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April 13th, 2018

Times Quick Cryptic 1069 by Tracy

I've been doing this QC blogging malarkey on an alternate Friday basis for over 6 months now and, I have to say, I enjoy it immensly. The QC was something that enticed me to doing the 15x15 Times Crossword again after many years of abeyance. A chance to learn the tricks of the trade I never fully understood before and an entertaining experience in its own right. And now I've come to appreciate that it is an art in itself - to introduce newbies to the ways and means of a cryptic crossword, but without dumbing down. A very difficult balance to tread, but I think our team of expert setters do it beautifully. It is a testament to that, that so many experienced solvers come here not just to warm up for the more difficult main puzzle, but for the enjoyment of the QC in its own right. So, while I might, nowadays, count myself as one of the aforementioned experienced solvers, finishing this on average in about 6 1/2 minutes, it is great to stop and smell the roses as I write the blog and appreciate our setters' skills, wit and sense of humour.

If you are here to learn and improve (like I did) then welcome! Do not 12d if you find it difficult and get stuck. Our bloggers are here to help. All comments and questions welcome!

As for today's...  A nice middle-of-the-road puzzle from Tracy today, taking me close to an average time. I didn't find it easy to get started and there were one or two clues that made me stop and think, making it all the more enjoyable. But there are plenty of straight-forward ones that got me going, particularly the two long across clues. Did you find it the same? A number of really nice surfaces here, not least my COD 19d. Thanks Tracy - lovely job, as they say around here.

Definitions underlined in italics, (ABC)* indicating anagram of ABC, {} deletions and [] other indicators.
See the answers here...Collapse )

Times 27,011: Friday the Sporteenth

I thought this was a lovely puzzle, clearly of an acceptable Friday difficulty level without being monstrously hard at any part. Perhaps as comeuppance for the puzzle two weeks ago that was all about the greatest ever French poet, today's seemed uncommonly sports-centric, with by my count 6 or perhaps even 7 athletic activities making an appearance: football, cricket, rugby, snooker, golf, racing, and another sport involving LAPs if flat racing doesn't (I don't even know). Actually there seem to have been a lot of sports-themed barred puzzles doing the rounds lately - could be something in the air, or is this just the start of the season? I can't really complain though when a Bellini opera, a Yeats poem and a 17th century composer all appear in the same grid.

Anyway I finished this off on paper in bed in 10m30 and was very glad I didn't do it online instead this morning, as my blistering times in both the Concise and QC were both ruined by typos that I could've *sworn* weren't there at point of entry: the curse of Friday 13th indeed.

FIrst one in 11ac, LOI 7dn which is an opera I hadn't heard of: my heart sank rather when I realised from the first letter that it would be a foreign title, but once RITA finally occurred for "educated girl" at the end it was all done and dusted. Lots of super clues with brilliant marriages of wordplay with surface reading today, and I'll give a special commendation to 26dn for salvaging the "duck or swallow?" chestnut, but I'm going to award my Clue of the Day to 1dn just for having an unusually dynamic and action-packed surface for a crossword clue. I'm sure there will be a range of favourites in the comments today though. Thanks sports-mad setter!

ACROSS
1 Obsequious in writing about host (6)
SMARMY - MS reversed [writing "about"] + ARMY [host]

4 With welcome, sends up for drinks (8)
WHISKIES - W HI SKIES [with | welcome | sends up]

9 Lovely lass into funk, not piano (7)
ANGELIC - GEL [lass] into {p}ANIC [funk, minus its P for piano]

11 One saves snooker player after break ends prematurely (7)
RESCUER - CUER [snooker player] after RES{t} [break "ends prematurely"]

12 African language parents perfect (5) (6)
MASAI - MAS [parents] + A1 [perfect]

13 Readily receiving English doctor at the flat, perhaps (9)
EMBRACING - E MB RACING [English | doctor | at the Flat, perhaps]

14 Garland one received by Yankee detective on podium (5,5)
DAISY CHAIN - I [one] received by Y CHAN [Yankee | detective (Charlie)] on DAIS [podium]

16 Post pack for audition (4)
JAMB - homophone of JAM [pack "for audition"]

19 Hooter stopping work — no coming back (4)
CONK - hidden revered in {wor}K NO C{oming}

20 Sons just like fish — and try game (5-1-4)
SEVEN-A-SIDE - S [sons] + EVEN AS IDE [just like fish]. "Try game" as in "game involving tries".

22 See way, roughly, to exploit something hopeless (4,5)
LOST CAUSE - LO ST CA USE [see | way | roughly (as in circa) | to exploit]

23 Looking back, slander getting cheers in fact (5)
DATUM - reverse the whole of MUD [slander] getting TA [cheers] in

25 Tear apart LP: cruel for composer (7)
PURCELL - (LP CRUEL*) ["tear apart..."]

26 Finish perhaps with eagle, swallow or duck (3,4)
GET DOWN - triple def, to wit: to putt the ball into the hole in golf (perhaps two under par); to ingest; to drop to the ground.

27 Pupils moving quickly to get in place before kick-off (8)
PREMATCH - R.E.M. [pupils moving quickly, ie Rapid Eye Movement] to get in PATCH [place]

28 Not the main action brought to us by Times Sport (2-4)
BY-PLAY - BY PLAY [times | sport]

DOWN
1 In bursts resort’s doctor, detectives following up (9)
SPASMODIC - SPA'S M.O. [resort's | doctor] followed by CID reversed [detectives "up"]

2 West Ham’s to drop useless Scot (5)
ANGUS - 'ANG [West Ham's = Cockney's "to drop"] + US [useless]

3 One good in exercising large tummy? (8)
MULTIGYM - I G [one | good] in (L TUMMY*) ["exercising"], &lit

5 Fare not appropriate for soldiers? (4-6,3)
HARD-BOILED EGG - cryptic def: fare as in food, soldiers being the strips of buttered toast you can only really dip in soft-boiled eggs.

6 Remains in authority, making progress with confidence
SASHAY - ASH [remains] in SAY [authority]

7 An opera or two containing joke about educated girl (1,8)
I PURITANI - II [two] containing PUN [joke] "about" RITA [educated girl, as in the 1983 film Educating Rita]

8 Woman’s cardigan: zip it over blanket (5)
SHRUG - SH [zip it!] over RUG [blanket]

10 Country vet picked up on common (5,8)
CZECH REPUBLIC - homophone of CHECK [vet "picked up"] + RE PUBLIC [on | common]

15 Island where local has no occupation? (9)
INNISFREE - or spaced differently, INN [local] IS FREE [= is not occupied, = has no occupation]

17 Mere failing in Napoleon: allowance must be made (4,5)
BEER MONEY - (MERE*) ["failing"] in BONEY [Napoleon, as in the derisive diminutive of Bonaparte]

18 Group I’m having a go at for law-breaking (8)
BANDITRY - or spaced differently, BAND I TRY [group I'm having a go at]

21 Plan that is borderline acceptable initiated (6)
SCHEMA - SC [= scilicet, = that is] + HEM [borderline] + A{cceptable}

22 Readily accept tour is over (3,2)
LAP UP - LAP [tour] (is) UP [over]

24 Winding up on internet register after time (5)
TROLL - ROLL [register] after T [time]. I think a troll can be the wind-up as well as the winder-upper, on the internet?