? (6)
FJORDS - J (start to Join) goes in FORDS (Capri and Granada - two of the most famous Ford cars from the '70s, '80s and '90s, but possibly unknown to younger audiences)
17 State “I do”, securing a husband (5)
IDAHO - I DO 'secures' A H (a husband). Today's gimme...
19 This country is in ruin — am I biased? (7)
NAMIBIA - The African nation is indeed 'in' ruiN AM I BIAsed
21 Fate mostly dire, turning desperate (2-2-3)
DO OR DIE - DOO{M} (fate mostly - i.e. last letter missing) + DIRE rearranged (turning)
22 Suffer at home with vicious mutt (5)
INCUR - IN (at home) + CUR (vicious mutt). Wondered a little at the definition to start with until I thought of "incur a penalty / suffer a penalty"
23 Ado! Hungry dog barking in all-too-familiar situation (9,3)
GROUNDHOG DAY - *(ADO HUNGRY DOG) with "barking" as the anagrind


Down
2 Tell on Dracula? (7)
RECOUNT - RE (on - as in "about") + COUNT (Dracula?)
3 Capital offences once punished here? (5,2,6)
TOWER OF LONDON - Cryptic definition based on London being the capital
4 Modern recycling centre (6)
RECENT - *(CENTRE) with "recycling" as the anagrind. Neat clue.
5 Stuff reckless mug in Jeep for extreme sport (6,7)
BUNGEE JUMPING - BUNG (stuff) + *(MUG IN JEEP) with "reckless" as the anagrind
6 Come gallantly holding final letter (5)
OMEGA - Hidden in (indicated by 'holding') cOME GAllantly
7 Where setters go for a holiday? (7)
KENNELS - Droll cryptic clue based on setters being dogs rather than our daily tormentors
8 Sign depicting old fellows (4)
OMEN - O (old) + MEN (fellows)
13 Part of leg found by excavation party (7)
SHINDIG - SHIN (part of leg) in front of (found by) DIG (excavation)
15 Du Maurier book with short revolutionary chapters — ace!
(7)
REBECCA - REBE{L} (short revolutionary - i.e. minus last letter) + CC (chapters - two of them) + A (abbrev. Ace)
16 Tangle with men he’s upset (6)
ENMESH - *(MEN HES) with "upset" as the anagrind
18 Love attempt to follow silver galore (1,4)
A GOGO - AG (chemical symbol for silver) is followed by O GO (love attempt). Whilst the wordplay was clearly pointing us to the solution, I was struggling with "what the hell is a gogo?" until I vaguely recalled "Discs A-Gogo" from watching TV during my teenage years in the late '60s. Must admit I had no idea it was a recognised term meaning "in abundance; galore"
20 Crooked? Sounds like a grass (4)
AWRY - It does indeed sound like A RYE (a grass)

Comments

( 28 comments — Leave a comment )
Adrian Bailey
Jan. 11th, 2017 01:20 am (UTC)
10:46
Yeah, quite an interesting crossword. Took me a while to get on the setter's wavelength. "Spin bowler's trick" (1ac) is one of the best anagrams I've seen for a while. I got off on the wrong foot by biffing REVERSE SWING, and then backtracked when I saw 7dn.

Speaking of 7dn, it's hardly a cryptic clue, is it? When they see the word "setters" most normal human beings, a category which includes most QC solvers, will think immediately of dogs.

Speaking of dogs, "Ado! Hungry dog barking" is one of the daftest anagrams I've seen for a while... Ax
Judith Rolfe
Jan. 11th, 2017 07:13 pm (UTC)
RE: 10:46
Well this was my final answer and only the 4th time out of 5 attempts that I have finished the QC
kevingregg
Jan. 11th, 2017 02:22 am (UTC)
This was a recalcitrant one, starting with 1ac, which I assumed was oh, God, another cricket clue and waited for some checkers. I didn't help matters by putting in 'account' at 2d. Once again overlooked a hidden (6d) and persisted in looking for Z in a 4-letter word. I remember 'à go-go' (from the French, originally); wish I didn't. COD 1ac. 8:48.
horryd
Jan. 11th, 2017 04:07 am (UTC)
@@@@@
At 8.57 fastish but thoughoughly average.

Filled it in top to bottom.

FOI 1ac WRITER'S BLOCK so avoided the garden.

