Toughie 708 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 708

Toughie No 708 by Elkamere

Romps with old sports stars

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

This is a really enjoyable puzzle from Elkamere. He’s superb at disguising definitions and there are some excellent examples here, but he’s also included several “easy” clues to give you some toeholds for the harder ones. It also seems to have two mini-themes involving a) old sports stars and b) naughty sexual activities. Let us know if you enjoyed it as much as I did.
Please take the time to record your “enjoyment factor” by clicking on one of the stars below.

Across Clues

1a  Running centre of Roger Bannister, runner (6,4)
{STRING BEAN} – runner is an alternative name for this green vegetable which is an anagram (running) of (Ro)G(er) and BANNISTER.

6a  Bird one’s brother possibly rejected (4)
{IBIS} – for this large wading bird I (one) is followed by a reversal (rejected) of an abbreviation for a close relative (brother possibly).

9a  Pupil who was able to spell ‘efface’ (10)
{OBLITERATE} – start with the abbreviation for a “pupil who was” (i.e. a former pupil) and add an adjective meaning able to read, write and spell.

10a  See 5d

12a  Runs after criminal to deliver punishment (12)
{CONSEQUENCES} – put a synonym for runs or ordered sets (consecutive cards in a poker hand, for example) after an informal abbreviation for a criminal to make the punishment that a wrongdoer has to face.

15a  Engineer lets in recruit (6)
{ENLIST} – an anagram (engineer) of LETS IN.

16a  One young teacher will grab, finally, one more minute (8)
{TEENSIER} – this was my last answer in and produced a real d’oh moment with its beautifully disguised definition. It’s an informal comparative meaning more minute and it’s constructed from one (who is) young (i.e. an adolescent) followed by a male teacher containing (will grab) the final letter of (on)E.

18a  Quiet times stopped by army, treated roughly at first — here? (4,1-3)
{CAMP X-RAY} – this is a facility at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba where the US kept detainees without trial (and was accused of treating them roughly) for a few months in 2002 before transferring them to a different facility on the same site. Put the musical abbreviation for quiet and the mathematical symbol meaning times inside (stopped by) an anagram (treated) of ARMY, then precede all that (at first) with an abbreviation meaning roughly or approximately.

19a  A trick used in speech for some time (6)
{AWHILE} – start with A and add a homophone (used in speech) of a trick to make an adverb meaning for some time.

21a  See 11d

24a  Attorney is making a stand (4)
{DAIS} – the abbreviation for an American public prosecutor (attorney) precedes IS.

25a  Friend’s pain cutting senior F1 driver (10)
{SCHUMACHER} – even though I find motor racing about as exciting as synchronised swimming I had heard of this old German guy. Put synonyms for friend and pain inside (cutting) the abbreviation for senior.

26a  Moan when a little weight breaks his back (4)
{SIGH} – reverse (back) HIS and insert a small metric weight in it.

27a  Former Man U star’s new memoir — explosive! (10)
{INCENDIARY} – start with the surname of Paul, the former Man U player and England captain and add N(ew) and a record of one’s personal experiences (memoir) to make an explosive.

Down Clues

1d  See 5d

2d  Wheel, an integral part of trolley (4)
{ROLL} – I didn’t write this answer in initially because I thought it was too easy and I must be missing something, but it is just a verb meaning to wheel (as Molly Malone did) which is hidden (an integral part) in the clue.

3d  New Sun editor keeps old team knocking out material (7,5)
{NITROUS OXIDE} – another superbly disguised definition. This substance (also known as laughing gas) is used as an anaesthetic (knocking out material) and it’s an anagram (new) of SUN EDITOR with O(ld) and the Roman numeral for the number of players in a football team inside.

4d  Most exposed places are in Bahamas territory, primarily (6)
{BAREST} – a superlative meaning most exposed, with most flesh on display perhaps, comes from inserting ARE in the IVR code for the Bahamas and finishing with the primary letter of T(erritory).

