Toughie 313

Toughie No 313 by Firefly

Swimming in Treacle

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

This took a long time to solve, but there was little pleasure to be derived from the puzzle itself or the Nina. Usually when I struggle to finish a puzzle, I get that “wow” moment with a number of the clues, but not today.

The preamble promised much but by the time I had realised what it meant all of the answers had been filled in. If you are still puzzled the double unches are sort of (but not fully) symmetrical. Around the outside you have UT then KE and finally EA.

Leave a comment telling us what you thought. You can also add your assessment by selecting from one to five stars at the bottom of the post.


Note: Throughout the puzzle 1, 10, 17ac show symmetrical similarities

Across

1a    Novices cute when off on the trot (11)
{CONSECUTIVE} – an anagram (when off) of NOVICES CUTE give a word meaning on the trot

9a    Keep close when retreating round edges of Languedoc valley (5)
{GULCH} – HUG (keep close) reversed around LC (edges of LanguedoC) gives a valley

10a    Given full rein, Navratilova’s said to wear a French dress initially (9)
{UNCHECKED} – a word meaning given full rein comes from CHECK (Czech / Navratilova’s said) inside (to wear) UNE (a French) and D (Dress initially)

11a    Mast down, search party’s launched for sailor … (7)
{YACHTER} – take spar (mast) away from (S)EARCH (PAR)TY and then find an anagram (launched) of what’s left to get this sailor

12a    … mast finally OK, Mr Dennis is animated (8)
{SPARKLES} – put the mast that was removed from the last clue in here and follow it with K (finally OK) and Mr LES Dennis to get a word meaning is animated

14a    Kindly spend a pound (when you get it) for green container (8)
{PEASECOD} – take the L out of P(L)EASE (kindly spend a pound) and follow it with COD (pay when you get it) for a green container (for peas)

15a    Gosh! Duke’s in nothings! (4)
{ODSO} – one of those words that I have never seen or heard apart from crosswords is derived from D’S (Duke’s) inside O O (nothings)

17a    Rector’s put in to settle faulty scholarship (7)
{LETTERS} – put R(ector) inside an anagram (faulty) of SETTLE to get a scholarship

19a    A case for contributing to the Tuileries (4)
{ETUI} – Crosswordland’s ubiquitous needle case is hidden inside the Tuileries

20a    Whale of a time over in an EEC country, initially touring (8)
{CETACEAN} – one of the order of aquatic mammals that includes the whales is derived by putting A T(ime) reversed (over) inside an anagram (touring) of AN EEC C (Country, initially)

21a    Ships lots of oil round mid-September (8)
{GALLEONS} – to get these ships, put GALLONS of oil around E (mid-SeptEmber)

23a    Difficulty expressing a concept is a setback in star with no Latin (7)
{APHASIA} – a word meaning the inability to express thought in words is derived from IS A reversed (setback) inside A(L)PHA (star with no Latin) –I’m finding it difficult to express my thoughts about this clue in words, so I won’t bother

25a    With the first idle question egghead revealed point of schemata (9)
{SKELETONS} – (A)SK (question, with the first letter idle) E (egghead) LET ON (revealed) ans S(outh) (point) lead to these schemata or diagrammatic outlines

26a    British eccentric backing prince from Penang (5)
{TUNKU} – UK (British) NUT (eccentric) reversed (backing) give this prince from Penang – even the Spanish lads that I worked with a couple of years ago understood that Britain was part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, but that the reverse was not true

27a    Maybe the ‘Spey’ crew welcomes crush on steamer? (5,6)
{TROUT STREAM} – the Spey valley in Scotland is the second best Whisky producing area in Scotland (and the world), but the river is also good for fishing – start with TEAM (crew) and put inside (welcomes) ROUT (crush) and STR (steamer) -–by the way, the best area is the isle of Islay

Down

2d    Be honest — might this mean ‘Down with leaders of new world order’? (3,2)
{OWN UP} – a phrasal verb meaning to be honest is created by reversing the initial letters of New World Order (NWO up)

3d    Horse caught prancing with Zulu — that’s lively! (7)
{SCHERZO} – an anagram (prancing) of HORSE C(aught) and Z(ulu) gives a lively busy movement in triple time

4d    Shells from what sounds like male crab found on shelved area regularly (8)
{COCHLEAE} – these spiral-shaped shells are built up as COC (sounds like cock, a male crab) and then the even letters (regularly) of shelved area

5d    Nervous leader tumbling in race (4)
{INDY} – take the first letter (tumbling) away from (W)INDY (nervous) to get a motor race

6d    Urge on investigations into pre-natal cover-ups? (3,5)
{EGG CASES} – a charade of EGG (urge) and CASES (investigations) gives these pre-natal cover-ups

