Toughie No 125

Toughie No 125 by Notabilis

Hints and tips by Gazza

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BD Rating – Difficulty *** Enjoyment ***

An average Toughie with a few well-constructed clues. It certainly helps if you can get 16a early on.

Across Clues

9a  It’s not so sensible losing head in pursuit (5)
{AFTER} – “not so sensible” is DAFTER – take off the first letter (losing head) to get a preposition meaning in pursuit of.

10a  A blessing, including “enlightened” one in emancipation (9)
{ABOLITION} – a blessing is A BOON. Include in this LIT I (“enlightened” one) to produce a noun meaning the ending of slavery, or emancipation.

11a  City I built is unfortunately lacking university (7)
{TBILISI} – an anagram (unfortunately) of “I built is” minus the U (lacking university) gets us the capital of Georgia, which used to be called Tiflis. [this city is turning up more and more as an answer which means that I’ll really have to learn how to spell it!]

12a  Skirt potential live performance involving northern radio fan (7)
{GINGHAM} – this material is “skirt potential” (it may equally well be “curtain potential”!). It’s made up of GIG (live performance) including N (northern) and followed by a term for an amateur radio operator.

13a  Wife in Australian spring-cleaning time cleaned with a broom (5)
{SWEPT} – If we do our spring-cleaning in March, then those in the southern hemisphere must do it in a month later in the year. Include W (wife) in an abbreviation of this month to get a synonym for “cleaned with a broom”.

14a  Deficiency in whisky, perhaps a drop (9)
{SHORTFALL} – a type of drink of which whisky is an example (perhaps – others might be gin, rum or vodka) is followed by FALL (a drop) to generate a synonym for deficiency.

16a  Imprisoned doctor drunkenly had coke but not heroin (5,4,3,3)
{UNDER LOCK AND KEY} – there are so many misleading signal indicators in this excellent clue that it takes a while to determine that it is an anagram (doctor) of “drunkenly had coke” minus the H (not Heroin), leading to a phrase meaning imprisoned.

19a  European notes among loads of money? Son’s having none of it (9)
{PENNILESS} – European is E and notes are NN (apparently N is the abbreviation for footnote in an index). These are inside PILES (loads of money) and followed by S (son), to achieve a term meaning skint, or having no money.

21a  Editor accepts honour to attach journalist to military unit (5)
{EMBED} – journalist as always is ED – include inside this (accepts) the title of a Member of the British Empire to get a verb meaning to attach a journalist to a military unit – a usage for this term which, as far as I am aware, originated in the First Gulf War.

23a  Wrinkly bottom was best (7)
{RUMPLED} – a charade of bottom (RUMP) and was best (LED) gives us a word for wrinkly.

25a  Evil customers at a nice show (7)
{SATANIC} – there is a word meaning evil hidden (show) inside “customers at a nice”.

27a  Start burning unless turned over in dried up surroundings (3,2,4)
{SET ON FIRE} – unless is IF NOT. This is backwards (turned over) and is surrounded by SERE (withered or dried up) to form a phrase meaning to start burning.

28a  English novelist has to be objected to (5)
{AMISS} – Not one, but two English novelists (father and son) have their surname suffixed with the possessive S (required by “has”).  The resulting adjective can mean to be objected to.

Down Clues

1d   Sweeping changes finally cutting tax (4)
{VAST} – the last letter (finally) of “changes” goes inside (cutting) the tax for which the standard rate was recently reduced to 15%, to form a word meaning immense or sweeping.

2d  Stumped by prevalent conflict (6)
{STRIFE} – in cricket the abbreviation for stumped is ST (it’s good to see a variation on the usual “holy man”!). Follow this with RIFE (prevalent) to get a synonym for conflict.

