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Toughie 599

Toughie No 599 by Micawber

Mountains High

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

It’s been nearly two years since we had a Micawber puzzle on a Tuesday, so today is my lucky day! The usual excellent wordplay and witty clues more than make up for the couple of slightly dodgy homophones.

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7a    Representative limbo dancing in Seychelles clubs (8)
{SYMBOLIC} – an adjective meaning representative is created by putting an anagram (dancing) of LIMBO between the IVR code for the Seychelles and C(lubs)

9a    Sounding increasingly engrossed in hobby? (6)
{RAPTOR} – what sort of sounds like being increasingly engrossed is actually a bird of prey, of which the hobby, a small falcon, is an example (hence the question mark)

10a    Action being withdrawn will have no effect (4)
{DEED} – this action reads the same when reversed (withdrawn)

11a    Morality against biology? (10)
{CONSCIENCE} – this sense of moral correctness is a charade of against (3) and the branch of learning of which biology is an example (note the question mark again)

12a    To scrap democratic right could be to give up entirely (6)
{DEVOTE} – what could be to scrap the democratic right to express one’s choice is actually to give up entirely or dedicate oneself to a cause

14a    Rank animals and men by measure of length? (8)
{POLECATS} – these rank animals are derived from a slang word for men following an old measure of length (also known as a rod or perch) equal to five and a half yards

15a    X American troops retreating in ring (6)
{SIGNET} – take a charade of the number represented by the Roman numeral X and some American troops and reverse it to get a type of ring

17a    Regulator will do so to make commercial fair (6)
{ADJUST} – what a regulator or controlling device does is a charade of a commercial (2) and an adjective meaning fair or impartial

20a    Superficial check on the most impoverished? (4,4)
{SKIN TEST} – combine the two words of this superficial check for an immune reaction and the result could mean most impoverished

22a    Film director’s ‘igh and mighty attitude (6)
{AUTEUR} – a film-director, especially one thought of as the creator of a particular genre, is created by dropping the aspirate from a high and mighty attitude

23a    Was Spice Girl playing old wooden instrument? (10)
{DIDGERIDOO} – a charade of a word meaning was, the first name of Ginger Spice, a word meaning to play or act (2) and O(ld) gives an Australian wooden instrument

24a    Fluid-filled tube — what Yorkshire cows chew over? (4)
{DUCT} – this fluid-filled tube could be what Yorkshire cows chew reversed (over)

25a    Cross Basil won’t mention it — forgetting finally one time (6)
{THWART} – a word meaning to cross or foil is derived, very cleverly, from what Basil Fawlty is always telling people not to mention to the Germans without (forgetting) the final letter of onE and followed by T(ime)

26a    Story encrypted by neat code (8)
{ANECDOTE} – this short amusing or interesting story is an anagram of (encrypted by) NEAT CODE


1d    Combustible matter gathered up for range (8)
{PYRENEES} – a pile of combustible matter for burning a dead body is followed by a verb meaning gathered or understood reversed (up) to get a mountain range

2d    I’ll put up there again (4)
{IBID} – I followed by a word meaning to put up or offer gives a four-letter abbreviation of a Latin word meaning in the same place (there is also a two-letter abbreviation of the same six-letter word!)

3d    Piece of corn cob for starter, followed by fruit (skipping second part of meal) (6)
{CLICHÉ} – a piece of corn, or a corny saying, is created from the first letter (starter) of Cob followed by a fruit from which the second letter of mEal has been dropped (skipping second part of meal)

4d    Set the pace after winning round, but dropped slowly down (8)
{TRICKLED} – put a word meaning set the pace after the cards played and taken by the winner gives a word meaning dropped slowly down

5d    Posh tart generally won’t have one (5,5)
{UPPER CRUST} – an adjective meaning posh describes what is not usually present on a tart (but is on a pie)

6d    Depressed censor making revelation? (3-3)
{LOW-CUT} – a charade of an adjective meaning depressed and a verb meaning to censor gives the kind of revelation that is an invitation for an illustration!

8d    Titbit made from preserve one found at chimps’ tea party (6)
{CANAPÉ} – this titbit is a charade of to preserve by putting in a tin and one of the creatures found at a chimps’ tea party

13d    Attach no weight to newspaper chart showing who’s most powerful (10)
{ORGANOGRAM} – put (attach) zero and a metric weight after another word for a newspaper to get a chart showing the graded arrangement of personnel, with the most powerful at the top

16d    Denounce boss’s pay scale (8)
{EXECRATE} – a verb meaning to denounce or condemn could be, if split (4,4) the boss’s pay scale

18d    Main route reportedly eroded, cut off (8)
{TRUNCATE} – a charade of what sounds like (reportedly) a main route and a verb meaning eroded gives a verb meaning to cut off

