i Cryptic Crossword 3340 Quaiteaux

October 21, 2021

Difficulty rating (out of five): 🌟🌟🌟

A rare outing from Quaiteaux fills the sometimes tricky Thursday spot, and one that was a Saturday prize puzzle too. The latter can sometimes mean quite a tough offering, though not always, but is always a guarantee of quality, Eimi invariably holding back some of the best puzzles for the weekend Independent slot. Today was one that I thought was of about middling difficulty, with enough write-ins to give solvers many different ways into the grid, and lively / engaging throughout. Some definitions will doubtless have only leapt out to solvers well up on their rules of grammar, a group which will have excluded me it won’t surprise you to learn. There were also some very nice bits of misdirection, the capital L in 1ac being a notable example, and “BT tower” at 19ac. One or two others I struggled to parse, but the fault was usually my own, being as ever a bear of very small brain, though some would argue that the SAL in SALTIER and the AX in TAXABLE were a step too far.

Lots to enjoy, as noted above, with 1ac raising a smile, and much that was devious on offer, with my pick for COD going to 20d – “Inanimate cat I transported about – story of my life! (7)”.

For all the answers and parsing of the clues, look no further than the Fifteensquared blog from July 2017:


11 Responses to “i Cryptic Crossword 3340 Quaiteaux”

  1. Saboteur said

    I really enjoyed doing this one, and I agree on the difficulty rating (first time this week Jonofwales and I have agreed, so I thought it worth mentioning πŸ™‚).

    No problem with the Sal Volatile thing, and I did think the “across” for AX was very cheeky but well worth it. Creativity takes precedence over the strict application of rules in my book (and I say that as one who is quite at home in Pedant’s Corner). Whether DISTINGUE is ok, given that there is no indication it is borrowed from the French, is another matter.

    BRACT was also very good, as was MODAL VERB.

    The COUNTING SHEEP thing went over my head, although the crossing letters left me in no doubt. I was quite prepared to take it on trust that Pound and Lowell were IMAGIST poets.

  2. tonnelier said

    I found the upper half answers went in quite quickly, but progress then slowed a lot, grinding to a frustrating DNF.

    19, 20, 23 and 27 were the stumbling blocks. I didn’t know that Pound and Lowell were imagists (OR would have been better than AND in this clue) – now I do, and it’s a great clue. I’m less happy with the tower in 19 though. Or is this use of RAC a convention that has passed me by? 20 is brilliant!

    The pimp reference has definitely passed me by, and I really do feel this is just TOO obscure.

    I don’t recall the name Quaiteaux. Is it an extremely convoluted homophone for Cato? If not, I’d love to know the origin of this very strange pseudonym.

  3. dtw42 said

    Oh. I managed most of it but fell down completely at 6d and 19a.
    Liked 1a a lot. Hated 18d. Didn’t understand the pimp reference in 9d.

  4. Willow said

    I thought Cato as well. Largely very enjoyable and very humorous in places – many thanks – and I welcome having a new setter, one whom I certainly haven’t encountered before. Yesterday I suggested that having challenging clues was to be encouraged, as long as there weren’t too many of them. Today’s puzzle is a good example of where the balance between easy and hard is absolutely right, I think.

    The clue for COUNTING SHEEP will certainly have been utterly obscure to many solvers, but not for me, as it happens. I have a pretty clear memory of a programme about Lake District shepherds which I heard on Radio 4 many years ago, at a time when I was trying to learn a bit of Welsh. The two dialects have similarities. Having said that, I think PIMP is peculiar to Lincolnshire as a term for FIVE in this case. The Welsh equivalent is PUMP.

  5. Topsy said

    A DNF for me but none the worse for that as I enjoyed the ones I managed. Whilst I got 9d, there was no way I could parse it. I remember seeing Jake Thackray singing it and the word was “pip”. The Yorkshire Shepherdess also says “pip”.
    As an aside, did the clue for 17ac in the concise a contain a typo or did I miss something?

  6. Cornick said

    Some setters seem to deliberately pick a level of difficulty and pitch all the clues around that level. One gets into the zone – whether it’s Dac, Klingsor or Serpent – and pretty much stays there.
    Quaiteaux is of the other variety, it seems. 3/4 pretty easy (1* or 2*) then the remainder very tricky indeed. Sal volatile? Fine if you know it I suppose; Tower = RAC? DISTINGUE? These are a world apart from the likes of 3, 4, and 5d.
    I can see a β€˜something for everyone’ sort of logic, but for me it feels like a test drive in a car that only runs in first or fifth gear.

  7. tonnelier said

    Well put, Cornick – that’s exactly how I felt with this

  8. Borodin said

    Held up for ages in the SE corner and eventually resorted to a wordfinder for ABIOTIC and IMAGIST; the parsing of the latter only occurred to me much later – probably as I would spell being anti old fogeys as ‘ageist’. That SE corner would tip it towards 4* for me.

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