Toughie 280

Toughie No 280 by Firefly

Anything to Declare?

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

The number of visits to the site hit an all-time high yesterday – perhaps it’s because more people are staying in due to the weather. If that is the case then we may be in for another record today, because we’re virtually snowed in where I am, having had about 10 inches of the white stuff already this morning.
I found this puzzle quite tricky but an enjoyable challenge. Please let us know how you liked it with a comment, and please remember to click on one of the five stars below to show how much you enjoyed it.

Across Clues

1a/4a Internee, miscalculating about limitless courage, gets potent guidance (5,8 )
{POWER STEERING} – potent guidance is a neat description for the aid the modern motorist gets, allowing a vehicle to be manoeuvred with minimal physical effort. Start with P(risoner) O(f) W(ar) (internee), then add ERRING (miscalculating) around STEE(L) (courage without its last letter, limitless).

10a  New Archbishop has eccentrically banned piped music (7)
{PIBROCH} – an anagram (new) of ARCHBISHOP with the individual letters (eccentrically) of HAS subtracted (banned) leads to classical bagpipe music. For those who like it here’s some:

11a  Express an aversion for relation? (7)
{ANALOGY} – a word for a comparison or relationship between two things is, supposedly, what you get if you say (express) AN ALLERGY (an aversion). They don’t sound the same to me!

12a  Cross-dressing in outdated raglan (4)
{DRAG} – a word for the (wearing of) clothing usually associated with the opposite sex is hidden in the clue.

13a  Ultimately spout rubbish on origin of high fidelity (5)
{TROTH} – what we want is an archaic word meaning fidelity, which used to be the object of much plighting. String together the last letter (ultimately) of spouT, another word for rubbish and the first letter (origin) of High.

14a  Protection borne by Pat? (4)
{MAIL} – double definition. An old type of armour consisting of small metal links chained together, and what Pat carries around Greendale.

17a  In our two articles about Turner, for example … (14)
{WATERCOLOURIST} – an anagram (about) of OUR TWO ARTICLES leads to a type of artist such as J. M. W. Turner.

19a  … chapter’s separately set out giving method of reproduction (8,6)
{CASSETTE PLAYER} – an anagram (out) of SEPARATELY SET and C(hapter) gives an outdated machine for recording and playing back.

22a  Shelter from heartless wolf (4)
{COTE} – a type of prairie-wolf is a COYOTE – drop the middle two letters (heartless) to leave a place of shelter for animals or birds (doves, for example).

23a  M and B both boast, we hear? (5)
{BRAGG} – Melvyn and Billy.

24a  Pretext Israel propounds for partial retreat (4)
{PLEA} – hidden (partial) and reversed (retreat) in the clue is a word meaning pretext.

27a  Investigators of closed cases? (7)
{CUSTOMS} – cryptic definition of the investigators who, you hope, won’t make you unpack your dirty laundry as you go through the green channel nonchalantly looking straight ahead.

28a  Improvises making pasta (7)
{NOODLES} – double definition, the first a verb meaning improvises on a musical instrument.

29a/30a  A breed butchered by girl, using all except heart for mincing? (8,5)
{ABERDEEN ANGUS} – an excellent all-in-one clue to a breed of hornless cattle, famous for top-quality beef. Start with an anagram (butchered) of A BREED, then add a girl’s name (think of an old Corrie battle-axe) and finish off with an anagram (for mincing) of US(i)NG (all except the middle letter, heart).

Down Clues

1d  Keep quiet about the U-bend? (4,4)
{PIPE DOWN} – an instruction to reduce the noise could also be a description of a U-bend if you reverse the order of the two words (about).

2d  Transmission from ABC scrambled in California (7)
{WEBCAST} – re-order (scrambled) ABC inside the location of California within the USA to get a live transmission over the internet.

3d  A piece of fleece (4)
{ROOK} – double definition, the first being a piece on a chessboard.

5d  One interacting badly with source of industrial 1ac (8,6)
{TRACTION ENGINE} – an anagram (badly) of ONE INTERACTING produces a powerful vehicle capable of pulling heavy industrial loads.

6d  Focus of Michelangelo’s style … (4)
{ELAN} – a synonym for style is hidden (focus of) in the clue.

7d  … is – nothing obstructs curves (7)
{ISOBARS} – a charade leads to curvy lines on maps.