5d/10d/1d  He wants a quid or so in exchange for bric-a-brac on here? (8,8)
{ANTIQUES ROADSHOW} – the title of a TV programme where people bring along their family heirlooms and assorted bric-a-brac for experts to pontificate on and value is an anagram (in exchange) of HE WANTS A QUID OR SO.

7d  Tube problem? British Rail is accepting forward ticket (10)
{BRONCHITIS} – this is a problem you may have with your tubes. Put the abbreviation for British Rail and IS around (accepting) an adverb meaning forward and a synonym for ticket.

8d  Little 10 spade that is burying plant (4,6)
{SIDE STREET} – the definition here is little 10, i.e. little 10a. Start with the abbreviation for spade in card games (strictly speaking it stands for spades rather than spade) and add the unabbreviated latin phrase meaning that is containing (burying) a large plant,

11d/21a  Financially naive? Yes — how do I fund pension plan again? (5,4,3,5,7)
{PENNY WISE AND POUND FOOLISH} – this is a well-known saying that can be applied to someone who is not good at handling large sums of money (financially naive). It’s an anagram (again) of YES HOW DO I FUND PENSION PLAN.

13d  Old accountant wants ‘suit’ to hide the other activities (10)
{SEXCAPADES} – these are activities involving a “bit of the other”, often as recounted in the tabloid press and often involving sports stars who have strayed. Insert a prefix meaning old and the abbreviation for an accountant into a card suit. The word doesn’t seem to have made it into my version of Chambers, but it is in the ODE which says that it is “chiefly United States”.

14d  Demanding to hold on to stifling romance (10)
{CLAMOURING} – put a verb meaning to hold on to around (stifling) a romance or love affair.

17d  Largest prison of Palma? (8)
{MAJORCAN} – this adjective describes someone or something from the island of which Palma is the capital. It’s a charade of a word meaning the largest or most significant and an informal (mainly North American) term for prison.

20d  A Frenchman offering praise in church (6)
{CLAUDE} – a French male forename comes from putting a synonym of to praise inside an abbreviation for church.

22d  Doctor’s the first to actually hold it! (4)
{WHOA} – this one leapt out at me when I saw it, because I remember Anax discussing the difficulties he had in coming up with a clue for this word (that must have been at least 18 months ago, so I hope that he hasn’t been worrying at it all this time). It’s a command to stop (directed at a horse perhaps) and to get it you have to combine a television doctor and the first letter of A(ctually).

23d  What’s set up by some naughty groups? (4)
{ORGY} – an amusing semi-all-in-one to finish. Hidden (some) and reversed (set up) in the clue is the type of 13d that some naughty groups get up to.

It’s difficult to pick my favourites from such a fine selection of clues but I’ll go with 16a, 3d, 13d and 23d.

26 comments on “Toughie 708

  1. Thanks Gazza, I really couldn’t see where 16a was coming from!

    Otherwise very enjoyable but for me it was a bit like fluffy pink slippers, but with impaling spikes fitted!

    Thanks for the fun Elkamere.

  2. Having struggled a bit with the back page, I approached this with a bit of trepidation but didn’t need to worry. I was obviously on Elkamere’s wavelength as it all went in fairly straightforwardly apart from 18a and 13d. Superb stuff – definitely 4* enjoyment but for me, at least, 2.5* difficulty. Thanks to Elkamere for brightening up a very grumpy miserable early morning and to Gazza for the usual excellently illustrated explanations. Lovely pic of Hendry Sandon :) I have lots and lots of dots by favourite clues but unusually none of them are the same as Gazza’s.

  3. Very nice, if rather gentle, stuff from Elkamere.

    Some nicely disguised definitions, and a well-balanced puzzle overall with a few trickier clues balanced by some gimmes. Very nice.

  4. Most enjoyable! Thanks to Elkamere for the fun that was over too quickly, and to Gazza for the review.

    I parsed 1a as an anagram of ro(GER BANNIST)er (centre of), but both work!

