Toughie 868 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 868

Toughie No 868 by Micawber

May I have some more, please Sir?

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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

With some setters it’s a relief to get to the end of a puzzle, but with Micawber I’m always left wanting more. Today we have another of his very entertaining puzzles to enjoy – let us know how you fared.

Across Clues

1a  Fruit juice and Vermouth in second cocktail (6)
{MOJITO} – this is a rum-based cocktail. Insert the abbreviations for a type of fruit juice and Italian vermouth inside a third abbreviation, that for a second or short period of time. My version of the BRB doesn’t list the fruit juice abbreviation though I think it’s fairly widely used (perhaps more in the US than here, thanks to Mr Simpson the ex-football player and current jailbird).

4a  Awkward  battery shop? (6)
{CHIPPY} – double definition, the second a very cryptic description of where you might buy your cooked supper.

8a  What’s to clutch, turning and grasp, pulling finally to enter? (8)
{DOORKNOB} – a semi-all-in-one with the whole clue being the definition. Reverse (turning) a verb to clutch (sit on eggs as a hen does) and insert (to enter) a verb to grasp or understand without its final W (pulling, i.e. extracting like a dentist, the final letter).

10a  Three notes, the first and last identical, don’t work any more (6)
{RETIRE} – three notes from tonic sol-fa (or rather two different notes with one repeated).

11a  America backing military service overseas? (4)
{AFAR} – A(merica) followed by the reversal (backing) of one of our armed services. The question mark indicates that this is not necessarily overseas.

12a  With little French, I find third of core subjects perhaps a demanding subject (10)
{PETITIONER} – string together a) the French adjective meaning little, b) I (one) and c) a third (3,1) of the three basics that we’re all supposed to learn at school.

13a  Troy weight in oz, roughly about 50 — it’s a grey area (8,4)
{TWILIGHT ZONE} – this is the only link I can find in either of today’s puzzles to the date. Start with the abbreviation for troy and follow this with an anagram (roughly) of WEIGHT IN OZ then insert the Roman numeral for 50.

ARVE Error: need id and provider

16a  Combine tips  to get by (4,4,4)
{MAKE ENDS MEET} – double definition, the first cryptic.

20a  Soundly season, repeat, roll … (10)
{SOMERSAULT} – this sounds like two different types of season.

21a  … fill, and kebab (4)
{SATE} – double definition, the first a verb to satisfy fully one’s hunger and the second an Asian dish of small bits of meat cooked on skewers and served with a spicy peanut sauce.

22a  One said to be beating the booze (6)
{LIQUOR} – this sounds like someone delivering a beating.

23a   Materials from cowboy hats? (8)
{TEXTILES} – a charade of the nickname of the American country singer Mr Ritter, who was known as the singing cowboy, and a slang word for hats.

ARVE Error: need id and provider

24a  Take care and sleep regularly — early bed (6)
{CRADLE} – take the odd (regularly) letters of ‘care and sleep’.

25a  Likely lad after rum (4-2)
{ODDS-ON} – a young male relative goes after an adjective meaning rum or strange.

Down Clues

1d  Grouse getting audibly nastier (8)
{MOORFOWL} – this red or black grouse sounds (audibly) like an expression meaning nastier.

2d  Ancient city in Arab country half lost — one of 12 (5)
{JUROR} – the usual ancient city goes inside the first half of the name of an Arab country. ‘Half lost’ is quite relevant because in the Six Day War of 1967 a large chunk of this country’s land area was captured, and is still occupied, by Israel. One of 12, I think, applies to England and Wales but not to Scotland, where the number is 15.

3d  Fasten bottom part on two halves of teepee, for example — with this? (4,3)
{TENT PEG} – another semi-all-in-one. Start with the last (bottom) half of fasten, then add the letters that are spelled out as tee/pee and the abbreviation meaning for example.