7d    Disaster in Salt Lake City? Say no more — not to be entered without prior arrangement (3-6)
{ALL-TICKET} – an anagram (disaster) of (SA)LT LAKE CIT(Y) without SAY (say no more) gives an event that is not to be entered without prior arrangement

8d    Undoubtedly, as we hear, cook suited for land jobs (5,6)
{SHORE DUTIES} – start with SHORE (sounds like sure / as we say undoubtedly) and then add an anagram (cook) of SUITED to get these land jobs

12d    Outdoor skills take Signal Corps seawards on carbon floats (11)
{SCOUTCRAFTS} – can you pluralise these outdoor skills? – SC (Signal Corps) OUT (seawards) C(arbon) and RAFTS

13d    Hawking without a bit of training can be vexing (7)
{SPITING} – SPIT(T)ING (hawking) without the T (a bit of Training) gives a word meaning vexing

16d    Describing one of ‘Three Ships’ in carol? (9)
{SKETCHING} – a word meaning describing is created by putting KETCH (ship) inside to SING (to carol)

17d    Light unit reportedly being on sale is fortunate (5,3)
{LUCKS OUT} – LUCKS (sounds like lux / light unit) and OUT (on sale) leads to an American phrase that means has a run of good luck (or the opposite over here!)

18d    Pleasurable new pub’s lacking older tipples (4,4)
{REAL ALES} – an anagram (new) of (P)LEAS(U)RA(B)LE without the letters of PUB (pub’s lacking) gives these older tipples

19d    Constituent of power on the Hill? (7)
{ELECTOR} – someone who is part of the electorate in a constituency is built up from ELEC(tricity) (power) and TOR (hill)

22d    Some man in Japan’s a killer (5)
{NINJA} – hidden inside (some) man in Japan is a killer

24d    Punishment for raising mobs alleviated somewhat (4)
{ASBO} – and this punishment is also hidden inside (somewhat) mobs alleviated but reversed (raising) this time

If it wasn’t for the fact that we have a dishwasher, I would rather have volunteered to do the washing up than to do this puzzle.

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27 Comments

  1. Jezza
    Posted March 4, 2010 at 3:48 pm | Permalink

    I could not get my head around some of these today. I could not finish it, and not sure it was worth the slog! Thanks BD for the explanations.

  2. Charles Seager
    Posted March 4, 2010 at 3:50 pm | Permalink

    Agree wholeheartedly.

    I would never get odso in a month of Sundays.

    • Posted March 4, 2010 at 3:55 pm | Permalink

      It has come up previously in T 148, T 180 and T 290

      • Jezza
        Posted March 4, 2010 at 4:03 pm | Permalink

        Funnily enough, that was probably my quickest solve… not because I know the word, but as you say, because of it’s use in crossword puzzles!

  3. Libellule
    Posted March 4, 2010 at 3:59 pm | Permalink

    Dave,
    Got just over three quarters of this and gave up. So appreciate the effort you made to do the blog.

  4. Posted March 4, 2010 at 4:00 pm | Permalink

    27a Depends whether you prefer Laphroig or Macallans. They both have a place on our sideboard, but Glenmorangie comes first for me. As to the the puzzle, I couldn’t agree more BD. Spent ages on the last 4 clues (14a, 15a,12d, 20a) before reverting to your guidance. Now I feel like I wasted my time!! 1* for enjoyment.

    • Posted March 4, 2010 at 4:04 pm | Permalink

      Digby

      They both have a place on our sideboard, but they are behind the Lagavulin, Bowmore and Bunnahabhain, to name but three.

      • Libellule
        Posted March 4, 2010 at 5:37 pm | Permalink

        Laphroig, Bunnahabhain and Highland Park for me!

      • BigBoab
        Posted March 4, 2010 at 7:16 pm | Permalink

        Up here we say “Whisky is like women, there’s nae sic thing as a bad yin but some are a wee bitty better than others” I gave up on the crossword a long time ago. Thanks Dave for the explanations but even with them I would still have struggled.

        • BigBoab
          Posted March 4, 2010 at 7:56 pm | Permalink

          I should have added, my own personal favourites are Tamnavulin 12 year old or better stil Balvennie Portwood 21 year old, wonderful!

  5. Prolixic
    Posted March 4, 2010 at 4:06 pm | Permalink

    I had completely the opposite experience – moderately tough but fairly enjoyable! After a slow(ish) start I hit Firefly’s wavelength and the clues fell into place relatively easily with very little in terms of unresolved wordplay. As I solved the key clues early on, I twigged that the letters in the double unches repeated around the grid and that may have helped. Personally it was not a ***** star for me, but I may just have been lucky in fitting in with the clues today

    As there have been complaints from some about double unches, it was kind of Firefly to acknowledge this with the NINA though I was expecting something a little more exciting from the preamble in the puzzle!

