Toughie 428

Toughie No 428 by Micawber

Going for an Indian

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

I have to confess to a slight feeling of disappointment. For most Toughie setters I would have been very happy with this puzzle, but it’s a Micawber and I’ve got used to his giving us a whole host of “aha” moments. There are some in this one, but not as many as usual. Is it just me? Am I suffering a dose of seasonal affective disorder (SAD) at the imminent arrival of Autumn? Let me know what you think in a comment and please remember to click on one of the stars below to register your enjoyment rating.

Across Clues

1a  Aussie bird, one moving around Baltic capital (10)
{BUDGERIGAR} – this is not a Sheila but a real bird which originated down under. Put someone who shifts (one moving) around the capital of Latvia.

6a  Spill the beans about Blair’s leadership and his party (4)
{BLAB} – an informal verb meaning to tell all (spill the beans) is B(lair) followed by his party.

10a  Start to diet after rejecting mostly simple, old-fashioned fare (5)
{VIAND} – an archaic term for an item of food (old-fashioned fare) is made by putting the first letter of D(iet) after the reversal (rejecting) of all but the last letter (mostly) of a word meaning simple or unsophisticated.

11a  Made up word incorporating old name, Japanese or Siamese? (9)
{CONJOINED} – start with a verb meaning invented a new word and put inside it (incorporating) O(ld), N(ame) and J(apanese) to make a synonym for Siamese when applied to twins.

12a  Church painter who supported reform (8)
{CHARTIST} – an abbreviation for church and a synonym for painter combine to make a nineteenth century political reformer.

13a  Woman to pull right away (5)
{WENCH} – remove the R from a verb meaning to pull to leave a (not very PC) word for a young woman.

15a  Demonstrating terror in capacity of ruler (7)
{QUAKING} – a description of someone whose terror is evident is a charade of an adverb, from latin, meaning in the capacity of and a royal ruler.

17a  Best to choose one parent (7)
{OPTIMUM} – a simple charade produces an adjective meaning best.

19a  Hand guns to posse? Will the captain wear it? (7)
{ARMBAND} – what the captain on the pitch wears to identify his status is a charade of a verb to supply with weapons (hand guns to) and a synonym for posse.

21a  Greasy ring encircling contents — what’s point filling vessel with liquid? (7)
{SYRINGE} – we want something which has a point and which is used for injecting fluids. It’s hidden (contents) in the clue.

22a  Age of revolutionary optimism round start of century (5)
{EPOCH} – reverse (revolutionary) a synonym for optimism and put C(entury) inside to make an age.

24a  Bitter aristo said to be a dead loss (5-3)
{WRITE-OFF} – to get a dead loss we need a sound-alike (said) of wry toff (bitter aristo).

27a  Intercepted communications stirred up war I urged on both sides (9)
{EARWIGGED} – an informal verb meaning listened in to private conversations (intercepted communications) is an anagram (stirred up) of WAR followed by I inside a synonym for urged which goes round it (on both sides).

28a  Slough East social group (5)
{CASTE} – a synonym for slough (as a verb) is followed by E(ast) to make a social group in India.

29a  The ultimate footwear model (4)
{LAST} – double definition.

30a  Press-gang member of Chinese race? (6,4)
{DRAGON BOAT} – a vessel taking part in a traditional and colourful race in China could be, if redefined as (4,2,4), a phrase meaning to forcibly enlist someone as a sailor (press-gang). There’s a lovely bit of misdirection with ‘Chinese race’.

Down Clues

1d  Girls’ drink (4)
{BEVY} – double definition – a collective noun applied to various birds and often used in the alliteration-loving popular press to describe a band of beautiful bathing belles is also an informal word for an alcoholic drink.

2d  Internal division as shareholders’ meeting supports rise for salaried personnel (9)
{DIAPHRAGM} – this is a muscular partition (internal division) separating the thorax from the abdomen. Put the abbreviation for an annual shareholders’ meeting after (supports, in a down clue) a reversal (rise) of a synonym for salaried and the abbreviation of the modern name for what used to be known as the Personnel Department (although, in my experience, the change of name did little to improve their competence).

3d  Resurrected, become once more dead duck (5)
{EIDER} – this duck is a reversal (resurrected, which only works with a down clue) of a hypothetical verb meaning to become dead a subsequent time.

4d  In Chinese forecasting system, Tokyo’s capital’s bound up with yen (7)
{ITCHING} – the definition is with yen and we want a present participle meaning longing. Put the first letter of T(okyo) inside (bound up) an ancient Chinese system of divination (1,5).

5d  Uncovered, got tan, nastily coming up orangey colour (7)
{ANNATTO} – hidden (uncovered) and reversed (coming up, in a down clue) is an orange-red dye.

7d  Future leader emerging from exile (1917) (5)
{LENIN} – In 1917 this future leader returned from exile in Switzerland, travelling through wartime Germany in a sealed train. His name is hidden (emerging) in the clue, but you’ll need to spell out 1917 to find it.

8d  Be marched roughly around block at first to sleeping quarters (10)
{BEDCHAMBER} – an anagram (roughly) of BE MARCHED goes round the initial letter (at first) of B(lock).