5d  Great Dane‘s hair too matted (7)
{HORATIO} – this is Hamlet’s mate in the play about the Danish prince. He is praised for his qualities of virtue and self-control (but I’m not exactly sure what makes him a great Dane). His name is an anagram (matted?) of HAIR TOO.

6d  Plastic part on centre of sump gets oil (9)
{PETROLEUM} – start with the abbreviation for polyethylene terephthalate which is a synthetic resin and is used to make plastic containers, then add a stage or film part and the central letters of sump. I’d never heard of the first bit so I had to do some digging.

7d  Delivery of king in olden days by another (6)
{YORKER} – this is the sort of delivery that a fast bowler might produce. Insert one abbreviation of king in a word meaning olden days and finish off with a different abbreviation for king.

9d  Tumbling, I’d bust teeth and come a cropper (4,3,4)
{BITE THE DUST} – an anagram (tumbling) of I’D BUST TEETH.

14d  Small Italian island beat Uncle Sam (9)
{LAMPEDUSA} – this is a small island about half-way between Sicily and Tunisia (more research was needed by me on this one). Start with an informal verb meaning beat or thumped and add the country represented by Uncle Sam.

15d  Scattered at first, the refugees live in every direction around (8)
{BESTREWN} – the first letters of T(he) and R(efugees) have a verb to live or exist and all four main directions placed around them.

17d  One’s seen flying, taking part in quickest relay (7)
{KESTREL} – hidden (taking part) in the clue.

18d  Cleaned up, taking action about things reportedly found with ticks (7)
{DETOXED} – an action or feat goes round what sounds like (reportedly) what are interspersed with ticks, from your grandfather in the hall perhaps.

19d  Spooner’s stupid bovine stars (6)
{ZODIAC} – Spooner might have said dozy yak.

21d  Southern celebs going north, flashy dressers (5)
{SPIVS} – S(outhern) is followed by the abbreviation for important celebrities then it all gets reversed (going north, in a down clue).

As usual with Micawber I have difficulty paring down my favourite clues to a manageable number – today I’m going with 8a, 12a, 3d and 18d. Which ones did you like?

30 comments on “Toughie 868

  1. I do love a Micawber Toughie and this was a great one to brighten up my morning no end. I found it trickier to solve than gazza did, I would say 3.5 * at least for difficulty but definitely 5* fun. I think it is a pangram too. Hard to pick a favourite but my biggest ‘dot’ is by 18d although really there are too many great clues to pick just one or two.

    Thanks to Micawber for the great crossword and to gazza for the equally great blog.

  2. Very enjoyable pangram from Micawber today and a fine review from Gazza, many thanks to both.

  3. The usual high standard of silky smooth enjoyment from todays setter, Favourites for me were 2d 8a 19d and 20a thanks to Micawber for the entertainment and to Gazza for the equally entertaining review.

  4. I take exception to your mini history lesson in 2d.Jordan occupied jerusalem in the war of independence/the catastrophe.It was regained by Israel in the six day war.

    1. I’m not sure how you can take exception to an historical fact. Prior to the Six Day war one half of Jerusalem was ruled by Jordan and the other half by Israel. Now it’s all ruled by Israel (together with most of the West Bank, which was also in Jordan prior to 1967). Both the International Court of Justice and the UN regard Israel as “the occupying power”.

      1. prior to the declaration of independence May 1948 Jordan had no claim to east Jerusalem, and still doesn’t.As far asI am aware,the west bank and Gaza have elected their own governments.Prior to the British Mandate the Ottoman Empire ruled Jerusalem and so on.

        1. Hi Una, its many many years since I did that particular bit of history at school, now you’ve got me digging out books on the Transjordan annexation in 1949…., I really should get out more !!

