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Toughie 552

Toughie No 552 by Micawber

A Couple of Gags

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

I think that I’m lucky to review the Wednesday Toughies, because they’re usually pretty good and I do seem to get regular doses of Micawber. He’s given us another excellent puzzle today; I proceeded fairly steadily through it but was then held up for a bit in the SE corner. Let us know how you got on in a comment.

Across Clues

1a  It’s manufactured with poor cuts? On the contrary (10)
{PROSCIUTTO} – not poor cuts, but very fine cuts of cured Italian ham (that I always have difficulty in spelling) come from an anagram (manufactured) of IT POOR CUTS.

6a  This is oddly coloured (4)
{CLUE} – the odd letters of coloured are the answer to this.

10a  State between Argentina and Uruguay (5)
{NAURU} – the trailing letters of Argentina and the starting letters of Uruguay combine to make this island state in the SW Pacific.

11a  Special reservists in retreat loudly fired revolver … (9)
{SATELLITE} – start with S(pecial), then add our volunteer army (reservists) reversed (in retreat) and a sound-alike (loudly) of an adjective meaning fired (in the sense of having been set on fire) to get something that revolves.

12a  … refusing to kill in half-hearted combat (7)
{SPARING} – a present participle meaning allowing someone to live is the sort of combat that boxers in training do without one of its middle letters (half-hearted).

13a  Song with villain invading idyllic land (7)
{ARCADIA} – put a nasty piece of work (villain) inside an operatic song to make an area in Greece which was idealised for its simple rural lifestyle.

14a  Former PM, getting a tip-off after bug planted by journalist, bristled greatly over watchers (6-6)
{BEETLE-BROWED} – watchers here are eyes so what we want is a description of someone with prominent bristles above the eyes (Denis Healey springs to mind). Remove the final letter from our most recent former PM, then precede this with a bug (insect) and follow it with the usual Crosswordland journalist.

18a  I bend codes dreadfully — that is, essentially, ____ (12)
{DISOBEDIENCE} – an anagram (dreadfully) of I BEND CODES with IE (that is) inserted (essentially).

21a  Romantic monologue beginning more than halfway through, one part covering another (7)
{OVERLAP} – start with a romantic rhythmic monologue (4,3) and move the initial L from the start to just past the halfway mark to make one part which covers another.

23a  Fruit being ripe, should it be plucked before eating? (7)
{PLUMAGE} – a charade of a soft fruit and the state of being mature (ripe) produces the part of a bird which needs to be plucked not just before eating, but preferably before cooking.

24a  E.g. I dabbled with sadism — no? (9)
{ADMISSION} – this is a semi-all-in-one with the clue being an example (e.g.) of the answer. It’s an anagram (dabbled) of I, SADISM and NO.

25a  Brown, at heart, perpetually perplexed (5)
{TAUPE} – an anagram (perplexed) of the central letters (at heart) of perPETUAlly give us a greyish-brown colour.

26a  He’ll make the drink go round (4)
{EDDY} – a man’s abbreviated name is also a circular motion in the water (drink).

27a  Rejecting the unattainable, hence encourages accepting average return (4,6)
{SOUR GRAPES} – this phrase means pretending that something is not worth having once it becomes obvious that someone else has got it and you haven’t. Put synonyms for hence and encourages around (accepting) an average (especially on the golf course) reversed (return).

Down Clues

1d  Like a gag, perhaps, to chastise (6)
{PUNISH} – a verb meaning to chastise could be (perhaps) a made-up description of a specific type of gag or joke.

2d  Like a gag, perhaps, but covering top of eyes (6)
{OCULAR} – a word meaning fond of joking (like a gag) loses (covering) its initial letter (top) to leave an adjective meaning of or connected with the eyes.

3d  ‘Little Britain’ vicar, struggling with clues, aspires to be one? (14)
{CRUCIVERBALIST} – this is another semi-all-in-one. It’s an anagram (struggling) of a short form of Britain (often used to describe home-grown art or pop music), VICAR and CLUES. I’m a bit surprised there’s no link to 6a.

4d  Failing to focus on target, world body expressed regret — about time! (9)
{UNSIGHTED} – an adjective meaning unable to see is the abbreviation for the usual world body followed by a verb meaning made a sound indicating regret, with T(ime) inserted.

