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Toughie 768

Toughie No 768 by Elkamere

We’ll Take That As Red

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

We have a very entertaining puzzle from Elkamere, but with one clue which is bound to infuriate half of the solvers (to be fair Elkamere has made its wordplay about as easy as he could). There is a mini-theme relating to alcohol. I enjoyed it a lot – how about you?

Across Clues

1a  Being single could make person do this (12)
{SPINSTERHOOD} – the state of being single is an anagram (could make) of PERSON DO THIS.

9a  Part of Turkey, a country that was part of US state (4,5)
{ASIA MINOR} – this is most of that part of Turkey which is not in Europe. String together A, the old name for an Asian country (country that was), a preposition meaning part of and the standard abbreviation for a state in the North-West of the USA.

10a  Fail, as an engine or clutch (5)
{SEIZE} – double definition, the first how an engine may fail, especially if you neglect to put in any oil.

11a  Perversely I’m into religious sermon (6)
{HOMILY} – reverse (perversely) I’M inside a synonym for religious.

12a  Sly individual behind hedge (8)
{STALLONE} – the surname of the actor famous for his he-man roles and nicknamed Sly comes from placing an individual after a verb to hedge or prevaricate.

13a  Road works obstructing huge delivery (6)
{DOOSRA} – (non cricket fans should swear softly and skip swiftly to the last sentence) – this is a fairly recent addition to the rich vocabulary of cricket. A word from Urdu meaning ‘the other one’, it’s a type of delivery made with an off-break action but which is actually a leg-break. An anagram (works) of ROAD contains (obstructing) the abbreviation for huge in clothing sizes.

15a  Intellectuals say Degas failed to capture hearts (8)
{EGGHEADS} – the abbreviation for ‘say’ is followed by an anagram (failed) of DEGAS containing (to capture) H(earts).

18a  Army unit in small courtyard and not retreating (8)
{SQUADRON} – this is a military unit (more often associated with the air force, but also a division of a cavalry regiment). It’s built from S(mall), an abbreviated courtyard and the reversal (retreating) of ‘and not’.

19a  Room for wine, but not the Spanish and French wine (6)
{CLARET} – remove the Spanish definite article (masculine variety) from an underground room where you might store your fine vintages, then add the French for ‘and’.

21a  Around spring, goes to find old cinemas (8)
{FLEAPITS} – these are old, run-down cinemas. A verb meaning goes or matches (like a piece in a jigsaw) contains a verb to spring.

23a  Hamper provided by B&B in error (6)
{HOBBLE} – a verb meaning to hamper or constrain comes from inserting the double B in an error or flaw (in an argument, perhaps).

26a  Stand out from unit, briefly (5)
{EXCEL} – a prefix meaning from is followed by the smallest functional unit of an organism without its final L (briefly).

27a  The spot containing record number of attractions here? (5,4)
{THEME PARK} – inserted amongst THE and a spot or speck is an old record format. The result is a place where you’d find a number of attractions.

28a  3? (3,9)
{VIN ORDINAIRE} – how you might describe 3d (a bottle bought for £4.99 from the supermarket perhaps).

Down Clues

1d  25 considerably reduced (7)
{SLASHED} – double definition, the first another informal way (like 25d) of saying obtained relief.

2d  Saying one’s stupid to accept love (5)
{IDIOM} – this is a saying. I (one) is followed by a synonym of stupid with O (love) inserted.

3d  Some musicians skin up when penning work (6,3)
{SIMPLY RED} – a more formal word for the skin is reversed (up) and contains (penning) a verb to work steadily. What we end up with is Mick Hucknall’s band. I had to look up ‘skin up’ (I live a very sheltered life) – it means to prepare a marijuana joint.

ARVE Error: need id and provider

4d  Bird fancier needs nets (4)
{ERNE} – a seabird is hidden (nets) in the clue.

5d  Past, or ambassador’s fury about it (8)
{HERITAGE} – the abbreviation of an ambassador’s title is followed by a synonym of fury containing IT.

6d  Bird parasite’s heading for its bottom (5)
{OUSEL} – start with a parasite, then move its first letter (heading) to the end to make a type of blackbird.

7d  No fresh meat? Cafe customer angry, generally speaking (8)
{DINOSAUR} – the meat from this creature would be well past its sell-by date. It sounds (a bit) like a charade of a café customer and an adjective meaning angry.

8d  Confessional possibly concerning church and saints (6)
{RECESS} – an alcove (the sort which might house a confessional in a Roman Catholic church) is constructed from a preposition meaning concerning, the abbreviation for the Church of England and a couple of S(aints).

14d  Wealth extremely useful when there’s no money around (8)
{OPULENCE} – the outer (extremely) bits of U(sefu)L has the letter resembling zero and small change (money) around it.

16d  Annual event for women no one’s paid to enter (9)
{HALLOWEEN} – an annual event in the autumn comes from an adjective meaning for women only with, inside it, a phrase indicating that nobody has stumped up the money (3,3).

17d  What’s 21 again? The answer to everything? (5-3)
{FORTY-TWO} – twenty-one and twenty-one again produce the answer to life, the universe and everything, according to Douglas Adams.

18d  Bends a lot, being damp (6)
{SOFTEN} – a type of bends (on a road, say) is followed by an adverb meaning a lot. What we end up with is a verb meaning to damp down or muffle.

20d  Oddly, ‘There’s Kirk’ will excite me! (7)
{TREKKIE} – this is someone who might be excited by the sight of Kirk (or Spock). He (or she) is an anagram (will excite) of the odd letters of ThErE and KIRK.

