Toughie 720

Toughie No 720 by Notabilis

Pass the wet towels, Nurse!

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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

Another Wednesday and we have another fine Toughie to enjoy, this time from Notabilis. Personally I prefer this style of Toughie, where there are no very obscure words and the “toughness” is in the wordplay. He does take a few imaginative liberties with the anagram indicators.
Please let us know how you got on and take the time to register your enjoyment factor by clicking on one of the stars below.

Across Clues

1a  Drug arrest takes place behind prison (8)
{ CANNABIS } – an informal verb to arrest and a simple way of saying takes place or occurs follow a North American slang word for prison to make a drug.

6a  Stage of travel in package almost makes Indian disaster zone (6)
{ BHOPAL } – put one stage of a journey by plane inside a package (of hay or cotton, perhaps) without its final letter (almost) to make the name of the place in India where a gas leak in 1984 caused a massive loss of life.

9a  I run repeatedly through litigation over peninsula (6)
{ WIRRAL } – this is a peninsula in the North-West of England (one of the “posh” areas of Merseyside). Insert I and then R(un) repeated inside (through) a synonym for legislation reversed (over).

Picture courtesy of Mark at PassMark Driving School

10a  Seen to try cases with theatricality (8)
{ ACTRESSY } – the definition is “with theatricality”. It’s an anagram (seen to) of TRY CASES. Presumably “seen to” in the sense of repaired or serviced as in “given a good seeing to” (?).

11a  Bitter and spirit at no cost (8)
{ FREEZING } – bitter (like the weather we’ve had recently) could also, cryptically, as (4,4) be spirit or liveliness at no cost.

12a  Brother relapses, covered in salve derived from plants (6)
{ HERBAL } – derived from plants is the definition. Reverse (relapses) an abbreviation for brother inside (covered in) a verb meaning to salve or soothe.

13a  One supervising Sellers in Goon realm, far gone (5,7)
{ FLOOR MANAGER } – sellers is falsely capitalised to try to make you think of Peter, but what we want is someone who supervises the sales staff in a department store (a Captain Peacock, for example). It’s an anagram (gone?) of GOON REALM FAR.

16a  Embarrassing once second person’s after call to have debts turned into credit (12)
{ CRINGEWORTHY } – this has a simple definition (embarrassing) but complicated wordplay. “Once second person’s” requires an old possessive pronoun relating to the second person singular. That comes last and before that we want a verb to call (on the phone) plus a verb meaning to have debts which is reversed (turned) all inside (into) the abbreviation for credit. I feel like I should be using brackets for clarification here, as in a mathematical formula!

19a  Unhinged mother rejected first son (6)
{ MANIAC } – an affectionate word for mother is followed by a reversal (rejected) of the first son in Genesis (a character who didn’t turn out too well).

21a  Encourage It Girl to dismiss time waster (8)
{ PRODIGAL } – I went all round the houses here, thinking that the It Girl would be Clara Bow, but it’s much simpler. The definition is waster or spendthrift. Start with a verb meaning to encourage or give a nudge to and follow this with IT and a dialect form of girl but first remove the T (dismiss time).

23a  M goes over peak with one off-road vehicle (8)
{ MINIBIKE } – the codeword used for M in the Nato Phonetic alphabet goes round a peak or projecting point and I (one).

24a  Soul singer informally appearing in cabaret hall (6)
{ ARETHA } – hidden (appearing) in the clue is a soul singer who is recognised by just her forename (informally).

25a  Humble revolutionary entitled to hold office in the end (6)
{ DEMEAN } – this is a verb meaning to humble. Reverse (revolutionary) a past participle meaning entitled and insert (to hold) the end letter of (offic)E.

26a  Fine art sellers note article purchase’s less refined (8)
{ SOTHEBY’S } – the name of a famous auction house is built from a) the fifth note in tonic sol-fa, b) a definite article and c) a synonym for purchase’s (including the trailing S) without the letter used to mean refined or posh.

Down Clues

2d  News agency journal’s not the first where things are kept buzzing? (6)
{ APIARY } – a news agency is followed by a personal journal without its initial D (not the first) to make a place where you keep things that buzz.

3d  Language of Nag’s Head replacing that of its general classification (5)
{ NORSE } – start with the sort (general classification) of animal that a nag is and replace its leading (head) letter with that of N(ag) to get a language.

4d  Contentious because shielded by corporations mostly (9)
{ BELLICOSE } – an adjective meaning contentious or warlike comes from an informal (and lazy) way of writing “because” inside (shielded by) corporations or paunches without the final S (mostly).

5d  Droopy person perhaps accepting wife’s arrogance (7)
{ SWAGGER } – how you might, perhaps, describe someone who droops goes round (accepting) W(ife).

6d  Tough is only approximately hard (5)
{ BUTCH } – a word meaning tough or excessively masculine in appearance (which can apply to either sex) is built from a) a word that might be a substitute for only in a sentence like “Yes, I agree, only …..”, b) an abbreviation meaning approximately or about and c) the abbreviation for hard as in a pencil.

7d  No day ever worked to save time for cook (4-5)
{ OVEN-READY } – an anagram (worked) of NO DAY EVER.

8d  Softened when core of satsuma’s ripened (8)
{ ASSUAGED } – a verb meaning softened or toned down requires a joining together of a) a synonym for when, b) the central (core) two letters of satsuma’s and c) a verb meaning ripened or became mature.

