Toughie 269

Toughie No 269 by Warbler

.. and Montmorency came too

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

BD Rating – Difficulty **Enjoyment **

Warbler, probably more than any other Toughie setter, produces puzzles which can range from rather tough to relatively gentle. This is one of the latter and I can’t say that I enjoyed it all that much. I’m not over fond of anagrams at the best of times, and to have eleven in one puzzle seems excessive. Also, some of the surface readings seem forced (especially 8d) and at 25a we have one of those clues where you can’t tell which part is the definition and which the wordplay until you have a checking letter.

Do you agree or do you think it’s great? In either case let us know with a comment!

Across Clues

1a  Approaching 40mph, losing power, I get tense and shirty with old pedestrian ultimately. That’s all wrong (15)
{THIRTYSOMETHING} – the definition is approaching 40, and you want a vague response from someone asked their age (and also the title of a TV series). It’s an anagram (that’s all wrong) of M(p)H I GET T(ense) SHIRTY O(ld) and (pedestria)N. A gold star to anyone who worked it out from scratch from the correct anagram fodder, rather than guessing the answer and then sorting out the anagram.

9a  Construct again broken entrance removing name (2-5)
{RE-ENACT} – an anagram (broken) of ENTRA(n)CE with N(ame) removed.

10a  Agents fine cast (7)
{FACTORS} – an abbreviation for fine precedes the cast of a play.

11a  Exact fraction of seventy (4)
{EVEN} – a hidden word (fraction of) can mean exact.

12a  Female bird is weak (5)
{FRAIL} – start with F(emale) and add the name of a small wetland bird.

13a  Scottish landowner fails to finish retreat (4)
{LAIR} – a scottish landowner is a laird – remove the last letter (fails to finish).

16a  Deeply impress English party (7)
{ENGRAVE} – a charade of ENG(lish) and a lively party produces a verb meaning to carve a text or design on a hard surface.

17a  Because Rome’s relinquished Old Master it must be genuine (7)
{SINCERE} – put together a synonym for because and R(om)E without the O(ld) M(aster).

18a  List of goods in report (7)
{INVOICE} – an itemised bill can be broken down to IN and a verb meaning to utter or report.

21a  Former husband crept about in passage (7)
{EXCERPT} – put an abbreviated way of referring to a former spouse in front of an anagram (about) of CREPT.

23a  Distinctive character of ancient city hidden amongst volcanic rock (4)
{AURA} – the word AA (derived from Hawaiian) means a type of volcanic rock. Put the usual ancient biblical city inside.

24a  Deliver Queen’s additional clause (5)
{RIDER} – a charade of a synonym for to deliver (as used, reportedly, by Henry II in his plea for someone to free him from the troublesome Thomas Becket) and the initials used by the Queen.

25a  Knocks back pole (4)
{SPAR} – reverse (back) a word meaning knocks. This is one of those annoying clues where the reversal could apply to either of the adjacent words, and you have to wait for a checking letter to determine which.

28a  Mari and I go out to see Japanese art (7)
{ORIGAMI} – an anagram (out) of MARI and I GO leads to this Japanese art.

29a  Value of a constant number (7)
{ACCOUNT} – a noun meaning value, as in the phrase “of no value”, is constructed by stringing together A, a constant standing for the speed of light and a verb meaning to number.

30a  Expert fixers rebuilt the old stores investing foreign money mostly (15)
{TROUBLESHOOTERS} – put the Russian currency (omitting the last letter) inside (investing) an anagram (rebuilt) of THE O(ld) STORES to get some expert fixers (and the name of another TV series).

Down Clues

1d  Translated another ‘ambient’ European novel (5,3,2,1,4)
{THREE MEN IN A BOAT} – the novel is a humorous account of a boating holiday by Jerome K Jerome. It’s title is an anagram (translated) of ANOTHER AMBIENT and E(uropean).

2d  Beer and cig’s bad for unemotional type (7)
{ICEBERG} – an anagram (bad) of BEER and CIG produces a frigid character.

3d  Drop in rent (4)
{TEAR} – double definition.

4d  Liberated group starts to finance revolutionary European enterprise (3,4)
{SET FREE} – the definition is liberated. Start with a synonym for group and add the first letters (starts) of the last four words.

5d  Smell mounts after most of mud cakes (7)
{MUFFINS} – a verb meaning to smell or inhale audibly is reversed (mounts, in a down clue), but before that we need the first two letters (most) of MU(d). We end up with a word for cakes which can be totally different depending on whereabouts you live.

6d  Private charity supports college (4)
{TECH} – a type of college is hidden (supports) in the clue.

7d  Separate lives lead to troubled daughter leaving (7)
{ISOLATE} – start with a verb meaning lives or exists and add an anagram (troubled) of LEA(d) TO with the D(aughter) omitted.

8d  I.e. treating sorts out this bug (15)
{GASTROENTERITIS} – another anagram (out) of I.E. TREATING SORTS produces a bug involving the inflammation of the stomach lining. The surface reading is pretty poor!

14d  Fanatical baron takes part in invasion (5)
{RABID} – the definition is fanatical – put B(aron) inside a synonym for invasion.

15d  Up North catch son with drink (5)
{SNECK} – the answer is a Scottish or Northern English word for a latch or door catch – start with S(on) and add a slang term for to drink.

19d  See! Goitre can produce dizziness (7)
{VERTIGO} – start with the letter V (standing for the latin vide – see) and add an anagram (can produce) of GOITRE to get a word meaning dizziness (and the title of a Hitchcock film).

20d  Building could become deficient after National Trust quits (7)
{EDIFICE} – remove the NT from DEFICIE(nt) and make (what else?) an anagram (could become) of the remainder to make a building.

