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Times Quick Cryptic No 1309 by Mara

A typically neat and entertaining puzzle from Mara today. Nothiing too difficult, I think, but I'm sure you will correct me if you found it otherwise; some may find 22A and 3D a bit of a stretch, perhaps. With dance, run, hop and fly in the first four clues I thought we might be having a bit of a theme of activity, but 13A and 21A put paid to that. There is much to enjoy in the surfaces and wordplay. I particularly liked 13A, 4D, 10D, 12D and (my favourite) 16D. How did you all get on? Update: Oops. I neglected to give my thanks to our setter for a great puzzle. I think the comments below speak for themselves, but let me add that I thought it was right in the Goldilocks zone, with lots for the experienced solver to smile at and the less-experienced to discover. Looking forward to the next one. Thanks Mara!

Definitions underlined in italics, Abc indicating anagram of Abc, {} deletions and [] other indicators.

1 John is able to dance (6)
CANCAN - Join CAN (John = lavatory) and CAN (is able to) to get the dance that became popular in music-hall cabarets in the 1840s. An entertaining start, with plenty more fun to follow.
5 Run in training overnight (6)
GOVERN - Hidden in traininG OVERNight.
8 Servicemen hop off to find general (13)
COMPREHENSIVE - Anagram of Servicemen hop [off].
9 Coming from behind, smack fly (4)
GNAT - The smack is a TANG, as in "a taste; a distinctive or distinguishable flavour; a trace or tinge". Reverse [coming from behind] to find the pesky fly.
10 Servers of food in dilapidated terraces (8)
CATERERS - Anagram of [dilapidated] terraces. Meals on wheels, perhaps?
11 Hot food: anything but, did you say? (6)
CHILLI - Sounds like [did you say] CHILLY. A bit of a chestnut, but the old ones are the best.
13 In bed and snoring? Turn around please! (6)
ASLEEP - If you are in bed and snoring, you will be ASLEEP; anagram of [turn around] please... just what your partner might say if you were. Very witty. My wife is less polite.
15 Very old, wise person circling pitch (5,3)
STONE AGE - The wise person is a SAGE. Put it around [circling] TONE (pitch of a note)
17 Become quiet, by Jiminy! (4)
GOSH - GO (become) SH (quiet). Crikey Jings!
19 Check flower is being brought back to life (13)
REINCARNATION - REIN (check) CARNATION (flower). A definition longer than the wordplay!
21 Still figure unpalatable at first, nation's admitted (6)
STATUE - The nation, STATE, has U{npalatable} put inside it [admitted]. Note that "nation's admitted" = "nation has admitted" not "nation is admitted".
22 Artist key, perhaps? (6)
TURNER - A definition by example (hence the perhaps?). A key is something you would turn in a lock, so is a TURNER. J.M.W Turner (1775 -1851), known for his expressive colourisations, imaginative landscapes and turbulent, often violent marine paintings. Like this...

2 A painful thing for a nut (5)
ACORN - A CORN (painful thing). Fortunately I've never had one so I don't know how painful they are.
3 Serious funds (7)
CAPITAL - A double definition. The first is, perhaps a bit of a stretch, but I think it is meant in the sense of (something serious enough to be) punishable by the death penalty.
4 Born in Cambridge, the Backs (3)
NEE - Last letters [the backs] of iN CambridgE thE. Very neat. The Backs is a picturesque area of Cambridge where the Fenland Polytechnic college grounds back onto the River Cam.
5 Large dog destroying tea garden (5,4)
GREAT DANE - Anagram of [destroying] tea garden.
6 Mask, very intriguingly, slipping on rogue initially (5)
VISOR - First letters [initially] of Very Intriguingly Slipping On Rogue.
7 Go back on some lines (7)
REVERSE - RE (on) VERSE (some lines).
10 Part of the face: mindful that's fragile (9)
CHINAWARE - Combine CHIN (part of face) and AWARE (mindful) to get something that's fragile, with a neat allusion in the surface to a weak chin.
12 Uncomfortable position that may set one's trousers on fire? (3,4)
HOT SEAT - Whimsical wordplay.. If the seat is hot enough it might set your trousers on fire when you sit on it.
14 Barge floating more easily? (7)
LIGHTER - If something is LIGHTER it might float more easily.
16 Nine hence unable to play tennis? (5)
NONET - A group of nine players. If they had NO NET how would they play tennis? Mind you, tennis for 9 would be a bit of a crowd on the court, i think.
18 Mark twenty (5)
SCORE - Double definition. If you make a mark by scratching, you SCORE something.
20 Egg in spoon, I think (3)
NIT - Hidden in spooN I Think. When's the last time you participated in an egg 'n spoon race? Wait. Here comes the nitty nurse... perhaps. We had them when I was at primary school, did you?


