Toughie 780 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 780

Toughie No 780 by Firefly

Great Expectations

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

This is an enjoyable but fairly meaty Toughie – I struggled with the SE corner where the last few clues took me as long as the rest of the puzzle put together. The last time I blogged a Firefly Toughie I missed the fairly obvious theme – I’ve looked a bit harder at this one but can’t spot anything (famous last words). Thanks to Firefly for the entertainment.
Please let us know how you got on and use the star system (below) to indicate how much you enjoyed it.

Across Clues

1a  She’s jolly clever, having underwear packed! (8)
{BRAINBOX} – an informal term for a clever person could, as (3,2,3) indicate that a woman has packed her underwear.

5a  Councillor’s private secretary offers toasts (6)
{CRISPS} – abbreviations for councillor and private secretary go round the expansion of ‘s.

9a  I dabbled, fiddled, and winged it (2-6)
{AD-LIBBED} – an anagram (fiddled) of I DABBLED gets a verb meaning winged it or improvised.

10a  Red acer is extensively cropped… (6)
{CERISE} – hidden (cropped) in the clue is a shade of red.

12a  …so the official centre’s left bare (9)
{THEREFORE} – the definition is so. String together THE, an abbreviated official with a whistle and a word meaning centre or nucleus without its leftmost letter (left bare).

13a  Last to come forward for award, being in the rear (5)
{ABAFT} – start with a show business award and move the last letter to the front to get a nautical adverb meaning in the rear.

14a  Singer in straitened circumstances? (4)
{BASS} – a male singer is also the name of the strait separating Tasmania from the Australian mainland.

16a  Spike’s clerkship quietly removed and reassigned (7)
{PRICKLE} – the ‘quietly’ to be removed is not the usual P(iano) but a request to keep the noise down. Take that out of clerkship and make an anagram (reassigned) of what remains to get a spike or thorn.

19a  Try from Bath centre (substitute) close to time (7)
{ATTEMPT} – ‘close to time’ doesn’t mean the usual letter E here – close is being used in the sense of near. Join together the central letters of Bath, a substitute (for an office worker off sick perhaps) and T(ime).

21a  Pooh starts to pig honey — Eeyore’s wide-eyed (4)
{PHEW} – the capitalised Pooh allows a nice surface reading but the pooh that we want here is an expression of disgust. Use the starting letters of four words in the clue to find another.

24a  Glean odd points from dormouse’s remains (5)
{DROSS} – glean the odd letters from dormouse’s to get a word meaning remains or dregs.

25a  Unfazed by pits of olives found in jam (9)
{IMPASSIVE} – the definition here is unfazed. The central two letters (i.e. the pits or stones in the middle) of olives are inserted (found) in a jam or deadlock.

27a  Ornamented reverse face with nickel (6)
{INLAID} – string together the face (of a clock, say) and the chemical symbol for nickel and then reverse it all.

28a  Daydream on the red carpet? (4-4)
{STAR-GAZE} – double definition, the second a cryptic description of what you might have come to do if you’re part of the crowd at a glitzy film premiere.

29a  Cloud over vessel in retreat (6)
{DARKEN} – a Biblical vessel is contained in a retreat or lair.

30a  He pontificates in proclamation following summit (8)
{BENEDICT} – the name adopted by the current pontiff (not ‘the Anti-Christ’ – that’s just Ian Paisley’s term for him) is constructed from a proclamation placed after a Scottish summit.

Down Clues

1d  Looks to the French occupying outskirts of Beaune and Taverny… (6)
{BEAUTY} – we want a word meaning (good) looks. Insert the French word for ‘to the’ between the outer letters of the two places in the clue.

2d  …surges forward leaderless and joins forces (6)
{ALLIES} – drop the initial R (leaderless) from a verb meaning surges forward (a share price, for example).

3d  Stately barge going north (north, not west) (5)
{NOBLE} – an adjective meaning stately or imposing appears when you reverse (going north) a verb to barge or jostle, then replace the W(est) with N(orth).

4d  Hunk of limestone roustabout finds back-breaking (7)
{ONEROUS} – hidden (hunk of) in the clue is an adjective meaning back-breaking.

6d  Think twice about eerie Manx accident (2-7)
{RE-EXAMINE} – an anagram (accident) of EERIE MANX.

7d  Voices raised about lifeless state (3,5)
{SRI LANKA} – this is a state (country) off the coast of India. Reverse (raised) a verb meaning voices (an opinion, say) around an adjective meaning lifeless or dull.

8d  Plant produces eye-opening tapes implicating bridge partners (5,3)
{SWEET PEA} – this plant seems to turn up nearly every day. It’s formed from an anagram (produces) of E(ye) and TAPES containing (implicating) a pair of bridge partners.

11d  Peer mentioned in Twitter? (4)
{PEEP} – double definition. A verb meaning to have a quick look (peer) is also the high-pitched sound of a young bird (twitter). It’s also (I understand) used as shorthand for people by those using Twitter (Harry Enfield was using it in this sense, but usually in the plural, many years ago) – but I don’t know if or how that’s relevant here.

15d  When warring armies may embrace cessation of conflict and beginnings of international co-operation? (9)
{ARMISTICE} – a superb all-in-one clue. An anagram (when warring) of ARMIES contains (may embrace) the last letter of (conflic)T and the initial letters of I(nternational) C(o-operation).

