Toughie 392

Toughie No 392 by Notabilis

A Mohican in Barnet?

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

Notabilis has given us a thoroughly entertaining puzzle with a good sprinkling of “aha” moments. As always with Notabilis, there seem to be two stages involved in solving the puzzle – firstly finding the answers, and then for a number of clues working out why. Let me know in a comment if you enjoyed both processes as much as I did.

Across Clues

1a  Difficult to use copper extracted from fruits round Maine (10)
{CUMBERSOME} – the definition is difficult to use or awkward. Remove (extracted) the chemical symbol for copper from salad ingredients that we tend not to think of as fruits (but they are), and finish with O (round) and the standard abbreviation for the State of Maine.

6a  Missile launch position held by Pinochet (4)
{OCHE} – the line from which missiles are launched in a pub game is camouflaged (held) in the name of the nasty old dictator.

10a  Dip in dance (5)
{SALSA} – double definition.

11a  Prickly shrub about to ramble, one becoming rank (9)
{BRIGADIER} – put a prickly shrub (a wild rose, for example) around a verb meaning to wander around idly (ramble) in pursuit of pleasure and I (one) to get a senior army rank.

12a  In desperate need of way out, perhaps involving bad trip (4-4)
{DIRT-POOR} – a term meaning destitute or in desperate need is a way out (perhaps indicating that it can also be a way in) around (involving) an anagram (bad) of TRIP.

13a  Finished last of work for each set (5)
{KAPUT} – a word from German meaning broken or finished is made by stringing together the last letter of worK, A (for each, as in 50p a pound) and a synonym for set.

15a  British government almost keeps world’s financiers topped up (7)
{BRIMFUL} – the definition is topped up. Start with B(ritish) and follow with a synonym for government without its last E (almost), then inside this (keeps) put the abbreviation of an international financial institution.

17a  Put one’s foot down, having run rum drunk by cardinal (7)
{TRODDEN} – we want the past participle of a verb meaning to set one’s foot down. It’s constructed by putting R (run, in cricket) and a synonym for rum or strange inside (drunk by) a two-digit cardinal number.

19a  After ‘Cheers’, drank extravagantly — from this? (7)
{TANKARD} – this semi-all-in-one clue leads to a drinking vessel. An anagram (extravagantly) of DRANK goes after an informal word for ‘cheers’ or thanks.

21a  Publishing company, such as backed egg producer (7)
{FABERGÉ} – I love “egg producer” as the definition of the famous Russian jeweller who made intricate and ornate Easter eggs for the Romanovs. Start with the name of a book publisher (the word is repeated in its full title) best known for publishing poetry and add the abbreviation for “such as” reversed (backed).

22a  Discard last of suit without caution (5)
{TRASH} – a verb meaning to discard is made from the last letter of suiT followed by an adjective meaning without caution or impetuous.

24a  Perversely cross, in a stupid state (8)
{NARCOSIS} – stupid here is being used in the sense of dazed or numb rather than foolish. The answer is an anagram (perversely) of CROSS IN A.

27a  Anger about formerly screened copper ring, over rust (4,5)
{IRON OXIDE} – the formerly screened copper refers to the PC from Dock Green nick who featured in a long-running TV series. Reverse (over) his surname plus O (ring) and put this inside a synonym for anger to get the ‘proper’ name for rust. Don’t you love the use of screened?

28a  Upper leg temperature above normal (5)
{THIGH} – the definition is upper leg. Combine T(emperature) and an adjective meaning above average.

29a  Descended from Louis XIV but not in forefront of government (4)
{SUNK} – the definition is descended. Louis XIV of France was known as “le roi soleil”. Take the English translation and remove (not) IN and the first letter (forefront) of G(overnment).

30a  Swiss capital in banking centre, withdrawn after chapter of automated controls (10)
{CYBERNETIC} – in a nice bit of double-bluff what we need here really is the capital of Switzerland and not the letter S. Put its name inside the term for the “square mile” in London which is the financial centre which has to be reversed (withdrawn) and then precede the whole lot with C(hapter).

