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Times Quick Cryptic 1614 by Mara

By some mistake The Times has given us 1614 by Mara and 1615 by Tracy today, one in the Crossword Club and both in the online newspaper. The blog for 1615 had already been posted before the error was discovered and comments had been posted so unless Jonathan (vinyl1) decides otherwise that will remain in place for the moment. If you don't want to see it, don't scroll down to it.

I have prepared an emergeny blog of 1614 by Mara.

If you solved 1615 earlier and haven't yet seen 1614 then please don't read further here.

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Quick Cryptic 1615 by Tracy

Nothing to scare the horses too much here. Inspired by Templarredux's feat from my last blogging day, I have decided to try and do all QCs as 'clean sweeps', i.e. do all the clues strictly in order. It's a fun twist which forces you to think harder about each clue (the acrosses, anyway). I would recommend it to anyone who has long since got the hang of the quickies. It does play havoc with your times, though.

I very nearly succeded today, foiled only by an inability to see 20ac. Clue of the day probably 23ac.

1 Dolt? One male celeb, I suspect (8)
IMBECILE - anagram ('suspect') of I + M + CELEB + I
5 Father and son, second to qualify (4)
PASS - PA + S + S
9 Hoodie in area next to recreation ground (5)
PARKA - PARK + A for area
10 Generally a game may be found in auction (2,1,4)
AS A RULE - RU inside SALE with A on the front
11 Part of domain name for hostelry (3)
INN - hidden word: domaIN Name
12 Performance of editor in broadcast about foremost of newspapers (9)
RENDITION - anagram ('broadcast') of EDITOR IN + N
13 First-class spinner following helpful hint (6)
15 Overlook smithy, first in town (6)
17 Have something to do with act? (4,1,4)
PLAY A PART - double definition
19 Presumably contains a quantity of money (3)
SUM - hidden word preSUMably
20 Course race official (7)
STARTER - double definition
21 Furious, judge on island (5)
22 Old writer ready to entertain new ideas? (4)
23 Wife moved out of Twin Peaks, dreadfully dangerous place (8)
SNAKEPIT - anagram ('dreadfully') of  TWIN PEAKS minus W

1 Popular photograph published (2,5)
2 Captain of industry in public house, working (5)
3 Psychics at vicar's, only in disguise! (12)
CLAIRVOYANTS - anagram ('in disguise') of AT VICARS ONLY
4 Pick up knight after king (5)
6 Funny, a reflection (7)
7 Small aquatic bird in rear of vessel (5)
8 Exaggerate the advice of one who loves lots of butter? (3,2,2,5)
LAY IT ON THICK - cryptic definition
14 A host at last in position to calm down (7)
PLACATE - A + T inside PLACE
16 Agency worker set off in violent storm (7)
TEMPEST - TEMP + anagram ('off') of SET
17 Ring after annoying person gives one sauce (5)
18 Expert wearing a new protective garment (5)
APRON - PRO inside A + N
19 Onset of shower affected little monkey (5)

Times 27,665: Craving "A Good Walk Spoiled"

With the R&A getting a mention, along with its home of St Andrews on the slimmest of justifications, I think our setter may have been wishing he was 11ac-ing on the second half of 10ac rather than sitting indoors! I had little trouble finishing this puzzle well under par, with not a few holes-in-one as the answers fell straight into their allotted slots in the grid: my only real sandtrap came when I entered PRAYER MAT on autopilot for 2dn, which made my next few swings a lot harder than they needed to be.

COD has to be "engineer in lab coat", very good indeed if it's an original spot. I was also rather partial to the definition part of 15D. Thank you to the setter and I hope you'll be back out on the fairway before too many more months have passed!

