mohn (mohn2) wrote in times_xwd_times,
mohn
mohn2
times_xwd_times

Quick Cryptic 875 by Mara

The last puzzle I blogged was notable for having a grid with a dozen of the answers sporting unchecked initial letters - this time around, there are only four answers with that property, in theory making life easier for biffers everywhere. This unfortunately turned out to not be as helpful as I would have hoped, as 1A was one of my last entries hence the six down clues hanging off it all had to be solved without their initial letter in place. That, of course, is entirely the solver's fault rather than the grid's.

I found this offering from Mara to be a little harder than average - not because of much in the way of difficult vocab (apart from one word, mentioned below), rather because of not seeing how the wordplay might work in clues such as 1A and 20A. COD to 22D - not hard, but a nice surface.

The puzzle can be found here if the usual channels are unavailable: http://feeds.thetimes.co.uk/puzzles/crossword/20170717/24883/

Definitions are underlined, {} = omission

Across
1 Pay cut, story unrivalled (12)
INCOMPARABLE - INCOM{e} (Pay cut, i.e. the word "income" (pay) without its last letter) + PARABLE (story)
9 First of criteria fit for message (5)
CABLE - C (First of criteria, i.e. the first letter of the word "criteria") + ABLE (fit)
10 Natural bend on cigar (7)
ORGANIC - anagram of (bend) ON CIGAR
11 US city or territory, old (7)
ORLANDO - OR + LAND (territory) + O (old). City in Florida renowned for its theme parks.
12 Plunder weapon (5)
RIFLE - double definition
14 Reports claiming poor nag is left to rot (9)
STAGNATES - STATES (Reports) around (claiming) anagram of (poor) NAG
18 Part of Sicily, richly expressive (5)
LYRIC - hidden in (Part of) SiciLY RIChly
20 Title say removed from essay and paper (7)
ESQUIRE - ES{say} (say removed from essay, i.e. the word "essay" without the "say" part) + QUIRE (paper)
21 Rod contains desire for hot stuff (7)
CAYENNE - CANE (Rod) around (contains) YEN (desire), giving us (Chambers): "A very strong, pungent red pepper made from several species of capsicum"
23 US state where I had a house (5)
IDAHO - I'D (I had) + A + HO (house). Northwestern US state renowned for its potato-growing capabilities.
24 Devil started a bit differently, it's shown (12)
DEMONSTRATED - DEMON (Devil) + anagram of (a bit differently) STARTED. You could also interpret "a bit differently" as merely meaning "swap two letters around" - it's obviously still an anagram but it doesn't suggest any wholesale manoeuvring is required.


Down
2 Device that sprays blue rinse all over the place (9)
NEBULISER - anagram of (all over the place) BLUE RINSE. Perhaps the most obscure word in this puzzle but from the same root as nebula, nebulous, etc, a nebuliser is generally used for dispensing medication. Not sure how familiar people will be with a blue rinse, but it's a hair colouring employed by ladies wishing to add a bit of zing to their greying locks. Obviously this is irrelevant from the point of view of solving the clue, but without that knowledge the clue's surface might seem a bit odd.
3 Canoe I manoeuvred over a Southern Hemisphere area (7)
OCEANIA - anagram of (manoeuvred) CANOE I, + A
4 He or she, perhaps, has to consolidate declaration (13)
PRONOUNCEMENT - PRONOUN (He or she, perhaps) + CEMENT (to consolidate)
5 Jolly man? Got it! (5)
ROGER - a reference to the Jolly ROGER flag, with the definition referring to the word used in signalling and communications to indicate a message has been received
6 Grub's ending in waste receptacle (3)
BIN - B (Grub's ending, i.e. the last letter of the word "Grub") + IN
7 Pass old germ orally? (6)
EXCEED - EX (old) + homophone of (orally) SEED (germ)
8 Exclusive southern home for chickens! (5)
SCOOP - S (southern) + COOP (home for chickens)
13 A face isn't made to beguile (9)
FASCINATE - anagram of (made) A FACE ISN'T
15 Quite awful Los Angeles drink (7)
TEQUILA - anagram of (awful) QUITE, + LA (Los Angeles). Slips down very easily in a margarita.
16 Leader of clan in tartan, serene (6)
PLACID - C (Leader of clan, i.e. the first letter of the word "clan") in PLAID (tartan)
17 Old king, brave man heading for defeat (5)
HEROD - HERO (brave man) + D (heading for defeat, i.e. the first letter of the word "defeat")
19 Law works (5)
CANON - double definition, the first referring to (Chambers): "A law or rule, esp in ecclesiastical matters", the second referring to (Chambers): "Works forming any similar standard", e.g. the Western Canon
22 Root vegetable taking a month to come up (3)
YAM - reversal of (to come up) MAY (a month)


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