LOI 23ac GROUNHOG DAY

COD 14ac FJORDS WOD ANAGRIND!

flashman
Jan. 11th, 2017 05:18 am (UTC)
All done in 34 mins. I was stuck on 1a, 6d, 7d and 20d after 30 mins so quite pleased with that.

Couldn't parse 21a and 15d. For 21a I had DIE as mostly dire and fate=door! Oh well.

Favourite clues: 19a and 7d, and I'm finally spotting the hidden clues more quickly.

Thanks for the blog.
jackkt
Jan. 11th, 2017 05:38 am (UTC)
I agree this was quite a tricky but very satisfying puzzle to solve with 1ac designed to be ignored until several checkers were in place - I wonder if anyone solved it straight off?

I marked 14ac as being particularly inventive (Incidentally, Nick, you have an S missing from FORDS in the second part of your explanation).

The topic of how many hiddens are "allowed" in Times puzzles came up re yesterday's 15x15 and in response I posted this, from the guidance on Times house style as published by Peter Biddlecombe in 2008:

Hidden words:- No more than one 'pure' hidden word clue per puzzle. (Reversed hidden words aren't 'pure' in this context.) (Limits like this are for 15x15 puzzles).

It's interesting that today's QC (set by the Times Puzzles Editor) contains TWO "pure" hidden words (6dn and 19ac) and it's only a 13x13. Of course I doubt it was ever a hard-and-fast rule, but it's worth noting that times change and exceptions occur.

Go-go, aside from its meaning as a music genre, became popular as an expression in the 1960s due to the popularity of go-go dancing associated with nightclubs, strip joints etc and there was (and still is) a famous venue in Hollywood called "Whisky A Go Go" whose name was copied around the world. This and Compton McKenzie's book (and the Ealing film of it) "Whisky Galore" provide us with an example of substitution for the definition in our clue today.
deezzaa
Jan. 11th, 2017 09:31 am (UTC)
I seem to remember reading in something like a guide to Times cryptics that hidden words clueswere "the easiest to solve" which is why they are generally restricted to one per puzzle. As the Quick Crossword is supposed to be more benign, it's fair that this restriction is relaxed somewhat.
Today's was a middle-of-the-road for me: 1 second beyond my target time of 10 minutes; it was that extra bite of toast that did for me.
jackkt
Jan. 11th, 2017 10:27 am (UTC)
Easiest to solve?
You may be surprised how often seasoned solvers and bloggers of the 15x15 report that a hidden answer was their LOI (Last One In)!
nick_the_novice
Jan. 11th, 2017 11:28 am (UTC)
Thanks for spotting the typo Jack - fixed.

Yes, I'd completely forgotten about Whisky A Go Go and, indeed, go-go dancers... (probably just as well)
robrolfe
Jan. 11th, 2017 10:28 am (UTC)
Neutron star
Although 19ac is a hidden word, there are two possible anagram indicators, 'ruin' and 'biased', which makes it nicely misleading. As others, really liked 1ac. LOI FJORDS. 11'. Thanks nick and Hawthorn.
adelaide81
Jan. 11th, 2017 12:23 pm (UTC)
Very satisfying today
No real problems
(Anonymous)
Jan. 11th, 2017 12:32 pm (UTC)
Googlys
A few googlys in this for me today....particularly 1ac.
As a newbie, however, was pleased to get it finished despite quite a bit of "biffing". I know this does not seem to be the "done thing" but I get it done which is the main thing. I'm in awe of finishers who say 15mins is on the slow side......and under 10mins is less than 30secs a clue!! It takes me more than that to parse the clue properly. However progress is progress. Six months ago I was getting 3/4 clues a day. Now I finish most days, once with a glorious under 30minutes!!