1 Shame on you, seizing power — it's arrogant (6)
UPPITY - PITY on U, the whole "seizing" P

4 Modern university head traps fox in St Andrews (2-2-4)
UP-TO-DATE - U PATE "traps" TOD ["chiefly Scottish" fox]

10 Move around bottom pasture (9)
REARRANGE - REAR [bottom] + RANGE [pasture]. This clue comes up a lot, with minor variations

11 Head of regiment drills joint force (5)
DRIVE - R{egiment} "drills" DIVE [(seedy) joint]

12 One of Hugo's articles about current story (3)
LIE - LE [one of (Victor) Hugo's articles] "about" I

13 Drink date in sporting venue (6,5)
SQUASH COURT - SQUASH [drink] + COURT [date]

14 Private secretary hosts rough Victorian types? (6)
PRUDES - P.S. "hosts" RUDE

16 Work schedule covers old boss of coop? (7)
ROOSTER - ROSTER "covers" O. That's definitely coop as opposed to co-op

19 Asian, one pursuing a lover around Grand Hotel (7)
AFGHANI - I pursuing A FAN "around" G H

20 Control river parasites (6)
POLICE - PO LICE [river | parasites]

22 Large diamonds missing from a wedding ring after repairs (4-7)

25 Approval teacher's withdrawn (3)
NOD - reversed DON

26 Root around this counter (5)
REBUT - reversed TUBER

27 Engineer in lab coat dealing with plants (9)
BOTANICAL - (IN LAB COAT*). Credit where it's due, "Engineer in lab coat" is a perfect marriage of anagrist and anagrind...

28 Small stone lodged in baby tooth (8)
SPROCKET - S + ROCK "lodged" in PET

29 Wicked duke keeps tablet hidden (6)

1 Rowdy guy, losing head, holds large vessel up (6)
UNRULY - {g}UY "holds" reversed L URN

2 Collect wig that's used in mosque (6,3)
PRAYER RUG - PRAYER [collect] + RUG [wig]

3 Heat units, ignoring hot conditions (5)
TERMS - THERMS [heat units] minus H

5 Where masseur focuses, exploiting sun's properties (8,6)

6 Conservative keeps calm, with hearts sinking (3,6)
OLD SCHOOL - HOLDS COOL [keeps | calm], with H "sinking" down the word

7 Bill that is originally unpaid for so long (5)
ADIEU - AD I.E. U{npaid}

8 Committee choosing team omitting top German princes (8)

9 Alliance fit to secure goal beyond doubt (14)

15 Molière has one to help upcoming reviewer (9)

17 Fixing chain etc on wheel finally is complex (9)

18 General initially enquires about dispute over fuel plant (8)
GASWORKS - G{enerals} ASKS "about" reversed ROW

21 Confused? Put on light (6)

23 R&A plot to overturn ban (5)
DEBAR - reversed R + A + BED

24 Spirit in bottle, German one, say, upended (5)
GENIE - reversed EIN E.G.

Times 27664 - we've got a live one!

Time taken: 13:04, with my last one in being the clue that floored me. Although it is not forbidden, I think it is unfair to clue proper names using anagrams, particularly uncommon foreign names that are not easily pieced together from an anagram. Anyway, as I finally got it in place, I thought "why is that name familiar"... well it turns out that the former French President is not only having some fingers pointed at him, he is alive and kicking at 94! I wonder if ER is miffed at being usurped as the living person allowed in a crossword, being left out of this one entirely, even when there was a chance for her to appear in the wordplay to 24 down across (sorry).

OK, the rest of this crossword has some lovely stuff, and is tricky but enjoyable. I hope you are all safe and sane, a friend sent me a cocktail set that I am excited to break into after writing this up.

Away we go...