3d  Introduction to blessing of Pope holding ring, I rub tribe the wrong way (4,2,4)
{URBI ET ORBI} -an anagram (the wrong way) of “I rub tribe” plus “O” (holding ring) produces the latin phrase meaning “to the city(Rome) and to the world” which is the traditional start (introduction) to the Pope’s blessing at Christmas and Easter, delivered from the balcony of St Peter’s Basilica.

4d  Raid botched over American range of operation (6)
{RADIUS} – an anagram (botched) of “raid” includes (over) A(merican) to produce a word denoting the geographical limits of an operation.

5d  Airs bound to get Great Britain in extremely secluded place (8 )
{SONGBOOK} – put GB inside SO (extremely, as in “he is so tall”) and NOOK (secluded place) to get a book of songs with music (airs bound).

6d  Region shortly to welcome Israelites, primarily? (4)
{ZION} – this is an example of an “all in one” type of clue where the whole thing is both the definition and all the wordplay. “Region shortly” is ZONe (minus the final letter) and this includes (to welcome) I (the first letter, i.e. primarily, of Israelites). The resulting word has different meanings to different religions, but to Jews it means the land they returned to after exile, i.e. Israel.

7d  Aquatic hunter with angle to sell (4,4)
{FISH HAWK} – put together a word for what an angler does and a word meaning to carry goods around for sale, and you end up with this alternative name for an osprey.

8d  Computer list comes up with device editor not working (10)
{UNEMPLOYED} – reverse (comes up) the list of possibilities on screen (or, more traditionally, list of dishes in a restaurant), add PLOY (ruse) and ED (editor) to end up with a word meaning not working.

13d  Female artist’s anxiety about line in cup (10)
{SCULPTRESS} – take STRESS (anxiety) and include in it (about) L (line) which itself is in CUP, to get a type of female artist of which this lady was the pre-eminent British example in the last century.

15d  Smack in tale involved barely touching (10)
{TANGENTIAL} – start with TANG (smack) and follow it with an anagram (involved) of “in tale” to produce a word meaning peripheral or barely touching.

17d  Deity unexpectedly taking chap heavenward in blast (8 )
{DYNAMITE} – a cleverly-constructed clue has a synonym for “chap” backwards (heavenwards, in a down clue) inside an anagram (unexpectedly) of “deity” to form a verb meaning to blast.

18d  Recovered from party, the object being to binge (6,2)
{OVERDO IT}- a charade of OVER (recovered from), a word for party and the pronoun applied to an object. Together they form a phrase meaning to indulge oneself to excess or binge.

20d  Lord embracing holy woman or vice versa? (6)
{SISTER} – vice versa indicates that we should reverse the clue to get a holy woman embracing the Lord, i.e. another word for a nun.

22d  Bit parts as outlaw? (6)
{BANDIT} – Bit is split into two parts: B and IT to get a synonym for outlaw.

24d  Time to give up? (4)
{LENT} – a cryptic definition of the forty days leading up to Easter when Christians are supposed to give up something. [My hope is that by next week compilers will have given up on producing variations of this clue nearly every day!]

26d  Clubs request a lot of beer, perhaps (4)
{CASK} – C (the standard way of identifying clubs in the game of bridge) is followed by a synonym of request to form the traditional container for storing beer.

The clues I liked best included 11a, 16a and 21a, but my “clue of the day” is 17d. What do you think? Leave us a comment!


  1. bigboab
    Posted April 8, 2009 at 1:47 pm | Permalink

    I liked 16a best. I did not and would never have got the two R.C. clues without your help, for which I am extremely grateful. (3d,20d)

  2. gazza
    Posted April 8, 2009 at 2:23 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for your comment and encouragement, bigboab.
    I think that 3d is one of those clues which would be very difficult to get, even with the checking letters, if you’d never heard the phrase.

  3. nanaglugglug
    Posted April 8, 2009 at 5:55 pm | Permalink

    Thanks Gazza – found todays really difficult, but once we used had your help on 3d and 16a we were off!! All in all a bit too clever for me!