Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian Quiptic 702 / Nutmeg

Posted by Big Dave on April 29th, 2013

Big Dave.

I enjoyed this puzzle, but it was a bit tricky for a Quiptic.  According to some of the comments on the Guardian website it is more challenging than today’s Rufus.

Most of the definitions given are from Chambers 12th Edition. Most of the standard abbreviations used in the wordplay are shown with the unused letters in brackets e.g. W(ife).  Definitions are underlined in the clue and only included in explanations where further information is given.


1a What must be done to let out airport shop? (4-4)
DUTY-FREE – a charade of what must be done and to let out

5a Colourless Brighton & Hove players with final twist  … (6)
ALBINO – the rest of the name of Brighton & Hove football team with the final two letters reversed (with final twist)

9a …  got pier replaced as morale-booster (3,4)
EGO TRIP – an anagram (replaced) of GOT PIER – alluding to Brighton Pier

10a Loud squawk obscures last of sinister rustling (7)
CRACKLE – a loud squawk around (obscures) the final letter of sinisteR

11a Mad keen touring Arizona (5)
CRAZY – a verb meaning to keen or wail over the dead around the IVR code for Arizona

12a Shady wife replacing husband felt hot and faint (9) (9)
SWELTERED – a word meaning shady with W(ife) replacing the H(usband)

13a Complete price for crossing street (12)
THOROUGHFARE – a charade of a word meaning complete or total followed by a price for travelling on public transport

17a Men in service breed butterflies (4,8)
REAR ADMIRALS – a verb meaning to breed followed by some butterflies

20a Stripped of underwear, cross-dresser died (passed over) (9)
TRANSITED – start with a cross-dresser, remove the VEST (underwear) and add D(ied)

22a National leaders of Irish Republic are quite implacable  … (5)
IRAQI – the initial letters (leaders) of five words in the clue

23a …  one tells Queen to come back in a while (7)
RELATER – reverse (come back) the Queen’s regnal cypher and add an adverb meaning  in a while

24a Sentry‘s view dismissed (7)
LOOKOUT – a verb meaning to view followed by a cricketing term for dismissed

25a Retreat in craft that’s burning (6)
ARDENT – a retreat or hideaway inside craft or technique

26a Goes on striking first two fearsome women (8)
OGRESSES – drop the PR (first two) from a verb meaning goes on


1d Steep stair finally tackled by theatrical dame (6)
DRENCH – the final letter of staiR inside Dame Judy’s surname

2d Janitor carelessly loses one determined fellow (6)
TROJAN – an anagram (carelessly) of JAN(I)TOR without (loses) the I (one)

3d Bush‘s history altered in note (9)
FORSYTHIA – an anagram (altered) of HISTORY inside the fourth note of the scale in sol-fa notation

4d Aid for photographer harassing supremo in SW city (8,5)
EXPOSURE METER – an anagram (harassing) of SUPREMO inside a city in Devon

6d Tipped amateur coming in fast (5)
LEANT – A(mateur) inside a period of fasting

7d Mess about, losing first soldier in battle (8)
INKERMAN – a verb meaning to mess about without (losing) its initial (first) letter followed by a three-letter word for a soldier

8d Exaggerates, as rutting stags fight? (8)
OVERDOES – split as (4,4) this is the reason that rutting stags fight

10d Racing driver aims for this standard after fluctuating (9,4)
CHEQUERED FLAG – a standard or ensign preceded by an adjective meaning fluctuating or varied

14d Golfer’s best reason for scrapping old socks? (4,2,3)
HOLE IN ONE – this could be a reason for scrapping old socks!

15d Press review mentioned more weird standards (8)
CRITERIA – a shortened form of a press review followed by what sounds like (mentioned) an adjective meaning more weird

16d Handcuffed fanatic, one leaving under escort (8)
MANACLED – a fanatic without (leaves) the I (one) followed by a word meaning under escort

18d Celebrated brief liaison between France and Sweden (6)
FAMOUS – drop the final R (brief) from a liaison and insert it between the IVR codes for France and Sweden

19d Break in continuity hit USA badly  … (6)
HIATUS – an anagram (badly  ) of HIT USA

21d …  it beat underworld boss (5)
SATAN – it or Sex Appeal followed by a verb meaning to beat

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!

14 Responses to “Guardian Quiptic 702 / Nutmeg”

  1. Robi says:

    Too difficult for a Quiptic; I don’t think words like INKERMAN should be used here. Yes, I think more tricky than today’s Rufus. A good crossword, just put in the wrong place. I think it could have gone comfortably in the regular slot.

