Toughie No 134

Toughie No 134 by Excalibur

Hints and tips by Tilsit

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

BD Rating – Difficulty *** Enjoyment **

Greetings from the hospital again!  I have quite enjoyed solving on line with the Telegraph site something I didn’t do prior to admission.  Indeed my collection of 50+ pencils in their very own kidney bowl is a constant source of amusement to the nurses and worry to the Doctors, who feel I may have a touch of OCD.  The fact that when I am admitted to hospital, the first thing I pack every time is my Chamber’s and Bradford’s is another worry for them too.

My initial solving reaction was that I quite enjoyed it, but as I have begun to look deeper, I find quite a few things that both trouble and irritate me.

Across
1a Having a whole lot of land, making a killing (8)
{MASSACRE} – Simple word sum  MASS (Having a lot of??) + ACRE

5a Is clearly angry, yet approves (6)
{STAMPS} – Double definition.

9a Wonder if there’s a gold one among these (8)
{THEORISE} – If  I had a main criticism of today’s puzzle, it’s the use of  “a” and ” the” in a number of clues just as padding  to ensure .good surface reading.  I know many setters (and solvers) dislike the practice, and I am in their camp on this issue.  The clue reads OR + I inside THESE.

10a Atrocity committed at a war zone? (6)
{CRIMEA} – CRIME (atrocity) +  A

12a Changes at 12pm, it does (6)
{AMENDS} – The gag here is that A.M. ENDS at 12p.m. Does it?  Let’s hear from the pedants and sophists.

13a Not a blue joke! (8)
{CHESTNUT} – Today’s laugh b out loud clue, or tooth sucker.  Which category do you fall into?  Chestnut is a shade of brown,  i.e. not blue and can also mean an old joke.

15a The crooked dealer given time inside reformed (7)
{ALTERED} – Good surface reading.  An anagram of DEALER + T inside

16a A devotee of nudism? (4)
{BUFF} – If someone is described as a buff they are said to be a fan or devotee of something.  “In the buff” means in the nude.  A sort of cryptic double definition clue.

20a Enunciating the vowels in “trees” (4)
{YEWS} – Not “ee”  but “yews” the trees found in churchyards.

21a In a word, find it hard to come to a conclusion (7)
(STUTTER} – Don’t like this at all.   I assume the setter thinks that stutterers don’t finish their words.  Not my experience

25a Light switch that’s the centre of attraction (4,4)
(STAR TURN} – Same use of Light as in 8 down. STAR + TURN (switch). Not keen.

26a When a pastry’s sent back, leaves (6)
{STRATA} – A TART’S – reversed.  Bradford’s doesn’t give Stratum under “leaf” or “leave”, Nor does Chambers.

28a One of the illnesses that are catching, you say (6)
{GRIPPE} – I telephoned six friends of varying nationalities and dialects.  Not one managed to pronounce  this as “Grip” or vice-versa.

29a Rather like that myself, don’t you agree? (8)
{SOMEWHAT} – Word sum time.  SO + ME + WHAT

30a Labelled and put inside a little eggbeater (6)
{TAGGED} – “Eggbeater” to represent an anagram or reversal of “egg”?  No on either count.  What’s wrong with “Labelled and put inside a little beaten egg“?  for  an anagram of EGG inside TAD

31a In the pink, all right (4,4)
{VERY WELL} – Two double definitions

Down
1d The ultimatum Tim rejected had been composed by both (6)
{MUTUAL} – Word sum time   ULTIMATUM minus TIM anagrammed to give a word meaning “composed by  both”

2d People producing vegetarian food (6)
{SWEDES} – Double Definition  A nation of people and a type of vegetable

3d Pet good about having an adjustable lead put on (8)
{AIREDALE} – A word sum.  AI = A1 = First-rate / excellent + RE = about   +  anagram of LEAD.  Good surface reading.

4d What she did when the alarm went off? (4)
{ROSE} – Cryptic definition for the girl’s name

6d Flail ineffectively but beat convincingly (6)
{THRASH} – Another good surface reading.  Double definition.

7d After a second hesitation, giving the answer “impetus” (8)
{MOMENTUM} – Another good surface reading. MOMENT (second) + UM (hesitation).

8d A light swell to begin with (5,3)
{START OFF} – Word sum.  STAR =  a light   TOFF  = A swell (see Monday’s blog)

11d Heartbroken, lets half off with warnings (7)
{THREATS} – Anagram of HEART +  TS  (LETS, half off).  Good clue.

14d A bit of a mug! (7)
{FEATURE} – Cryptic definition.  I assume “mug” is used here to mean “face”

17dSense there will be agreement, in time (8)
{EYESIGHT}  Surely defining “eight” as “time” is a bit much?

18dPromising the listener-in music (8)
{SWEARING}  EAR = listener inside  SWING  =  music.  Another surplus “the”

19dLast of all, they are appallingly tough (8)
{LEATHERY}  Another good clue.  Last of “all” = L + anagram of THEY ARE.

22dIn the main, it’s used as a fastener (6)
{STAPLE}  At first I thought this was a cryptic definition referring to some sort of use at sea for staples as fasteners.  Not so, a look in Chambers reveals it to also an adjective meaning “main” as in “staple diet”.

23dHe is involved, to a degree, with the club (6)
{MASHIE}  MA + anagram of HE IS to get an old name for a type of golf club.

24dStick to figure drawing (6)
{PASTEL}  Word Sum  PASTE (stick)  + L   (“figure”?) =  a type of drawing.

27dExecuted for having cheated (4)
{DONE}  Double definition.  Executed as in “carried out”

One of those puzzles where I feel slipshod cluing has spoiled a sound puzzle.  There are some very good clues, but these are balanced by some very loose usage in others.  Thanks to Excalibur for the challenge.

The gremlins seem to have been at work today – thanks to Rollo for corrections to 15a, 29a and 14d.  I will add 25a and 7d asap.  BD


2 Comments

  1. nanaglugglug
    Posted April 23, 2009 at 8:58 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Well – we enjoyed this one, mainly because there were no obscure Scottish references which we couldn’t get with Chambers. It was good to not feel to stupid for once!! Thanks, Excalibur and get well, Tilsit!

  2. libellule
    Posted April 24, 2009 at 11:03 am | Permalink | Reply

    Tilsit, re. 28a Grippe en francais is Flu, so I suspect that grip is another word that has been used for flu…..

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