21d  They say I used to be hard. Nonsense! (7)
{EYEWASH} – start with a homophone (they say) of I and add a verb meaning used to be and the abbreviation for hard (as in pencil).

22d  What delight to be transported by river (7)
{RAPTURE} – a synonym for delight is constructed from an adjective meaning entranced or transported followed by a North Yorkshire river. I don’t like this clue because the first part and the whole derive from the same root.

26d  In short, engine part’s source of energy (4)
{CARB} – an abbreviation which stands for both an engine part and a source of energy from starchy foods.

27d  Repeat section of Arne chorale (4)
{ECHO} – a hidden word (section) in the clue means to repeat.

The clues I liked today included 14d and 21d but my favourite is 5d. What do you think? – leave us a comment with your thoughts!


17 Comments

  1. gnomethang
    Posted December 16, 2009 at 12:23 pm | Permalink | Reply

    No gold star for me!.
    Agreed on your observations although I did like 30a and 5d

  2. Prolixic
    Posted December 16, 2009 at 12:45 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Very gentle fare after yesterday. I was twiddling my thumbs before reaching Clapham Junction. I agree that 11 anagrams is excessive. In relation to 25a, I had exactly the same feeling with 20d on the back page.

    My favourites were 1d and 21d.

    Thanks for the hints and thanks to Warbler for the stroll through crossword land today.

  3. Rishi
    Posted December 16, 2009 at 1:00 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I haven’t read the blog.
    Let me record my experience.
    I solved 15 clues on reading – without entering any letter in the grid.
    After a little rest, three more fell in this manner.
    So after having cold-solved 18, I put in the available solutions. With the crossings now visible, I got five more.
    Current position: None of the long ones in the perimeter solved. Among the others, only 15d and 26d to go.
    I liked solving thus far but I won’t say the puzzle as a whole was tough.

  4. Tilly
    Posted December 16, 2009 at 1:46 pm | Permalink | Reply

    It’s snowing. The water board have a mechanical digger going outside my house as they have decided to lay new water pipes in the week before Christmas. I am waiting to find out if I have sprained something in my knee or whether there is a tear in the cartilage. Can you understand that this crossword then seems like a five star gold plated one to me? Guess there is nothing else to do but hit the chocolate …

  5. Bondini
    Posted December 16, 2009 at 4:29 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Well after finding the backpage no challenge I mounted my first geunine attempt on a Toughie and came within a “sneck” of completing it.

    Suggests something about the relative dfficulty but nonetheless, having invested a good deal of time in it I thought I was justified in leaving my comment in the Toughie section for once.

    Who knows when you’ll next hear from me!!!

    • gazza
      Posted December 16, 2009 at 4:39 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Bondini
      Congratulations. I hope that you’ll continue to leave comments in both the Cryptic and Toughie blogs.

      • Bondini
        Posted December 16, 2009 at 5:10 pm | Permalink | Reply

        I’m reminded of how long it used to take me to complete the back page when I first started out on crosswords. Maybe a similar journey lies ahead of me with the Toughie.

        Thanks for your encouragement Gazza.

  6. JohnBNotts
    Posted December 16, 2009 at 6:19 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Yes, same as Bondini, held up by a “sneck”. May have found it in one of the Crossword Solver Books but prefer here.

    FInished the back page fairly quickly though.

    My wife, Helen, and I do (attempt) these every day, usually whilst at our favourite tea rooms in Muston eating cake and drinking coffee.

    Great site Dave, many thanks – although I got “Aura” I didn’t know why “AA” until I read your explanation.

    • gazza
      Posted December 16, 2009 at 6:24 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Hi John – welcome to you and Helen.
      Now that you’ve made contact I hope that you’ll become a regular contributor!

    • Posted December 16, 2009 at 6:26 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Gazza wrote this one, John!

  7. JohnBNotts
    Posted December 16, 2009 at 6:31 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Thanks Dave, yes we’ll certainly be regular “scroungers” I guess. We usually complete the back page but probably only twice a week for the Toughie. We keep two “Telegraph Crossword” Books in our cars so no matter whose car we’re in we always have a crossword to do wherever we are.
    Thanks again.
    John

  8. gus
    Posted December 16, 2009 at 9:43 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Hmm. There’s a joke in there somewhere about setter with a bra sneck using words like that. Lived oop North for a couple of years and never heard that. Snib(b?) yes, sneck no. Still, enjoyable in any event.

  9. Rishi
    Posted December 17, 2009 at 12:37 am | Permalink | Reply

    As a followup to my post above, I worked out those long entries on the perimeter but there shouldn’t be any surprise that I didn’t get SNECK.

    Didn’t use any electronic aid nor did I have to turn the pages of any crossword dictionary.

    Revisited this site to “just highlight the white space inside the brackets” at the relevant clue!

    • gazza
      Posted December 17, 2009 at 7:58 am | Permalink | Reply

      Rishi
      I lived in the North of England for 35 years and didn’t know the word sneck, so join the club!

  10. Bardo
    Posted December 17, 2009 at 4:39 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Wow Google is quick. Found this site (never knew it existed) one day after the crossword by putting ‘fanatical baron’ into Google, giving me 14d and also 15d, the only two I hadn’t done. But also explained 22a (the volcanic rock part) and 19d (the Latin word for ‘see’). Thanks for your help Gazza – you obviously have a lot of time spare!

    • Posted December 17, 2009 at 4:43 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Welcome to the blog Bardo

      I hope you have bookmarked us for future reference !!

      • Bardo
        Posted December 17, 2009 at 4:52 pm | Permalink | Reply

        Definitely will do now I know that you and your friends are at work for us every day! Thanks again and have a great Christmas.

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