22d  Stack one’s caps (5)
{PILEI} – a stack or heap is followed by I (one) to make the caps of mushrooms or toadstools.

24d  You might say he has lighter snack with Indian meal (5)
{BHAJI} – a homophone of someone in charge of a flat-bottomed boat (lighter) is actually an Indian snack of vegetables deep-fried in batter.

25d  Plant pot (4)
{WEED} – double definition.

The clues I enjoyed most today were 12a, 19a, 3d and 16d. Let us know what tickled your fancy.


21 comments on “Toughie 768

  1. Can I be the first to complain about 13a. Now I don’t mind cricket – I grew up with a Dad who went to Lords and the Oval on a regular basis and I know most of the cricket terms, but really….!!

    Apart from that clue, and being held up by 7d, I didn’t have a lot of problems with this very nice Toughie. My favourites were 12a, 17d and 24d. Thanks to Elkamere and Gazza too.

  2. Solved four clues in one hour…….not in the zone……threw the thing out in the bin……

    1. I have a rule with the non-Telegraph cryptics that I give them an hour, return to them after another hour or so to see if cogitation works and then if that doesn’t help, I throw them away. They are after all only crosswords and there will be another one along tomorrow. I always perservate with the DT puzzles though, can’t give up on them after all these years :)

      1. But don’t you like to see the review the next day then back solve the answers. I’ve had many d’oh moments accompanied by the deafening ringing of large pfennigs meeting the ground. Plus I’ve learnt something although whether I will ever need to use 13a is debatable.

        1. I do look at 15 squared and Times for the TImes during the week to see where I go wrong. My throwing away rule mainly applies to weekends when I try to curb my cryptic addiction just a tiny bit.

  3. Tough but enjoyable – favourite clues 19a, and 3d.

    I did get the cricketing one, but then again, it has always been my passion (as far as sports are concerned).
    Thanks to Anax, and to gazza.

        1. I was being particularly thick about 10a until the notion of a pangram struck me!

    1. Don’t think the term had been invented when I gained all my cricketing term knowledge :D

  4. The funny thing about words, eh?
    It’s a strange business. Across the cryptic blogosphere there are comments about ‘obscure’ answers, and for setters it can be difficult to adhere to a guideline because when we fill in a grid we instinctively regard obscurity on a personal level. For every light to be filled, if we use software to generate a list of potential answers we’ll go through it and respond to each candidate with a mental “That’s just basic English” right through to “Never heard of it”. The last category is one we’ll do all we can to avoid, generally only succumbing if there really is nothing else that will fit without a complete rebuild of part of the puzzle.
    As for this cricketing word – well, if channel Five is showing a match and there isn’t much else on I’ll be happy to watch for an hour, but I’m no devotee. But when I saw this candidate answer I knew immediately what the word meant, followed by the thought “Well I can’t be only one?”
    Funnily enough, there’s a non-dictionary meaning I’m aware of and I wonder if anyone else has heard it in this context; a 13a being any unexpected action/statement by someone. I can’t remember where/when/how I encountered that meaning – whether it was personal or picked up via TV/radio/print, or it may be that I’ve always thought the chiefly US word DOOZY shared the etymology. Dictionaries are uncertain about this; SOED suspects it may come from an obscure meaning of DOUSE.

    1. Its the only thing I have grumped about in all three of your puzzles this week :D

  5. Nice puzzle and just about right for a Wednesday Toughie.

    Defeated by 13a but now I’ve seen the answer I think I have heard the term before. I understood the construction but just couldn’t make a word that meant anything to me !

    Thanks to Elkamere and Gazza.

  6. Highly enjoyable and a well pitched difficulty level with some lovely Penny Drop Moments. Thanks Elkamere and thanks to gazza for the blog. 12a was my favourite as well and no real issues with ‘The other one’ – just a bit of time looking for googly!

  7. Many thanks to Elkamere for a cracker of a toughie and to Gazza for a very entertaining review. ( Like Gnomethang, I wasted some time trying to fit googly in at 13a)

    1. Never try to insert a googly where a doosra should go. Nothing good can ever come from it…

  8. 13a was a lucky guess,(confirmed with a dog walker cricketing fan)26a my d’oh of the day and 3d my fave. thanks Gazza and Elkamere, .

    1. I must confess to the 3d (ace)/28a combo causing me to splutter into my tea at 10 O’clock this morning!
      I personally have an issue with complaints on the likes of 13a; OK it is mainly a cricketing term (per Chambers) but it is no less acceptable to a non-cricketer (or even me who is an occasional viewer) than e.g. ASTILBE or RATEL (bless’em!) to a non gardner/botanist or even 7d which historically is a bit, er, passe, compared to 13a!.
      I think that cricet gets a hard rap!

  9. I did at least have a go! I managed enough to be annoyed with myself that I couldn’t do more before heading for the hints. There were some that I would never have got – obviously 13a and quite a few more too. I did get lots more of the answers from reading the hints without having to look inside the brackets – I like to think that is because I’m improving but I think it’s more to do with the clarity of gazza’s hints! If my opinion on a toughie is worth anything my favourites were 12 and 19a and 25d. With thanks to Elkamere and gazza.

  10. I live on a boat and don’t see the DT very often in Sicily, but this one is still entertaining me three weeks later. I have had to check a few here, but still working the rest – only a few more left. I did get 3d though! I know about chinamen and googlies, yorkers etc, but 13a was a new one. Urdu! What’s it coming to?

    1. Hi James – welcome to the blog. Now that you’ve introduced yourself I hope we’ll hear from you regularly.

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