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Toughie 448

Toughie No 448 by Excalibur

There’s Good News and ….

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BD Rating – Difficulty ***Enjoyment **

I’ve not reviewed one of Excalibur’s puzzles for some time and the good news is that this is nowhere near as poor as some that we had last year. On the other hand we still get a number of clues where the wordplay is backwards and some where the surface reading doesn’t make any sense. I progressed through it at a rate of knots before getting stuck for ages in the SE corner.
Your views are welcome, as always, and please remember to grade the puzzle by clicking on one of the stars below.

Across Clues

7a  Ages in same awful, awful rut (7)
{MATURES} – inside an anagram (awful) of SAME put another anagram (awful) of RUT.

8a  Funny business: false claim (7)
{COMICAL} – an adjective meaning funny starts with an abbreviation for a business and this is followed by an anagram (false) of CLAIM.

10a  What allowed the gunman to shoot and get away? (4,6)
{FIRE ESCAPE} – this is a semi-all-in-one. We want a verb meaning to shoot followed by another verb meaning to get away or flee.

11a  Opening with key, watch in surprise (4)
{GAPE} – start with an opening and add a musical key.

12a  Let out, airs interior for occupant (8)
{RESIDENT} – the definition is occupant. We need a verb meaning to let out or allow another person to use one’s property in return for payment, then inside this (interior) put a synonym for airs or a boastful, arrogant manner.

14a  Tell of 506 trapped in sea disaster (6)
{ADVISE} – a number like 506 in the clue can only mean that a Roman numeral is wanted. Put it inside (trapped in) an anagram (disaster) of SEA.

15a  Then I’m potentially a ruler to be (2,3,6)
{IN THE MAKING} – the definition here is hidden at the end of the clue, i.e. to be. We want an anagram (potentially) of THEN I’M, then add A and a royal ruler.

19a  One before the Maker (6)
{FORMER} – double definition. The use of Maker here is a bit odd, given the answer to the previous clue.

20a  Send by special post — express (8)
{REGISTER} – double definition, with express being a verb meaning to convey an idea or opinion.

22a  Nick, wake up! (4)
{STIR} – double definition.

23a  Was obviously tired when left at one’s destination (7,3)
{DROPPED OFF} – another double definition.

25a  Having been willing to try, sampled (7)
{TESTATE} – this is an old chestnut. It’s a charade of a verb to try or experiment followed by a verb meaning sampled or tasted.

26a  Sensible Party are to rock and roll (7)
{REALIST} – the capitalised Party is an attempt to mislead – the party that we want is a person who is sensible and accepts things as they are. It’s an anagram (to rock) of ARE followed by a verb meaning to heel over (applied to a ship). I don’t think that this means the same as to roll. a noun meaning a roll, as in Electoral Roll (Thanks to myops for the correction).

Down Clues

1d  Taxi at one ten returns for ministers (7)
{CABINET} – a synonym for taxi is followed by I (one) and TEN reversed (returns).

2d  Melt together — put out the lights! (4)
{FUSE} – double definition, although there’s a considerable overlap.

3d  ‘Renter’ written ‘rntr’? (6)
{LESSEE} – this is a renter or tenant. How would you describe a word from which you’d removed two Es? I don’t like this at all – the clue doesn’t hang together.

4d  Answer: Boomerang (8)
{COMEBACK} – yet another double definition.

5d  Presentation about which girl has niggles (10)
{MISGIVINGS} – the definition is niggles or feelings of apprehension. A synonym for presentation has a girl’s title put around it.

6d  A bit wet, mother? Fiddle-de-dee! (7)
{DAMPISH} – this is an adjective meaning a bit wet. It’s an animal’s mother followed by an old interjection expressing annoyance or disgust.

9d  A better road ahead, maybe, but not for motorists (3,8)
{JAM TOMORROW} – this is a phrase promising better things in the future, but, like a politician’s promise, the better things may always remain just out of reach. If taken literally it’s bad news for motorists.

13d  Like a very bad summer (10)
{INNUMERATE} – cryptic definition of someone bad at doing sums.

16d  The female I’d yet to break down for DNA (8)
{HEREDITY} – this is the transmission of characteristics genetically from one generation to the next. I’m not sure that this is the same thing as DNA which is the carrier of this genetic information. Start with a feminine pronoun (the female) and add an anagram (to break down) of I’D YET.

17d  Also changing the inset one doesn’t like (7)
{LOATHES} – an anagram (changing) of ALSO has THE inserted (inset). What on earth is the surface reading supposed to mean?

18d  Egocentric flies off south, out to do a runner (7)
{SELFISH} – the definition is egocentric. It’s an anagram (off) of FLIES followed by S(out)H from which “out” escapes (to do a runner).

21d  Said to be attracted by the beast (6)
{GOPHER} – a name given to various burrowing animals including the pouched rat sounds like (said) a phrasal verb (2,3) meaning to be attracted by.

24d  Old-timer starts stumbling. It’s dope (4)
{DOLT} – an anagram (stumbling) of OLD and the initial letter (starts) of T(imer) produces a stupid person (dope). Myops has pointed out that starts can mean use the first 4-letters of OLD-Timer as the anagram fodder which is probably a better explanation of the wordplay.

I liked 9d and 13d today, but my favourite was 15a. Let us know your thoughts in a comment!

29 comments on “Toughie 448

  1. I too struggled in places with some of the convoluted wordplay but would agree that this was a better Excalibur puzzle than some past ones Couldn’t get 26a and 24d (I did have the right word for the latter but wasn’t convinced it was correct) – luckily Prolixic was able to help me out. My favourite was 9d. Thanks to Excalibur and Gazza.