( 54 comments — Leave a comment )
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Mar. 15th, 2019 03:11 am (UTC)
I don't recall any troublesome clues, although I quasi-biffed 8ac without making sure that the anagrist was all there. Years ago I was able to spend Lent Term as a fellow at Cambridge, and walked from my college to the research institute and back through the Backs; by March Spring had come and the place was crawling with daffodils and other flowers. Really lovely; I only wish I could have stayed longer. 5:17.
Mar. 15th, 2019 04:03 am (UTC)
I kind of stumbled around....
....not making as rapid progress as I should have, and barely squeaking in at 9:48. I should have seen 'comprehensive', my LOI, more quickly.
Mar. 15th, 2019 04:49 am (UTC)
A bad day at the office here as I needed 15 minutes and still got one wrong. It was the intersection of 3dn and 9ac that stopped me dead in my tracks as I reached my target 10 minutes. I struggled for a while before coming up with CAPITAL (not really a stretch but one of the required meanings proved elusive) and then started an alphabet trawl for the missing letters at 9ac and hit upon KNOT (reversed as TONK meaning 'hit' and perhaps 'smack'), which I hoped might be a type of fly.

Edited at 2019-03-15 04:49 am (UTC)
Mar. 15th, 2019 07:29 am (UTC)
Bad luck with that. It may not be a fly, but at least it's a bird.
Mar. 15th, 2019 06:12 am (UTC)
Top half went in better than the bottom. LOI was CHINAWARE. I had thought the clue was a bit wonky but you've put me straight on that John - not CHINA with WARE but CHIN AWARE, makes perfect sense! Also struggled with STONE AGE, I knew SAGE would be in there but couldn't see where to split and misdirected by PITCH. Ashamed to say CHILLI took a long time too. All done in 16.45 to round off a better week than many of late (I did miss Wednesday's which I have in paper form to do tomorrow). See you Monday.
Mar. 15th, 2019 07:02 am (UTC)
30 minutes, guessed gnat, unsure of tang for smack.
Cod asleep or nonet.

The 15x15 is worth a try, I got all bar 1.
Mar. 15th, 2019 08:33 am (UTC)
A good job I wasn't in a rush this morning as this took me 26:14.
Maybe I was tired after a late return from the Emirates last night, but I got stuck in the SW. Took a long time to improve on Coulis for 11a. Thought 12d had to contain the word Lie and struggled with 10d. Once I worked out CHINAWARE it all fell into place and LOI was HOT SEAT (COD). Some clever stuff as ever from Mara and whilst very experienced solvers may race through it, I think there'll be some slow times from the rest of us.
Mar. 15th, 2019 09:01 am (UTC)
A funny thing happened on the way back from the Forum.
I went to Billingham Forum to see Blood Brothers with my daughter last night. Last time we saw it was in London with Stephanie Lawrence playing Mrs Johnston. My daughter was in her teens then! Anyway, a great performance. On the way home I got her to drop me at the pub and then went home and sampled some Highland Park. This may or may not account for my sluggish performance on this puzzle, but sluggish it was, although looking back, there was nothing to frighten the horses. CANCAN was my FOI and TURNER came in last. Liked CHINAWARE. 11:38. Thanks Mara and John.
Mar. 15th, 2019 01:36 pm (UTC)
Re: A funny thing happened on the way back from the Forum.
I have seen Blood Brothers in London twice. The first time with either Stephanie Lawrence or maybe Kiki Dee. More recently with Mel C who was unexpectedly excellent. The story hasn't lost its power.
Mar. 15th, 2019 09:05 am (UTC)
An inexcusable 22m for me, which I will now attempt to excuse by saying that I am very bunged up with a cold at the moment, and had a terrible night’s sleep. There is nothing wrong with Mara’s puzzle, but there is with me!

I got NEE spotting the definition, but had no idea what the Backs were doing there as I’d never knowingly heard of them. I should however have spotted that it was the last letters - doh!

