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Toughie 444

Toughie No 444 by Notabilis

Hints and tips by Gazza

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

We don’t often get Notabilis on a Wednesday and I don’t think that this one is quite as fiendish as he can sometimes be, but it’s a good workout with some very enjoyable clues. Please give us your views in a comment and remember to click on one of the stars below to indicate your enjoyment of the puzzle.

Across Clues

1a  Attach a bike seat housing if turning very healthy (3,2,1,6)
{FIT AS A FIDDLE} – we want a phrase which originally meant as suitable as a musical instrument but which has evolved to mean bursting with health. Start with a phrase meaning to attach a bicycle seat and insert (housing) IF reversed (turning).

8a  Hound having its middle hugged by ship’s officer (7)
{PURSUER} – put the middle letter of hoUnd inside an officer who looks after the housekeeping on board a passenger ship to make someone who chases the hare in the game of hare and hounds.

9a  Place name of cat on either side of horse (7)
{TOPONYM} – put a male cat around (on either side of) a small horse to make a place name, especially one derived from a geographical feature, for example Ilfracombe (see 22d for the geographical feature).

11a  Possible infestation on tea cup (7)
{CHALICE} – place parasitic insects (possible infestation) after (on) an informal word for tea to make the wine cup used in church ritual. When this word featured on DIY COW our very own Prolixic won with “Apparently such a licence may be held by a vicar? (7)” – how do you think the clues compare?

12a  Combination of factors for channel (7)
{PRODUCT} – what you end up with when you multiply two or more numbers (factors) is a charade of a prefix meaning for and a synonym for channel.

13a  Attack succeeded against marines (5)
{STORM} – a verb meaning to attack a position in order to capture it is made from S(ucceeded) (in a genealogical sense), another word for against (for example in the phrase “a threat against our democracy”) and the abbreviation for the Royal Marines.

14a  Amphibian, for one, trimmed marsh plant somewhat (2,1,6)
{TO A DEGREE} – the definition is somewhat. Start with a tailless amphibian and add an abbreviation meaning for one or for example, then finish with a marsh plant that has lost its final D (trimmed).

16a  Back cut into cubes in surreal nude, floating (9)
{UNDECIDED} – we want an adjective meaning floating, like a voter who can’t make up his mind where to put his ‘X’. Reverse (back) a verb meaning divided food into cubes and put it inside an anagram (surreal) of NUDE.

19a  Composer regularly sampled melodious Mozart (5)
{LISZT} – we’re used to seeing regularly meaning every other character, but in this case it’s every third character that we have to sample from melodious Mozart to make a composer who was bracketed with Brahms in yesterday’s Cryptic.

21a  Beat deception, ignoring the end of scriptures (7)
{TANTRIC} – the definition is “of scriptures”, i.e. relating to Hindu and Buddhist sacred texts. Combine a verb meaning to beat or spank and a deception without its final K (ignoring the end).

23a  Granny left overwhelmed by occasional attention (3,4)
{OLD DEAR} – an informal, affectionate term for a lady who’s getting on a bit (granny) is L(eft) surrounded (overwhelmed) by a synonym for occasional, finishing with a word for attention as called for by Mark Antony.

24a  See one in total heaven (7)
{ELYSIUM} – we want a favoured place (heaven) to which the gods conveyed heroes after their death according to Greek mythology. Start with the name of a bishopric (see) in Cambridgeshire and follow this with I (one) inside a total.

25a  Old instrument reduced desires for architect (7)
{LUTYENS} – the name of a prolific British architect is constructed from an old musical instrument minus its final letter (reduced) followed by a synonym for desires.

26a  Philosopher isn’t tweeting willy-nilly (12)
{WITTGENSTEIN} – this Austrian-born twentieth century philosopher is an anagram (willy-nilly?) of ISN’T TWEETING.

Down Clues

1d  Most of litter involves a good mess (7)
{FARRAGO} – insert (involves) A and G(ood) inside a verb meaning to give birth to piglets without its final W. You should now have a word meaning a confused mixture (good mess).

2d  Man going round ancient city represents … this? (7)
{TOURISM} – a semi-all-in-one. Put a man’s abbreviated name (we met him in another guise in 9a) around the usual ancient Biblical city and a verb meaning represents.

3d  Overfilled round made tie frustrating to some extent (9)
{SURFEITED} – hidden (to some extent) and reversed (round) in the clue is a past participle meaning overfilled.

4d  Shooter’s setting peacock about stone (1-4)
{F-STOP} – put another word for a vain person (peacock) around the abbreviation of stone to get a setting on the equipment which someone doing a shoot might use.

5d  Disapprove of waving red pole (7)
{DEPLORE} – an anagram (waving) of RED POLE.

6d  Frequent aspect of lolling on a rug, limply? (7)
{LANGUOR} – this is an all-in-one clue. The aspect of lolling which occurs frequently (three times to be precise) is the letter L. Add an anagram (limply) of ON A RUG.

7d  Tempi in start of sea shanty let loose in long-distance vessel (5,7)
{SPACE SHUTTLE} – we want a long-distance vessel, owned by NASA. Put another word for speeds (tempi) between the first letter (start) of S(ea) and a shanty and finish with an anagram (loose) of LET.