    Thanks Big Dave; I didn’t see the point of some of the ellipses, and time for it=SA to be confined to the dustbins of history, although it seems to be trotted out with regular monotony. I assume in 12a the word meaning sheltered is actually sheltered(?) I thought the ‘first two’ in 26 were the ‘fe’ of fearsome, which caused me a bit of a problem. 5a was a good clue that had me fooled for a long time……

  2. Robi says:

    P.S. I failed to spot it was a pangram – even more impressive setting!

  3. michelle says:

    My favourites in this puzzle were 12, 20a, 1d, 8d, 14d, 15d.

    New words & phrases for me today were REAR ADMIRAL butterfly, Brighton & Hove Albion football club, and the Battle of Inkerman.

    I was not sure how to parse 26a & 21d.

    I think that 23a would have been better clued as ‘one who tells’ for RELATER. Can someone clarify this clue please?

    And I don’t understand the ellipses in the clues for 5a & 9a and 22a & 23a.

    Thanks for the blog, BigDave.

  4. Big Dave says:

    @Robi – 12a I’ve replaced “sheltered” with “shady”

    @Michelle – 23a One tells means this person tells (stories)

  5. Kathryn's Dad says:

    It’s a good puzzle, but it ain’t a Quiptic in my opinion. Didn’t spot the pangram (but then I never look for anything themed in this crossword). While I know naff all about setting, fitting in a pangram often seems to involve shoehorning unusual words into the grid. And INKERMAN is unusual (a wordsearch for this solver).

    FORSYTHIA was clever, but a few of the other clues too clever …

    Thank you for blogging, Big Dave.

    Michelle, you can 99 times out of 100 just ignore ellipses. Setters put them in just to link potentially related surface readings, but you can normally just solve the two clues separately.

  6. Bryan says:

    Many thanks Big Dave & Quixote

    Living in Brighton & Hove, my first thoughts centred on SLLUGO – because they are known as ‘The Gulls’.

    This problem came from having too much knowledge.

  7. Flashling says:

    Cor this was for beginners? I’ve done the rest today and sat indy and sat telegraph on train. This was the only one to beat me. Thanks bd transited beat me. Thanks and well done nutmeg.

  8. Andy B says:

    An enjoyable puzzle but the second straight Monday in which the Quiptic has been more difficult than the Cryptic.

  9. Paul B says:

    I’ve never really seen the point of it, the Quiptic I mean, since there are more than enough easy or easier puzzles in the mainstream to satisfy the newbie. Plus, as people on Quiptic threads quite often seem to say, it can be harder than the puzzle in the paper proper, which would appear to defeat the stated object. Never mind though, eh: all grist.

  10. Derek Lazenby says:

    Paul, it’s because most beginner puzzles are not that well written, but the Quiptics are. Beginners are just as deserving of good puzzles as anyone else.

    Please remember that contrary to the selfish opinions of some experts here, good does not equate to difficult. It relates to all the other attributes of a puzzle, which includes required difficulty, but that is not the same thing as difficult, unless that was a specific requirement of the publisher (and not the solver).

  11. michelle says:

    BIgDave@4 and KsDad@5
    thanks for the pointers, much appreciated.

  12. Rowland says:

    If the Quiptics really are that good Derek, they should replasce the tosh that sometimes aprears in the main paper slot.


  13. Derek Lazenby says:

    Rowly, I know what you mean, but then the experts would fret that they were being denied harder puzzles.

    Are Quiptics that good? Well, look at the ones Orlando does. They are just as well constructed as his more devious regular offerings. If you want a challenge, hunt around the web and find anything else that good that also claims to be easy.

    Also instructive is Arachne’s all too brief sojourn in the Quiptic department. Her first few efforts were on the tough side, but having seen the comments here, she managed to make the adjustment and also provided some superbly constructed, but easy puzzles. That adjustment process illustrated what one of our “big gun” setters once said (wish I could remember which) that he admired setters of easy puzzles because setting a hard puzzle was actually easier to do! I shan’t argue with a pro! I think he meant that for hard puzzles the setter can always get out of jail with setting problems by resorting to obscurities which just help with making the thing difficult to solve.

  14. Paul B says:

    Hi Derek

    I hope I can say that I’ve never been a selfish difficultist, since I believe as you do that it can be very hard indeed to write a good puzzle that gives the novice a good chance. Maybe the best puzzle in the world is one that’s entertaining, surprising and fizzing with ideas, yet done in five minutes. I’d certainly be proud of having created such a thing, and a while ago, IIRC, in a chat with Mr John Halpern we agreed that being hard for the sake of it was pretty easy really, and possibly one, if not the last, refuge of a scoundrel.

    I don’t necessarily find that Quiptic puzzles are well-written, though some clearly are, nor particularly easy, but the point is, vis a vis my first paragraph, anything that is really good and really easy should go straight into Riowleyu’s ‘main slots’.


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