Toughie 856 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 856

Toughie No 856 by MynoT

Quite Quick but Quality Questionable

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

BD Rating – Difficulty */**Enjoyment **

On MynoT’s last outing CrypticSue commented “apart from wanting to see how MynoT would get on trying to put a Q in every solution, I do wish he could abandon the alphabeticals and give us an ‘ordinary’ Toughie”. Well the first part of her wish has been more-or-less satisfied; we’ll have to wait and see for the second. I say more-or-less satisfied because the wished-for letter appears in all the across answers but in only some of the downs. Even more than with previous letters (because of the following U) the theme does make the puzzle very predictable and I was glad that it didn’t take long. There are an awful lot of clues where you have to insert, add or delete a single character. What do you think?

Across Clues

1a  Seeking independence in process of interrogation (8)
{QUESTION} – this is the sort of interrogation to which the victims of TorQuemada and his fellow InQuisitors were put. A word for the act of seeking is followed by I(ndependence) and an adverb meaning in process.

5a  Anger ahead of time for card game (6)
{PIQUET} – a word for anger or resentment is followed by T(ime).

9a  Shares supply with associates short of phosphorus (8)
{EQUITIES} – a charade of a verb meaning to supply and a verb meaning associates or links with the chemical symbol for phosphorus removed.

10a  Hired audience of 100 need to be heard (6)
{CLAQUE} – the Roman numeral for 100 is followed by what sounds like a need or deficiency.

11a  Criminal who is French avoids international capture (8)
{CONQUEST} – the abbreviation for a criminal precedes the French for ‘who is’ with the I being removed (avoids international).

12a  Team making joke about European drug? On the contrary (6)
{EQUIPE} – the joke goes between E(uropean) and an abbreviated drug.

14a  Informed expert about charmingly old-fashioned duke (10)
{ACQUAINTED} – an expert contains an adjective meaning charmingly old-fashioned, then finish off with D(uke).

18a  Turbulent epoch, with Queen being one that is not crossed (4,6)
{OPEN CHEQUE} – an anagram (turbulent) of EPOCH and QUEEN.

22a  Couple of pints on board — there’ll be no river exercises (6)
{SQUATS} – the liquid measure corresponding to two pints goes inside the abbreviation for a steamship (i.e. on board) then R(iver) is deleted.

23a  Monkeys about in brands — not right (8)
{MACAQUES} – the two-letter abbreviation for about or approximately goes inside brands or makes (especially of cars) and then, as in the previous clue, the R is deleted.

24a  Exclusive drink with no alternative in Cyprus (6)
{CLIQUY} – insert alcoholic drink without the conjunction used to introduce an alternative inside the IVR code for Cyprus.

25a  This converted vehicle is used by assassins (3,5)
{HIT SQUAD} – an anagram (converted) of THIS followed by an off-road vehicle.

26a  Fruit to squeeze? (6)
{SQUASH} – double definition.

27a  Asks for space for lots of paper (8)
{ENQUIRES} – a word used for a space of a certain size in printing is followed by lots of sheets of paper.

Down Clues

1d  Put an end to heartless monarch at church (6)
{QUENCH} – a monarch without the central letter (heartless) followed by one of the abbreviations for church.

2d  Zebra, for example, is one of five in Eastern Spain (6)
{EQUINE} – one of five born together goes between E(astern) and the IVR code for Spain.

3d  Archbishop’s cut short twice by expression of disapproval (3-3)
{TUT-TUT} – a retired Archbishop’s name, without its final letter, is repeated (twice).

4d  Strange presence in part of Bible that everybody knows (4,6)
{OPEN SECRET} – an anagram (strange) of PRESENCE goes inside the abbreviation for the earlier part of the Bible.

6d  Short of cash after misfortune, with one pound (8)
{ILLIQUID} – a word for misfortune or distress is followed by I (one) and a slang word for pound.

7d  Anxieties still among us in Berlin (8)
{UNQUIETS} – a synonym for still or hushed goes inside the German pronoun meaning us.

8d  Sickness with no date recorded in ancient city (3,5)
{THE BENDS} – an ancient Greek (or possibly Egyptian) city has the abbreviation for no date inserted.

13d  Mass with Latin and tuna oil substituted (10)
{CUMULATION} – a preposition, from latin, meaning combined with is followed by an anagram (substituted) of TUNA OIL. The surface is rather odd.

15d  Cavalry corps function before plundering cities, ultimately (8)
{COSSACKS} – the abbreviation for a mathematical function precedes a word meaning plundering or pillage and the last letter of (citie)S.