10d  Humanitarian marks different time before Serbia evacuated (6,6)
{MOTHER TERESA} – this female humanitarian is made from pasting together the abbreviation for the previous German currency (marks), a synonym for different, T(ime), a word meaning before and the outer letters (evacuated) of S(erbi)A.

15d  Lion tamer with functions including head of circus (9)
{ANDROCLES} – we want the name of a Roman slave who was spared in the arena by a lion which he had previously helped, according to a play by Shaw and a later film. Start with a linking word (with) and follow this with a synonym for functions with the first letter (head) of C(ircus) inside.

17d  Victoria’s honest duke with black report of Stainer (5-2)
{DINKY-DI} – this is a term meaning honest or straight as used in Victoria (i.e. in Australia). Start with D(uke) and add a synonym of black and a sound-alike (report) of something used to stain. I can’t see what the surface reading is getting at – there was a famous Victorian organist and composer called Sir John Stainer who, when young, sang at the funeral of the Duke of Wellington, but that doesn’t explain “black report”.

18d  Hornblower from the Navy happens to fill function (7)
{CORNIST} – you’re meant to think of Hornblower as the naval hero of several books by C.S. Forester, but what we actually want here is an old word for someone who plays the horn or cornet. I can’t find it in Chambers but it is in Webster’s revised unabridged dictionary of 1913. It comes from the abbreviation for the Royal Navy and a verb meaning happens inside (to fill) the abbreviation of the cotangent function in mathematics.

19d  Short message about a daughter who’s hardly ladylike (7)
{LADETTE} – this is a hard-drinking girl who behaves in a boisterous fashion. Put a written message without its final R (short) around A and D(aughter).

20d  The woman lived in a bootlegger’s place (7)
{SHEBEEN} – an unlicensed establishment selling alcohol (bootlegger’s place) is constructed from a feminine pronoun (the woman) and a synonym for lived.

22d  Search bottom of Loire Valley (5)
{COMBE} – a verb meaning to search methodically is followed by the last letter (bottom, in a down clue) of (Loir)E to make a short deep valley on a hillside or coastline.

The clues I liked included 23a, 24a, 6d and 15d, but my favourite today is 12a. Let us know what you think in a comment.

21 comments on “Toughie 444

  1. Now that’s what I call a Toughie, even allowing for interrupted solving – they will keep asking me to work! Lots of wonderful clues – hard to pick a favourite but I think I will pick 17d as its an expression I haven’t heard for years and I was very pleased when I got it. Thanks Notabilis for the wonderful brain stretching fun and to Gazza for the review.

  2. 24a and 26a were among my favourites but as usual with Notabilis there are many lovely and devious clues which, when resolved, regularly bring a smile and a feeling of great satisfaction.

    Re 17d I parsed it as D(uke) + INKY (black) and a homophone (report) of DYE. The phrase is antipodean slang (e.g. from Victoria) similar to ‘Fair Dinkum’
    Not often I get one over on our gazza! ;)
    Many thanks to him and to Notabilis

    1. On 17d that’s pretty much what I wrote, so I agree. :D
      My doubt was about what the surface reading was getting at.

        1. I would imagine you have to be fully fit and at the height of your cryptic powers to get one over on Gazza – you could blame all that cold cure stuff you are consuming with your cups of tea :D

      1. D (Duke) INKY (black) DI (report of stainer / dye). Thanks for the help, Gazza, with about 8 of the others, Notabilisly 3d and 16a.

        1. The bit I need the help on, Digby, is what is the significance of duke/Stainer in the surface reading (not the wordplay). I’m beginning to wish I’d never mentioned it. :D

  3. This was too tough for me today, and I needed the expert wisdom of gazza to fill in the blanks!
    Thanks to Notabilis for the enjoyable struggle, and to gazza for the help!

  4. I agree this was tougher than expected for a Wednesday. After first read through I only had 5d filled in! Luckily that helped to solve 1a & the rest followed on from there. Brought up short with 17d,18d & 26a as I hadn’t heard of any of these but working on clues produced answers. Enjoyable & satisfying puzzle. Thanks Notabilis & Gazza.

  5. Seemed I was doing OK but then I got completely stuck in bottom left hand corner. I didn’t initially get the surface reading of 21a, but seeing the explanation I realise my “trounce” being con (deception) and ture (end of scripture) was completely daft and thus why nothing else fitted. Oh well. Thanks to notabilis and Gazza

  6. Highly enjoyable workout from Notabilis today. Seeing one of his puzzles on a Wednesday is something of a shock to the system but this was not quite as tricky as some of his crosswords. Many thans to him and to Gazza for the review. 26a and 19d were among my favourite clues.

  7. Far too tough for me today and abandoned with only about 1/4 completed and less than that fully understood!
    Many thanks to Gazza for the enlightenment.

  8. Superb crossword from Notablis, even if I did need help with 17d and 26a. Thanks Gazza for the assistance and Notablis for the great crossword.

  9. Not my cup of tea, thank you!! Completely lost apart from about 6 clues. Sorry Notabilis!

  10. i guessed 18d but couldn’t find it in Chambers (very old edition). The same with 17d and I’m pretty sure I’ve never heard the expression. Apart from these just about the right level of difficulty for me.

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