Toughie 732 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 732

Toughie No 732 by Micawber

Short on Duration but Long on Enjoyment

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

Superb stuff, as always, from Micawber. In terms of difficulty this was perhaps the easiest one I can remember from him but the enjoyment was as good as ever. What did you think?

Across Clues

1a  Device for raising jobs in defence (5,3,6)
{BLOCK AND TACKLE} – double definition – a device for raising heavy weights and two of the jobs of the defence in various sports. A Health and Safety warning about the correct use of such equipment is contained in the attached sketch which I never tire of listening to.

ARVE Error: need id and provider

9a  Third in table initially, Man United suffering setback after Tottenham Hotspur held by Liverpool, 1-1 (7)
{LITHIUM} – the definition here is third in table, the table in question being the periodic table so what we want is the element having atomic number 3. Initially applies to all the teams so reverse (suffering setback) Man United after Tottenham Hotspur are contained in (held by) Liverpool and I (one) twice. Spurs seem to be popular today!

10a  Secret police misappropriated postage (7)
{GESTAPO} – an anagram (misappropriated) of POSTAGE gives the common abbreviation for the GEheime STAatsPOlizei, the secret police in Nazi Germany.

11a  Kiss cheek (4)
{NECK} – double definition (cheek here meaning impudence).

12a  Woman who wanted say, stiff sugar confection (10)
{SUFFRAGIST} – this is a woman who wanted a say in her country’s democratic process. It’s an anagram (confection) of STIFF SUGAR.

14a  Brussels hangout that’s stuffed full of ‘la crème’ (6)
{ECLAIR} – join together the old abbreviation for the body of which Brussels is the de facto capital and the hangout of a wild animal to make this confection. We’d had Chambers’ amusing definition of this quite recently but if you missed it here it is again: a cake, long in shape but short in duration, with cream filling and usually chocolate icing.

15a  Vehicle, one behind mine, showing a bit of wear (8)
{CARDIGAN} – this is a bit of wear or item of clothing. Start with a vehicle then add an adjective meaning one after a verb to mine.

17a  I’m on guest list, say, getting in for nothing — it’s delicate stuff, not heavy metal! (8)
{FILIGREE} – this is a delicate ornamental lacework made of metal (but not heavy metals). Put a slang phrase (1,3) meaning I attend an entertainment without having to pay inside (getting in) an adjective meaning for nothing.

18a  Lord regressing, into sportswear — he’s in touch with his inner child (6)
{KIDULT} – reverse (regressing) a lord (the sort that sits on a bench) inside what you wear for playing sport to get an informal term for a grown person who has childish tastes (like playing with train sets).

20a  Slightly underestimates number of drinks consumed (6,4)
{ROUNDS DOWN} – a phrasal verb meaning lowers a number to make it more manageable but slightly less precise could also describe the sets of drinks already consumed.

21a  Fair Man? (4)
{ISLE} – double definition, both by example. The first is Scottish and is very small but has two claims to fame – it gets mentioned in the Shipping Forecast and has given its name to colourful knitwear.

23a  Lad ground down with toil to be multiskilled (2,2,3)
{DO IT ALL} – a phrase meaning to be multiskilled is an anagram (ground down) of LAD and TOIL.

24a  King smashing into centre of Viking raft (3-4)
{KON-TIKI} – this is the name of the raft used by the Norwegian explorer Thor Heyerdahl in a journey across the Pacific in 1947. Start with the chessboard abbreviation for king, then add an anagram (smashing) of INTO and the two central letters of Viking.

25a  Flat broke, loan is needed — ten cents to name left (3-11)
{ONE-DIMENSIONAL} – the definition here is flat. An anagram (broke) of LOAN IS has a single ten cents coin and N(ame) preceding it (to its left, in an across clue).

Down Clues

1d  France in trouble, with a bloated deficit in this? (7,2,5)
{BALANCE OF TRADE} – France is not (yet) one of the PIGS (Portugal, Italy, Greece, Spain), the countries most in trouble in the Eurozone, but an anagram (in trouble) of FRANCE and A BLOATED could define an area of difficulty for it.

2d  Independent states of America engaged in choice that’s not what it seems (7,8)
{OPTICAL ILLUSION} – insert I(ndependent), a couple of American states and an abbreviation for America all inside a synonym of choice to make something that’s not what it looks like. As an example of this, if you stare at the following image long enough you may eventually see a forest in the background.

3d  Can 1000 revised upwards make 15? (4)
{KNIT} – reverse (revised upwards) another word for a can and the abbreviation used for a thousand to form a verb to make something like 15a.

4d  Students storing 1024 kilobytes in cloud (6)
{NIMBUS} – in general usage (see previous clue) kilo means a thousand but a kilobyte of computer storage is actually 1,024 bytes (210). We want the abbreviation for 1,024 kilobytes (i.e. 1,024 x 1,024 = 1,048,576 bytes). Put that inside (storing) the abbreviation for the national students’ union to get a type of cloud. This is a pretty neat clue because “cloud computing” is the “in” thing and students may well be storing their data away from their personal computers in the “cloud”.

5d  Government regulator, after cutback, has right to support union in power struggle (3-2-3)
{TUG-OF-WAR} – G(overnment) followed by the quango that’s supposed to regulate the water industry (a bit of a joke here in the South-West where we pay more for our water than anywhere else in the country) without its final T (after cutback) and R(ight) all follow (support, in a down clue) the abbreviation for a workers’ union.

6d  What’s thrown up as direct hit? (7,3)
{CUSTARD PIE} – a semi-all-in-one. The thing that’s thrown is an anagram (hit) of UP AS DIRECT.