16d  Lovely place in France where you can see old cars (8)
{BEAULIEU} – join together the French words for lovely and a place to make the site of a motor museum near Southampton.

17d  Trips escort arranged around Oxford University (3-5)
{ECO-TOURS} – these trips promote the sustainability of the natural environment and the conservation of wildlife. Arrange an anagram of ESCORT round the abbreviation for Oxford University.

19d  Former president to the French will have no hesitation making capital (6)
{NASSAU} – the former president was one of Egypt. Add the French word for ‘to the’ (masculine singular version) and delete the short exclamation expressing hesitation to make the capital of the Bahamas.

20d  Strange about Burmese man’s title being one in file (6)
{QUEUER} – a synonym for odd or strange contains a Burmese title of respect which precedes a man’s name.

21d  They’re of greater importance though they shouldn’t be heard (6)
{ASIDES} – when spelled as (1-5) these are the more important (or at least the more heavily promoted) surfaces of old vinyl records.

Not much stood out for me today but if I had to pick a best clue it would be 18a. Have you any alternative suggestions?

16 comments on “Toughie 856

  1. Appropriately perhaps this crossword divided itself into four quarters as it was one of those where you sorted out one corner at a time. More Queasy than Quirky. Still if you look at the clues without QU then they do appear to have Ss and Ts so perhaps we only have to suffer V W X Y and Z. WIth a bit of luck he might have to put them all in one crossword in order to get it to work.

    Sorry MynoT but not my favourite cryptic crossword this week but thank you to Gazza for the illustrated explanations.

  2. I for one will be glad when he comes to the end of the alphabet, I really find this kind of crossword a bit unenjoyable even though it is clever. Thanks to MynoT and to Gazza for the review.

  3. Whilst admiring the undoubted ingenuity of the setter I do find these sort of puzzles rather unsatisfying and look forward to a more challenging and traditional toughie tomorrow.

  4. Sorry to buck the trend but I quite enjoyed this one favourites being 10a 18a and 25a thanks to MynoT and to Gazza for the comments.

    1. Agreed. It ‘s always pleasant to ring the changes now & then. I admire anyone who can compile a crossword never mind one that has to fit certain letters in as part of an ongoing theme. Thank you MynoT & Gazza as per.

  5. I didn’t find it all that easy, but then I wasn’t familiar with CLAQUE [at least if I get an ‘a’ instead of an ‘i’ in Scrabble, I can make this word!] It was clever, if not to everyone’s taste.

    Thanks, Gazza; I put in OPEN CREDIT, which didn’t really parse as I couldn’t undrerstand what had happened to the ‘h’; doh. I also started with unique[=exclusive] for 24, as I thought there must be some Cypriot drink that I had never heard of. The COSSACKS soon chased that away, however.

  6. I like MynoT’s Toughies with letter themes – I think they’re clever and I can usually do them, which is always a bit of a bonus! I didn’t think that I could fail with the Q – I was wrong! I really didn’t find this easy at all. There were lots of words that were new to me – so many that I probably won’t remember all of them for the next time I need them.
    I liked 11 and 25a and 2 and 17d.
    With thanks to MynoT for the crossword and to Gazza for the very much needed hints, explanations and, in some cases, answers too.

  7. We found this quite challenging, despite having two letters for all the across clues. At least we did realise what was going on. Last, and only other time we had done one of these, we had not picked up the ubiquitous G, even after we had finished the puzzle. That said, we must admit to having made 2 errors. Had put in “unique” (exclusive) for 24a and then added to this by putting “Hotspurs” (cavalry) for 15d. I know they don’t parse completely but…..Think we would rate this ***/***.
    Thanks MynoT and Gazza.

  8. I, too, hate this type of puzzle and wish that MynoT would abandon the alphabetic nonsense. A lot of very iffy surface readings. For me, a very poor puzzle

  9. 10a a new word for me, thought clique but it didn’t make any sense. The rest of my post would echo Cryptic Sue. Thanks Gazza and MynoT

    1. JUST 10a? Your vocabulary is obviously greater than mine. The others that I didn’t know were 12a, 24a, 6d, 13 (accumulation yes, but not come across this one) and 16d. Oh dear, yet again. :sad:

      1. Kath, I don’t know if this might help, but…

        L’Équipe is the name of a French daily paper devoted to sports. My French is very poor, but there were times many years ago when I was on holiday during the Tour de France (which I adore) and the only way that I could follow it was to buy L’Équipe and sit down with a large dictionary for a long period…

        One year we were away with a friend who was perfectly bilingual (people thought she was French!) but unfortunately she didn’t understand the technical terms in English…

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