    Many thanks to Firefly and thanks to BD for the notes, particularly 23a!

    • Posted March 4, 2010 at 4:17 pm | Permalink

      OK, someone has to ask – what’s a NINA (apart from Frederick’s singing partner)

      • Prolixic
        Posted March 4, 2010 at 4:24 pm | Permalink

        Rather than spell it all out there is a good explanation here:

        http://bigdave44.com/2009/10/01/dt-26044/

        • Posted March 4, 2010 at 4:30 pm | Permalink

          Well thanks for this, and to Ms. Hirschfeld for her legacy.One is never too old, or clever, to stop learning!!

  6. gnomethang
    Posted March 4, 2010 at 4:17 pm | Permalink

    I got to about 90% quite quickly, having sorted the NINA out. Resolved the rest at lunh and found a couple of mistakes. I would agree with Prolixic that I thought it was quite enjoyable.
    18d and 16d were favourite for me and I enjoyed the wordplays that required exclusions from the anagram fodder.
    Thanks for the review BD.

  7. gazza
    Posted March 4, 2010 at 4:33 pm | Permalink

    I think that the enjoyment one gets from a puzzle depends a lot on the circumstances in which the puzzle is solved. I came to this one after the Cryptic (which, to put it bluntly, I thought was dire) and virtually anything after that would have been enjoyable. The nina did actually help me to solve a couple of the clues.

  8. ranger
    Posted March 4, 2010 at 4:48 pm | Permalink

    found this very hard going, I think because the firt 2 I got were 10a 17a and then 18d so I got it fixed in my head that the letters were reflected withinthe answers and even after getting 1a couldnot shake it!

  9. Chris
    Posted March 4, 2010 at 4:54 pm | Permalink

    Bang down to earth after two straightforward toughies. Mind you I made it harder by putting in ODDS instead of ODSO…..as in “odds bodikins” (God’s Body) and have since discovered that it has only the one D!
    Anyway managed about two thirds of the whole thing and never would have reache 26ac 12 ac or 17d with out the blog ….so thankyou.

  10. the_chairman
    Posted March 4, 2010 at 5:05 pm | Permalink

    Not my sort of thing at all – I suppose it’s like musical tastes. This one was like being forced to listen to several hours of gangsta rap or modern jazz.. Managed about two-thirds before recourse to BDs tips and hints. I shouldn’t have moaned about today’s Cryptic, really – and I just renewed my subsciption to ScrewedUp last week…..
    Tempted to look today’s offering from the Grauniad – it’s online, interactive and FREE.

    • gazza
      Posted March 4, 2010 at 5:11 pm | Permalink

      … and it’s by Brendan (our Sunday Setter, Virgilius) and it’s very good!

      • gnomethang
        Posted March 4, 2010 at 5:43 pm | Permalink

        I’m just starting it on the train home along with the Times!

      • the_chairman
        Posted March 4, 2010 at 6:01 pm | Permalink

        Agreed – I’ve just finished it. Best of the day, by far – and he even gives himself a mention in 22a.

        • gnomethang
          Posted March 4, 2010 at 6:32 pm | Permalink

          And in 10/3. A previous clue of his was ‘Me and my dog (5,6)’
          I’m not quite finished yet.

  11. Bellringer
    Posted March 4, 2010 at 5:24 pm | Permalink

    Whilst the cryptic may have been a bit mundane this was beyond me even after seeing the answers I was befudled. Perhaps it was too much of the comments of 27a last night.

  12. Gill
    Posted March 4, 2010 at 7:46 pm | Permalink

    Well. I couldn’t answer three of the clues with any sense. I now understand 12d and 26a but am still bemused by 15a, even though I guessed the answer. I heard the word somewhere in a previous life. Good challenge though.

  13. Derek
    Posted March 5, 2010 at 9:54 am | Permalink

    Quite a hard one – I began late last night (in bed) but fell asleep so finished it in the early hours of this morning.
    I liked 10a, 14a, 20a & 26a. 4d, 8d, 12d & 18d.
    You are absolutely right BD re the Isle of Islay and its uisge beatha products but I also have a soft spot for Talisker from the Winged Isle! I used to import malt whisky into NL for a certain organisation some years ago. My late mother used to cure her colds with Laphroaig!

    • gnomethang
      Posted March 5, 2010 at 10:02 am | Permalink

      //My late mother used to cure her colds with Laphroaig!//

      Always worth a try!. If it doesn’t work straight away simply increase the dosage.