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Toughie 890

Toughie No 890 by Micawber

In the firing line

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

Tilsit is taking a prolonged sabbatical in order to concentrate on his Open University studies. When he sees the excellent puzzle he has surrendered, he might be wishing he had changed his mind. I’ll be taking over the Friday slot, but if anyone fancies trying their hand at reviewing I’d be delighted to hear from them!

Micawber’s puzzles are always a joy to solve and to review, and this one ranks up there with the very best.

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought. You can also add your assessment by selecting from one to five stars at the bottom of the post.


1a    Powdered  earth? (6)
{GROUND} – a double definition – turned to powder and earth or soil

4a    Too American? American’s great! (2,4)
{AS WELL} – A(merican) followed by an American adjective meaning great

8a    Get down to business at post-summit dance (4,4)
{TALK SHOP} – split as (5,3) this could be a dance held after a summit meeting

10a    Line manager who’ll need more than one line? (6)
{ANGLER} – a person who “manages” a fishing line is cryptically defined as someone arranging for two lines to meet

11a    Baker and lecturer in relationship (4)
{KILN} – L(ecturer) inside a blood relationship

12a    Newish EU member’s half-back containing another — man of the match? (10)
{PYROMANIAC} – one country that has been an EU member since 2007 inside the reversal (back) of half of another EU member, this one, a Mediterranean island, joined in 2004 – the definition is a man who plays with matches!

13a    Gatecrasher preparing to fry old lamb? (9-3)
{BATTERING-RAM} – a large beam used to crash gates could meaning preparing to deep-fry an old, male, lamb

16a    Unofficially, not hitting top form (3,3,6)
{OFF THE RECORD} – this phrase could mean failure to beat the previous best

20a    Out of date, like one who got into rock ages ago? (10)
{FOSSILISED} – like a former living thing preserved in rock

21a    Jack up sound beams (4)
{RAYS} – sounds like a verb meaning to jack up

22a    Spooner’s one cornering spot market, perhaps in fast food (3,3)
{HOT DOG} – swap, Spooner style, the initial letters of the two words in the answer and it could be someone who corners the market in spots

23a    Stick knife in one who’s breaking writers’ strike? (8)
{SCABBARD} – the answer, normally a noun, is defined here as a verb meaning to sheathe – split as (4,4) this could be a writer who is refusing to come out on strike

24a    South Africa initially has recorded more than one try (6)
{ESSAYS} – sounds like SA’s (South Africa initially has)

25a    Southern African state’s lost national independence anthem’s first verse (6)
{STANZA} – S(outhern) followed by an African state from which the initial letters (first) of National Independence Anthem have been removed (lost)


1d    Importance of last king taking on a mission to get rid of king (8)
{GRAVITAS} – take the full regnal cypher for our last king, insert the A from the clue and then add a mission without the final K(ing)

2d    Scots know to carry two bloody types of wood (5)
{OAKEN} – the Scottish verb for to know comes after (to carry in a down clue) two blood types

3d    New York district representative returned? Don’t bet on it! (2-5)
{NO-HOPER} – a district to the North of Houston Street in New York followed by the reversal of a REP(resentative)

5d    Junk trader‘s starting price in London hit hard (7)
{SPAMMER} – Starting Price followed by how someone living in London’s East End might say a verb meaning to hit hard

6d    Fit for purpose, therefore without amplification? (9)
{ERGONOMIC} – split as (4) and (2,3) this is the Latin for therefore and a phrase meaning without amplification

7d    Fish coming up change course, turning to get room for manoeuvre (6)
{LEEWAY} – the reversal (coming up) of a fish is followed by the reversal (turning) of a verb meaning to change course

9d    (Relative — male/female one) (11)
{PARENTHESIS} – the definition is a passage inserted in a sentence which is grammatically complete without it, usually, as here, bounded by brackets – a relative followed by the male pronoun and a female relative – note that if the punctuation itself were the definition then the answer would have been plural

14d    Showed partiality, excessively, and kissed with abandon (4,5)
{TOOK SIDES} – an adverb meaning excessively followed by an anagram (with abandon) of KISSED

15d    It’s not clear this bit hasn’t been dyed (4,4)
{GREY AREA} – could be a part of someone’s hair that hasn’t been dyed!

17d    Victim of Winterman’s predecessor? (4,3)
{FALL GUY} – the predecessor of a Winter man could be this

18d    Revise futurism’s leading part in Soviet art movement (7)
{REDRAFT} – the initial letter (leading part) Futurism inside an adjective meaning Soviet and an anagram (movement) of ART

19d    Merry because man’s around (6)
{JOCOSE} – a slang form of because inside (is around) a man’s name

21d    Bird with beak of gold flying up (5)
{ROBIN} – a beak followed by the heraldic term for gold, all reversed (flying up)

I can’t get enough of puzzles like this one – next up a review of 2012, similar to last year’s magnum opus?

11 comments on “Toughie 890

  1. Very enjoyable crossword yet no great difficulty, 2*/5* for me. Many thanks to Micawber and to BD, great fun!

  2. I concur with everything BD says about this setter, My favourites were 1d 5d 12a 13a and 20a thanks to Micawber for a most enjoyable solve and to Big Dave for the review.

  3. Thanks to Micawber & to BD. if I’m not mistaken we have seen 3d in various disguises three times this week.

  4. Encouraged by Gazza’s comments had a look and was very glad I did .huge number of “aha” moments which I really enjoy .Absolute favourite 13a and perhaps 23a but liked the lot ! Last one in 19d. Not fairly benign for me but very fair 4*\5* for me .
    Thanks once again

  5. The highlight of the week – as one would expect from a Micawber toughie. 2* difficulty and the splendid d’oh moments and too many good clues to pick favourites made it 5* fun for me.

    Thanks to Micawber for the fun and BD for the explanations.

  6. !2a and 5d were the two that we had written in but not fully parsed until a brisk walk in rather blustery weather put the grey matter back on track. Right up there with Wednesday’s Beam (who gets acknowledged in 21a too), for enjoyment with us.
    Thanks Micawber and BD.

  7. I normally avoid the Friday Toughie – but gazza’s comment on the Other Page tempted me to have a go!

    Feel a bit like a “Gatecrasher” but – 13a – My Clue of the Week!

  8. I posted last night that I hoped “good” would be an understatement. Proved right, this was def five star on enjoyment. 12a 25a 5d faves last in 24a and the penny drop was deafening.Thank you Micawber and BD. Top notch imho

  9. Another excellent puzzle that was over all too quickly. Some lovely definitions as well. Thanks to Micawber and to BD for the review

    1. it was over quickly, but honestly spent many an hour today trying to parse 24a, i just couldn’t see it. And dear your lord how stoopid stoopid did i feel when the penny dropped!

  10. Not quite finished – problems in NE corner – but very enjoyable nevertheless. Thanks to BD for the review that explains all, and Micawber whose work is new to me. (I rarely try the Toughie.)

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