Toughie 142

Toughie No 142 by Shamus

Hints and tips by Tilsit

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BD Rating – Difficulty **** Enjoyment ****

Nice to see the Toughie live up to its name today with a fairly challenging solve.  As I am solving onscreen at the moment, I suffered several “Your solution is wrong” messages before finally getting the all correct one, which came as a great relief.

Incidentally, someone managed to solve the DT Wednesday Crossword on line in 2 minutes and 36 seconds according to the statistics.  Presumably they will be taking part in the final of the Crossword Championships in Cheltenham later this year.   Messrs Goodliffe and Biddlecombe should be quaking in their boots.

Anyway, back to today.  I think we can put Shamus firmly into the Ximenean camp with this cluing, all absolutely sound.

Across
1a Something staged disturbed comrades of yore? About right (1,6,2,6)
{A COMEDY OF ERRORS}   An anagram to get things going today.  Rearrange “COMRADES OF YORE”, not forgetting that it needs to go around R for right.    The whole is one of Shakespeare’s most entertaining plays.

9a Wild praise about favourite course for beginners? (9)
{APPETISER} Similar to 1 across, this is an anagram of  PRAISE around a three-letter word meaning a favourite. The whole is another name for a starter course.  One of the trendy foodie phrases of the moment is AMUSE BOUCHE, and this sort of defines the phrase.

10a Note appearance made by a Nigerian currency (5)
{NAIRA}  A word sum.   N for NOTE + AIR (APPEARANCE) + A = what 100 Kobo make in Nigeria.

11a Asian reportedly favoured book in promotion? (3-2)
{TIE-IN}  Homophone time.  Sounds like Thai, together with a word meaning favoured.  The whole is the name given to the publication of a book / DVD to go with a TV or radio series, such as used by Jamie Oliver.

12a Horrible battle site tours devised (9)
{MONSTROUS}  Quite liked this clue.   A word meaning HORRIBLE is made up of a famous battle site (from the First World War – I think tanks were used here for the first time).  Joined to the battle site is an anagram of TOURS.

13a Poet and explorer with unusual title left out (8)
{ROSSETTI}  The “poet” relates to any one of three members of a talented family.  Father Gabriele, son Dante and daughter Christina.  Their name comprises that of an explorer, Sir John who had much to do with the Arctic, plus an anagram of “title”, minus the letter L for left ((hence left out).

14a Express outward signs of dismay after English mob rampaged (6)
{EMBODY}  I had this answer wrong for quite a while, having “EMBOSS” though now I wonder why!  I saw E + an anagram of MOB and then had “SS” (as in hiss) to show dismay.  Of course, I should have had DY (the outward signs of DismaY).  That would have given me a word meaning EXPRESS  rather than the answer I had  D’oh!

16a Some hero’s to visit Russian port (6)
{ROSTOV}  A hidden answer –  usually “some….” at the start of a clue indicates something is hidden.  Here you want a place in Russia.  Although the answer is fairly obvious, I checked Rostov out and Russia has two.  One is on the shores of a lake, and is called Rostov.  The other is at the mouth of a river and is actually called Rostov-on-Don.  Are we actually bothered?  No, I didn’t think you were.

18a Long period after fuel’s spilt in body of plane (8)
{FUSELAGE}  Fairly straightforward.  AGE (long period) after an anagram of FUEL’S.  Another nice surface reading to this clue.

22a Resort and country bordering lake sound possibly but lacking sun (9)
{LLANDUDNO}  I could crack another joke here (No! – Big Dave), but decorum must prevail.  Never seen this place in a puzzle before.  A general word for a country is needed around L (for lake), together with an anagram of SOUND less S for Sun.  It is worth noting that I have been to this place a number of times and it has rained every single time!

23a First signs of ancient university looming in cloisters – like a court? (5)
{AULIC}  Today’s new word on me.  And as with yesterday, our setter has given us a benevolent clue to deal with this difficult word.  First letters spell out a word which derives from the Latin for “court”.

24a Feature of church mostly seen after mass in island (5)
{MALTA}  An abbreviation for Mass plus most of a word meaning part of a church (one of the main parts) to get the island that was awarded the George Cross.

25a An appealing sponge? (9)
{SCROUNGER}  Probably the only clue to give me difficulty to sort out.  Is this a double definition or a cryptic def?  I think the two defs used in this are too close to be used as a double def, so I would say it’s cryptic.  Anyway up it’s ok by me.

26a Overcome at the last minute – like angry sentry on duty? (6,2,3,4)
{PIPPED AT THE POST}  Nice double def clue.  First half is the traditional meaning of the phrase while the second half implies that someone who is on duty and cross could be thus described.  The Big Red Dictionary doesn’t give it as such though OED is more helpful (Thanks Don!)

Down

1d A stick put up containing fit electrical item (7)
{ADAPTOR}  A + ROD (reversed – put up) with a word inside meaning fit or suitable.

2d Musician ranks matter to entertain ambassador (7)
{ORPHEUS}  The most famous musician in mythology.  OR = (Other) ranks;  PUS =matter carrying HE (crossword) abbreviation for an ambassador (His Excellency).

3d Two teens when tipsy consuming drink that’s compact (7,8)
{ENTENTE CORDIALE}  Clever clue.  Anagram of TEEN + TEEN with CORDIAL (drink inside).  Chamber’s gives COMPACT and under its second heading is a definition of a treaty.  The EC was a very famous treaty between Britain and France.

4d Having toured India, most eye wild park (8)
{YOSEMITE}  Our setter certainly likes his anagrams with little additions.  Here we have an anagram of MOST EYE around I (India in the NATO phonetic alphabet).