1 Occultism threatening astrologers, complacent at first (5,5)
BLACK MAGIC - BLACK(threatening, of clouds), MAGI(astrologers), then the first letter of Complacent
6 One giving partial cover to member in strike (4)
SOCK - double definition
8 Worried having to work longer hours? (8)
RESTLESS - if you work longer hours you REST LESS
9 Spaniard, no longer with Man U, quits team (6)
ELEVEN - The Spaniard is best known from Fawlty Towers - MANUEL... remove MAN and U, then EVEN(quits)
10 County council leader’s last to be ousted (4)
MAYO - MAYOR(council leader) missing the last letter
11 Oven's content fed to bird who'd appreciate it? (10)
STARVELING - the middle letters of oVEn inside STARLING(birrd)
12 Mating period over and he's out to grab attention (4,5)
TURN HEADS - RUT(mating period) reversed then an anagram of AND,HE'S
14 Where, in Massachusetts, engine driver needs stronger drink? (5)
SALEM - I liked this clue a lot.  An engine may be driven by STEAM, remove the TEA and put in ALE(stronger drink), leading to the town best known for the witch trials
17 Organised church spread (5)
RANCH - RAN(organized), CH(church)
19 Man woman married and separated from daughter in Skye? (9)
HEBRIDEAN - HE(man), BRIDE(woman maried), then AND missing D(daughter)
22 Witty style in a new essay following requests (10)
PLEASANTRY - A, N(new), TRY(essay) after PLEAS(requests)
23 Satanists' leader breaks mirror in church recess (4)
APSE - first leter of Satanists inside APE(mirror, copy)
24 Fur coat owner's hesitant admission? (6)
ERMINE - a hesitant owner may say ER, MINE
25 Begin to explain my activity at restaurant? (8)
INITIATE - or IN IT I ATE. Clever, but a feeling of deja vu as an almost identical clue appeared in last Sunday's Independent crossword. Could be the same setter, I think Paul B is currently on the Times setting team
26 Mike with two Europeans consuming unknown appetisers (4)
MEZE - M(mike), and two E's(European) containing Z(unknown)
27 Commitment shown in battle (10)
ENGAGEMENT - double definition
1 Cockney in to cut deal, one predicting change (9)
BAROMETER - 'OME(in, in Cockney) inside BARTER(deal)
2 Lead analyst perhaps taking Speaker’s role? (7)
ASSAYER - taking Speaker's role would be AS SAYER
3 Dairy product from East found in Irish province (8)
MUENSTER - E(east) inside MUNSTER (Irish province)
4 Organised gang discredits a former leader (7,8)
5 Fissure allows the French inside underground chamber (6)
CLEAVE -  LE(the in french) inside CAVE(underground chamber)
6 Move silently, forbidden to speak, beating team (5,4)
STEEL BAND - sounds like STEAL(move silently) and BANNED(forbidden). Like the definition
7 Free from sin, is inclined to enter church (7)
CLEANSE - LEANS(is inclined) inside CE(church)
13 Entire can spilled that's full of juice (9)
15 Cut up heart that fills pastry (9)
MINCEMEAT - MINCE(cut up), MEAT(heart)
16 Fish good served alongside two others (8)
GRAYLING - G(good) with RAY and LING(other fish)
18 Roaming free as feline, not caught by mammoth (2,5)
AT LARGE - CAT(feline) missing C(caught), then LARGE(mammoth)
20 Reformed buccaneer having run away to square sins? (7)
EXPIATE - the reformed buccaneer is an EX PIRATE. Remove R(run)
21 Invitation to compete with your setter — in flower arrangement? (6)

Times Quick Cryptic No 1613 by Izetti

Whilst there were some very nice clues here, and nothing obscure or unusual, I’m not convinced that this offering from Izetti is up to his usual very high standards.  It may just be me, but I’ve identified a couple of little niggles in the notes below.

I completed this, fully parsed in 9 minutes, for a good day – I don’t often score below 10 minutes, so it definitely wasn’t hard by my scale of judgement.  However, I have said that in the past only to find that others disagree – comments on the blog should show what others thought about this one.

Thanks Izetti.  Readers, please let me know your thoughts and times.