17d  Lag behind at first in cart climbing Independence Road (8)
{YARDBIRD} – this is a US slang term for a convict or lag. Insert the first letter of B(ehind) between a cart for delivering beer reversed (climbing) and abbreviations for Independence and road.

18d  Rambler rose (‘Stellar’) marine’s going to train (8)
{STROLLER} – this is someone who rambles or ambles. It’s an anagram of ROSE and (s)T(e)LL(a)R after the letters of sea (marine) have gone. There really ought to be some indication that the letters to be removed are not contiguous in the fodder.

20d  Rod to get the message? (4)
{TWIG} – double definition.

21d  Estella’s son perhaps spotted in Tube? (7)
{PIPETTE} – the definition here is the falsely capitalised tube – what we want is a tube used in a laboratory. Had Pip’s infatuation with Estella (in Great Expectations) been reciprocated (which it wasn’t) then they might (perhaps, with a great deal of cryptic licence) have produced a son and called him this. This doesn’t really work for me.

22d  Festival raises aspect of Hindi law: idolatry (6)
{DIWALI} – a Hindu festival is hidden (aspect of) and reversed (raises) in the clue.

23d  Bond’s people caught in midst of police traps (6)
{CEMENT} – this one took me ages because I was misled into thinking of Bond as 007. It’s actually the sort of bond that’s used in construction, so insert (caught) a word for people inside the middle letters (midst) of ‘police traps’.

26d  Stuff for sweep, say? (5)
{SERGE} – this durable material (stuff) sounds like (say) a verb to race or sweep through.

The clues I enjoyed most were 19a, 15d and 23d. How about you?

20 comments on “Toughie 780

  1. Can’t say I really enjoyed this. 1d had most of the answer in one of the words you were supposed to take the ends of. I didn’t understand 21d at all despite the GE reference. The second part of the clue was lost on me.

    Some of the clues suffer from this affliction where some setters need to use a number of different indications of pairs of letters. Osmosis does this, but generally better. I often feel it makes the clue rather forced and unnecessarily contrived for surface reading purposes.

  2. I found the top half quite straightforward, but struggled on a few in the South. I guessed 23d fairly quickly, but the ‘CET’ confused me for a while. 21d was lost on me, and I gave up trying to work out what 18d was getting at.
    Apart from that, I enjoyed most of it; thanks to Firefly, and to gazza for the explanations.

  3. Thanks to Firefly for a very difficult ( for me ) toughie, I struggled quite a lot with the bottom half and needed your clues for 20 and 23d and 21a. Thanks Gazza for the assistance.

  4. Bit of a slog this one, didn’t like 18 and 21d but did like 1a 13a and 30a thanks to Firefly and to Gazza for the comments.

  5. Like others I had a bit of a struggle in the bottom half but got there in the end.

    Quite enjoyed it really and 15d is just brilliant!

    Thanks to Gazza for confirming my parsing 21d, I thought I must be missing something but apparantly not. Doesn’t really work for me either.

    Thanks also to Firefly.

  6. thanks for the help, Gazza, I’m with Tilsit on the forced clues- once again too many single/double letter inserts, and I don’t think a twig is a rod.

  7. Thanks for putting me in my place – I should have checked more thoroughly

  8. Bored to tears by the whole crossword. After my enjoyment of yesterday’s, made all the worse. Excalibur and Micawber, come back soon, please

  9. I enjoyed this on the whole and agree 21d probably doesn’t follow rules but I liked it! 15d is superb imho as pommers says. Thanks to Firefly and Gazza, especially for the strait, solved by that alone, never knew it actually existed… live and learn

  10. I had a very quick look at this while it was absolutely chucking it down outside, albeit briefly – managed most of the top left corner but not much else – haven’t read hints or comments yet but just had to say that I thought 1a was wonderful! Thanks to Firefly and to gazza (in advance of reading his hints.)

  11. Regular user of this site without commenting – grateful to all (setters and hinters/solvers) for many enjoyable hours…

    Just wanted to say that we (mate and I down the pub after a few) had Sallies for 2d – ended up the same but thought our surges forward definition was equally valid

    1. Hi thickso – welcome to the blog. Now that you’ve introduced yourself I hope we’ll hear from you regularly.
      I think sallies is probably marginally better than rallies for 2d – we’ll probably never know which the setter had in mind.

  12. I am always amazed when people say they didn’t enjoy a crossword. I can only stand back in admiration as to how they can create them in the first place.

    Before criticising somebody’s efforts try walking a mile in their shoes. That way you’ll be a mile away & have their shoes when it all kicks off!

    1. I have a pragmatic take on this which is that I pay £1.20 a day (more on Saturday’s) and as a customer reserve the right to give negative as well as positive feedback as I feel.

      Icant cook very well but can spot an indifferent meal when I eat it in a restaurant.

      1. And you can’t say fairer than that. As far as the cost is concerned I’m afraid I no longer buy the actual paper anymore apart from Saturday and that’s under review given the parlous standard of journalism it now offers. When I realised that I was spending in excess of £400 per annum (which would pay for me & Mrs C to go to Northumberland for 2 weekends) then it was time to give it up.

        1. Apart from the puzzles the only thing I like about the DT is the Matt cartoon, and you can see that on the website. Today’s is brill, as usual :lol:

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