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Toughie 694

Toughie No 694 by Micawber

Looking Back

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

Today we have a very special guest blogger.  Jon88’s impeccable credentials include membership of the National Puzzlers’ League, crosswords published in the New York Times, Washington Post and Games magazine, regular solving of Times, Telegraph, Spectator and Private Eye puzzles. And I nearly forgot – he has won the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament no less than seven times.  Quite how he also finds time to work in theatre and cabaret is a mystery!  He was the assistant musical director for Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey for five years.  BD

Tilsit is off this week in a land without Internet, newspapers or television (Narnia?), but before he left, he flung the keys across the pond and appointed me the designated driver.  Micawber has given us a memorial puzzle of sorts; explanation down below.

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought. You can also add your assessment by selecting from one to five stars at the bottom of the post.


8a Lives destroyed about a row where perhaps Taylor heard … (6)
{SAVILE} – A long-O row identified with a “taylor” (homophonically) can be found by anagramming (destroyed) LIVES + A.

9a … what Burton might have said to her, ending in ‘thee worship’? (7)
{IDOLIZE} – A phrase Richard Burton might have said twice if his bride was officiating at the ceremony, followed by the last letter of THEE, yields a verb meaning worship. (Note to self: Be grateful for clear cryptic instructions that obviate the need to understand when British verbs end in –IZE or –ISE.)

10a Deviation not unknown during flight (1-4)
{A-WING} – Delete an algebraic unknown from a word meaning deviation to get a flight-related adverb.

11a Put on halfway through first millennium in Rome? (3)
{ADD} – A word meaning put on can be repunctuated and respaced to look like a way to express the year 500.

12a Like section of timber if arsonist’s around? (5)
{AFIRE} – The clue literally expresses the hidden and reversed answer.

13a Following Scott, late American adventurer arriving at pole gets the bird (5)
{HERON} – The post-hyphen part of a poet’s surname is a word meaning adventurer plus a pole, and is also a bird.

15a Vote loser? That’s wrong (except in 1912) (9)
{ROOSEVELT} – An anagram of VOTE LOSER (that’s wrong) is the name of someone who was elected to the presidency in 1904, but was defeated in 1912.

16a Not sleepy, frantic youngster heartlessly tucked in — it’s artificial (11)
{POLYSTYRENE} – Arrange the letters of NOT SLEEPY (frantic) around Y(oungste)R to get an artificial substance.

22a Patient chap incessantly cursed the inflexible official (9)
{JOBSWORTH} – An inflexible official is built from a biblically patient chap, plus a word for cursed and THE without their final letters (incessantly).

25a King in dispute with psychoanalyst (5)
{FREUD} – Insert R in a word for dispute to identify a psychoanalyst.

26a Before Pete Postlethwaite starts acting, see you call for refreshment (5)
{CUPPA} – Letters that sound like “see you” (called for) precede the starts of Pete Postlethwaite and an abbreviation for acting.

27a Can point to the west (3)
{BIN} – A reversal of a word meaning point is a can.

28a City haunt packed (5)
{LADEN} – An adjective meaning packed is the familiar identification of a California city and a haunt.

30a Twist top off vino tinto (7)
{ENTWINE} – A slightly redundant translation (à la “brie cheese”) loses its first letter for a word meaning twist.

31a Puts up American in digs (6)
{HOUSES} – Enclose a common abbreviation of American within a likely gardener’s task to get “puts up.”


1d Investment initially supporting public finance for transport (4)
{TAXI} – A type of transport is constructed from a word for public finance over (supported by) the initial letter of investment.

2d VIP pilot exchanging one French article for another (3,3)
{BIG GUN} – A slang term for a VIP can be made by taking the name of a W.E. Johns hero and substituting the French singular one for the plural the.

3d Fix to do a Burton with Taylor? (6)
{REPAIR} – A word meaning fix could also be read as a word suggesting a split couple getting back together.

4d Object to child getting labelled ultimately as psychosomatic (4-4)
{MIND-BODY} – “Object to” plus a sort of child containing (getting) the ultimate letter of labelled is a medical adjective of interaction.

