March 11th, 2019


QC 1305 by Oink

I believe this is the first time I have blogged an Oink puzzle. Pleased to meet you, Sir or Madam, and I enjoyed your puzzle very much. I think because the 'handwriting' was unfamiliar I read it through first time without filling in much, but all went in pretty quickly after that and provided a very gentle start to the week, with everything fitting in quite smoothly in just under 7 minutes.

FOI was 5A I think. Should have been 1A looking back, but it was so obvious that I couldn't see it first time. I believe my LOI was BATHE, because once I got into my stride most of it happened quite sequentially. No particular clue stood out for difficulty so my COD goes to 8D for smoothness of surface and general tidiness.

I am very pleased to report that at some point towards the end of the week before last I managed to catch up with all my 15x15s. When I tell you that my two standout clues were "Line that stops tongue moving, twisted in knots? (8)" (27243) and "
Online dealer; as announced (9): (27246), you will realise how long I had been letting them stack up. I am sure there must have been a load of better clues during the accumulated backlog of 20-30 puzzles but those are just the random two that really stand out for me as I look back. Maybe now I can get back to doing the QC daily as well.

And while I am on the subject of favourite clues I wonder if this might be an excuse to invite everybody to post their all time golden nuggets? I always find that sort of thing fascinating (but I realise I may be in a minority and all the rest of you might have been there before and find it a bit boring).

While I am at it though I do remember that when I first started doing this blog somebody posted one of their favourite clues. I thought about it briefly and moved on, intending to come back to it later but now I realise I completely forgot. If you can remember who you were would you mind posting it again? I think it had something to do with a square.

Finally I did remember to whip out my NATRAF (Nina And Theme Radar And Filter) at the end and scanned the final grid, but I could detect no evidence of unusual activity.

Definitions are underlined and everything else is explained just as I see it as simply as I can.

1 A country pile? (8)
HAYSTACK - cryptic definition.
5 Henry’s in great pain (4)
ACHE - H (Henry) 'in' ACE (great).
9 Timid chap getting married by river (5)
MOUSE - M (married) + OUSE (Yorkshire river).
10 One who weeps about resistance fighter (7)
BRAWLER - BAWLER (one who weeps) 'about' R (resistance).
11 Occasionally arrange fundraising event (3)
RAG - 'occasional' letters of aRrAnGe.
12 Partner is in trouble, that’s become apparent (9)
TRANSPIRE - straight anagram ('in trouble') of PARTNER IS.
13 Briefly follow popular Soviet leader (6)
STALIN - STAL (STALk (follow) 'briefly') + IN (popular).
15 Remarkable dramas in Indian city of old (6)
MADRAS - straight anagram ('remarkable') of DRAMAS.
17 England going mad? That’s the impression (9)
ENGRAVING - ENG (England) + RAVING (going mad).
19 Legal profession's drinking den (3)
BAR - double definition.
20 Primate's a partisan, it’s said (7)
GORILLA - sounds like ('it's said') GUERRILLA (partisan).
21 Sum to put back (3,2)
TOT UP - TO + TUP (PUT backwards).
22 Travel in part of Hebrides (4)
RIDE - hidden word: HebRIDEs.
23 Beyond compare, as House of Lords when empty? (8)
PEERLESS - an empty House of Lords would have no PEERS in it and so could be described as PEERLESS.
1 Reporter's funny bone (7)
HUMERUS - sounds like ('reporter's') HUMOROUS (funny). But I would say this is hardly a clue really at all because that is why the upper bone of your upper limb is popularly referred to as your 'funny bone' anyway.
2 Immature, year-old gnu heading north (5)
YOUNG - Y (year) + O (old) + UNG (GNU 'heading north' in this Down clue).
3 Tear city hall apart in dramatic fashion (12)
THEATRICALLY - straight anagram ('apart') of TEAR CITY HALL.
4 Emergency committee needs firm support (5)
COBRA - CO ('company', commonly used in Crossword Land to mean a 'firm' although in strict legal terms a firm is a partnership as distinct from a company) + BRA (support).
6 Coal miner runs after dog (7)
COLLIER - COLLIE (dog) + R (runs).
7 Strange place for an eagle, they say (5)
EERIE - sounds like EYRIE ('they say'), an eagle's nest.
8 Servant's amusement causes serious offence (12)
MANSLAUGHTER - MAN'S (servant's) + LAUGHTER (amusement).
14 Terribly enraged? (7)
ANGERED - anagram &lit. ENRAGED 'terribly' = ANGERED, of which the whole clue is also a possible definition.
16 Fights about European difficulties (7)
SCRAPES - SCRAPS (fights) 'about' E (European).
17 Keen to be a long time in Her Majesty's embrace? (5)
EAGER - AGE (a long time) 'in ER's ('Her Majesty's') embrace'.
18 Fatuous characters in Twain anecdote (5)
INANE - hidden word: TwaIN ANEcdote.
19 Bill turned up with ambassador to have a swim (5)
BATHE - BAT (TAB (bill) 'turned up' in this Down clue) + HE (His or Her Excellency, formal title of an ambassador).
  • vinyl1

Times 27295 - The metronome mazurka!

