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Toughie 296

Toughie No 296 by Kcit

It’s all Latin and Greek to me

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BD Rating – Difficulty **Enjoyment ***

Drawing a veil over 6a, I enjoyed this puzzle by Kcit which has some very clever surface readings. The more obscure references (e.g. 10a and 2d) are accompanied by straightforward wordplay, and the more difficult wordplay (e.g. 7d) comes with answers that you can guess at fairly readily before disentangling the wordplay (how many sports are there with 3-2-3 names?).
As usual, we’d love to get a comment from you with your thoughts on the puzzle, the review or anything else!

Across Clues

1a  Bloke, one that’s turned up late for work (10)
{MANIPULATE} – the definition is work as a verb, in the sense of knead or massage – you need to string together a synonym for bloke, then I (one), then UP reversed (turned) and finally LATE.

6a  Try returning potty (4)
{STAB} – this is a type of clue I hate, where you have two words, one of which is the reversal (returning) of the other, but because the reversal indicator is sitting bang in the middle you cannot know which is the definition and which the wordplay until you have a checking letter.

10a  Proposition two males in meadow (5)
{LEMMA} – luckily the wordplay is very simple, because I’d never heard of this mathematical term which means a preliminary proposition or a premise taken for granted in an argument or proof.

11a  Major European country upset about one sporting contest (3-6)
{BIG LEAGUE} – the definition is major and the answer is used to mean the sphere where the major participants, in sport or business say, operate. Reverse (upset) GB (European country?) around I (one) and add the structure within which a defined group of sports teams play each other competitively over a season. The name of the structure has evolved to mean the contest to come top of it at the end of the season. Strictly speaking, Great Britain is the name of an island rather than a country.

12a  Pirate caught men beginning to sing shanty? (7)
{CORSAIR} – another word for a pirate (or his ship) is formed from C (caught, in cricket), OR (other ranks, men), S(ing) and a name for a song (of which shanty is an example, hence the question mark).

13a  End of snout to disturb fungus (7)
{TRUFFLE} – put together (snou)T and a synonym for to disturb to get this fungus which is very valuable (but not as valuable as the owners of the porcine snouts which are good at unearthing them!).

14a  Do well to manage school sport (4,4,4)
{ETON WALL GAME} – this is an anagram of WELL TO MANAGE and the indicator appears to be “do” (hmm). The answer is a sport which is played at only one school (yes, that one) and in which a goal is scored, on average, once every ten years. I wonder if young Dave Cameron and his chums played it?

18a  Where a thorny stem is handled confidentially (5,3,4)
{UNDER THE ROSE} – cryptic definition of a phrase meaning in secret (confidentially) from the latin sub rosa.

21a  Time of day mostly recalled by hour in city (7)
{NINEVEH} – this ancient Biblical city, in what is now Iraq, is formed by reversing the later part of the day (mostly, i.e. without its last letter) and adding H(our). The fact that the first four letters of the answer could be construed as a “time of day” is just a red herring.

23a  Fairly pale girl in grip of desire (7)
{WANNISH} – the definition is fairly pale. Put a girl’s name inside (in grip of) a synonym for desire.

24a  A name applied to weapon without much consideration (2,1,6)
{AT A GLANCE} – the definition is without much consideration or with a cursory examination. String together A, a synonym for name and a weapon used in mediaeval jousts.

25a  Epic story I cover, penning article (5)
{ILIAD} – this epic story is a long Greek poem dealing with the climax of the Trojan War. Join together I and a cover with A (article) inside (penning).

26a  Frenchman agreed to accept verse (4)
{YVES} – this male French name is formed by putting V(erse) inside an affirmative response (agreed).

27a  Not very intellectual book found in central part of stalls? (10)
{MIDDLEBROW} – if you were sitting in the tenth bank of seats in the stalls of a theatre and there were nineteen banks altogether, this is where you’d be. Put B(ook) inside and you have an adjective meaning not very intellectual.

