Toughie 193

Toughie No 193 by Shamus
Hints and Tips by Gazza

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BD Rating – Difficulty ** - Enjoyment ***

This is an interesting puzzle from Shamus who has been kind enough to make all four of the 15-letter clues relatively easy, which is a massive help in solving the rest. I’d like to give it two and a half stars for difficulty, but that’s not possible – how many would you give it? – leave us a comment!
Also, please don’t forget to vote for the entertainment factor by clicking on one of the stars at the bottom of the review.

Across Clues

8a  Science writer dropping new long story (4)
{SAGA} – the science writer that we want is Carl SAGAN, who presented the TV Series Cosmos in the 1980s (it was unfortunate that his voice reminded everyone of Kermit the Frog!). Drop the N(ew) to leave a long story.

9a  Song daughter missed — and story (3)
{LIE} – another type of story, this time a synonym for an untruth, is produced by dropping the D(aughter) from LIED (German song).

10a  Posh place for exhibitions by students? A revolving body (6)
{URANUS} – a three-syllable charade produces the name of a planet (revolving body).

11a  Players in bridge club mostly retaining diamonds as card (6)
{WEIRDO} – put together WE (bridge partners) and IROn (most of a golf club) with D(iamonds) inside to get an eccentric person (card).

12a  Function discussed before visit? It determines attendance (4-4)
{ROLL-CALL} – a homophone (discussed) of ROLE (function) precedes CALL (visit) to get a procedure to work out who has turned up, at school, say.

13a  A tourist by fleet interfered with US landmark (6,2,7)
{STATUE OF LIBERTY} – the most famous US landmark of them all is an anagram (interfered with) of A TOURIST BY FLEET.

15a  Dip taken amid drink – like some Italian food ideally? (2,5)
{AL DENTE} – an Italian phrase describing food, especially pasta, which is firm when bitten into, is made by putting DENT (dip) inside ALE (drink).

17a  Intellectual hatched item introducing poll (7)
{EGGHEAD} – put EGG (hatched item) in front of HEAD (poll).

20a  Solemn sect shorn for battle — a fabled phenomenon? (4,4,7)
{LOCH NESS MONSTER} – an anagram (for battle) of SOLEMN SECT SHORN produces this mythical beast who can be relied on to generate some publicity just when the local tourist trade needs a bit of a boost.

23a  English and Latin verse absorbed by dramatist mostly — and novelist (8 )
{MELVILLE} – in spite of his many fine plays the dramatist Arthur MILLER is probably best remembered for his marriage to Marilyn Monroe. Put E(nglish), L(atin) and V(erse) inside and drop the final R (mostly) to change him into the author of Moby Dick.

25a  Cheerless wife leaves to tackle a holder of correspondence? (2-4)
{IN-TRAY} – cheerless is WINTRY – take off the W (Wife leaves) and insert (tackle) A to get a container for your unread mail.

26a  Bishop with classic order having non-human features? (6)
{BIONIC} – put together B(ishop) and IONIC (order of Greek architecture) to get a description of someone having parts of his/her body replaced with electronic devices. Some of us will be able to remember the “Six million dollar man”.

27a  Largely pleasing reduction (3)
{CUT} – remove (largely) the last letter from CUTe (pleasing) to get a reduction.

28a  Cheer from section in foreign theatre (4)
{NOSH} – put S(ection) inside NOH (traditional Japanese masked drama) to get an informal word for food (cheer).

Down Clues

1d  Faculty finance in the past (6)
{TALENT} – double definition – one a unit of currency used by the ancient Romans and Greeks.

2d  Noted Belgian showing resolution during end of game (8 )
{MAGRITTE} – I foolishly thought at first that “noted” was a cryptic hint to look for a Belgian musician – not so, he was a famous surrealist painter and his name is constructed by putting GRIT (resolution) inside (check)MATE (end of chess game, from the Persian “shah mat” meaning the king is paralysed).

3d  A Latin partner with cheap let sadly in a big mess? (3,4,3,5)
{ALL OVER THE PLACE} – a phrase meaning in a big mess is formed from A L(atin) and LOVER (partner) which is followed by an anagram (sadly) of CHEAP LET.

4d  Frighten nervy type about uprooted tree (7)
{PETRIFY} – a verb meaning to frighten is made by putting FIR (tree) reversed (uprooted) inside an anagram (nervy) of TYPE.

5d  Abbey once maybe damaged icons? I’d be guilty (8,7)
{BUILDING SOCIETY} – an anagram (damaged) of ICONS I’D BE GUILTY gives us the type of organisation that Abbey National once was.

6d  Unrefined port in Corsica? (6)
{GAUCHE} – double definition, one cryptic – think of port as meaning left and Corsica as representing all French-speaking areas.

7d  Roll up garment close to stool (4)
{FURL} – a type of garment which it is definitely not PC to wear these days, unless it is a fake one, is followed by L (last letter of stool) to make a verb meaning to roll up.

14d  Plant not half producing leaves (3)
{TEA} – we need one half of the plant TEASEL.

16d  Sign that’s cheaply constructed? Not good (3)
{LEO} – one of the signs of the zodiac is “made from LEGO” (cheaply constructed) with the G (good) removed.

18d  Plucky thing almost within reach? I’m wavering (8 )
{HESITANT} – the plucky thing is a musical instrument which is plucked, SITAR – remove the final letter (almost) and put what remains inside HENT (obsolete verb meaning to reach – Chambers comes to the rescue again!) to form an adjective meaning wavering.