Down Clues

1d  Cooper’s work, ‘The Last of the Mohicans’, in unfinished cover (4)
{CASK} – ignore the attempted misdirection towards James Fenimore Cooper. What we want is the product of a cooper. Put the last letter of MohicanS inside a verb meaning to cover or encrust without its final E.

2d  What could be valid applied to one occupying island? (9)
{MALDIVIAN} – this is a sort of all-in-one which doesn’t work terribly well for me. Put an anagram (could be) of VALID followed by I (one) inside (occupying) one island to get a description (or the language) of a set of islands in the Indian Ocean.

3d  Precisely detailed edges of tunic cut up (5)
{EXACT} – put together the outer letters (edges) of T(uni)C and a verb to cut and reverse the lot (up, in a down clue) to make an adjective meaning precisely detailed.

4d  Lends money to fuel Underground feature (7)
{SUBSOIL} – a charade of an informal verb meaning lends money to and a source of fuel gives us something under the surface (underground feature, ignoring the false capitalisation).

5d  Source of deductions in French rate – I’m worried about grand (7)
{MAIGRET} – an anagram (worried) of RATE I’M around G(rand) gives us the name of the fictional detective (source of deductions, excellent) in the stories (written in French) by Georges Simenon.

7d  Wave or fringe in Communist Party (5)
{CRIMP} – insert a fringe or edge inside C(ommunist) P(arty) to get a verb meaning to put waves into someone’s hair using curling tongs.

8d  Engineered route with one French and English line (10)
{EUROTUNNEL} – a clever all-in-one. This is an anagram (engineered) of ROUTE followed by the French masculine indefinite article, N (and, as in fish ‘n chips), E(nglish) and L(ine).

9d  British jeer taxi going north, to tease Barnet? (4-4)
{BACK-COMB} – Barnet fair is Cockney rhyming slang for hair and we want a phrasal verb meaning to arrange the hair to make it look thicker (the alternative, mainly American, verb to do this is to tease it). Start with B(ritish) and add a verb to jeer and a synonym for taxi, then reverse the lot (going north, in a down clue).

14d  Programming language in obsolete computer game that deals with spawning processes? (10)
{OBSTETRICS} – start with an abbreviation for obsolete and add C (a programmimg language) inside a computer game requiring hand-eye co-ordination beyond my capabilities to get the branch of medicine that deals with pregnancy and childbirth (spawning processes). The reason that the surface reading is so good is that spawning is a term used in programming to initiate a secondary process.

16d  American jerk among fat group making a scene in public (5,3)
{FLASH MOB} – I’d never heard of this term which means a group of people who come together (often they do not know each other, the meeting having been arranged on the internet) to act out something pointless, often surreal, and then go their separate ways. Put an American word, from Yiddish, for a jerk or fool inside a synonym for fat (which Terry Wogan used to fight).

18d  In race, victory is based on successful adaptation? (9)
{DARWINIST} – inside a verb meaning to race put a synonym for victory and IS to get an adjective meaning relating to the theory of evolution (based on successful adaption).

20d  Daughter also provided that yen to dress up (7)
{DANDIFY} – a verb meaning to dress someone up in an elaborate way is a long charade of D(aughter), a conjunction meaning also, another conjunction meaning providing that and, finally, Y(en).

21d  Nor’easter regularly overlooked by distant islander (7)
{FAROESE} – put the even (regularly) letters of nOr’EaStEr after (overlooked by, in a down clue) a synonym for distant to get a native of a group of islands half-way between Scotland and Iceland.

23d  Tree fruit topping for any cereal (5)
{ACORN} – the fruit of one particular tree is the first letter (topping) of A(ny) followed by a cereal crop.