Down Clues

1d  Bloke ignoring European murder? That’s spite (6)
{MALICE} – drop the final E (ignoring European) of the sex of a bloke and add an informal (U.S.) verb meaning to kill unlawfully (murder) to end up with a synonym for spite.

2d  Gold in Alaskan city? Not now (2,4)
{NO MORE} – put one of the standard abbreviations for gold inside this Alaskan city which has a population of 3,750 (i.e. a large village in most people’s terminology!). The definition is not now, and the answer is a phrase which implies that something once existed but has ceased to.

3d  Uprising uncommonly identified in pastoral events (8,6)
{PEASANTS’ REVOLT} – an anagram (uncommonly identified) of PASTORAL EVENTS produces a poll tax rebellion, but this one took place in 1381 and was led by Wat Tyler. The surface reading is relevant because although the rebellion was triggered by the poll tax it was really an uprising against the virtual slavery of serfdom as practised in the countryside.

4d  Brainy lot, nothing less, confounded by hard maze (9)
{LABYRINTH} – an anagram (confounded) of BRAINY L(o)T (without O, nothing less) is followed by H (hard, as in pencil) to get a maze.

5d  Drunk later today, on going out (5)
{TIGHT} – start with a time late today (even later than that in 21a) and remove (going out) the ON to leave an informal word for drunk.

7d  Return of crude force not allowed, securing good athletic contest (3-2-3)
{TUG-OF-WAR} – reverse RAW (crude), F(orce) and OUT (not allowed) and put G(ood) inside.

8d  Tour guide? Cook’s encompassing latest features of complete world route (8 )
{BAEDEKER} – the cook is a real cook (not Thomas) who specialises in bread. Inside his profession but the last letters (latest features) of the final three words and you should have the name of travel guides which have been produced since 1827.

9d  Liqueur and tisanes blended to form cocktail (7,7)
{TEQUILA SUNRISE} – a cocktail is mixed from an anagram (blended) of LIQUEUR and TISANES.

15d  Part of weapon that’s at the front, with tip of red line inscribed (9)
{ARROWHEAD} – at the front is AHEAD. Inside put R(ed) (tip of red) and another word for line.

16d  Shaking and rocking initially involved in wharf problem (8 )
{QUANDARY} – the definition is problem. Inside a synonym for wharf put an anagram (shaking) of AND the first letter (initially) of R(ocking).

17d  Attendee struggled, having no teeth (8 )
{EDENTATE} – an adjective meaning toothless is an anagram (struggled) of ATTENDEE.

19d  Councillor, namely, that is linked to King (6)
{VIZIER} – we have a clue with an all latin wordplay! Start with the usual abbreviation for the latin word videlicet (which is itself a contraction of videre licet, meaning it is permitted to see, i.e. namely) and add IE (id est) and R(ex), to get a high official (councillor) in the Ottoman Empire.

20d  Dog poster used in demonstration (6)
{SHADOW} – the definition is dog as a verb. Put the usual abbreviation for an advertising poster inside a synonym for demonstration.

22d  Chinese people call for attention in Eastern capital (5)
{HANOI} – a native Chinese person is a HAN. Add a peremptory call for attention to get the name of an Asian capital city.

The clues I liked included 13a, 24a, 27a and 9d, but my clue of the day is 3d. Let us know your opinion in a comment.

29 comments on “Toughie 296

  1. Lots of Good clues here today. My nod would go to 3d and also 13a for its simplicity.
    Failed on 8d – have never heard of them and was flummoxed by the wordplay. I have also not come across 27a – High and Low but never middle! – but it was pretty straightforward to glean.
    Overall a very enjoyable puzzle.
    Thanks for the review

  2. Nicely done puzzle by Kcit today and enjoyable without being too taxing. The only quibble I had was the anagram indicator in 14a but that’s a minor point. Many thanks for the notes and thanks to Kcit for the puzzle.

