Never knowingly undersolved.

Quiptic 592/Nutmeg

Posted by Pierre on March 21st, 2011


Apart from a couple of niggles, I enjoyed this puzzle.  There was an interesting variety of clues and of subject matter.

Football fans will be familiar with the term ‘nutmeg’, where a player does a trick to tease an opponent, and I was certainly nutmegged myself on several of the clues here.  A number of clues were quite intricate, employing a number of devices, and I wonder whether some of the Quiptic’s target audience might have found these hard going.

I’ve included the clues and as usual tried to give full explanations.

cd:  cryptic definition
dd: double definition
(xxx)* anagram
anagrind: anagram indicator


Footwear for each fielder takes precedence
A charade of PER (for each) and SLIP (fielder in cricket).  The ‘takes precedence’ tells you to reverse the order.

Highlight dot above the horizon
A charade.  I wasn’t madly keen on ‘above the horizon’ for UP.

Primate interrupts priest’s scholarly discourse
An insertion of APE in PR for priest.  ‘Interrupts’ is the insertion indicator.  Nice surface, since Primate also has a religious sense.

10  Vagrant’s on the way out when Commie comes back in
Another insertion, this time with a reversal (‘back in’).  It’s DER (RED, or Commie, reversed) in WANING.

11  Celebrity at home in England shedding pounds
More insertions.  It’s LIGHT (celebrity, as in ‘leading light’) and IN (at home) inserted in ENG (England).

12  Cut Rolls in a recession
A reversal of BUNS. 

14  What cabaret critic may do, they say, with friend after dark
Clever clue.  It’s a homophone of knock turn (criticise an act) plus ALLY.  ‘They say’ is the homophone indicator.

18  Extra payment almost rejected by attendant not paying attention
There’s a bit going on here.  BONU is nearly BONUS; ‘rejected’ tells you to reverse it to give UNOB; adding SERVANT gives you the solution.

21  Vehicles to carry instruments failing to start
UTE is Australian slang for a utility vehicle and is a word I only know from crosswords.  It’s a shortening (failing to start) of LUTES. 

22  Where you might lie bottom in pairs’ event
I got DOUBLE fairly quickly from the crossing letters, but the full clue was my last to go in.  It’s a cleverly constructed surface, but again, there’s some stuff happening.  The pairs event is DOUBLES (tennis, I suppose) and ‘in’ is telling you to insert BED (bottom, of the sea) into it.

25  Apt headgear for a Victorian engagement?
A dd, referring to the 1854 battle of Balaclava in the Crimean War and the knitted headwear.  The two are related but I can’t remember why.

26  Girl steps back over single plant
A very common clue: it’s a reveral of LASS with the insertion of I for ‘single’.

27  What Thomas wanted, I assume
A kind of cd/dd.  It’s referring to the phrase ‘Doubting Thomas’,  which has its origins in the desire of the Apostle Thomas to see and feel Jesus’ wounds before believing that the resurrection had taken place.  It’s in John Chapter 20 if you’re remotely interested and there’s also a dead famous painting by Caravaggio of the event.

28  Spurs supporter often does this, masking identification
Cleverly misleading use of ‘Spurs supporter’.  You need to tease them apart, since the definition is ‘spurs': it’s an insertion of ID in SINGS, which is what supporters do (except when they’re being taunted by the opposition chant ‘You only sing when you’re winning, sing when you’re winning …’)


Contribute gracefully
A dd.  With the stress on the first syllable, it means the first word of the clue; when it’s on the second syllable, it is an adverb synonymous with the second word of the clue.  This is in fact the other way round; thanks to Eileen for pointing out my error.

One man chucking article for dog to have a go at
Good surface and sound clue, but a beginner might struggle with it.  Impugn: ‘to fight against; attack; assail; assault’ (SOED).  ‘One man’ is I MAN, given the crossword convention of the letter I for ‘one’.  Nutmeg is then inviting you to ‘chuck (out) the article A and replace it with PUG, a dog.

