Toughie 716

Toughie No 716 by MynoT

What Happened to Grockle, Heckle and Jekyll?

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BD Rating – Difficulty ***Enjoyment **

Regular Toughie solvers will know that MynoT is currently working his way through the consonants and that his last puzzle covered F, so, having found out last night that he was today’s setter, I set about polishing an alliterative sub-title using plenty of Gs. All to no avail, because he’s skipped a few letters.
I have to admire the skill that goes into compiling a puzzle like this, but it necessitates the use of some pretty obscure words and seems a bit forced so I didn’t enjoy it that much. Let us know your thoughts.

Across Clues

7a  Spy ink on new fur (8)
{PONYSKIN} – an anagram (new) of SPY INK ON gives what Chambers defines as “the skin of a foal, esp from the Kyrgyz Steppes, used as a fur” (but I expect you all knew that!).

9a  Gall of a king when meeting crazy person (3-3)
{OAK-NUT} – a gall can be an abnormal growth and this particular gall grows on a specific type of tree. Bring together the abbreviation for “of”, A and the chess abbreviation for king, then add an informal term for a crazy person.

10a  Nickel found in Wounded Knee for him (6)
{KENNIE} – his name comes from inserting the chemical symbol for nickel inside an anagram (wounded) of KNEE.

11a  Sum owing to reserve young lady’s time (4-4)
{BOOK-DEBT} – this is the sum that a business is owed, as recorded in the company accounts. Start with a verb to reserve and add a young lady (the sort who used to come out) and T(ime).

12a  Estimated degree of failure curtailed slack cooking (10,4)
{CALCULATED RISK} – an anagram (cooking) of CURTAILED SLACK.

15a  Something intoxicating from palms of artist in Alaska (4)
{ARAK} – this is an alcoholic drink made in the Middle East from the juice of coco palms and tasting of aniseed (it’s an Arabic word meaning sweat, which you don’t really want to think about when you’re drinking it). Put the usual artist inside the standard abbreviation for Alaska.

17a  Take fruit to make spirit (5)
{RAKEE} – … and this is followed by another word (this time Turkish) for what is basically the same alcoholic drink. Start with the abbreviation for take (as used on prescriptions) and add the edible fruit of a small African tree.

19a  Mood of senior lawyer, one becoming acceptable (4)
{SULK} – an informal name for a Queen’s Counsel (senior lawyer) is subjected to a vowel change.

20a  Hope lost 10 kilos dancing with no end of passion in call-box (9,5)
{TELEPHONE KIOSK} – the answer here leapt out and it was obviously an anagram, but it took me ages to work out the fodder (I kept trying to include TEN). After a lot of trial and error it eventually clicked that the indicator is dancing and the fodder is HOPE LOST plus the answer to 10a minus one of the Ns (no end of passion) plus K(ilos).

23a  Return call for support all round in Great Britain (4,4)
{RING BACK} – this one confused me as well because I thought initially that support was the second word. In fact we have to put a word for a sort of shelf (for drying dishes perhaps) around IN and G(reat) B(ritain).

25a  Mushroom in torn pack (3-3)
{INK-CAP} – IN is followed by an anagram (torn) of PACK to make a type of mushroom.

27a  Another shot of alien embraced by roué (6)
{RETAKE} – Spielberg’s alien is embraced by another word for roué.

28a  Demand sex and get just deserts! (3,3,2)
{ASK FOR IT} – double definition, the second a phrase meaning to misbehave in a way likely to bring punishment.

Down Clues

1d  Drink carbon product for fuel (4)
{COKE} – double definition.

2d  Sounds like Tea Party, representative of fat cats? (6)
{PYKNIC} – tea party is capitalised to try to make you think of the frightening right-wing American organisation which promotes the interests of unfettered capitalism and fat cats. What sounds like an al fresco meal is actually a human physical type characterised by a short, squat stature with small hands and feet, a domed abdomen and a round face. I understand the fat bit, but I’m not sure whether cats is significant other than as a slang term for men.

3d  Blow up a small group (4)
{KNOB} – rather a disappointing clue for this word (forwards and backwards) I thought. A small group of wildfowl, when reversed (up) is a blow or thump.

4d  Spirit on floor is black and ancient (6)
{KOBOLD} – this is a word from German folklore for a sort of goblin (spirit) which haunts houses (and may help with the housework) or lives in mines. An abbreviation meaning to floor (in the boxing ring, perhaps) is followed by B(lack) and a synonym for ancient.

5d  Crown protection for child finding cover in boat (4,4)
{SKID LIDS} – items to protect one’s crown come from inserting slang words for child and hat inside the usual abbreviation for ship or boat.

6d  Stupid people lacking feeling for rowing race, we hear (10)
{NUMBSKULLS} – these are stupid people. An adjective meaning lacking feeling is followed by what sounds like (we hear) a race between small light rowing boats, each with a single rower.

8d  One in a submissive position is a devious person between king, knight and queen (7)
{KNEELER} – put a metaphor for a slippery customer (devious person) after the chess abbreviations for king and knight and before the cypher of our Queen.