5d  Fish caught by Muscovite trawler (5)
{TETRA} – a small, brightly-coloured, tropical fish is found (caught) in the clue.

7d  Acted like a chicken, going like this with arms — surrendered (4,4)
{LAID DOWN} – this means produced an egg (acted like a chicken) and if you follow it with arms it means surrendered. I’m not sure that I’ve fully sussed this, in particular the “going” bit – any other suggestions welcome! [Thanks to AtH1900 for pointing out that this is a down clue and “going like this” exploits that fact]

8d  It’s good to see Radio One’s able to cover outskirts of Derby (3,5)
{EYE CANDY} – something or someone visually attractive (it’s good to see) is how I (one) might sound (on the radio) followed by a verb meaning is able and the outer letters of DerbY. My favourite clue.

9d  Ingredient for making rock — mix it with treacle and put in three parts of rice and two of gum (8,6)
{ELECTRIC GUITAR} – a nice bit of misdirection – it’s not the sort of rock you’d buy at the seaside. Make an anagram (mix) of IT and TREACLE and then insert (put in) RIC(e) and GU(m).

15d  Shock of Frenchman turning up with sailor after spending a penny (3-6)
{EYE-OPENER} – to get this shock reverse a common French male forename and a cartoon sailor with his second P dropped (after spending a penny).

16d  Lawyer picking up chap pointlessly during a night out (8)
{ADVOCATE} – reverse (picking up) an informal word for a chap and drop his final E (pointlessly). Now put what remains inside A and a romantic assignment (night out) to make a lawyer.

17d  Respected editor held up ending of ‘Close Encounters’ (8)
{ESTEEMED} – the definition is respected. The usual abbreviation for editor surrounds (held) a reversal (up) of the last letter of (clos)E and a synonym of encounters.

19d  In a hole, SA President’s not one to break promise on housing (6)
{GAZUMP} – the surname of the current South African president loses its final A (not one) and is put in a hole or opening. This gives us a verb meaning to agree to sell one’s house but, before the contract is signed, to renege on the agreement and sell it to somebody else for a higher price.

20d  More than one star born in just over half of the sky (6)
{CELEBS} – this is the plural of a common abbreviation for a famous person (star) or at least someone who’s had 15 minutes of fame. Put B(orn) inside just over half of the letters of an adjective meaning relating to the sky.

22d  Formal start to overture — first part in piece (5)
{PRIMO} – an adjective meaning formal or proper is followed by the first letter (start) of O(verture) to make the leading part in a duet.

As usual with Micawber I could list a whole host of clues I liked – I’ll restrict myself to 1a, 14a and 15d, with my favourite being 8d. Let us know in a comment what you liked.

10 comments on “Toughie 552

  1. Unusually for a Micawber it took me a while to get started on this one, which I will blame on the non-routine start to my day. My struggle was with the NE corner, it took me ages to get 1a, despite having some in my lunch box today! Thanks to the Gnome for the law and a hint. My clue of the day is 3d because of the, probably inadvertent, link to our Prolixic. Thanks to Micawber for a proper Wednesday toughie and to Gazza for the hints and pics.

    Anyone wanting another fun challenge should try today’s Brendan (Virgilius) in the Guardian. Great fun!

  2. Excellent puzzle, great fun.

    More accessible than some of Micawber’s Toughies, but none the worse for that.

  3. Now that’s what I call fun! Many thanks to Micawber for the crossword and to Gazza for the review. Favourite clue was 3d for various reasons followed closely by 8d & 9d.

  4. Excellent puzzle again from Micawber. It too me a while to resolve all but 14 answers, then after a flurry of penny drops I was left with 4 inthe Nw and 4 in the SE, then 2 in each before finally resolving 25a and 20d

    Favourites were 1,2,3 & 9 down. Many thanks to Micawber and to gazza for the stylish review.

  5. Usual high standard we come to expect from Micawber too many good clues to single one out,Thanks to Micawber and to Gazza for his comments.

  6. Great crossword from Micawber, too many excellent clues to pick a favourite. Thanks Micawber and Gazza, great stuff!

  7. Thoroughly enjoyed this, but took an age to realise 1a had was an anagram which held up the NW. 14a a new expression to me. Also needed to look at the hint for 25a, which was my D’OH moment of the day. In concensus with others too many good clues to single one out. Thanks as ever to Micawber and to Gazza.

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