5d Absolutely no cash, having lost a (pre-euro) Mark (4,4)
{NOTA BENE} – A slangy phrase suggesting you’re broke, with an A deleted and an E (euro) added afterwards gives a phrase often understood as mark.

6d Pass round claret, say — most excellent! (6)
{DIVINE} – A word that might mean claret is placed within a word for pass to form another meaning most excellent.

7d Reminder some men took part (7)
{MEMENTO} – Hidden in the clue is a word for reminder.

10d Suffering for everyone, from top to bottom (4)
{ACHE} – Putting the first letter of a word for “for everyone” at the end reveals a word meaning suffering.

14d Farewell tear for those in rows here? (1,1,1)
{R.I.P.} – A three-part clue, where the first two words each clue the answer, and the rest (and the totality) hint at what’s to be found in the grid.

17d Smash into wall, in old-fashioned language (3,5)
{LOW LATIN} – An old-fashioned language can be found if you anagram (smash) INTO WALL.

18d Abandoned bushes dominating part of garden (8)
{SCRUBBED} – A non-S word for bushes precedes a garden plot for a word meaning abandoned.

19d One looks up and down (3)
{EYE} – A cryptic definition with a palindromic overtone for a body part.

20d Take one old penny off down and out (7)
{EJECTED} – An abbreviation for an old penny removed from the beginning of a word for down is a word for out.

21d Away from south-west, the country’s paradise (4)
{EDEN} – A paradise is a country’s name without its SW.

23d ‘By heart’ primarily covers ‘learned for repetition’? In a way (6)
{BYPATH} – For a way, BY and H(eart) surround (cover) the way you might have something down if it’s well learned.

24d Boss tucking into horseradish on chops (6)
{HONCHO} – A boss is hidden (tucked into) the clue.

25d Motor sport’s influence mounting — it’s to do with fuel (4,2)
{FILL UP} – Start with the format of motor racing in which drivers from Giuseppe Farina to Sebastian Vettel have been champions. Tack on a reversal (mounting) of a word for influence, and you’ll have a phrase for what you do at a gas station.

29d Does, say, river run? (4)
{DEER} – A river in full plus a run in short equals some Cervidae.

The (2011) in Micawber’s byline, along with the hint at 14d, have us saying farewell to eleven people who passed this year. In the Across rows, we have {Jimmy SAVILE, LIZ Taylor, Muammar GADDAFI, Gil Scott-HERON, SEVE Ballesteros, POLY STYRENE (of the X-Ray Spex), Steve JOBS, Lucien FREUD, Osama BIN LADEN and Amy WINEHOUSE} and in the clue for 26a we have Pete Postlethwaite.

Thanks for the use of the hall.

23 comments on “Toughie 694

  1. Thank you and Happy New Year to Jon for an excellent review of the end of year Micawber which I found slightly trickier this year (mainly the top half) although that may be due to getting up so early and the strain of doing the ‘blog on the day’. I did get all the themed answers in the end although I had trouble tracking down two of them to check I had the right idea – you have now idea how many deaths of famous people you can find listed on the web.

    Thanks to Micawber too – your puzzles are always a treat and the end of year one is as uusal very good. Happy New Year to you and everyone else too.

  2. Thank you to Jon for agreeing to cover me. Have just sneaked back to Civilisation (Whitehaven) for a haircut and a sneaky peak.

    A splendid puzzle from Micawber to end the Toughie year and a superb review from Jon.

    Hope you all have a wonderful New Year. I’m off back into the land that time forgot till Tiesday.

  3. Thanks to Micawber and Jon88 for the superb puzzle and review.
    Never having heard of the punk icon in 16a and scratching around for a departed one in the answer I came up with a reversal of ‘Enery (Cooper) :D . Ah well, back to the drawing board.

  4. The North took a lot longer than the South but overall a very enjoyable experience, I only managed to find 8 deceased and one of those was Vine ( David ) but I can’t remember which year he died. Thanks to Micawber for a cracking good puzzle and to Jon for the dissection.

  5. Great fun as usual fro Micawber. Many thanks to him and to Jon88 for the top notch review. See you all next year.

  6. Very good stuff from Micawber, as usual. I would have bet money on POLYSTYRENE being in there.

    Thanks to Micawber, and to Jon88 for the blog.