Cromwell’s doctrine destroyed human spirit after beheading
Our first anagram: (UMAN SPIRIT)*. ‘Beheading’ tells you to take the first letter off and ‘destroyed’ is the anagrind.

Archbishop’s tree
A dd.  You need to know that Rowan Williams is the current Archbishop of Canterbury.  Think beard, glasses and well-modulated accent.

Part of continent where Alpine sun’s unusual
Another anagram: (ALPINE SUN)*.  The anagrind is ‘unusual’.

Independent police force raised issue
A charade of I for independent and TEM, a reversal of MET (The Metropolitan Police).  Since this is a down clue, ‘raised’ serves as the reversal indicator.

Warning sign in kitchen?
I have stared at this for long enough.  I have no idea, so in the interests of getting this blog out before it gets dark, I’ll ask for some help with parsing this, please!  A suggestion below from pommers looks feasible, but Gaufrid at no 4 has come to our rescue with the explanation that it’s an orchestral reference.  Thanks to both.

Summon lads to get haircuts
A charade of PAGE and BOYS.  Twiggy famously sported one in the 1960s and Emma Watson, the actor who played Hermione in the Harry Potter films, had one as soon as the final movie was finished, since she’d been contractually obliged to keep it long and flowing for the duration of the project.

13  Unlimited buns and puddings served up without hassle
Again, the need to see two devices.  ‘Unlimited buns’ gives you UN, ‘buns’ without the first and last letters.   Puddings are DESSERTS and ‘served up’ tells you in a down clue to reverse it.  Put the two together and you’ve got your answer.  If you’ve not seen the STRESSED/DESSERTS trick before, you will again soon.

15  Mister Uppity feeds comic cartoon bird
This is another clue that’s really clever, but possibly doesn’t sit well in an entry-level crossword.  It’s an insertion of RM (Mr, uppity, ie reversed) in an anagram of (CARTOON)*.  ‘Feeds’ is the insertion indicator and ‘comic’ is the anagrind.  The Cormorant’s close relation, the Shag, has been known to be of use to setters with a risqué sense of humour.

16  Narrow-minded sports coach backs prohibition
Again, lots of elements to tease out.  ‘Narrow-minded’ is the definition (‘surburban’ wouldn’t have been my first choice of synonym, but it’s in the SOED as ‘derogatory’).  ‘Prohibition’ is BAN; ‘sports coach’ is RU (Rugby Union) plus BUS (coach); ‘back’ tells you to reverse these elements and when you do, you’ve got the answer.  By which time you probably need a lie-down.

17  Paragon directed cast
This is simpler: a charade of MODEL and LED.

19  Argue about a child
Another charade, of RE (about) and A SON.

20  Surreptitiously takes round small religious book
PALMS (surreptitiously takes) round S for small gives you the book of the bible.

23  Animals’ stomachs
A dd.

24  The crudest clothes colour
Nice clue to finish.  It’s hidden in ThE CRUdest; ‘clothes’ is the indicator.

If you’re interested in the football definition of nutmeg, check it out here. Thanks to capital N Nutmeg for the puzzle.

15 Responses to “Quiptic 592/Nutmeg”

  1. Eileen says:

    Thanks, Pierre, for a great blog.

    There are some excellent clues here, which would sit well in a cryptic. I particularly liked 28ac and 3, 15 and 16dn, especially the ‘sports coach’, which, I suppose, should really be ‘sport’ but that makes the surface impossible.

    [I think your explanation of the wordplay in 1dn is the wrong way round. :-) ]

  2. Pierre says:

    Thanks, Eileen. I have amended the blog.

  3. pommers says:

    I enjoyed this puzzle but I think it is too hard for a Quiptic! I’ve only ever done a dozen or so but this is by far the trickiest I’ve come across so far.