To all newbies I say read this blog every day because it's not only enjoyable reading, it helps enormously in understanding what we are trying to do!! Many, many thanks to all the regulars!
jackkt
Jan. 11th, 2017 01:00 pm (UTC)
Re: Googlys
Welcome, anon, if this is your first contribution, and it's great that you have made such progress. It'd be nice if you could add a name or nickname to any future posts so we can get to know you. Or sign up for a free Live Journal account and have a proper user-id and picture.
Judith Rolfe
Jan. 11th, 2017 07:16 pm (UTC)
RE: Re: Googlys
I am also very new to this, and really enjoy reading the blog as it explains the clues but also makes it clear that we all think in different ways and get the answers in different orders.
(Anonymous)
Jan. 11th, 2017 01:09 pm (UTC)
Awry
I did go awry here as my first thought was "bent" being both a grass and crooked.
jackkt
Jan. 11th, 2017 03:05 pm (UTC)
Re: Awry
You weren't alone in that thought, but fortunately I already had the R checker so I dismissed it immediately.
rinteff
Jan. 11th, 2017 01:47 pm (UTC)
3 hours 56 minutes...
...according to my ipad, but that did include finishing the main puzzle, walking the dog, a couple of hours in my workshop and lunch. The app insists on starting the clock for both puzzles as soon as you open either. Any ideas on how to stop it? Actual time about 8 mins so average.
merlin_55
Jan. 11th, 2017 02:05 pm (UTC)
One missing, KENNELS. Was convinced that it was a geographic location, probably an island group, like Canaries. Thought of the dog connection, but only in this context. 19a had a great red herring with checkers of --M---A clue had "Ruin am I biased", which I read as an anagram of "Ruin am I" with biased as anagrind. So I had RUMAINA, which I thought was an alternative spelling, I'd certainly seen Roumania
(Anonymous)
Jan. 11th, 2017 02:06 pm (UTC)
Solver's block
This was a good puzzle which I solved from bottom up. Some clues I had left - 1a,5d,6d and 7d - proved tricky because I had an unparsed Writer's Cramp for 1a which held me up on the NE down clues. Getting 7d was the breakthrough. 23 minutes. 1a brilliant and liked several others including 14d (LOI) and 18d. David
john_dun
Jan. 11th, 2017 02:32 pm (UTC)
Going awry in Rumania
I can answer Jack's musing over 1a in the affirmative. It was my FOI, after a few seconds working out which was the anagram fodder. I agree FJORDS was a great clue, at least for those of us old enough to remember the cars. KENNELS kept me wondering for a while until the N from 10a lit the bulb over my head. 19a caught me out for a while as I biffed RUMANIA without properly reading the clue. 14a finally confirmed REBECCA and I reappraised it and saw the hidden. 10:30. An enjoyable puzzle. Thanks Nick and Hawthorn.
(Anonymous)
Jan. 11th, 2017 05:16 pm (UTC)
I didn't find this quite as easy as others, running out at an above average 45 mins. That time does include parsing, but it all still seemed a bit sluggish today. Invariant
JEFoxley
Jan. 11th, 2017 05:53 pm (UTC)
20 down
20 down caught me out for a while since 'bent' is also a grass!
andrew_turner
Jan. 11th, 2017 06:35 pm (UTC)
Relatively quick for me at about 45 minutes spread over a drive home and preparing supper. I too plumped for 19a rumania until forced back to rethink. Missed a few correct-method solutions e.g. 14a fjords - a little surprising having driven several Granadas over 9 years of company cars. Some too obvious to parse e.g. 21a, 3d and 23a once a few checkers were in place. We've had attempts to trick us with Setters/setters fairly recently - owning a Irish Setter helps! FOI 1a (for Jakkt) LOI 18d COD 14a for the correctly worked-out solution (!). Very helpful blog and discussion so thx all, and to Hawthorn for a fun puzzle.
andrew_turner
Jan. 11th, 2017 06:35 pm (UTC)
oops - apologies to Jackkt!
jackkt
Jan. 11th, 2017 06:58 pm (UTC)
No need to apologise, Andrew, but I wonder if you're aware that since you have a LJ account (and if you're logged into it) you can edit your own posts to correct errors etc. There should be an Edit button underneath the posting. Regards.
andrew_turner
Jan. 11th, 2017 07:48 pm (UTC)
Live and learn...but since you've been kind enough in the past to reply to questions and offer advice, it seemed only courteous to get the name right!
plett11
Jan. 11th, 2017 08:26 pm (UTC)
I struggled with this one and eventually completed it in around 30 minutes. I actually came to the blog expecting to have got 18d wrong as I wasn't at all sure of the definition, so was pleasantly surprised to see that I'd worked it out correctly. Struggled with the NE with my last 3 in being 6 & 7d and 12a. I spent a lot of time trying to get Kinross out of my head for 7d as it was on the only location I could think of that fitted the checkers.
All in all a good challenge with my COD being 1a for sending me down several wrong paths.
(Anonymous)
Jan. 13th, 2017 10:42 pm (UTC)
Surprised to see a trade name used- ford- and some very old cars-
Is it usual to expect trade names in crosswords?
( 28 comments — Leave a comment )

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