Toughie 852

Toughie No 852 by Micawber

Soldiers Having a Hard Time

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

We have another superb puzzle from Micawber, not overly difficult but tremendously entertaining. Let us know how you got on and how you enjoyed it.

Across Clues

1a  Brightly coloured as a fish? (6)
{GARISH} – double definition, the second cryptic.

4a  Last five runs of the season (8)
{FESTIVAL} – an anagram (runs) of LAST FIVE.

9a  Rule’s a setback for German golfer (6)
{REGNAL} – very appropriate a few days after a German golfer sank the winning putt to retain the Ryder Cup for Europe. What we want here is a German golfer (who also featured in several Ryder Cup dramas) of an earlier vintage. Reverse (setback) his surname to make an adjective meaning relating to a period of rule (so the ‘S in the definition is necessary).

10a  Party goal is victory (8)
{CONQUEST} – the abbreviation for a political party followed by the sort of goal or object that King Arthur’s knights were forever setting out to find.

11a  Stocking gallons of wine is something banned in dry country (8)
{HOSEPIPE} – a charade of a stocking and a cask of wine holding about 105 gallons or 477 litres. In the surface dry means without alcohol but for the definition we need it to mean without rain.

13a  Smack is served using this (6)
{KISSER} – a semi-all-in-one – a slang term for the mouth is hidden (using) in the clue.

15a  Attraction of expensive car, one using minimal energy (13)
{ROLLERCOASTER} – the sort of attraction found in a fairground is a charade of an informal term for a make of luxury car and someone who expends little energy.

18a  Soldiers can’t enter this tricky swamp — one went first, as an example, being swallowed up (4-6,3)
{HARD-BOILED EGG} – cryptic definition of something that’s too firm for your soldiers at breakfast time. Start with a tricky or difficult swamp and insert (being swallowed) a) I (one), b) a verb meaning went first and c) the abbreviation for as an example.

22a  Secret company and sect going head to head (6)
{OCCULT} – the abbreviation for company and a word for a sect are arranged such that the two initial letters (heads) are contiguous (going head to head).

24a  Compere cracked a joke I sent in — sublime (8)
{MAJESTIC} – the abbreviation for a compere is split in two (cracked) and A, a joke and I are inserted (sent in).

26a  Match tie, ordered as part of a set? (8)
{THEMATIC} – an anagram (ordered) of MATCH TIE.

27a  After doing homework about new union, get one of these! (6)
{PRENUP} – this is a short form of an agreement designed to prevent your intended partner taking you to the cleaners later on. An abbreviation meaning homework contains (about) N(ew) and U(nion).

28a  Pedestrian blocking the way out by Mile End — move along (8)
{EXPEDITE} – the abbreviation for pedestrian goes inside (blocking) a way out and that’s followed by the end letter of (mil)E.

29a  Quiet turn follows beat bands (6)
{SWATHS} – reverse (turn) an injunction to keep quiet after a verb to beat or hit smartly (an annoying insect, perhaps).

Down Clues

1d  Soldier‘s blanket made up of appropriate fabric predominantly (6)
{GURKHA} – reverse a thick blanket or wrap used in travelling, then add 60% (predominantly, i.e. more than half) of the type of fabric appropriate for a soldier.

2d  Record-keeper rigs Libor’s closing rate corruptly (9)
{REGISTRAR} – an anagram (corruptly) of RIGS RATE and the closing letter of (Libo)R. Very topical surface.

3d  Cut off tip and gut fish with special knife (7)
{SCALPEL} – a verb meaning to cut off the top bit (what Native Americans used to do to an enemy that they’d killed) is followed by a long fish without its middle letter (gut).

5d  Cross erected for deity (4)
{EROS} – reverse an informal adjective (mainly a North American usage) meaning cross or vexed.

6d  Cover finally blown — lacing non-alcoholic drink is hard liquor (7)
{TEQUILA} – the cover on a bed loses its final T (finally blown) and goes inside (lacing, i.e. spiking) a non-alcoholic drink.

7d  Compete with son’s opinions (5)
{VIEWS} – a verb to compete or struggle is followed by single-letter abbreviations for with and son.

8d  Arkansas yard, previously US measure — of kind of volume? (8)
{LITERARY} – the standard abbreviation for Arkansas and Y(ard) are preceded (previously) by the US spelling of a metric unit of capacity (measure).

12d  Photos featuring judge and Madam? (6)
{PREFIX} – the question mark indicates that Madam is just one example of the answer. An informal word for photographs contains (featuring) an abbreviated sporting judge.

14d  Cheesy starter in a Greek dish served up that brings one out in a rash (6)
{ECZEMA} – insert the starting letter of C(heesy) in A and a Greek dish (normally, in fact, several small dishes) and then reverse it all (served up).

16d  Drunken idiot sounded very together (5-4)
{TIGHT-KNIT} – an adjective meaning drunken is followed by a homophone (sounded) of an informal word for an idiot.

17d  Singer arranging short let (8)
{THROSTLE} – this singing bird is an anagram (arranging) of SHORT LET.

19d  Post card containing a couple of lines (7)
{BOLLARD} – a stiff piece of card contains an abbreviation for L(ine) twice.