  2. 9d was my favorite and I found this much better a puzzle than previous Excaliburs.
    Thanks to her and to gazza.

  3. Leaving aside the appalling homophone in 21d, I enjoyed this puzzle. The SE corner slowed me down too but a bit of cogitation yielded the answers. Thanks to Excalibur and to Gazza for the review

    1. I didn;t mind the 21d homophone. Gopher (or gofer) in film credits is actually a dogsbody who is told to “go for” this or “go for” that.

  4. The SE corner was the toughest, and most annoying until crypticsue explained the construct of 18d confirming the answer i’d put in was correct after all. Thanks to Excalibur and Gazza

  5. I guessed it was by Excalibur, but having said that, I quite liked it.
    I got through the puzzle quite rapidly, but could not see 24d/26a. In the end I had to use a hint on the intersection of these clues to complete it. In hindsight, I should have solved 24d, because I guessed the answer as the only logical synonym for dope, but only parsed it correctly when I had the ‘L’ confirmed in the hint.
    Thanks to Excalibut, and to Gazza.

    1. 26 Chambers has roll as a noun meaning the rolling or swaying of a ship.

      24 I struggled with because I couldn’t cope with the ‘starts’

    2. Thanks, myops,.
      For 26a roll must be a noun as you say – I’ll amend the blog.
      On 24d I took starts to be a verb applying just to Timer, but your explanation is probably better.

  6. Like Jezza, I guessed who it was when I started to solve this. But, unlike previous crosswords, I quite enjoyed it. 6d reminds me of Johnny Nice Painter from the Fast Show. Thanks to Exhalibut and Gazza.

  7. Made a reasonable start and had high hopes of finishing this, however met my downfall 9d and 20a,24d,18d. Once I read the hints for 9d loved it, still don’t understand 20a. Thank you Excalibur and Gazza

    1. 20a You can register a parcel (send by special post) and register (express) a complaint or an objection, say.

  8. Unlike most of the previous posters, I quite enjoyed this crossword, probably a bit too easy on the whole but one or two lovely clues. 9d and 15a in particular, I also smiled at the homophone at 21d. Thanks Excalibur and Gazza.

  9. Quite a nice crossword apart from 21 d. I have the answer thanks to an earlier post but frankly I have no idea how Excalibur’s mind works on this clue. If anyone would like to explain I’d be pleased to know.

      1. Thank you. It’s nice to be here. I really enjoy the breakdown of the clues and the fact that we are given hints and not answers. I thought I was ok at the crossword until I landed at this site! Looking forward to the learning curve.

    1. Don,
      The beast is a gopher and if you “go for” someone or something you’re attracted by them or it.

      1. Thanks for the explanation. As I said before I got the answer (last one) from an earlier post. I believe that particular type of clue is called a homophone, (same sound I guess). I’ve never come across that before and I’m frankly staggered at the level of knowledge on this site.

        Being as the DT cryptic on a Monday is normally a case of “fill it in as quickly as you can read it”, what went on this Monday? I thought it was quite difficult.

        1. Yes, Monday’s Cryptic was a bit more difficult than usual.
          If you haven’t already found it on the site, Big Dave’s little guide to types of crossword clues is well worth reading. You can find it here.

  10. Just a thought! I know the DT toughie has a named compiler and the back page cryptic doesn’t. How do you all know who it is when they aren’t named? Do they have specific recognition features? Is there a scale of easiest to evilest? Why is the DT SO different to The Times? :-

    1. The Telegraph’s Cryptic crosswords generally get harder from Monday to Friday (although there are variations and exceptions). Also there is a rota on most days, so that we currently have the same setter each Monday, the same one each Wednesday and so on, for all 7 days, with the exception, at the moment, of Tuesdays and Thursdays where more than one setter appears. We know the identity of the setter on most days of the week because they’ve left comments on the blog to tell us so. Currently we don’t know the identity of all the setters who appear on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Tomorrow’s Cryptic will probably be one where we don’t know the identity of the setter – if you read the blog tomorrow you’ll probably find some discussion of this.

  11. The capital M for maker – 19a – is unfair clueing. The rule for trying to mislead solvers with words that could or could not be capitalised used to be to make them the first word of a sentence. Favourite is 9down. Hats off to Gazza for making sense of some of some of the convoluted clues!

  12. I often shy away from attempting the toughie but stuck at this one as a I had a 4 hour train journey to face. I’m glad I did as, like many I sailed through ( well, paddled uphill ) getting gradually slower into the SE corner. As a relative newcomer, I don’t feel embarrased to say it took those 4 hours to complete all bar 26A for which I needed these good offices to finish and 24D which I guessed correctly but couldn’t see the wordplay. Oddly enough, none of the clues struck me as unfair – perhaps as a relative novice I expect the Toughie to be…err…. tough ! To help things along there were several of those wonderful penny-dropping moments.

  13. Like many others, stumbled over the SE corner, in fact had to resort to the blog. I thought some of the clues were corny. By a strange coincidence I posted a parcel today and mistakenly asked for it to be sent Registered. It’s Recorded now (I was told) so 20a looks a bit suspect. As for 21d…Pish!

  14. My usual late input.
    I got about 85% of this puzzle solved but had to give up and get Gazza’s help to finish it. This is because on top of all the fresh medication I got in the local hospital last week for my atrial fibrillation, yesterday I had my annual flu shot and today I have severe torticollis – no wonder the old brain is somewhat slower!
    Of the clues that I did solve, I liked 15a, 4d & 16d. But I concur with Gazza that 16d is a case of crossword licence or asociativeness – DNA is a long chemical string but it IS linked to one’s heredity.

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