  5. A nice stretch for the brain-cells. Only one I couldn’t get/didn’t know was the island. Thanks to Gazza for clearing up the parsing of 8a and 15d. For me, these are clumsy clues, can’t say I enjoyed them. Enjoyed the rest though. Favourites being 1a, 23a and 19d. Thanks Micawber and Gazza

  6. Off work today and as the back page cryptic was a quick solve, went on to the toughie.Thought it was harder than yesterdays and gave it ***/****.Varied and enjoyable, thanks Gazza for the blog and the ‘pet’ bit of 6d-never heard of 1a and the oj bit. Have heard of a grouse as a moorcock ,(name of a pub up in the hills from Garstang) but never a fowl- oh, not heard of the island either!

  7. If someone can satisfatorily explain why 4a should be Chippy I will change my name to Delores

    1. Delores,
      Chippy as an adjective means quarrelsome or touchy, so awkward. As a noun it’s an informal term for a chip shop, i.e. a place where fish get battered and sold, so a place of “battery” cryptically. Some fish and chip shops are called “A Salt and Battery”.

  8. What a great puzzle! Thanks to past reading of BD’s blog I realized it was a pangram. I was on the lookout for the “q” and that got me 22a.
    A perfect combination of clues – very clever but solvable. So satisfying!
    Thanks to BD and the setter.
    By the way – how many years will it take me to know who all the setters are like you all do??

    1. The Toughie setters (unlike the back-page setters) are named in the paper and now also on the DT site (but you need to know where to look!). See here..

      1. Thanks Gazza – I will check it out.
        I realised I should have thanked you too for the explanations of the word play!

  9. Early yesterday morning a courier arrived at our place with Bradford’s dictionary that we had ordered from Amazon after advice on this blog. By late afternoon Mrs B had earned her keep by helping us with 1a, 21a and 14d.
    What a truly wonderful puzzle which we worked steadily through ending up in the SE corner. Probably for the first time ever we had spotted the pangram in time to know that we had a V and X to go which made the last couple a doddle. Too many great clues to pick a favourite. The only disappointing thing about the puzzle was coming to the end.
    Thanks Micawber and Gazza.

  10. Sorry, but I dislike crosswords in which ” LAMPEDUSA ” is one of the solutions.

    Thank you, gazza, for a great blog. I was very pleased to see that even you needed a bit of “research”.

  11. Thanks for the blog, Gazza, and all the feedback in comments.
    I’m sorry that Lampedusa was an obscure island too far for many. It’s not much of a holiday destination these days, but pops up now and then on the international news as the main landing point for African migrants trying to get to Italy. I hoped the wordplay was clear enough to make it guessable.
    No moorfowl clues next time!

    1. Incidentally it’s also the name of Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa who wrote The Leopard a renowned historical account of the Risorgimento.

    2. Small Italian Island … the wordplay should have made it clear … but … some of us are “un po stupido” as they say on LAMPEDUSA.

      Thanks for dropping in … always nice to hear from the setter!

  12. Hi Micawber, late post , nice to meet you in Wapping, got Lampedusa , and rather the liked the clue , as you say the migrants attempting to flea North Africa to use it as a staging post did rather hit the news last year. I nearly always fail to understand the somersault / sate style of clues but not today. As Gazza and CrypticSue say far too many faves to single out one in particular. Thank you and Gazza for the review

  13. Thanks to Micawber & to Gazza for the review & hints Quite enjoyed it but I only solved 10 clues before resorting to the hints, which enabled me to solve some more. Never heard of the Island, but the cocktail was vaguely familiar. Favourite was 13a, which I didn’t get :-)

    1. Many nights on said cocktail, am all too familiar with it Heno! Got 13a from checking letters, spent an age trying to parse it though!!!

        1. Honest i’m not in the league of Brians so called experts by any stretch of the imagination, often do a toughie but always , well nearly always am beaten by Brendan / Virgilius offerings. Have yet to do more than a couple of Bannsider clues on first, second and many more read throughs…

  14. How do some of your commenters(?) do crosswords when they cant spell (flea!!!)
    8a was too obscure for **, *** maybe but nice puzzle, thanks.

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