  7. My turn. Thanks to Tilsit for the opportunity, to Big Dave for making me appear smarter than I am, to Notabilis for a nudge, and to everybody who blogs about crosswords — I know now how much work you put into this, and I’m more in awe than before.

  8. A very enjoyable last Toughie of 2011. I’m grateful to Jon for the solutions to 11a, 16a, 26a and 6d, which had eluded my post-prandial efforts. :-)

    Everyone enjoy their final/first year celebrations!

  9. I struggled a lot with this one! Don’t know why as looking at the answers now there are many I should have spotted a lot quicker than I did. Guess the brain wasn’t in gear this morning!

    The SE corner got a lot easier after I noticed that 24d had gone into screwedup as HHONCH instead of the answer – D’OH!!!!!

    Many thanks and a Happy New Year to Micawber and Jon88.

  10. Yes, well a bit of a struggle, but worth the effort in the end. 14a was one of those annoying clues that you knew the answer, but couldn’t fully appreciate till the theme-penny dropped. Adieu to 2011’s Toughies, and my collective thanks to all the setters and reviewers – as Jon says, it’s not as easy as it might appear. See you next year !

  11. Thanks very much for the guest blog, Jon, and for all your comments. I hope the thematic stuff was reasonably clear, though inevitably some will be more familiar with Poly Styrene, others with Gil Scott-Heron, and perhaps many with neither!
    I thought of doing the year this way because there seemed to have been quite a crop of significant names in the first ten or eleven months. Then after submission we lost others who might have found their way in, including Ken Russell, Vaclav Havel and Kim Jong-Il. Ah well.
    Oh, and of course Jon is quite right to observe at 9a that participants in a wedding ceremony don’t actually address each other, but I allowed myself a little marriage licence there.

    1. Can I add my thanks to those above to both Jon88 and yerself for a puzzle that looked quite non-thematic until I took a step back!. Kudos for PP who was a star!. Happy New Year to you both.

    2. I spotted the RIP and POLYSTYRENE went together as they crossed, but completely missed the rest! But then I am a bit thick at spotting Ninas and themes etc. Hey Ho, I’ll remember to look more carefully one day.
      This puzzle must have been an ambitious project and very well executed IMHO so well done to Micawber!
      I look forward to next years brain stretchers with anticipation.

      BTW, licence on 9a absolutely no problem for me – I always thought I was really speaking to pommette when I said the longest sentence in the English language!

    3. You could almost have an Agatha Christe novel in the making here. Compile next year’s obituary crossword on 1 Jan with likely looking names and then once a month ensure that they are dispatched according to plan!!

      Many thanks for an enjoyable crossword and a very happy New Year to Micawber. Thanks also to the new blogger Jon88 for a sterling performance in blogging the crossword.

    4. What a spectacular crossword! The “Gaddaffi” reference is particularly impressive. How long did it take you to create it?

      Happy New Year, one and all :-)

  12. Managed to solve this and yet completely miss the theme! Thought the (2011) next to the setter’s name must have some significance, but then just entered the solution to 14d without working out all the wordplay. Too clever for me! Maybe next year I’ll spot a nina/theme – but I doubt it!

    Thanks to Micawber & Jon88.

  13. Struggling with this one. Can see the links but where do Teddy and Sir Anthony fit in? Will have another go this afternoon.

      1. Well I have finally cracked this one after many hours trying to sort out SW corner. It didn’t help that I had never heard of the people in 13 and 16, and I was determined to fit a christian name in 26. The trouble with these types of puzzles is that they throw up dodgy clues like 4, 24, 26 and 30, in order to get the names in. Still, it ‘passed away’ a few hours.

  14. A bit of a struggle even using Chambers Word Wizard. I too completely missed the theme but even then I doubt if I would have spotted the names of the deceased juxtaposed in answers to clues. Much better than Wednesday’s which I solved/guessed but hated and a lot harder than Thursday’s which was about my level.

  15. Eventually solved this one, though I didn’t spot half of the names in the theme. I presume the divine idea (Divine Eye Deer) in 6d/19d/29d is the theme itself? Worthy of that description, anyway.

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