Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian Quiptic 690 / Moley

Posted by Big Dave on February 4th, 2013

Big Dave.

Another good puzzle with a good range of clue types, but I wonder how many solvers from South of the Border knew the Scottish word for shudder.

Most of the definitions given are from Chambers 11th Edition. Most of the standard abbreviations used in the wordplay are shown with the unused letters in brackets e.g. N(ame). Definitions are underlined in the clue and only included in explanations where further information is given.


5a Embracing doctor, Rose turned melancholy (6)
SOMBRE – around (embracing) MB, one of the abbreviations for doctor place an anagram (turned) of ROSE

6a Crack about time off work (6)
CLEAVE – a verb meaning to crack or split comes from C, the single-letter Latin abbreviation for circa (about), followed by some time off work

9a Meagre order of spares (6)
SPARSE – an anagram (order) of SPARES

10a Spoiled neat town’s determination (8)
TENACITY – an anagram (spoiled) of NEAT followed by a large town

11a Look back at the fortress (4)
KEEP – reverse (back) a quick look

12a Clever Dick confused small California markets (5,5)
SMART ALECK – an anagram (confused) of CAL (small California) and MARKETS

13a One going ahead to face messenger (5,6)
FRONT RUNNER – a verb meaning to face followed by a messenger

18a Squeakers in new cello class (5,5)
CLOSE CALLS – these squeakers or narrow escapes come from an anagram (new) of CELLO CLASS

21a Developed so-called shudder in Scotland (4)
GREW – sounds like (so-called) grue, a Scottish word for a shudder

22a Persuade criminal to take French wine at church (8)
CONVINCE – a criminal followed by the French word for wine and the abbreviation of Church of England

23a Storybook gift (6)
TALENT – tale (story) followed by NT (book / New Testament)

24a Monday: moved generator (6)
DYNAMO – an anagram (moved) of MONDAY – the surface reading looks like a diary entry

25a Lawyerspants (6)
BRIEFS – A double definition


1d I’m right, though not correct (8)
IMPROPER – I’M followed by an adjective meaning right or conforming to convention

2d Small rivers making squeaking sounds (6)
CREEKS – these small rivers sound like squeaking noises - although “sounds” appears to be acting as part of the homophone as well as indicating it, it seems to work well!

3d Board to name marine organisms (8)
PLANKTON – a board followed by TO and N(ame)

4d Able to trade, say, or postpone indefinitely (6)
CANCEL – a word meaning able to followed by a syllable that sounds like (say) a verb meaning to trade

5d Folded papers for an army engineer (6)
SAPPER – an anagram (folded) of PAPERS

7d Adjusted net with diamonds as lure (6)
ENTICE – An anagram (ADJUSTED) of NET followed by a colloquial word for diamonds

8d The way compressor produced vapour wave (11)
STEAMROLLER – a vehicle that compresses the way or road comes from a charade of some vapour and a long heavy sea wave

14d Soubriquet applied to the old devil? (8)
NICKNAME – a cryptic definition based on Old Nick being the devil

15d Overwhelmed and drowned (8)
ENGULFED – a double definition

16d Tree in unusual Mondrian painting (6)
ALMOND – this tree is hidden inside the clue, indicated by painting / coating

17d Pretends to attack but collapses, we hear (6)
FEINTS – sounds like (we hear) faints (collapses)

19d Mastermind‘s new satnav (6)
SAVANT – an anagram (new) of SATNAV

20d Father received thanks in return for parody (6)
SATIRE – a noun (or verb) meaning father around (received) the reversal (in return) of a two-letter word of thanks

Comments from solvers who are new to cryptic puzzles are more than welcome – and that doesn’t mean the usual suspects can’t add their thoughts as well!

10 Responses to “Guardian Quiptic 690 / Moley”

  1. crypticsue says:

    This ‘usual suspect’ did enjoy this quiptic greatly, even if it didn’t take long. Thanks to Moley for the entertainment and BD for the explanations.

    I wonder how many people new to cryptics actually know the Quiptic exists? Although fun for us addicts, they would help the newcomers get to grips with all the mysteries of cryptic clues in a fun and straightforward way.

  2. michelle says:

    This was a very enjoyable puzzle. I think it was just the right level of difficulty for a Quiptic, easy in parts because of the many anagrams and not so difficult that a beginner like me might give up without finishing. It took about 40 minutes to complete, which is fast for me. Thanks to fifteensquared, I think I have made some improvement.

    First in was 18 and I solved most of the lower half quite quickly but then slowed down in top half. I found the SE corner most challenging.

    I liked 8a, 12a, 1d, 3d.

    Last in was 21a which I solved but could not parse.

    Thanks for the blog, Big Dave. As one of the solvers from “south of the border” I appreciate your explanation. No, I had never, ever heard of GRUE but I certainly will store it for future use in solving cryptic crosswords.

  3. jezza says:

    I wondered at the time about 21a, and even put a question mark against it, then I suddenly thought it must be something to do with GRUE(SOME).
    Thanks to Moley, and to Big Dave.

  4. crosser says:

    Thanks, Big Dave. I couldn’t parse 8d and your explanation showed how important it is not to be misled by intonation!

    No problem solving 18a but I’d never heard of “squeaker” for “close call”, only “near squeak”.

  5. Robi says:

    Thanks Moley and Big Dave.

    Just about right for a Quiptic, apart from the Scottish shudder. I thought at first that the definition in 8d was ‘compressor’ and was about to complain, when I latterly saw ‘The way compressor;’ very nice!

    I liked SMART ALECK, although I spent some thinking about ‘malls’ for markets. I lazily started to put ‘morose’ into 5a although it didn’t parse properly.

  6. una says:

    Thanks for the tip, CS.I enjoyed this ,more or less my level.Favourites wer 10a and 15d.

  7. una says:

    Thanks to Moley and Blogger.

  8. Rodger says:

    A New Yorker, cryptic puzzles are a fresh continent for me. I spent a bit of practice on the 12×12 “Coffee Break Cryptics,” and am now ascending to the Guardian Quiptic. As Crypticsclue suggests above, the average level of difficulty of the Quiptic is just right for an apprentice like me. There is a language barrier. In 12a, for instance, I imagined that “California markets” must be a UK term for what we call strip malls, (small, confused) and that maybe “Clever Dick” might be a UK comic strip. Obviously, this leap left the entire northeast corner of the puzzle unsolvable. I got the rest, though.

  9. Big Dave says:


    Well done for tackling a UK puzzle.

    12a has nothing to do with small California markets. “Small California” is the abreviated form of California, i.e. CAL, and “markets” is the rest of the anagram fodder. Smart Aleck and Clever Dick are both UK colloquial terms for someone who is too clever for their own good.

    The first rule for solving cryptic crosswords is to ignore what is called the surface reading of the clue and just read it as a word puzzle.

  10. Rodger says:

    Thanks, Big D. We have “smart aleck” in our language, but not “clever Dick.” Thanks, too, for glossing the puzzles here. I read the blogs very carefully, and find them keenly instructive.


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