5d Stronghold keeping fashionable tin from Budapest? (6)
{FORINT}  The monetary unit of Hungary if it hasn’t been swallowed up by the Euro.  FORT (stronghold) with IN (fashionable) inside.

6d Manage a mood with character heading off and feel unwell? (3,1,11).
{RUN A TEMPERATURE}  Manage  = RUN, a mood = A TEMPER Character heading off = (N)ATURE; “Feel unwell” = definition

7d Timeless Italian football team and company in river (7)
{ORINOCO}  That’s fortuitous.  Enya’s Orinoco Flow comes up on my I-pod!  The Italian soccer team is not one of the currently trendy ones but the one Denis Law signed for when he made his historic move abroad in the early sixties.  The soccer club needs to lose a letter and add the abbreviation for “company”.

8d Authority once on board to get through test held by TV station (7)
{SPASSKY}  One of the few regrets I have is that my chess is so poor.  When I was growing up I remember the Fischer – Spassky rivalry and the “matches of the Century” in Reykjavik, which of course, the American won.  I hadn’t realised that Spassky had actually become a French citizen and is still with us, though in poor health.   The clue is parsed PASS inside SKY

15d Dictatorial type in US car, loveless Eastern European (8)
{AUTOCRAT} This almost hearkens back to an image in the previous clue.   AUTO (US Car) + CR(O)AT (‘loveless Eastern European’)

16d Fishy dish with some bread Englishman held up (7)
{RO LL MOP}  Pickled herrings, I think.  No thanks, I’ll pass, most definitely.  ROLL = Bread  POM = Englishman (Reversed).

17d Plans run possibly avoiding the latest evidence of congestion? (5-2)
{SNARL-UP}  An anagram of PLANS RU(N) to get a traffic jam.

19d A learner queried role taking in good lively piece (7)
{ALLEGRO}  A + L (learner) + (anagram of) ROLE with G inside.

20d Passage from back of counter in bar (7)
{EXCERPT}   R = Back, i.e. last letter, of COUNTER inside  EXCEPT (bar)

21d Poems with appeal in foreign port (6)

    {ODESSA}  A simple word sum to finish:  ODES (Poems) + SA ([Sex] Appeal) =  The Black Sea port.

    As you can see, elegant clue writing with little padding-out in them.  Superb stuff.


    9 Comments

    1. Harry Shipley
      Posted May 7, 2009 at 4:18 pm | Permalink | Reply

      I’m surprised by your evaluation of the difficulty; I’m not a speed solver, and like to complete words for which I have all the checked letters before going on, as well as having settled the word play. So my test of an easy puzzle is that I complete it without being held up for any long period, with nothing more than two dictionaries, a book of words falling into various categories – eg, towns, counties or drinks – and possibly a short walk to consult the Companion to English Literature. And that is how it went today, and since I struggled with earlier ones this week, I thought it much easier.

    2. bigboab
      Posted May 7, 2009 at 11:57 pm | Permalink | Reply

      I agree with Harry Shipley I thought todays puzzle too simple for a toughie with the possible exception of 8d

    3. Posted May 8, 2009 at 9:15 am | Permalink | Reply

      Daft times for puzzles on websites: nothing new!
      For an easy cryptic where everything comes out first time, 2:36 is just possible. It’s when the same person records another sub-3 time the next day that you can confidently dismiss their times as fakes.

      At the Times championship there’s always the chance of someone turning up out of the blue. Mark Goodliffe did exactly that in 1998 – after 3 of 4 puzzles he led a pretty strong field in London regional final by about 5 minutes. Much “Who’s this M A Goodliffe?” muttering among the usual suspects for qualifying places. It took us a year to find out – he had a last puzzle disaster to which I owe a whisky decanter, and disappeared unidentified. He returned in 1999, made his first final and promptly won it.

      • Posted May 8, 2009 at 9:31 am | Permalink | Reply

        There is another explanation!

        Following a run of puzzle disasters on CluedUp, someone called Puzzle-Tester regularly topped the leader board at about 12:15am, having completed all three puzzles. It’s quite easy to do the puzzle in the stated time if you already have all the answers! While his name has been removed from the leader board, his times still show against the puzzle – something I hope will be fixed in due course.

        The incidence of problems with the three major puzzles has significantly reduced since the appearance of this mystery solver – it’s a pity he doesn’t seem to check the GK and Codeword puzzles.

        • Rollo
          Posted May 8, 2009 at 1:19 pm | Permalink | Reply

          Ah yes. The puzzle-tester. That had not occurred to me but it does make sense.

    4. Rollo
      Posted May 8, 2009 at 9:33 am | Permalink | Reply

      Even if I had the solution written out in front of me I don’t think I could complete a 15 X 15 online grid in two and a half minutes. I must be a slow typist.

      I don’t know how these people are doing it, and I don’t know how people seem to be able to get “time bonus” points for older puzzles where the time bonus has already expired.

    5. libellule
      Posted May 8, 2009 at 12:37 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Rollo – I know – but I am not telling :-)

    6. Rollo
      Posted May 8, 2009 at 1:17 pm | Permalink | Reply

      libellule, I was not asking how it is done, merely passing a comment that it is done, in case you thought otherwise.

      If people want to enhance their score like that it’s not something I worry about too much.

    7. libellule
      Posted May 8, 2009 at 2:03 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Rollo, basically its a bug in the software that some people exploit. I would like them to fix it, but its obviously generic, since the problem exists for both crosswords and sudoku.

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