1  It’s bad at sea, stormy – lots of info here (8)
DATABASE – Anagram (stormy) of [BAD AT SEA].  DATABASES are an example of what we used to call in the IT trade ‘structured information’, and structured would have made a nice anagrind in this clue – perhaps ‘It’s bad at sea – structured information here’.  However, what do I know, I’m just a blogger, not a setter!
Chinese dynasty, something bright and good (4)
SUNG – SUN (something bright) and G{ood}.  SUNG and SONG seem to be interchangeable for the name of this dynasty that ruled China from 960 until 1269 - perhaps our China correspondent (Horryd) can add something here about why the alternatives.  My first thought here was actually TING, which turns out not to be a Chinese dynasty at all, but sounds credible, and I reason that if the SONG dynasty can be called the SUNG dynasty, then why can’t the TONG be the TING?  I think I’m just in a strange mood today!
8 Nobleman keeping nothing in outhouse (5)
BARON – O (nothing) in BARN (outhouse).
9 Bad look coming from someone vile, yes? (4,3)
EVIL EYE – Hidden answer in (coming from) the words {someon}E VILE, YE{s}
11  Pose to offer word of thanks in love (11)
AFFECTATION – TA (word of thanks) inside (in) AFFECTION (love).
13 Release a Parisian philosopher, guillotine finally spared (6)
UNLOCK – UN (French, or Parisian, for a) and LOCK{e} ({guillotine}E finally spared (omitted)).  John LOCKe was an English philosopher known as the father of liberalism.
14  Figure girl collects rubbish (6)
STATUE – SUE (girl) containing (collecting) TAT (my favourite kind of rubbish!)
16  I noticed Ron splashing around bathroom product (11)
CONDITIONER – Anagram (splashing around) of [I NOTICED RON].
18  Eastern bird coming to a lake, not stopping (7)
ETERNAL – E{astern) and TERN (bird) followed by (coming to) A L{ake}.
19  Finally allowing outsiders to depart with everything included (2,3)
IN ALL – {f}INALL{y} (hidden in ‘finally’ after the outside letters have been dropped / departed).  Under normal circumstances, I would argue that the expression ALL IN is more often used to indicate that everything is included, but IN ALL also works, as when totting up a bill and saying ‘that’ll be £10.50 in all’, as opposed to going on an ALL IN holiday for instance in the other case.
20  One’s confused, giving negative responses (4)
NOES – Anagram (confused) of [ONE’S].
21  Most magnificent garden redesigned, facing street (8)
GRANDEST – Anagram (redesigned) of [GARDEN] followed by (facing) ST{reet}.


Smears experts (4)
DABS – Double definition, the second less well known.  As well as a smear, a dab is also defined as an expert, as in ‘to be a dab / expert hand at’.
Pretend not to notice what Nelson would do spinning round (4,1,5,3)
TURN A BLIND EYE – Nelson famously put his spyglass to his blind eye during the battle of Copenhagen and was reported to say ‘I see no ships’.  Actually, what he said was ‘I really do not see the signal!’  Whatever the case, being blind in one eye, if he span around, he would turn a blind eye.
Blessing has been surprisingly given to dissident group (11)
BENEFACTION – Anagram (surprisingly) of [BEEN] followed by (given to) FACTION (dissident group).
4  Embrocation finally rubbed into chest – awful stink (6)
STENCH – {embrocatio}N (finally) inside (rubbed into) anagram (awful) of [CHEST].
Computer screen maybe shows fine creatures running around (4,9)
USER INTERFACE – Anagram (running around) of [FINE CREATURES].  A computer screen is one example of a USER INTERFACE, hence the ‘maybe’, others include a mouse and a keyboard.
7  Teenager fixed drink (5,3)
GREEN TEA – Anagram (fixed) of [TEENAGER].
10  Inane tot in front of teacher, in trouble for not listening  (11)
INATTENTION – Anagram (in trouble) of [INANE TOT IN] and first letter (front of) T{eacher}.
12  Doddery uncle getting on, eating hospital meal (8)
LUNCHEON – Anagram (doddery) of [UNCLE] and (getting) ON and containing (eating) H{ospital}.
15 German dictator battered the French? Right! (6)
HITLER – HIT (battered) LE (the in French) and R{ight}.
17  Dull pad (4)
FLAT – Double definition.

Times 27663 - no flooring me with this one.