    Re 7d, the only connection to the kitchen I can think of is that I’ve heard the triangle between cooker, sink and fridge referred to as a golden triangle or some such phrase as the ease of movement between the 3 defines how well a kitchen layout works.

    Anyway thanks to Nutmeg and to Pierre.

  4. Gaufrid says:

    Hi Pierre
    Regarding your query about 7dn, road (and some other) warning signs are usually triangular and a triangle is part of the percussion section of an orchestra which is informally known as the kitchen.

  5. Pierre says:

    Thanks, pommers. I did think of that (honest) but dismissed it. However, a quick search online does indeed refer to the ‘golden triangle’ you mention, so unless someone has a better idea we’ll have to go with that. It’s a bit obscure imho. Maybe Nutmeg is a domestic goddess and is familiar with these things.

  6. pommers says:

    Hi Pierre, obscure indeed!
    Perhaps Gaufrid has it but I’ve never heard the percussion section referred to as ‘the kitchen’ and my wife was an orchestral viola player in her younger days. Equally obscure IMHO!

  7. Pierre says:

    Thanks, Gaufrid. Where would we be without that wise old owl of yours? I will amend the blog.

    I would never in month of Sundays have got that. I think for a Quiptic it’s a big ask to expect the solver to know that definition, but maybe those that are into classical music would be familiar with it.

  8. Gaufrid says:

    Hi pommers @6
    Under ‘kitchen’, Chambers has “the percussion section of an orchestra (informal)” and Oxford Online gives “informal the percussion section of an orchestra” so perhaps not all that obscure.

  9. pommers says:

    Re triagle – have a look here!
    Checked with wife and she’s also never heard of the kitchen as the percussion section.

  10. pommers says:

    Hi Gaufrid @8. I yield to your greater knowledge!
    One lives and learns!

  11. Robi says:

    Thanks Nutmeg for a tricky Quiptic; too difficult for an entry-level puzzle, I think.

    Thanks to Pierre and Gaufrid for explaining the triangle; I would never have got that unless I had thought to look up kitchen in Chambers. I thought of DOUBLE BEDS as where you lie your bottoms, but no doubt your allusion to the sea bed is correct.

    I think I need to go out for a walk after this and today’s Rufus, which was harder than usual

  12. Stella Heath says:

    I played the violin in the school orchestra, but I don’t think that counts 😆 Actually, I think I have heard of the use Gaufrid suggests, probably in crosswordland.

    As a lifetime Spurs supporter, I think ‘often’ should be replaced by ‘occasionally’ in 28ac :) Or maybe they’re playing better these days. As you know, I’m out of touch here in Spain. (Hope my sister Kate doesn0t read this!)

    I found this tough for a Quiptic, but that may be because I waited till after my lunchtime booze to attempt it.

    Thanks anyway, Nutmeg, whose puzzles I always enjoy, and to Pierre for a great blog

  13. stiofain says:

    I enjoyed this but too condidered it a bit too hard for a quiptic. As for TRIANGLE I
    read this as being the triangle you would see the cook ringing in a western when its ” chow time “

  14. Pierre says:

    Hi stiofain. I think you might have watched too many cowboy films when you were little … but the fact that we’ve had so many interpretations of the clue suggests it’s probably not one of Nutmeg’s clearest ones.

    I didn’t comment in my preamble about the level of difficulty because I didn’t want to influence commenters, but I too found this one of the more difficult Quiptics I’ve solved or blogged.

  15. Derek Lazenby says:

    I had a feeling of deja vu when I realised todays (Tuesday) cryptic also had the identicle grid AND up in the top right corner!

    Now, you guys “think” it may have been too hard for the intended audience. So let the class dummy put the issue into factual land. It was. I nearly gave up at least three times. Far too oblique, and far too many obscurities as well (one is too many for a Quiptic unless the word play is obvious (ie charade or similar, not anagram)).

    As a crossword, 9 out of 10, as a Quiptic, 0 out of 10.

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