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Times Quick Cryptic No 1338 by Mara

I found this on the trickier side of things, being pushed over the 15 minute mark thanks to some faffing about in the NE. I mis-parsed 7d, and spent some time trying to square the answer with only half the definition. I also came a cropper at 9ac having entered a plausible enough alternative answer (well, plausible except for that pesky little detail about it having to intersect with other clues). Further time was spent at 10ac trying to remember that word for "delicate" that was on the tip of my tongue ("diaphanous" - right length, as it happens). I don't think I was particularly quick round the rest of it either , but there were some nice clues - I remember particularly liking 4ac,16d and the two double definitions at 8ac and 24ac. Very good puzzle - many thanks to Mara!

1 Some discontent on gallant island nation (5)
TONGA - Hidden in "some" of the letters of discontenT ON GAllant
4 Surrender vilified after retreat (7)
DELIVER -  REVILED = vilified, reversed = after retreat. Surrender/deliver/hand over/etc.
8 Heavy trampolinist? (7)
BOUNCER - double definition, a heavy = a guard, etc. Nice!
9 Average is capital! (5)
PARIS - PAR (average) IS. I had MEANS (mean's = average's) entered, and forgot on returning to the NE that I wasn't quite 100% happy with it.
10 Expensive clasps are, almost entirely, delicate (10)
PRECARIOUS - PRECIOUS (expensive) clasps/holds AR ("ARe" almost entirely)
14 An American girl far from home? (6)
ABROAD - A broad = an American girl
15 Nebuchadnezzar, for example, daring (6)
BOTTLE - double definition. I thought a Nebuchadnezzar was the largest bottle size, coming in at 20 normal bottles of champagne/claret, but I see the largest is 40 bottles and called either Melchizedek or Midas. Good luck giving that thing a shake. Normally a stupid custom, but I'd have it as the opening round of a decadent strong man competition: a minute to shake it, points for highest fountain, and whatever's left in the bottle must be consumed before continuing.
17 US president plying heroes with wine (10)
EISENHOWER - anagram (plying) of HEROES with WINE
20 Artist mid-morning, maybe, returning (5)
MANET - TEN AM is plausibly mid-morning, reverse/return
22 Hearing of our nation, this English composer (7)
BRITTEN - is heard the same as BRITAIN (our nation)
23 Give account of art near complex (7)
NARRATE - anagram (complex) of ART NEAR
24 Arctic fleet (5)
NIPPY - double definition. Fleet/quick/nippy. In my book, the lovely surface more than makes up for any temperature differential there might be between "arctic" and "nippy".
1 Instrument neighbour put up (4)
TUBA - to ABUT = to neighbour, put up/reversed
2 Absence of American intelligence (4)
NOUS - NO (absence of) US (American)
3 Discover fluff in car seat (9)
ASCERTAIN - anagram (fluff) of IN CAR SEAT
4 Frank having credit renewed (6)
DIRECT - anagram (renewed) of CREDIT
5 Drink: a complete round (3)
LAP - double definition
6 So bottomless, opening for drink (8)
VERMOUTH - VERY = So, bottomless = remove the bottom letter ; MOUTH (opening)
7 Incredible dessert I held back (8)
RESISTED - anagram (incredible) of DESSERT I. I was just blindly convinced that the parsing was an anagram of "dessert" within which the "I" was held, giving "back" for "resisted". I know, doesn't make any sense.
11 Old African horse and I, struggling (9)
RHODESIAN - anagram (struggling) of HORSE AND I
12 Out of order, nameless traders (8)
SALESMEN - anagram (out of order) of NAMELESS
13 Voting system about right, is one captive? (8)
PRISONER - PR (Proportional Representation = voting system) going about/around R(ight) IS ONE.
16 Fix strange blue drink (6)
DOUBLE - DO (fix) ; anagram (strange) of BLUE. Do = fix as in "the person came to do the boiler. Also works as a noun: in a do / a fix / a tight spot.
18 Cease work below street (4)
STOP - OP (work) below ST(reet)
19 Sole aplenty, reel in two, all tails up (4)
ONLY -  all tails up = all last letters, reversed of aplentY, reeL iN twO
21 Food and drink (3)
TEA - double definition.


( 33 comments — Leave a comment )
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Apr. 25th, 2019 03:09 am (UTC)
I am not quite the slowest all-correct solver....
....but pretty close at 14:33. Like our esteemed blogger, I had an all-blank NE that just did not want to get started. Of course, on another night, I might have seen everything instantly. The 'bottle' clue may prove quite difficult for many solvers
Apr. 25th, 2019 03:34 am (UTC)
I also struggled with some of this and needed 13 minutes to complete the grid.
Apr. 25th, 2019 05:38 am (UTC)
I really must get more cultured. A huge and not entirely enjoyable struggle to finish in 21m for the second day in a row - only I had BRITTON not BRITTAN. NE was tough. Didn't know Nebuchadnezzer was a bottle. Could have done with rather fewer anagrams but appreciated the more cryptic than usual definitions.
Apr. 25th, 2019 04:46 pm (UTC)
Or Britten
(no subject) - mendesest - Apr. 26th, 2019 06:22 am (UTC) - Expand
Apr. 25th, 2019 06:25 am (UTC)
Mara often sets tricky puzzles and this was par for his course. I started quickly with 1a but then had a few hold ups. I thought VERMOUTH was the hardest clue but agree the Bottle might cause a few problems.
MY LOI was ABROAD where I was convinced GAL was in there somehow. 16:02 in the end.
Congratulations to Mara for giving us all a good test. David
Apr. 25th, 2019 07:13 am (UTC)
21.07 for me, also finding some clues tricky but fun. Unaccountably messed up BRITTEN, thinking it was a mix of BR and NATION for an unheard of composer, notwithstanding that I used to work with Benjamin’s nephew’s wife. Thought MANET was particularly clever.
Apr. 25th, 2019 07:33 am (UTC)
16 mins today, held up by PARIS (I too had MEANS for a while). Also bunged in MONET not MANET without reading the full clue. So really a DNF. Oh well