      1. I saw it the same way as Gazza – does that mean we are equally great minds in our own way?

  5. Thanks to Elkamerefor a most enjoyable crossword, I loved 16a when it finally dropped. I also did 1a like Jezza. Many thanks to Gazza for the picture at 4d ( oh, and for the review )

  6. Well this did my poor little head in – got 25a straight away…… then it was a very long haul, helped at the end with Gazza’s hints and tips – thank you! 18a was the last in as I’d never heard of it!! How remiss of me. Time for a small brain rest :-)

  7. Highly enjoyable with lots of smiles and groans whilst solving. Thanks to Elkamere for the fun and frolics and to Gazza for the review. Favourites were 13d, 23d, 3d & 27a.

  8. Excellent puzzle a plethora of well crafted clues, favourites were 3d 13d 17d and 27a thanks to Elkamere and to Gazza for the review.

  9. Very difficult for me today. Would never have finished without help from Gazza. Not pink fluffy slippers, more like hob nailed boots for me.

  10. Hello friends. Many thanks to Gazza for the review and to all for your comments.
    Not much to say really, although just a quick note on the difficulty. When I have a puzzle with a number of linked answers – especially long ‘uns as with the connected 12-letter slots – I do try to ease up a little. This puzzle has 38 cells (OK, 37 with the cross-check) accounted for by only two clues, so it’s important to offer plenty of help elsewhere.

      1. Gazza’s interpretation is the right one. The alternative is interesting, even valid, but it isn’t a trick I’d use. Because the indicator is ‘centre’ then I suppose it’s OK because you know how many letters you’re looking for, but in terms of overall style it reminds me of those clues where the setter uses something like ‘some’ to indicate an unspecified number of letters at the start of word. Nobody minds if Araucaria does it but I’ve seen other setters get a pasting for the same thing. For me, the middle of something is everything except the first and last letter, in the same way the outside is only the first and last letter.

  11. I see it is Petitjean tomorrow. My husband was given a Fair Isle bobble hat as a joke for Christmas. Do you think it would count as a ‘slightly mad hat’ if I took it to work and wore it while trying to get on Petitjean’s wavelength?

  12. Did this either side of being taken out to lunch. Found it strange that I worked all the better for food and drink! Thanks Anax for an enjoyable post prandial feast and panoply of clues (no I didn’t eat alphabetti spaghetti!) of which my favourite was 27a and to Gazza for the review.

  13. Slow day at work so completed the back page and then the toughie too. However, I still don’t fully understand why I got 8d right. I understand the little 10a reference, and I understand the big plant buried in the rest of the letters. But as I don’t play cards and I don’t know much Latin I’m at a loss as to where the rest of the letters come from. Could a big brain please enlighten this little one?

  14. Thank you Gazza. Finally I understand. Thank you so much. I can now tuck my poor little brain up until tomorrow. Today’s Toughie was a great puzzle by Elkamere, beautifully explained.

  15. Not much time for puzzles today (and even less tomorrow by the look at things) so I took Crypticsue’s advice and made this the one to tackle – albeit late after creating our golf certificates for Friday (whoopee!).
    I am very glad I did as this was a super puzzle to solve with some classic Anax/Elkamere disguises in the definitions and synonyms. 16a was last in for me as well even though i saw the definition early on.
    Cheers Elamere and thanks to gazza for the excellent and well illustrated review, I would have included a picture of the clown from Stephen King’s “IT” for 11a etc, but then I just like to scare people!

  16. Thanks to Elkamere for the puzzle,& to Big Dave for the review and hints. Way beyond me, glad I managed to get as many as 14 answers.i take my hat off to Elkamere, I don’t know how he thinks it up, brilliant. Used a lot of Dave’s great hints, and was educated & only worry is on how to make the steps up from solving the back pagers to these kind of toughies ? Favourites were 27a & 17d.

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