Time: 39 minutes
Music: Shostakovich, Symphony 14, Ormandy/Philadelphia

I found this a refreshing puzzle, with unusual clues and novel cryptic technique.   At first it seemed almost unapproachable, but I found a few Quickie-style clues scattered around the edges, and was able to just get a foothold.   Once you have a few crossing letters, it is possible to biff some of the longer answers and really get going with good speed.   A good bit of general knowledge is required, mostly of the sort that can be picked up from doing these puzzles for a few years.

I was left in the end with a few that were more difficult to crack, and I really had to think hard to see how the cryptic worked.   I ended up with 'Sudanese', which was the obvious answer, but I had a blind spot for the cryptic for the longest time.   So I was perhaps not as quick as I should have been - but I did enjoy the puzzle.

1 Glue rifle butt, not taking seconds. That’s sound for some time (8)
TICKTOCK - [s]TICK + [s]TOCK,    Definitely a novel cluing technique right at the start.
5 Composer writing feature about opus (6)
9 Badly sung idea for a religious piece (5,3)
AGNUS DEI - Anagram of SUNG IDEA, which took me a little while to see.
10 Died down and burned away, last of coal not needed (6)
ABATED - AB[l]ATED.   'Ablated' does not usually meaned 'burned away', but the idea is clear enough.
12 Soldiers beheaded Achilles’ foe — not state business (7,6)
15 In a spot, perhaps, the man is flexible (5)
LITHE - LIT + HE, spotlit, that is, not drunk.
16 Dish inducting fool into Creole cooking (9)
CASSEROLE - C(ASS)EROLE, where the enclosing letters are an anagram of CREOLE.
17 German town burger men upset (9)
19 Eye work that gets a lot of credit (5)
OPTIC - OP + TIC[k], without the drinks dispenser for a change.
20 Rocks here seething with male fish (5,8)
22 True Australian is mostly stupid about tattoo (6)
DINKUM - D(INK)UM[b], where some little knowledge of the Australian lingo is needed.
23 People in country to appeal about invading Vikings (8)
SUDANESE - SU(DANES)E.   I had a lot of trouble because I was attempting the opposite construction, with a word for 'appeal' invading a word for 'Vikings'.
25 Sound is harsh, missing out on gold disc (6)
STEREO - [au]STERE + O.   A rather loose definition, but the cryptic should give it to you.
26 Where film stage went for useless employees (8)
DEADWOOD -  double definition, I believe - there were a number of films and TV series set in Deadwood, South Dakota. I would like to thank our honorable correspondent from Shanghai for the additional information on how this clue works -
1 Spring up from vagrant, old and rank (10)
TRAMPOLINE - TRAMP + O + LINE, i.e. a tier or a row.
2 Company gets on top of new scam (3)
CON - CO + N, one from the Quickie.
3 Where there’s a will, there’s a — (7)
TESTATE - Cryptic definition, not very cryptic.
4 Artful Charlie going to bar more than once (6-6)
CLEVER-CLEVER - C + LEVER twice.  A UK-centric expression that it is important for overseas solvers to know.
6 Regular visitor put somewhat in shade (7)
HABITUE - H(A BIT)UE, another chestnut.
7 Prayer gives one lift (11)
PATERNOSTER - double definition, referring to the continually-moving elevator.
8 Where conductors meet to agree on technique, ultimately (4)
NODE - NOD + [techniqu]E.  Another rather loose literal where most solvers will just use the cryptic.
11 This fixes pitches, yet using rake is wrong (3,9)
13 Bury coins where roads meet (11)
14 What draws little money to protect unwell these days (6,4)
18 Damage most of camping man’s tent (7)
MARQUEE - MAR + QUEE[n], presumably 'camp' in a much different sense
19 City tree has to come down (7)
OAKLAND - OAK + LAND, another easy one.
21 Team’s cancelling southern date in Rome (4)
IDES - [s]IDES, another one from the Quickie.
24 I pass after end of course (3)
EGO -  [cours]E + GO.