    1. Pretty subtle I agree but not so unfair. Possibly Kcit could have used ‘Play ‘ or somesuch but the surface would have suffered.

        1. Digby
          The surface or surface reading is just the wording of the clue on its own. The more sense this makes the better the surface reading, e.g. if you read the 10a clue it reads as if it’s a description of someone making advances to a couple of men in a field.

          1. You mean 10A, but I see what you’re saying (is that a mixed metaphor!?). Concerning 6A, not sure I agree with your objection, as one can always wait till a checking letter is available. Should there be a convention for this sort of reversal clue – for example, the answer always precedes the indicator word?

            1. Thanks – I’ve edited the comment now.
              On 6a, I just think that the reversal indicator should be associated with the bit that has to be reversed. Yes, you can wait for a checking letter, but I find it annoying that, having solved the clue, you can’t write in the answer.

                    1. Although it isn’t explicitly stated as such in any crossword manuals I can find, in theory at least a clue which can only be solved with a checking letter in place is flawed. The clue at 6a is a slight slip by the setter (and we’ve all done it, believe me) rather than a deliberate attempt to leave either of two possible answers.
                      Gazza’s “Make a hit…” clue is a good example of getting it right (assuming, of course, the answer was STUN!).
                      “Make a hit unexpectedly by returning” would be a clumsily inaccurate way of indicating that STUN has to be reversed – the grammar just doesn’t gel.
                      “By returning crackers”, on the other hand, is far more helpful in telling you the answer can be found “by…”.

                      One of my setting colleagues has managed to create two identical clues, each leading to a different answer, but since the answer lengths are different it’s a completely valid trick – the enumeration is, after all, a part of clue. But if those answers happened to be of the same length it could be argued that they were unfair. BTW, absolutely no idea if/when that puzzle will appear!

        2. Sorry digby, I keep forgetting Big Dave’s ‘plain English’ comment at the top of the ‘blog!
          I meant that the surface Reading would have suffered.
          This is a measure of how naturally the clue reads. More natural sounding phrases tend to be harder to break down into the required parts of definition and wordplay/cryptic indication.
          Usually I find that a ‘clunky’ Reading bit of the clue tends to point to an anagram or hidden word or some other wordplay element that the setter is trying to fit in.

          1. Thanks for the clarification, and no need for any apology. The site is very clear and friendly. Is there any worthwhile award I can nominate you for?

  3. But just remember the old chestnut gnomethang:-
    To be is to do”-Socrates;
    “To do is to be”-Sartre; ”
    To Do Be Do Be”- Do Sinatra

  4. Had a go at this today but after doing a third decided to complete with the blog and learn as I go along, thanks Gazza for the explainations

  5. Learnt a few new words and phrases tonight, so thanks for the help in the bottom left corner!

  6. Confidently put 6ac in the wrong way round and then struggled like mad but couldn’t make the NE corner fit!
    Agree with Gazza about that one.
    If 11ac had been within my grasp it would have helped a lot but I got sidetracked on Bulgaria for no sensible reason. Having “cheated”on that one the rest fell into place.
    ( Incidentally having found that I did have a copy of Chambers all the time and having several times been told “well it’s in Chambers”….I do not find that “league” on its own means sporting contest!
    Anyway, thanks to the blog there is no frustrating wait until the next day for illumination.

    1. Chris
      I think that a league is a contest in the sense that fans are always saying things like “we’re going to win the league next year”.

  7. Very enjoyable puzzle with some good clues.
    Proloxic – Anne Bradford gives “do” as anagram indicator!
    Had a bit of trouble with 8d – had Bradshaw in mind but no use so put on my Swiss thinking cap – et voilà!
    9d was ticklish – guessed the first half (tequila) but had to consult the International Drinkers Companion , Magnum to get (sunrise). There are many tequila cocktails.
    Yes the SE corner was a bit Latinised.

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