20d  Observer’s cover feature might be raised with some surprise (7)
{EYEBROW} – cryptic definition of the facial feature that may be raised to indicate surprise.

21d  Examines owl around bottom of tree (6)
{SCOPES} – this was my last answer as I didn’t know the owl and had to wait for the checking letters to guess it. It goes round the last (bottom) letter of tree.

23d  Conservative Lord turning up, nasty chap (5)
{CREEP} – I don’t know which Conservative Lord Micawber is thinking of (he’s probably spoilt for choice). The single-character abbreviation for Conservative is followed by the reversal (turning up) of a lord.

25d  Drop (not on carpet) (4)
{WILT} – this verb to drop or droop comes from a type of carpet without its final ON. The answer is also the title of my favourite Tom Sharpe book.

As usual with Micawber there are far too many favourite clues for me to list them all, so I’ll go with 11a, 18a, 20d and 23d. What tickled you?

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15 Comments

  1. Qix
    Posted October 3, 2012 at 12:44 pm | Permalink

    Excellent puzzle, with very smooth surface readings. Great fun, for which many thanks to Micawber.

    Cheers to Gazza for the blog, too.

  2. crypticsue
    Posted October 3, 2012 at 12:45 pm | Permalink

    The NW corner put up a bit of a fight which edged me into 3.5* difficulty but I will agree with the 5* fun. Thanks to Micawber for the splendid Toughie, which I think is a Pangram. I have spots by lots and lots of favourite clues but will specially select 18a, 27a and 25d. Thanks to Gazza too.

    • gazza
      Posted October 3, 2012 at 12:51 pm | Permalink

      Yes – it’s a pangram, which I meant to mention (but forgot).

  3. Jezza
    Posted October 3, 2012 at 1:03 pm | Permalink

    4* difficulty for me. My last one in was also 21d; I’d never heard of the species of owl.
    18a was my first one in without any checking letters.
    Many thanks to Micawber and Gazza for the terrific puzzle and review.

    • Jezza
      Posted October 3, 2012 at 1:08 pm | Permalink

      Just realised my stupid comment re 18a; unlikely to be any checking letters if it is the first one in…

  4. BigBoab
    Posted October 3, 2012 at 1:38 pm | Permalink

    Super toughie from Micawber who is fast becoming one of my favourite setters, thanks to him and to Gazza for the terrific review.

  5. pommers
    Posted October 3, 2012 at 2:17 pm | Permalink

    Excellent stuff so many thanks to Micawber.

    Agree with Gazza’s favs but also thought 16d was pretty good.

    Thanks to Gazza for the review.

  6. gnomethang
    Posted October 3, 2012 at 2:33 pm | Permalink

    Very good puzzle, thanks
    Micawber. 27a was a runaway favourite and I agree about the NW corner too. Thanks also to gazza.

  7. Pegasus
    Posted October 3, 2012 at 3:19 pm | Permalink

    Super puzzle from a setter at the top of his game, Favourites among a host of others were 6d 12d 13a and 23d many thanks to Micawber and to Gazza for the splendid review.

  8. phercott
    Posted October 3, 2012 at 4:09 pm | Permalink

    A most enjoyable puzzle, as I’ve come to expect from Micawber. Particularly liked 19 and 25 down for their neatness and good surface readings. I was disappointed by the Scops owl. Rather abstruse, I think.

  9. stanXYZ
    Posted October 3, 2012 at 5:34 pm | Permalink

    A very enjoyable puzzle! Managed all but the “owl” one. My self-confidence has been restored after a complete and utter failure with yesterday’s Beam. Must have been easy today!

  10. Micawber
    Posted October 3, 2012 at 6:56 pm | Permalink

    Thanks Gazza, thanks folks. Sorry about the Scops owl. They’re amazing creatures, very small and make a noise like a smoke alarm telling you it’s out of batteries. Quite common in France I think, and one got lost and found its way to Oxford a few years ago.

  11. 2Kiwis
    Posted October 3, 2012 at 6:56 pm | Permalink

    Thoroughly enjoyable. We too struggled in the NW and spent a lot of time trying to justify ‘jilt’ for 25d before the penny fell to the carpet. And yes, we did spot the pangram again. Great to have another visit from the soldiers we met last week who, we think, earn top-billing for 18a.
    Thanks Micawber and Gazza.

  12. Colmce
    Posted October 3, 2012 at 7:39 pm | Permalink

    I’m too mean to buy the paper so I don’t often get a look at the Toughie, however courtesy of my Solicitor, whose assistant copied It for me, I had a go at it this afternoon.

    Bit above my skill level and only managed about 2/3rds before I had to consult the review. I did get the Owl though!!!

    Really nice entertaining puzzle.

    Thanks for the review.

    Thanks to Micawber.

    I will continue with my campaign to get the Toughie published in the IPad edition.

  13. andy
    Posted October 3, 2012 at 10:28 pm | Permalink

    No problem with the owl though did have to think about 17d. My d’oh of the day was 6d and not parsing the quilt. With BigBoab in that Micawber is fast becoming one of my favourite setters, not a dodgy surface reading in sight, masses of wit. Big thanks to Micawber and Gazza