25d  Playwright to use other words with style (5)
{ORTON} – string together a conjunction used to link possibilities (to use other words) and a word, from French, meaning style or fashion to get the surname of a twentieth century English playwright, the author of a number of black comedies including “Loot” and “Entertaining Mr Sloane”.

26d  Elements of carbohydrate, cold and sweet (4)
{CHOC} – put together the chemical symbols of the elements which make up carbohydrates and add C(old).

I liked too many clues to list them all, but they include 12a, 21a, 27a, 5d and 14d, with my favourite being 29a. Let us know what you think in a comment!


  1. Jezza
    Posted July 21, 2010 at 12:25 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I managed about 80 per cent without too much trouble, but needed a little help with a few; 14d, 16d, 29a, and 30a.
    Not too keen on the ‘N’ for AND in 8d (fish ‘n chips), other than that, very enjoyable. Thanks to Notabilis, and to Gazza.

  2. Posted July 21, 2010 at 12:45 pm | Permalink | Reply

    An absolute peach of a puzzle with much to commend it.

    Thanks to Notabilis, and of course to Gazza for the excellent blog.

  3. crypticsue
    Posted July 21, 2010 at 1:37 pm | Permalink | Reply

    A real proper toughie and no mistake. I managed all but 3 without resorting to the blog although I did need Gazza’s helpful explanations for some clues which I had the solution but didn’t know why! 5d was my favourite. Thanks Notabilis for the challenge and Gazza for the explanations.

  4. Posted July 21, 2010 at 1:42 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I failed to finish in the SE corner and a couple of clue hints allowed me to fill in the rest.
    27a was clue of the day for me for the “formerly screened copper ring” – Superb!
    Thoroughly enjoyed this one. Thanks to Notabilis and to gazza for the review.

  5. Pommette
    Posted July 21, 2010 at 2:38 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Tricky little rasca! Thanks Gazza for help on a few. The only one I still don’t undertan is 25d. My French being pants I can’t work out the last part!

    • gazza
      Posted July 21, 2010 at 2:45 pm | Permalink | Reply

      The playwright’s surname is OR (in other words) + TON (style or fashion)

  6. Digby
    Posted July 21, 2010 at 2:47 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Needed lots of help, Gazza, for which VMT. 27a must be a contender for “Clue of the Month”. If we don’t have such a thing, perhaps we should – BD?

  7. brendam
    Posted July 21, 2010 at 2:54 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Far too deep for me! Got a basic few but by far the majority from Gazza’z clues, thank you Once I had the answer I could appreciate the cleverness of the clues.

  8. Pommers
    Posted July 21, 2010 at 3:30 pm | Permalink | Reply

    That was a TOUGHIE ! Finally completed it with a few of Gazza’s hints, we would never have got the lot without help.
    Agree with Gnomethang about 27a – definitely clue of the day. We got that one ‘cos Pommete said “You’re the chemist, what is rust”? “Iron oxide” I said. “That’s the answer then but why”? Took a mo to work it out!
    Thanks to Notabilis and to Gazza for the much needed help on this one.

    • crypticsue
      Posted July 21, 2010 at 4:03 pm | Permalink | Reply

      I usually read the paper first but didn’t do so properly because of having to review the Cryptic – shame because there’s an article about policing with the PC’s name in the headline in quite large type! Phil the Ed is right about all the words in the puzzle appearing in the paper in the last year or so, today in the same paper!

  9. Prolixic
    Posted July 21, 2010 at 3:41 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Oh this was good, very good. Top notch for difficulty and enertainment value. Many thanks to Notabilis for the treat and to Gazza for the review. There were times when I thought the hints would be needed but hung on in there and did not need them!

  10. Anna Gramme
    Posted July 22, 2010 at 10:33 am | Permalink | Reply

    You are such a brainy lot!
    I managed to complete the crossword, but needed Gazza’s explanations of at least half the answers. I had put ‘flash lot’ instead of ‘flash mob’ – surprisingly my other guesses were right.

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