7d  Being ahead, goal lifting top seed is to produce something unanswerable in court (7,8)
{LEADING QUESTION} – this is a query posed by a barrister in court which may be ruled out of order because it contains the response that the brief wants to hear. An adjective meaning being ahead is followed by the sort of goal sought by medieval knights and the reversal (lifting) of the top seed (2,1) in a tournament.

8d  Position on police financing (7,3,4)
{FOOTING THE BILL} – a word meaning position or status is followed by a slang term for the police.

13d  Put crown on one that’s in need of protection, it could get chipped (4,6)
{KING EDWARD} – a verb meaning crowned is followed by someone who needs protection (normally a minor) to make something that might get chipped.

16d  Swinger’s choice — cuddling naughty nude (8)
{PENDULUM} – to get this swinger put an adjective meaning choice or excellent around (cuddling) an anagram (naughty) of NUDE.

19d  Stirred a pan, oriental, adding a bit of noodle (6)
{AWOKEN} – A is followed by a cooking pan, E(astern) and the first letter (bit) of N(oodle).

22d  Contrary, outspoken northern relative (4)
{ANTI} – a word meaning contrary or opposed sounds like (outspoken) how a female relative might be pronounced in the North. This answer appears on today’s back page as well.

I’ll go with 1a, 15a, 1d and 13d as my favourites (but I could have chosen half-a-dozen others). Let us know what tickled you!

36 comments on “Toughie 732

  1. I always look forward to a Micawber Toughie and wasn’t disappointed this morning. I don’t mind a gentler toughie if they are 5* entertainment value. Impossible to pick a favourite clue so I will just give a big thank you to Micawber for once again making me start Wednesday with a big smile on my face. Thanks to Gazza too.

  2. Great fun, as usual from Micawber.

    Not too tricky, but very enjoyable.

    The long clues should make this very accessible for those trying a Toughie for the first time.

    Thanks to Micawber, and to Gazza for the blog.

  3. Many thanks to Micawber for a most enjoyable puzzle that was over too quickly! My only hold up was working out the anagram fodder and wordplay to the answer to 25a.
    Thanks also to gazza for the review.

  4. Many thanks to Micawber for a very enjoyable toughie, great fun all round. Thanks also to Gazza for the very entertaining review.

  5. Being a house husband for the week, I am having the luxury of popping down to a coffee shop to sit and enjoy the Toughie with nice cup of coffee. Although the cup was stil half full and piping hot at the end of Micawber’s masterpiece, every minute was enjoyable. Thanks to him for a cracking crossword and to Gazza for the review.

  6. I completed this but have a query on 25a. Unless I’m missing something, I don’t think the first word of the answer is clued. Thanks to Micawber and to Gazza.

  7. Excellent entertainment from todays setter, favourites were 1a 9a 13d and 24a thanks to Micawber and to Gazza for the comments.

  8. Re:2d As far as the forest in the background is concerned I’m still having truoble getting past the cardigan at 15a!
    Thanks to Micawber and to Gazza who never lets us, the Non-PC brigade, down.

  9. really enjoyed this puzzle ***/**** for others i could’nt see the wood for the trees ,at least i know what i want for christmas!

  10. As I said earlier, this was quite easy for a toughie but no less enjoyable. So many good clues its difficult to pick one out. 18 was a new one for me but it was the only word that fitted. There was a crease right through my paper which didn’t help, not for the first time either. Let’s hope for more of a challenge tomorrow.

  11. Gazza – please excuse my ignorance, but who’s the orator/comedian in the clip at 1a?

    1. In case anyone else wants to know it’s Gerard Hoffnung and it’s an extract from his speech at the Oxford Union in the 1950s. The rest of the speech is pretty funny as well.

  12. Thoroughly entertaining. Got all the answers but unfortunately still don’t understand 17a – even from your hint Gazza. We must be being stupid or it’s a phrase neither me nor pommers have heard before.
    Thanks to Micawber and Gazza for the hints.

    1. Had Pommers taken his BRB with him on his hols, he would see that it is from a verb meaning to be a freeloader, especially in the entertainment industry at a party with refreshments!

    2. Hi pommette

      I’d never heard of the verb ‘to lig’ either, until I looked it up to confirm my answer was correct!

    3. I meant to say that I’d never heard of it either, but it was fairly obvious what it had to be.

    4. I have never “ligged”.(?) In fact, it always seems that I’m the one who foots the bill!

      A close run thing today as to which was the better crossword – Micawber’s Toughie or Arachne in the Grauniad. Both excellent!

      1. Agreed Franco, the spider woman spun a great crossword, and don’t understand the controversy on fifteen squared re 22d.

  13. Enjoyability reduced for me due to too many wordy clues where solving came from an easily identifiable trigger word rather than by solving cryptically – if that makes sense.

  14. Ok nearly caught up with the backlog, I agree this was not the toughest that young Micawber can throw at us but i thought this was 5* fun. Thanks Gazza and Micawber

  15. Yet again I’ve had a go at a toughie. It may be an easy one but it still well and truly defeated me. Managed about half of it. :sad:
    Lots of things I didn’t know – 18a and the middle bit of 17a being just two of them. I’ll keep trying!! I loved Gazza’s clip for 1a and his comment on his “picture hint” for 2d! With thanks to Micawber and Gazza.

  16. As a compiler, I marvelled at the grid with its heavy cross-checking of 14 and 15 letter words, along with intersecting 10-letter ones — a most attractive and challenging grid to compile. Must try it myself.


    1. Welcome to the blog Busman

      It’s only taken you three years – please don’t wait that long before your next comment!

  17. Thanks to Micawber & the reviewer. I found this very enjoyable, a doable Toughie. Just needed 2 hints, 21a & 18a which I hadn’t heard of. Favourite was 9a.

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