8d  Glen taking a breather, we hear? (5)
{GHYLL} – a word for a small ravine or glen sounds like (we hear) what fish breathe through.

9d  Sweet home-help settles our disorder (9,5)
{CHARLOTTE RUSSE} – start with a word for a cleaner or daily (home-help) and follow this with an anagram (disorder) of SETTLES OUR to get a pudding consisting of custard enclosed in sponge cake.

15d  Score with Teresa, perhaps, in assignation (5)
{TRYST} – a score in rugby which entitles the scorer’s team to attempt to convert it into a goal is followed by the usual abbreviation for one who has been canonized. There appear to have been several of these with the name Teresa, but this one appears to be the most famous at the moment (although the Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta apparently needs only one more “proven” miracle to overtake her). An amusing surface reading!

16d  Cook with odd bits of garlic and shavings of lemon-peel (5)
{GRILL} – put together the odd letters of GaRlIc and the outside letters (shavings) of Lemon-peeL.

18d  State of play with Nasa? Embroiled in leaderless capers (8 )
{ARKANSAS} – put an anagram (embroiled) of NASA inside another word for capers without its leading L and you end up with an American state.

20d  The Entertainer’s publication banned, as magistrate’s directed (7) [Clued Up Version]
20d  Capricious magistrate banning publication of “The Entertainer” (7) [Paper Version]
{ARTISTE} – this is another anagram requiring a subtraction. Take the abbreviation for a magazine (publication) away (banned/banning) from MAGISTRATE and make an entertainer from an anagram (directed OR capricious) of what remains. I don’t understand why it’s The Entertainer with a capital E – I can’t see any link to either the John Osborne play or the Scott Joplin composition [This last comment applies only to the Clued Up version, not the Paper version where it’s in quotes]

21d  The solver will reportedly note Christmas fuel bonus (4,3)
{YULE LOG} – a traditional extra (bonus) large piece of fuel for the open fire at Christmas is constructed from a sound-alike (reportedly) of you’ll (the solver will) and a verb meaning to add an entry (note) to a sequential record.

22d  Offence taken when fabricating occasion for drink (5)
{COCOA} – and another anagram which requires a subtraction first. Take the letters of a synonym for offence or immoral act away from OCCASION and make a drink from an anagram (fabricating) of what’s left.

25d  Googled periodically to find fortune? (4)
{GOLD} – use a regular pattern (periodically) of letters from GOOGLED to reveal a fortune.

26d  Up to now, Rex isn’t on the couch (4)
{SOFA} – … and we finish with the easiest clue. Get another word for a couch by removing the final R(ex) from a phrase meaning up to now.

I liked 10a, 9d, 15d and 21d today, but my favourite clue is 29a/30a. How about you? – we’d love to get a comment from you.


  1. maagran
    Posted January 6, 2010 at 2:04 pm | Permalink

    20d The print edition has
    Capricious magistrate banning publication of “The Entertainer”. I took the capitals to be simple mis-direction

    • gazza
      Posted January 6, 2010 at 2:11 pm | Permalink

      Thanks for that. I think the paper version is better. Are there any other clues which are different in the paper?

  2. Prolixic
    Posted January 6, 2010 at 2:34 pm | Permalink

    I agree that this was a tricky one. For 8 or so of the clues I had the answer and then had to work backwards to see how the answer related to the clue! Favourite was 15d.

  3. BigBoab
    Posted January 6, 2010 at 7:37 pm | Permalink

    liked 10a,29-30a and 9d, all in all a real good workout, wasn’t keen on 8d but only because it was new to me. Great review!

  4. nanaglugglug
    Posted January 6, 2010 at 8:39 pm | Permalink

    Made a good start with 1d and 17a but went downhill from there! Needed all your help today, Gazza -thanks. On reflection, very tough but very enjoyable.

  5. Simon Cummings
    Posted January 7, 2010 at 8:13 am | Permalink

    I found this very hard. I thought 27a was rather sloppy. Surely the answer given is only half of the solution to the clue. Should it not be (7,8) or (7,3)?

    • gazza
      Posted January 7, 2010 at 8:22 am | Permalink

      I think that you have a point, but Chambers does define customs as “the collecting authorities”, so I suppose that it just about works.

  6. Anna Gramme
    Posted January 7, 2010 at 2:46 pm | Permalink

    Liked 27a CUSTOMS. Disliked 11a ANALOGY. Never heard of 8d GHYLL.