9d  This geezer’s said to give trouble (3,5)
{HOT WATER} – a homophone (said) of geezer produces something which is a metaphor for trouble.

14d  Straightforward arrangement to give information about one like 7 (6,4)
{SQUARE DEAL} – a fair and honest arrangement is made from an informal verb meaning to inform on someone to the authorities which goes round A (one) and how someone like 7d might be described politically.

16d  Buying and selling tea with bread around south of India (2,1,5)
{IN A CHAIN} – this is where you are if you’re trying to sell your house but the prospective buyers are also trying to sell theirs, and so on. Put an Indian word for tea inside (with .. around) a type of Indian bread (which is cooked in a tandoor if it’s the real thing) and put all this after (south of, in a down clue) I(ndia).

18d  I’m not safe to be let loose on programme (9)
{MANIFESTO} – an anagram (to be let loose) of I’M NOT SAFE gives us the programme that a political party promises to enact if elected (and, to be fair, sometimes it does indeed bear a very slight resemblance to what they later do in office).

20d  Go ahead and place your bet, old lady (7)
{DOWAGER} – a widow (old lady) with a title derived from her late husband could be an exhortation to go ahead and place your bet if redefined as (2,5).

21d  Jab somewhere below ribs in celebration (7)
{SHINDIG} – this lively celebration is a jab some way below the ribs if split as (4,3).

23d  More than one monster draws blood — leading character falls (5)
{OGRES} – the definition is monsters (more than one of them). It’s a verb meaning pierces or stabs, thus drawing blood, with the initial letter falling, i.e. moving lower in a down clue.

25d  I’ve now finished sentence with period — put X against comma initially inserted (2-3)
{EX-CON} – someone who’s served his sentence is a long period of time with X and C(omma) inserted.

26d  Opening coming with no publicity (4)
{VENT} – a word meaning coming or arrival (that reminds me – it’s nearly Christmas) has a short abbreviation for publicity removed to leave an opening.

The clues I liked included 1a, 2d, 7d, 16d and 20d, but my clue of the day is 30a. Let us know what you think in a comment.


  1. Jezza
    Posted September 22, 2010 at 1:17 pm | Permalink

    I found this quite tricky, and spent far too long trying to unravel some of the wordy clues. Not one of my most enjoyable puzzles, but hopefully others derived more satisfaction than me. Thanks to Micawber, and to Gazza.

  2. crypticsue
    Posted September 22, 2010 at 1:22 pm | Permalink

    I struggled with this for a while, mainly I think because on a day when I do the hints and tips for the Cryptic, I find my little cryptic brain cells need a rest before tackling the Toughie. After a deal of cogitation, I got to the end and thought it had some lovely clues and was most enjoyable. I marked 1a, 27a and 7d, the latter being my favourite. Thanks to Micawber and Gazza. (Nice change of ‘bird’ picture for 1a :D

  3. BigBoab
    Posted September 22, 2010 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

    I quite enjoyed this puzzle but I struggled with a couple, 10a and 30a, liked 1a and 4d best, thanks to Micawber for stretching the old brain and to Gazza for the usual great review.

  4. gnomethang
    Posted September 22, 2010 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

    I found this a lot of fun and quite tricky to finish after a quick start. Last in were 1d/10a.
    Favourite clue was the excellent 2d among many.
    Thanks to gazza and Mr Micawber!

    • Franco
      Posted September 22, 2010 at 5:34 pm | Permalink

      I also found this a bit of a struggle but did about 80% unaided. Coincidentally, last in for me were also 1d/10a. Always find the 4/5 letter word solutions the most difficult.
      Thanks to setter (Micawber) and reviewer (Gazza).

  5. Prolixic
    Posted September 22, 2010 at 3:17 pm | Permalink

    Nice puzzle from Micawber. Favourite clues were 2d an 30a. I botched the top left corner by misreading 1d as Girl’s drink (must get eyes tested) and putting in Rose. Ho-hum.

    Thanks also to Gazza for an excellent review.

  6. grandsire
    Posted September 22, 2010 at 4:03 pm | Permalink

    After a good start I hit the wall. Completely stumped on almost 50%. Thanks for the explanation Gazza

  7. Digby
    Posted September 22, 2010 at 4:16 pm | Permalink

    A Trencherman’s Puzzle. Solid and reliable, but with no outstanding moments or great delicacies. Thanks M & G – I think I will go for an Indian this evening!

  8. brendam
    Posted September 22, 2010 at 6:08 pm | Permalink

    Difficult for me, got about half, then resorted to the hints. Best clue for me 24a. Thanks to Micawber and Gazza

  9. sludgebucket
    Posted September 22, 2010 at 10:33 pm | Permalink

    Very enjoyable solve. Many thanks to all involved.

  10. ChrisH
    Posted September 23, 2010 at 1:25 pm | Permalink

    A day late (as usual at the moment) but persevered and success crowned my efforts. Had to reassure myself on two clues, but much improved. Enjoyed 13a and 22a.