13d  Bombing raids expose special vehicles (3,7)
{AIR STRIKES} – these bombing raids are a charade of a verb to expose (one’s views, perhaps), S(pecial) and vehicles for young children.

14d  Capital that’s also in Kentucky? On the contrary (5)
{TOKYO} – the abbreviation for Kentucky goes inside a synonym for also.

16d  International record held by Mark lifting weight (8)
{KILOGRAM} – the definition is weight. Reverse (lifting) MARK and put I(nternational) and a record inside it.

18d  European tree fall won’t get second glance (3-4)
{EYE-WINK} – a word for a glance is constructed from a) E(uropean), b) a coniferous tree and c) a verb to fall without (won’t get) its leading S(econd).

21d  Reached summit and stopped, with vegetable for support (6)
{PEAKED} – start with a verb meaning stopped (your car at the lights, perhaps) then replace the female support garment with a vegetable.

22d  One could take a dip here in Cambodia with Kitty (6)
{INKPOT} – something in which one could dip one’s quill comes from IN, the IVR code for Cambodia and a falsely-capitalised kitty.

24d  Title for inn (4)
{KHAN} – double definition.

26d  Annika’s upset without a note in correspondence (4)
{AKIN} – the definition is “in correspondence”. Remove A and N(ote) from Annika and turn what’s left of her upside down (upset).

The clues I liked best were 23a and 5d. How about you?

31 Comments

  1. JB
    Posted February 8, 2012 at 1:10 pm | Permalink

    Once one sussed the theme this was straight forward but….the joke wore a bit thin by the end.

  2. crypticsue
    Posted February 8, 2012 at 1:17 pm | Permalink

    Straightforward once I realised MynoT had jumped up the alphabet a bit (which trend, if it continues, means that we will reach the end of this dreary theme sooner rather than later). I don’t like clues where you get the wordplay sorted and then have to check to make sure the word exists in the case of 2d and that it means what it is supposed to (24d). 2* difficulty; 1* entertainment. Thanks to MynoT – quite clever to work in all those Ks – and to Gazza too. Disappointed you didn’t use my suggested title :)

    • gazza
      Posted February 8, 2012 at 1:22 pm | Permalink

      What CS suggested as a sub-title was Knickers.

      • crypticsue
        Posted February 8, 2012 at 1:24 pm | Permalink

        With a capital for the second K too – and purely because it was a polite way of saying what one might have said having put all that work into alliterating your G’s.

  3. Jezza
    Posted February 8, 2012 at 1:17 pm | Permalink

    I think I am fairly neutral about this one. As Gazza says, there is a fair amount of skill to produce a puzzle like this, but once you realise the theme, the challenge to solve the puzzle is considerably easier. If I was to pick a favourite, it would probably be 21d, as it took me a while to work out why.
    I gave trying to work out the anagram fodder for 20a (the answer was obvious, but I could not see why).
    Thanks to MynoT, and to Gazza for the review.

  4. Phil
    Posted February 8, 2012 at 1:18 pm | Permalink

    It’s the first time I finished a Toughie before one of Big Dave’s team had put up the answers. In that respect I enjoyed it, but there were some obscure answers that I worked out and then had to go to check the dictionary that they were real words!

  5. Posted February 8, 2012 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

    Thanks Gazza, I couldn’t see where 20a was coming from even though the answer was obvious.

    I’ve always spelled the Turkish drink as in your illustration and had to check if there was an alternative. I dread to think how Paul would have clued 3d in the Grauniad!

    Still interested to see how MynoT is going to handle J,Q,X and Z!

    Thanks to MynoT and Gazza.

    • gazza
      Posted February 8, 2012 at 1:28 pm | Permalink

      I filled a whole sheet of paper with permutations of the anagram fodder for 20a before getting the right mix (which was the main reason for giving it 3* for difficulty rather than 2*).

  6. SpikeyMikey
    Posted February 8, 2012 at 1:24 pm | Permalink

    I enjoyed this more than the back pager for today. Found it quite tricky in places, but in the end very do-able.

  7. Posted February 8, 2012 at 1:27 pm | Permalink

    My take on 3d was BONK = to hit (blow) and reversed (up) it’s a small group.

    • Jezza
      Posted February 8, 2012 at 1:37 pm | Permalink

      I think that is what Gazza wrote – Chambers defines KNOB as a small group (of wildfowl).

      • Posted February 8, 2012 at 1:47 pm | Permalink

        Ah, Collins doesn’t mention the wildfowl bit but gives ‘cluster’ in its thesaurus. Still no BRB – pommette let me down again! :sad:

  8. Deep Threat
    Posted February 8, 2012 at 1:31 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for the blog Gazza. Like other I couldn’t spot the anagram fodder for 20a, though the answer was obvious.

    Your hint for 12a gives part of the answer in the anagram fodder. Should be ‘CURTAILED SLACK’, I think.

    • gazza
      Posted February 8, 2012 at 1:36 pm | Permalink

      Thanks – fixed now.