13d  Penning Chapter One, enjoyable French writer means to combat smut? (9)
{ FUNGICIDE } – smut is, apparently, a disease of plants so what we might get to combat it is formed by inserting C(hapter) and I (one) inside an adjective meaning enjoyable and the surname of the French novelist who won the Nobel prize for literature in 1947.

14d  To naturals, playing needs no intro from Louis Armstrong, say (9)
{ ASTRONAUT } – you need a bit of lifting and separating here. The definition by example (say) is Armstrong. It’s an anagram (playing) of TO NATURA(l)S without the introductory letter of L(ouis).

15d  No countryman’s right to veto, stopping completely without question (8)
{ URBANITE } – this is a word for a city-dweller (no countryman). Insert R(ight) and a verb meaning to veto inside (stopping, i.e. stopping up) an adverb meaning completely without its leading Q(uestion).

17d  Dead person’s content to welcome the man at edge of Underworld — such as me? (7)
{ ORPHEUS } – this is a mythological Greek poet who travelled to the underworld in an attempt to save his dead wife Eurydice. We want the body of a dead person – now extract its content (i.e. all except the leading C and trailing E) and inside that insert (to welcome) a male pronoun (the man) and the edge of U(nderworld).

18d  Dust fills something like strut (for a glider) (6)
{ SASHAY } – insert the dust remaining after a fire inside (fills) a way of expressing “something like” or for example to get an informal verb to glide in an ostentatious fashion.

20d  Heap in car crashes (5)
{ CAIRN } – after all the complicated wordplay it’s a bit of a relief to get a simple anagram (crashes) of IN CAR.

22d  Commitment to avoid tricks after master leaves French department (5)
{ ISERE } – we need to start with a term used in various card games (Solo Whist is the one I remember playing) as a bid to take no tricks at all. Then remove the leading M(aster) and what remains is the name of a départment in the East of France.

The clues I liked best were 25a, 14d and 17d. How about you?

16 Comments

  1. Qix
    Posted February 15, 2012 at 1:04 pm | Permalink

    I agree that 16a required some “cruciverbal algebra”!

    Nice puzzle, although a little tricky in places. 22d was a little obscure, but easy enough if you knew the card-playing reference.

    Thanks to Notabilis and Gazza.

  2. Posted February 15, 2012 at 1:12 pm | Permalink

    Phew! A beast as crypticsue described it!

    I thought it a puzzle of two halves, the top half going in fairly easily but the bottom was a real struggle!

    Excellent stuff so thanks to Notabilis and to Gazza.

  3. Posted February 15, 2012 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

    What a nice beastly Toughie – it took me a lot of cogitation time, interspersed with work, the SW corner in particular, although I was held up unnecessarily there by the fact that I couldn’t spell the auctioneers! Definitely 4* for both ratings. Thanks to Notabilis for an excellent brain stretching and to Gazza for his helpful hints.

  4. BigBoab
    Posted February 15, 2012 at 1:56 pm | Permalink

    Many thanks to Notablis and to Gazza for a superb toughie and an excellent review, I needed the hint for 16a.

  5. Jezza
    Posted February 15, 2012 at 3:31 pm | Permalink

    This was too tough for my tired head today, and I failed to finish it. I think even on a good day, I would have struggled with a couple.
    Favourite clues, 25a and 14d.
    Thanks to Notabilis, and to gazza.

  6. andy
    Posted February 15, 2012 at 6:13 pm | Permalink

    As Gazza says no obscure words, but it took me ages to parse 13d. Thanks as ever to Gazza and Notabilis. Jeez, it’s only Wednesday

  7. Posted February 15, 2012 at 6:19 pm | Permalink

    I needed a couple of pointers from the blog (thanks gazza!) after looking at this off and on durning the day. All in all a very enjoyable puzzle. Thanks to Notabilis too!.

    • Posted February 15, 2012 at 7:34 pm | Permalink

      Don’t forget your hat tomorrow :)

      • Posted February 15, 2012 at 8:28 pm | Permalink

        Merci!. Forewarned is fore-hatted!

      • Posted February 15, 2012 at 11:56 pm | Permalink

        It’s one of his then? Hope so cos I likes them :smile:

  8. pegasus
    Posted February 15, 2012 at 8:12 pm | Permalink

    Sterling stuff on offer today, my days playing Solo came in handy with 22d favourites were 6d 14d and 25a thanks to Notabilis and to Gazza for the review.

  9. Heno
    Posted February 15, 2012 at 11:51 pm | Permalink

    Can’t get any at all !!

    • Heno
      Posted February 16, 2012 at 12:01 am | Permalink

      Hooray, got 13a. Now I can sleep happy :-)

      • Posted February 16, 2012 at 12:04 am | Permalink

        Hi Heno, stick to the top half, it’s a lot easier than the bottom IMHO!

  10. Posted February 16, 2012 at 12:12 am | Permalink

    Hi Gazza

    Just noticed you put a ? after ‘gone’ as an anagram indicator. I’d done the blog for the back pager before tackling this and had come across barking as an indicator. Well, barking mad, so OK, therefore didn’t have a problem with gone – “he’s gone man”, but it would help if you’d smoked a few spliffs before saying this so as to get the pronunciation right!

    • Posted February 16, 2012 at 7:50 am | Permalink

      Thanks, Pommers.
      I’ve seen barking before, but I don’t remember seeing gone. However, if you consult the list of anagram indicators in your brand new Crossword Dictionary you’ll find both there (I probably should have looked at that before inserting the QM!).

%d bloggers like this: