Toughie 880

Toughie No 880 by Firefly

Methought I was Enamoured of an Ass

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

Firefly has given us an entertaining puzzle with a Shakespearean theme (explained at 5d). Let us know how you got on.

Across Clues

1a  The (sadly lost) technique for preparing fruit (6)
{QUINCE} – an anagram (for preparing) of (t)EC(h)NIQU(e) with the non-contiguous (sadly) letters of THE taken out (lost) gives us a fruit and also our first themed answer.

5a  Oil producer has conversation with offspring about ending of allowance (8)
{RAPESEED} – an informal word for a chat and an archaic word for offspring go around the end letter of (allowanc)E.

9a  Mischief-maker in band with outspoken songs (10)
{RINGLEADER} – a charade of a round band and what sounds like (outspoken) the German word for songs.

10a  Even royalty he mentioned in profanity (4)
{OATH} – the even letters of royalty he.

11a  Dregs of rum I used in cocktail (8)
{RESIDUUM} – this is a technical term for the solid material remaining after the liquid in which it was dissolved has been evaporated. It’s an anagram (in cocktail) of RUM I USED.

12a  Recall slogan: ‘British for Staying Power!’ (6)
{BOTTOM} – a slogan followed by B(ritish) all get reversed (recall) to make a word that can mean stamina or strength of character (and our second themed answer).

13a  Private room CIA ordered in absentia, causing upset (4)
{SNUG} – remove the non-contiguous (ordered) letters of CIA from (ca)US(i)NG and make an anagram (upset) of those remaining. This is our third themed answer.

15a  Measure of Cognac — all I perceive! (8)
{CALLIPER} – this can either be a verb meaning to measure or (as a noun) a measure of the thickness of a single sheet of paper. In either case it’s hidden (of) in the clue.

18a  Ill-defined situation  high on the bestsellers list? (4,4)
{GREY AREA} – double definition, the second a very cryptic reference to the erotic (I’m led to believe, not having read it) novel currently riding high in the book charts.

19a  Ceremony put down as lacking weight (4)
{RITE} – start with a verb to put down or commit to paper and remove (lacking) the single-character abbreviation for weight.

21a  Fibre shown by fliers given brief command (6)
{RAFFIA} – the abbreviation for our airborne armed service is followed by a formal command or decree, from latin, without its final T (brief).

23a  Engraving of lion — it shimmers, silver coated (8)
{INTAGLIO} – an anagram (shimmers) of LION IT has the chemical symbol for silver put inside it (coated).

25a  Position invention on edge of Ullswater (4)
{LIEU} – an invention or fabrication followed by U(llswater). The surface just seems to be a collection of unconnected words.

26a  Principal concealing institute’s missing bag of bones (10)
{STARVELING} – we had this word (with a not-dissimilar clue) in a Saturday prize puzzle a couple of weeks ago. Start with the principal in a play or film and add a present participle meaning concealing without its first I(nstitute). This gives us our fourth themed answer.

27a  Backs section of Chapter in resolution (8)
{REVERSES} – a subset or section of a chapter (in the Bible, for example) is put inside the abbreviation for resolution.

28a  Existentialist method infiltrates core of writer’s redrafts (6)
{SARTRE} – a method or knack gets inserted (infiltrates) inside the middle three letters (core) of writer’S REdrafts.

Down Clues

2d  Poor Auntie’s lost her first consort (5)
{UNITE} – I was all set to write that I didn’t think that consort (as a verb) meant this but the BRB (not for the first time) has proved me wrong and the answer is one of the meanings it lists. It’s a not very tricky anagram (poor) of (a)UNTIE without her first letter.

3d  Horse and trap starts to generate leftward yaw, with no let-up (9)
{NAGGINGLY} – join together an old broken-down horse and an (illegal) trap for catching game and add the first letters (starts) of three words in the clue.

4d  With this beekeeper’s beeper, summoning husband? (3,3)
{EKE OUT} – the answer is a phrasal verb meaning to husband or use sparingly. If you treat it as an instruction and apply it to the word beekeeper you’ll end up with the word beeper.

5d  Characters appearing here in timeless drama, thus with licence to blunder! (4,11)
{RUDE MECHANICALS} – this is the clue that tells us of the theme and the six characters whose names appear in the grid (here). The answer refers to the manual workers who perform a play within a play in A Midsummer’s Night Dream and it’s an anagram (to blunder) of DRAMA (t)HUS LICENCE without the T (timeless). Since these amateur actors are not very good the clue can be read as a semi-all-in-one.

6d  Curve ball from Spain undermines good round by amateur (8)
{PARABOLA} – the Spanish word for ball follows (undermines, in a down clue) a good round of golf (one accomplished in the standard number of strokes) and A(mateur).

7d  Tin’s unacceptable for making hooter (5)
{SNOUT} – the chemical symbol for tin is followed by a word meaning unacceptable or forbidden to give us our fifth themed answer.