  9. BigBoab
    Posted February 8, 2012 at 1:39 pm | Permalink

    Thanks to MynoT for an interesting crossword and to Gazza for the hints/review. I did need your assistance with 2d as I had never heard of it, otherwise fairly straightforward but clever.

  10. Posted February 8, 2012 at 2:09 pm | Permalink

    Good TV series always benefit from having a break. I suspect the same applies to Mynot’s current canter through the alphabet. Clever though they are, it would be nice to have a break and something different to tackle. Even skipping G, H and J did not add and spice to the theme.

  11. Posted February 8, 2012 at 3:34 pm | Permalink

    I’ll give it a go but I expect that I may have printed off what will be tomorrow’s shopping list on the reverse. I wonder what the Grauniad has to offer…yesterday’s was v enjoyable.

  12. wbgeddes
    Posted February 8, 2012 at 4:43 pm | Permalink

    3D – not a good clue. I had to look this one up to check I was right. Do compilers get to a stage when they just can’t be bothered? There is so much much more that can be done with this answer.

    Both crosswords have been been laborious affairs today. There is a palpable sense of ho hum about them.

  13. Posted February 8, 2012 at 7:26 pm | Permalink

    Very laboured and I agree, forced in style. 28a still annoying the hell out of me.

  14. pegasus
    Posted February 8, 2012 at 8:13 pm | Permalink

    Agree with most comments concerning the repetition of this theme, favourite clue 21d thanks to MynoT and to Gazza for the hints.

  15. andy
    Posted February 8, 2012 at 8:53 pm | Permalink

    I’d not come across the spelling of 17a before, and last in 24d, 4 letters what a shock! I knew 2d by chance alone, as I seem to recall I got a rather high at scrabble with a complete guess it was a word. Thanks MynoT and Gazza

  16. Kath
    Posted February 8, 2012 at 11:57 pm | Permalink

    Yet again this one is way beyond me – even guessing from the comments in “the other place” that everything had a “K” in it. Thought that I’d have a go at it – managed about half then husband (not known for his crossword solving ability) had a go and got a few more. Then we both gave up and I resorted to the hints. There are still a few that I don’t understand – 18d – I get the “e” and the “tree” but can’t work out the last three letters. Also 21d – feel that I could be asking for trouble having read the hint but how does a “bra” (presumably) turn into a “pea”? Sorry to be dim, but everyone says “ask” when you don’t understand something. With thanks to MynoT and Gazza.

    • Posted February 9, 2012 at 12:28 am | Permalink

      Hi Kath – you’re up late! Not unusual for me but I guess everyone else is asleep so I’ll see if I can help.

      18d – European tree fall won’t get second glance (3-4)

      E(uropean) followed by YEW (tree) and then SINK (fall) without the S (won’t get S(econd)). Split that lot (3-4)

      21d – Reached summit and stopped, with vegetable for support (6)

      Reached summit is the definition. Start with a word for stopped (BRAKED) and then change the first 3 letters to PEA (vegetable for support). BRA is the (lady’s) support and the word ‘for’ tells you to exchange it for the vegetable (PEA in this case) which you have to guess. Tricky in the extreme IMHO!

      Hope that helps.

  17. Kath
    Posted February 8, 2012 at 11:58 pm | Permalink

    PS Lots of words that I’d never heard of. REALLY can’t do toughies, YET!! :smile:

    • Posted February 9, 2012 at 12:57 am | Permalink

      You can do Toughies!
      Just remember that the setters often use a few words that nobody ever heard of in the mistaken belief that an obscure word makes a tough crossword! IMHO it it’s a cop-out but if the wordplay is fair you can parse it and then end up with a jumble of letters that look like nothing on earth – so look them up in Chambers or whatever and often you’ll find they are actually a word :grin:, ( but sometimes not and then its back to the drawing board :sad:. I prefer Toughies that have very complicated wordplay for everyday words, but that’s just a personal opinion with which others are welcome to disagree.

      • Kath
        Posted February 9, 2012 at 10:38 am | Permalink

        Thanks for both replies, pommers! OK – understand both clues now – think it had probably got too late (and was too cold) for the brain to function properly! My Dad always used to say “I think you’re a bit past your best – it’s time you went to bed”!!

  18. RogBrown
    Posted February 9, 2012 at 2:57 pm | Permalink

    Don’t get 24d. What’s KHAN got to do with inn?

    • gazza
      Posted February 9, 2012 at 3:01 pm | Permalink

      A khan is both a title (as in Genghis) and an inn for travellers.

      • RogBrown
        Posted February 9, 2012 at 4:12 pm | Permalink

        Thanks Gazza. It’s not in Dictionary.com as an inn but Concise Oxford has it as a caravanserai.

        • Posted February 9, 2012 at 4:18 pm | Permalink

          It is, of course, in the BRB!

          khan
          noun
          An Eastern inn, a caravanserai

  19. Posted February 9, 2012 at 3:56 pm | Permalink

    17 across brought back memories for me of the Ackee and Saltfish beigels I used to get from a Jamaican takeaway near Dalston.