Apr. 25th, 2019 08:13 am (UTC)
The hardest for some while, I felt, with a lot of devices which were quite tricky for a QC. I finished eventually in 31mins but would have been quicker if I had picked up sooner on some of the anagrams. I’d spotted quite a few early on so was not on the lookout for them later on. I thought ‘fluff’ as an anagram indicator was clever and very much enjoyed MANET.
Apr. 25th, 2019 08:21 am (UTC)
I gave up after 30 minutes with a blank NE corner and no idea about any of the clues. Reading the blog (thank you rolytoly) I can see I was just not on the setter's wavelength and I would never have made any sense of the clues, however long I spent on them.
Friday tomorrow, and probably an Izetti . . . .

Edited at 2019-04-25 08:23 am (UTC)
Apr. 25th, 2019 09:31 am (UTC)
You did alright on the Izetti on Tuesday - good luck tomorrow.
Apr. 25th, 2019 08:27 am (UTC)
I made heavy weather of this with the NE proving stubborn but I also struggled to spot a number of the anagrams along the way, particularly 7d, 12d and 17a.
An enjoyable challenge completed in 20.27 with LOI PRECARIOUS.
Thanks for the blog
Apr. 25th, 2019 08:44 am (UTC)
My experience was very similar to Roly's with similar stumbling blocks (apart from PARIS, a quickie for me). A tough test, I thought, and I was relieved to find others over 20mins. I took 21.58 in the end with the NE being the last to fall. I liked BOTTLE and PRECARIOUS but my COD was DELIVER - deceptive. I only got it after biffing Vermouth and I groaned when it clicked. Thanks to Mara and Roly. John M.

Edited at 2019-04-25 08:45 am (UTC)
Apr. 25th, 2019 08:54 am (UTC)
I'm another one who needed 20 mins to solve. I biffed so many I lost count. Biffs include PRECARIOUS, ASCERTAIN, PRISONER and LOI after a lot of staring at the grid 6d VERMOUTH. Not my finest at 20:10. Thanks for the blog Roly.
Apr. 25th, 2019 08:55 am (UTC)
I finished it but it was so difficult!
What a challenging start to the day! It wasn't until I got to 18 down that I managed to write anything in at all. I was ready to give up after 10 minutes of staring at an almost empty grid but stuck at it and finished it but only after a further half an hour. The south and north west corners weren't too bad but the eastern half was, for me at least, a proper mental workout! My LOI was 19 down which I put in as a synonym for "sole" but, frankly, I couldn't even begin to understand what the clue was about until I read the blog. I liked 4, 8 and 24 across particularly today but can't pick a single COD - too many contenders! Thanks so much, setter and blogger
Apr. 25th, 2019 09:12 am (UTC)
Some tenuous stuff here - do for fix - and double itself. I saw that justification for 'do' a few weeks ago in another crossword and it didn't do it for me :) Also very tricky elsewhere eg clasps are almost. Incidentally I once made a joke about the Norfolk Broads to an American woman and she told me that the term 'broad' is grossly offensive these days. Much to enjoy but I think this crossed the line for a quickie.
Apr. 25th, 2019 09:17 am (UTC)
Add me to the 20 minute club today; that was stiff! NE corner held me up too, with long struggles over most of them. Thank goodness for the relatively high number of anagrams (7 full and one partial) to make life easier. As QCs go that was definitely a black run. Thanks Mara and Roly.

Apr. 25th, 2019 09:48 am (UTC)
Being of a contrary nature, I was fine with the NE but struggled with the SW. The cross of salesmen and abroad causing some but not too many problems. Came home in 12 minutes in the end which seems decent based on other comments. Monet wanted to go in but Manet ousted him just in time. Do we have a Nina at 3dn (a certainty) and 5dn (labradorian/labrodesian?).
Apr. 26th, 2019 12:54 am (UTC)
Re: Nina?
Yes interesting, there are a few of the downs which look a bit nina-esque now you mention it: we also have directable (direct double at 4d,16d), and then we have the squalid Vermouth Stop (6d,18d), that with a certainty could be resisted only (7d,19d) by Tuba salesmen (1d, 12d).

Edited at 2019-04-26 12:56 am (UTC)
RE: Re: Nina? - chrisw91 - Apr. 26th, 2019 07:21 am (UTC) - Expand
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( 33 comments — Leave a comment )

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