Thanks for the blog.
Mar. 15th, 2019 10:17 am (UTC)
Perhaps you should try a drop of John's Highland Park !
(no subject) - therotter - Mar. 15th, 2019 11:45 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - john_dun - Mar. 15th, 2019 02:28 pm (UTC) - Expand
Mar. 15th, 2019 09:10 am (UTC)
I found this slow going too, despite it all being very fairly clued and no obscure vocabulary. 25 mins in the end.
Mar. 15th, 2019 09:34 am (UTC)
A nice puzzle. I thought I was in for a very quick time but my concentration clouded my ability to judge and I finished in 14.53. I went from NE to SE with hardly a hiccup but then slowed for the LH half, finding CANCAN and GNAT harder than they should have been and finishing with NONET. I found the long anagrams quickly biffable; CHINAWARE was a bit tough but it brought a smile when it clicked. Many thanks to Mara for an enjoyable workout. I finally looked at John's good blog - thanks for clarifying NEE (which I biffed).....doh! John M.

Edited at 2019-03-15 09:41 am (UTC)
Mar. 15th, 2019 09:39 am (UTC)
SCC 17.02. Lovely puzzle which I was cruising through, appreciating the cleverness as I patted myself on the back for spotting all the tricks till I hit a wall in the top right. Got there in the end but held up by failing to spot the long anagram definition wordplay of COMPREHENSIVE, looking for an unlikely general, missing that 5ac was hidden (thinking r inside a word for trainIng) and not seeing that initials applied to all the words for VISOR. Similarly NEE, though I had biffed that. COD NONET.
Mar. 15th, 2019 09:51 am (UTC)
We seem to manage generally similar times and reactions to the QC these days. Perhaps we should agree a definition for SCC times? I would appreciate your thoughts as a fellow founder member of the SCC. Anything under 10 mins is fast for me (FCC) and 10-15 mins is not so slow (NSSCC?!?) but you have placed yourself in the SCC today so perhaps 15 mins might be a watershed? John
(no subject) - sonofjim - Mar. 15th, 2019 12:49 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - oldblighter - Mar. 15th, 2019 01:40 pm (UTC) - Expand
Mar. 15th, 2019 09:42 am (UTC)
John and can are both US slang rather than UK but not complaining. I thought capital for serious is a bit thin and though I get it I do wonder why so may of the setters court this kind of controversy. In my view quickie answers should all be mainstream uses and general rather than niche interests. Maybe it's just me! Good overall and thanks for the workout
Mar. 15th, 2019 09:58 am (UTC)
Re: capital
If you consider the expression "capital/hanging offence" I think it makes sense.
Re: capital - gcook52 - Mar. 15th, 2019 10:12 am (UTC) - Expand
Mar. 15th, 2019 10:11 am (UTC)
9 mins today. Biffed 4d NEE so thanks John for the explanation. It took a while and most of the checkers to unravel 8a COMPREHENSIVE but my LOI was 10d CHINAWARE. Looking at the solving times of the regular contributors I can only assume my delving into The Times Quick Cryptic Crossword Book 1 while I'm recovering from a flu bug is paying dividends. CATERERS, CHILLI, ASLEEP, NIT and even TURNER have cropped up more than once so were all write ins for me. Thanks Mara.
Mar. 15th, 2019 10:21 am (UTC)
I was worried when I got NO accross answers on the first pass. I think I realised that there weren't going to be any straight-forward clues and started looking for deception and finished in 30 minutes. I found the top left corner to be the most difficult.

Mar. 16th, 2019 08:53 am (UTC)
I thought we were struggling with two, so if you’ll permit a teensy touch of schadenfreude I feel much better now! We had quite the sense of achievement when finishing; lovely puzzle.
Biffed NEE, woke up this morning crying “The Backs! Final letters!” What joy.
Tim (not that Tim)
Mar. 15th, 2019 10:21 am (UTC)
The "isn't it funny that chillis are hot" joke ...
... goes back at least as far as Vanity Fair (1847-8).

‘Give Miss Sharp some curry, my dear,’ said Mr. Sedley, laughing. Rebecca had never tasted the dish before.
‘Do you find it as good as everything else from India?’ said Mr. Sedley.
‘Oh, excellent!’ said Rebecca, who was suffering tortures with the cayenne pepper.
‘Try a chili with it, Miss Sharp,’ said Joseph, really interested.
‘A chili,’ said Rebecca, gasping. ‘Oh yes!’ She thought a chili was something cool, as its name imported, and was served with some. ‘How fresh and green they look,’ she said, and put one into her mouth. It was hotter than the curry; flesh and blood could bear it no longer. She laid down her fork. ‘Water, for Heaven’s sake, water!’ she cried.

Exactly the same experience as Jack, including going for "knot" so a DNF. Hey ho. A really good, witty puzzle, I thought, thanks Mara. And thanks for the blog, John - I couldn't parse NEE for the life of me!

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