Another Wednesday with a reasonably straightforward puzzle, made easier by the grid shape with four long clues around the edges. All four went in early on, once I'd accepted that the preserve required could be not just the ordinary sort. After 20 minutes or so I was left with just 7d to parse, the answer being clear enough, and 16a to fill in. I had to check for the American usage of this, which at least is signposted in the clue, as it certainly has a different meaning in UK (or France for that matter). I know my dog breeds but if you didn't, 22d might require some guesswork. You get some good anagram workout practice at 1a and 26a.

EDIT: the SNITCH is showing now at only 80, although some below seemed to find it more difficult. There were certainly some clunky surfaces, not least 26a, but I am surprised how many didn't know the dog breed. Interesting that so far none of our US residents had heard of the usage at 16a ! But it is in Collins.

1 Oncology nerd is confused about one branch of physiology (13)
9 Poison in canned beef (5)
TOXIN - OX (beef) inside TIN (can).
10 Significant distance for vehicle with slope underneath (9)
WHEELBASE - W (with) HEEL (slope) BASE (underneath).
11 A pal around Oriel, struggling to improve (10)
AMELIORATE - A MATE has (ORIEL)* inserted.
12 Song musician at first cut from role in West Side Story (4)
ARIA - Maria, as played by the lovely but tragic Natalie Wood in WSS, loses her M (musician at first).
14 What appears on disc of Mozart produced in Australia (7)
16 American stalls in Quebec during break (7)
PARQUET - PART = break, insert QUE (abbr. for Quebec). I put this in from wordplay and checkers then looked it up to find out that although PARQUET is a wood block flooring in UK, it can mean the stalls area of a theatre (or a theater) in America.
17 Great anger with object returned in bulk (7)
MADNESS - END (object) is reversed inside MASS (bulk).
19 Rest live outside university (7)
RESIDUE - U inside RESIDE. A chestnut if ever I saw one.
20 Right to remain head of negotiations (4)
LIEN - LIE (remain) N (head of negotiations).
21 Oppose United and, later, European entering formal agreement (10)
COUNTERACT - CONTRACT (formal agreement) has U and then E inserted at the relevant places.
24 Fuss follows despot giving away drug for every ruffian (9)
DESPERADO - DESPOT loses his POT (drug); PER = for every, ADO = fuss.
25 Tent was initially of poor quality fabric (5)
TWILL - T W (initial letters of tent was) ILL (of poor quaity).
26 Our hydrangea’d turned out rudely vigorous (5-3-5)
1 Preserve former electric vehicle, topless car built outside LA (5,9)
EXTRA MARMALADE - EX (former) TRAM (electric vehicle) AR (topless CAR) MADE (built) with LA inserted.
2 Pot from southern US states (5)
DIXIE - Double definition.
3 Am I not able to prize open-ended support? (10)
CANTILEVER - CAN'T I (am I not able) LEVER (prize).
4 Sind badly disrupted by conflict moving to the centre (7)
INWARDS - (SIND)* has WAR inserted.
5 Just taking off hot record for dance (3-4)
ONE-STEP - HONEST (just) has the H (hot) removed, then EP = record.
6 Unctuous and cunning when wife’s over (4)
OILY - Oily becomes WILY if you replace the O (over) with a W (wife).
7 In short, what could be railway operating every month (4-5)
YEAR-ROUND - YR being short for year, turn it round to get RY which is short for railway. Get it?
8 Go with crew to record how ministries are structured (14)
DEPARTMENTALLY - DEPART = go, MEN = crew, TALLY = record.
13 One looks for mine to do well without time in company (10)
PROSPECTOR - PROSPER = do well, insert C(T)O = time in company.
15 Dispatch worker maybe with commercial furniture item (9)
ADDRESSER - AD (commercial), DRESSER a furniture item.
18 Accept opening with church (7)
STOMACH - STOMA (opening) CH (church).
19 In a poor state getting bad wound in the navy (3-4)
RUN-DOWN -  (WOUND)* inserted into RN (Navy).
22 A small cat and a big dog (5)
AKITA - A, KIT, A. Breed of large dog, of Japanese origin.
23 Exercise before game for World Cup team, perhaps (4)
PERU - PE (exercise) RU (Rugby Union).