19d    Grounds for some to say: ‘Don’t go, darling’ (6)
{STADIA} – these grounds or arenas could, at a pinch, sound like don’t go (4) and darling (4)

21d    Dub remix of ‘The King’ lacking energy (6)
{KNIGHT} – a verb meaning to dub with a sword is an anagram (remix) of TH(E) KING without the E (lacking Energy)

22d    Made up where mountains might be found round here? (6)
{ATONED} – if a word meaning made up for or compensated is split (2,3,1) it gives the location in this puzzle of a range of mountains

24d    Doubly possessive French chap (4)
{DUDE} – a pair if French possessive prepositions together give a stylish chap

Could Tuesday be the highlight of the Toughie week?

20 comments on “Toughie 599

  1. I don’t know whether this will be the highlight of the Toughie week, but it’s certainly the highlight of the day for me. I really like solving a Micawber Toughie – they are just the right side of tough and for some reason I always get on his wavelength fairly quickly so they don’t take that long for me to solve. I have 9 ‘dots’ marking my favourites, which interestingly, apart from 20a, are all completely different to Dave’s.

    Thanks to Micawber for the 5* entertainment – why don’t your Toughies appear more often? – and to BD for the hints, tips and illustrations. Nice 14a :)

    1. Unlike some setters, Micawber has a full-time job (with Al Jazeera). This is often reflected in some very topical clues.

    2. excellent toughie-the difficulty was not in the answers but some of the clueing gave me that ‘doh’ moment when the penny finally dropped…. 5d is good but liked 16d and 22d best

  2. Great toughie from Micawber but as always he managed to beat me, I needed your assistance with 12d. and 22a. Loved your picture clue for 6d. but favourite clue was 20a. Many thanks to Micawber and to BD.

  3. Great stuff. last in 22a but loved 22d – very clever ref to 1d IMHO. Thanks as ever to Micawber and BD

  4. First rate puzzle today, numerous excellent clues of which my three favourites were 3d 5d and 20a many thanks to Micawber and to Big Dave for his comments. PS it’s Toughie No 600 tomorrow ?

  5. I could solve these ones all day, every day! Many thanks to Micawber, and BD for the review.

  6. This brightened up what has become a depressing, damp day in BN5. And the Yorkie in me just loved 24a. The phone number for 6d would cheer me up no end, BD!

  7. I’m a bit hacked off that I didnt have more time to attend to this today – the perils of work I guess. The usual concise cluing and many to get you smiling – 14a being a create creation with a natural surface reading and a brilliant lift and separate for the definition. Many thanks to Micawber and to BD for the review.

    1. Far too difficult for me, but I enjoyed the ones I solved! (23a is becoming an old chestnut)

      Still mystified by 14a – I’ve read the hints but what is the “slang word for men”?

      “Lift and separate” – Need a bit of support from other solvers who do not understand?

      1. CATS – Chambers has

        Cat 9. A showily dressed man (old slang) 10. A man, chap (slang) 11. A jazz fan (slang)

        Are you asking how to lift and separate this clue or what the term means?

        1. Cats – I always expect a reference to Jazz.

          “Lift and separate” – both!

          PS! Favourite was the reverse Yorkshire clue (24a)

          1. Oh yeah, T’CUD was excellent!.
            The ‘lift and separate’ usually means that the definition must be spotted, lifted and separated from the rest of the wordplay contrary to a well known phrase or else smooth surface reading (as seen above). One example of which I am fond of (because it won me £50-00 from the Times) is the following:

            Jolly good at everything? (4,2,3,6)

            The lift and separate comes between the first two words. Hope that helps and sorry about the shameless elf promotion!

            1. Elf,This is the last thing I need before trying to go to sleep – another clue that I cannot understand! :smile:

              1. A JOLLY (jack/tar/AB/Seaman) who is good (but not great) at everything may be a JACK of all trades. Its actually a cryptic definition but the ‘jolly good’ portion is where you need to insert the mental crowbar for the lift and separate. Night!

  8. A good week for Micawber fans with this and his alter ego of Morph on Monday over at the Independent. Many thanks to him for a fantastic crossword and to BD for the review.

  9. I didn’t enjoy this one. The best clue by far was 22d but I did not like 14a as it was a very vague synonym. Also 13d was newspeak of which I had not heard before. !2a was also very iffy as i did not think either definition was strictly correct. Never mind, you can’t please everybody.

    1. I’m surprised. I think that this crossword could be used as an example of high-quality clueing. The primary definitions are pretty much as given in Chambers. 13d is a little obscure, but this is a Toughie.

      I really liked this a great deal, and I agree with Prolixic about Monday’s Morph in the Indy.

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