19d  German city and church in complete form (7)
{ESSENCE} – the German city that you want is ESSEN.

21d  Capital made by a leading group in hard area (6)
{HAVANA} – put A VAN (leading group) between H(ard) and A(rea) to get the capital of Cuba.

22d  Mistake on the net to pass (6)
{ELAPSE} – a verb meaning to pass or go by (of time) is constructed by putting LAPSE (mistake) after E (electronic, on the net, as in E-mail and E-commerce).

24d  Correct piece of text identified in review (4)
{EDIT} – a hidden (piece of) word meaning to correct is to be found backwards (in review) in texT IDEntified.

The clues I liked today included 10a, 3d and 16d, but my clue of the day, just for its attempted misdirection, is 6d. What do you think? – please leave a comment, and don’t forget to vote below.

17 Comments

  1. bigboab
    Posted August 5, 2009 at 1:55 pm | Permalink

    Hello Gazza, I think I’m destined to be for ever arguing with you, I thought this was a very difficult crossword in parts and very enjoyable to struggle with. I would never have solved 11a or 2d without your hints. thanks yet again.

    • gazza
      Posted August 5, 2009 at 2:10 pm | Permalink

      bigboab
      If we all agreed all the time it would be very boring! As I said, I got the 4 long answers pretty quickly which meant that I had a checking letter in most of the answers. But I see that libellule agrees with you that it’s a bit more difficult than two stars.

  2. Libellule
    Posted August 5, 2009 at 2:06 pm | Permalink

    Gazza, a couple of small issues.
    1. Re. 6d I think there is a small problem with the clue (he says pedantically) although gauche can mean left, it doesn’t mean port in french. The correct word for port (as in the port side of a ship) is actually ‘bâbord’ .
    2. I don’t think this is a ** difficulty, just look at the number of completed Toughie 193′s on clued up at the moment, its still a relatively low number, I think it deserves *** at least.

    • gazza
      Posted August 5, 2009 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

      libellule
      Thanks for that.
      1. It looks as if Shamus may have made an error. Though, in his defence, you could say that if you first convert port to left in English, and then into French, it’s ok. Perhaps he’ll drop in and tell us if that’s what he meant,
      2. bigboab appears to agree with you. I’m still waiting for comments from the host of people who will undoubtedly agree with me (he said desperately!).

      • Posted August 5, 2009 at 2:23 pm | Permalink

        I find it amusing that a very good knowledge of French is actually a handicap here! My rusty schoolboy French meant that I had no problem with this.

  3. Posted August 5, 2009 at 2:22 pm | Permalink

    Gazza – I had it this as a tad over 2.5 stars, but I can understand how you could get held up on one or two of the clues. I didn’t get the wordplay for 18 down, although H?S?T?N? and a definition of wavering left no other option.

  4. nanaglugglug
    Posted August 5, 2009 at 5:13 pm | Permalink

    Can someone please tell me why ‘U’ means ‘posh’ (a la 10a)?

    • gazza
      Posted August 5, 2009 at 5:20 pm | Permalink

      nanaglugglug
      U stands for Upper-class, hence posh or socially acceptable,
      The opposite (non-U) means socially unacceptable.

      • Libellule
        Posted August 5, 2009 at 5:46 pm | Permalink

        And that comment reminds of me of this…
        Yew and Non-yew by James Bartholomew. A gardening variation of the above. :-)

    • Ravinder
      Posted August 5, 2009 at 6:16 pm | Permalink

      I think it’s supposed to go something like posh=upper class= U.

      I think it’s that way and just something that I try and remember at the moment.

  5. nms
    Posted August 5, 2009 at 6:12 pm | Permalink

    ‘port’ is quite OK, I think, this is a crossword in English so port = left.

    • Libellule
      Posted August 5, 2009 at 6:40 pm | Permalink

      I am sorry, but you have completely missed the discussion on this
      … “unrefined port in Corsica?”
      Port in Corsica implies very simply the use of the word PORT in FRENCH (or ITALIAN if we want to be very pedantic)
      PORT in FRENCH (directly) = Port, Porto however you have the definition of unrefined, which is gauche. Gauche does not mean PORT, it means LEFT, which is PORT only in English…. Un peu étrange? The only way this works, is if you assume that PORT is left and then translate… but there is no direct indication of that, the clue as it stands assumes, a, PORT (left) -> French or b, PORT (left side of a ship) -> FRENCH. Currently I await a more detailed explanation from the setter.

      • Graham
        Posted August 6, 2009 at 3:45 pm | Permalink

        The clue does end as follows ‘…port in Corsica?’ Note the question mark.
        Expect to be deliberately mislead by the setter in any good crossword. I think it was a very good clue.

        • gazza
          Posted August 6, 2009 at 4:12 pm | Permalink

          Graham
          I agree – it was my ‘clue of the day’ – it’s only troublemakers like Libellule who raised any doubts :D.

          • Libellule
            Posted August 6, 2009 at 4:24 pm | Permalink

            I didn’t say I didn’t like the clue, I just had a nasty attack of pedantry :-)

  6. Shamus
    Posted August 6, 2009 at 12:12 am | Permalink

    Many thanks to Gazza for the blog and others for comments. 6d was intended very much as Gazza interpreted it – a double definition with the second definition cryptic ie port=left in English =gauche in French. I bow to Libellule’s clearly superior knowledge of French nautical terminology but think this progressive equation in crossword terms passes scrutiny.

    • gazza
      Posted August 6, 2009 at 7:26 am | Permalink

      Shamus
      Thanks for taking the time to let us know what you intended.