8d  Garbled text about transient joiner? (9)
{EXTROVERT} – in the wordplay transient is a noun meaning a worker or resident who stays only a short time in any single place before moving on. Around this put an anagram (garbled) of TEXT to make someone who is very sociable and joins clubs, etc.

14d  Miss Desmond’s stays, we hear, given to regiment? (9)
{NORMALISE} – start with the forename of the character played by Gloria Swanson in the film Sunset Boulevard and add what sounds like (we hear) a verb meaning stays or remains.  The surface is quite amusing although I’m not sure why a regiment would want such items of apparel.

16d  Ontario failing in management of rural region is possibly partisan (9)
{IRREGULAR} – remove (failing) the abbreviation for Ontario from RURAL REGI(on) and make an anagram (management) of what remains.

17d  State of chest on a non-smoker beginning to alarm son (8)
{ARKANSAS} – start with a chest (not that sort – a coffer) and add A (from the clue), the abbreviation for non-smoker and the beginning letters of A(larm) S(on).

20d  Poles hail saint on square outside (6)
{STAVES} – a latin word of salute or greeting (hail) has around it the abbreviations for saint and square.

22d  Glass  pipe (5)
{FLUTE} – double definition, the first something to drink your champers from (if there’s no lady’s slipper handy!) and the second a verb meaning to speak in a melodious way. This is the final member of our themed group.

24d  Novice’s request turned down in secret (5)
{INNER} – remove (turned down) a verb to request or plead from someone starting out.

My top clues today are 4d, 5d and 14d. How about you?



  1. crypticsue
    Posted November 21, 2012 at 1:13 pm | Permalink

    Very enjoyable. 3.5* difficulty for me. Same favourites as gazza – now there’s a surprise – thank you to him and Firefly too.

  2. Pegasus
    Posted November 21, 2012 at 1:51 pm | Permalink

    I found this one very tough, favourites were 4d 8d and 18a and I missed the theme. Thanks to Firefly and to Gazza for the review.

  3. pommers
    Posted November 21, 2012 at 1:54 pm | Permalink

    Enjoyed this one. 4*/4* for me.
    Favourite 4d but 14d was a tad obscure for me having never seen the film. Last in after a bit of investigoogling!

    I took 15a to be the calliper (compass) that you use to measure internal or external dimensions of something. Didn’t know it could be a verb or that it was the thickness of a piece of paper!

    Thanks to Firefly and Gazza.

  4. Big Boab
    Posted November 21, 2012 at 2:16 pm | Permalink

    Very enjoyable toughie from Firefly today, my favourite clue was 5d but there were many equally good. Thanks to Firefly and to Gazza for the review. ( I’m probably barmy but I took regiment as the verb rather than the noun)

  5. rmebrown
    Posted November 21, 2012 at 2:47 pm | Permalink

    14d. To regiment – to organise, possibly also to normalise.

  6. ChrisH
    Posted November 21, 2012 at 3:33 pm | Permalink

    Just too tough for me. Had to resort to Gazza’s excellent explanations. Don’t think I’d have got 4d in the proverbial Month of Sundays.
    Some of these clues were too convoluted for my simple mind.

    • Only fools
      Posted November 21, 2012 at 11:15 pm | Permalink

      Just had a longish stab at toughie but I am totally with you re 4d . I enjoyed yesterday but for me this is just contrivance for the sake of it !
      May have to reconsider if the ark remains my permanent residence !
      I prefer smiles

  7. Liverpool Mike
    Posted November 21, 2012 at 4:31 pm | Permalink

    I think that I am finally getting the hang of these Toughies! Yesterday completed with no electronic aids (OK so it was only *). Today completed with only minimal help from Chambers/Google and ****!! Still missed the theme but you can’t have everything.

    • gazza
      Posted November 21, 2012 at 4:45 pm | Permalink

      Hi Mike – welcome to the blog.

  8. Heno
    Posted November 21, 2012 at 4:32 pm | Permalink

    Thanks to Firefly and to Gazza for the review and hints. I said on the back page blog, “Dare I look at the Toughie”. I wish I hadn’t, way too difficult for me. So difficult in fact, that when I investigoogled the theme and got the six characters, the only way I could fit them into the grid was by the number of letters, not by solving the clues! I think this was one best left to the “experts”. I managed to get only three answers unaided, and had to look up 11 of the 17 hints :-)

  9. 2Kiwis
    Posted November 21, 2012 at 5:45 pm | Permalink

    The clue that really had us scratching our heads for a long time was 4d. A brilliant clue. After much hard work, we got the whole puzzle completed but had missed the theme, much to the shame of our ‘literary expert’ Mrs 2K. Another top quality puzzle.
    Thanks Firefly and Gazza.

    • pommers
      Posted November 21, 2012 at 10:16 pm | Permalink

      Strange how different people’s minds work differently! 4d seemed fairly straightforward to me and was my favourite but I spent ages trying to parse the obvious 6d, which is inexcuseable as I live is Spain :oops: