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Toughie 896

Toughie No 896 by Elkamere

A 25a Workout

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

This is a very enjoyable puzzle from Elkamere but not, for me anyway, any less difficult than his last Toughie which appeared in the feared Friday slot. If we get this on Wednesday what’s in store for the rest of the week?
Do leave a comment telling us what you liked or disliked and how you got on.

Across Clues

1a  He’s keen to introduce part of lyric poem (7)
{STROPHE} – this is the first section of an ancient Greek choral ode. HE is preceded (to introduce) by a verb meaning to keen or sharpen.

5a  Returning shots, posh girl’s breaking ball (3,4)
{LEG SPIN} – this is a type of cricket delivery. String together shots (of liquor) and an upper-class girl then reverse (returning) it all.

9a  Unfinished joint — leave tongue (5)
{LINGO} – drop the last letter (unfinished) from a joint (in a chain, perhaps) and follow this with a verb to leave.

10a  Recklessly smashed the fences around hollowed out trees (4-5)
{HEAD-FIRST} – an anagram (smashed) of THE contains (fences) A(roun)D (hollowed out) and evergreen trees.

11a  Seafood spread in crispbread (6,4)
{SPIDER CRAB} – an anagram (spread) of CRISPBREAD.

12a  Ducks out of tour of manor (4)
{TURF} – this is a patch or area of influence ‘belonging’ to a person or group such as a gang. Take the letters that look like ducks (zeros) out of ‘tour of’.

14a  Dodgy builder, 23, sacked (12)
{DISREPUTABLE} – an anagram (sacked) of BUILDER and the answer to 23d.

18a  Stuffed  shirts may be so lined? (4,3,2,3)
{HUNG OUT TO DRY} – double definition. The first meaning left in a vulnerable situation and the second how shirts may be pegged out on a line.

21a  I live in the mountains and I happen to get by (4)
{IBEX} – string together I (from the clue), a verb meaning to happen and the sign of multiplication (by).

22a  Closely follow cricketers, side securing runs (10)
{SLIPSTREAM} – close fielders at cricket are followed by a side with R(uns) inside (securing).

25a  Not sure flabby American is energetic (9)
{STRENUOUS} – an anagram (flabby) of NOT SURE is followed by an abbreviation for American.

26a  River party finds plant blight (5)
{UREDO} – I didn’t know this word for a rust-fungus but after getting the initial checking letter it was straightforward. It’s a North Yorkshire river followed by a festive party.

27a  Reason trifle turns green? (7)
{WITLOOF} – I didn’t know this word either. It’s a broad-leafed variety of chicory and so can be classified as a green vegetable, but it has a white leaf (that’s a hint) so that presumably accounts for the question mark. A synonym for reason or common sense is followed by the reversal (turns) of a cold dessert. I wouldn’t have called this dessert a trifle for which I thought sponge cake was an essential ingredient, but if Nigella wants to leave a comment telling me I’ve got it wrong I’m quite prepared to discuss it with her. [Thanks to Shahriar Bader for pointing out what I should have seen – trifle here is a verb not a noun].

28a  Northerners in English film with huge following (7)
{ESKIMOS} – I’m sure that most of us learnt this word for the people living in the snowy regions of the far north at school, but I found out recently from one of Falcon’s blogs that it is regarded as non-PC and pejorative in Canada. String together E(nglish), a word for a thin layer or film covering a surface and the abbreviation for a huge clothing size.

Down Clues

1d  Hack grabs page headline (6)
{SPLASH} – a verb to hack or rip contains P(age).

2d  What top policeman did is nasty (6)
{RANCID} – when split as (3,3) this could be what a senior detective did as his job.

3d  One standing in for man or father (10)
{PROGENITOR} – a prefix meaning for or in favour of and an informal term for a man of good social standing have I (one) inserted, then we finish off with OR.

4d  City will accept most of this moral code (5)
{ETHIC} – the London postal area in which the City is situated contains (will accept) all but the last letter of THI(s).

5d  Dog runs around with ball — gets one swallowed (5,4)
{LHASA APSO} – a verb meaning runs around (an athletic track, say) is followed by the letter that looks like a ball. Now insert (swallowed) a verb meaning gets or acquires and A (one). Earlier on this answer was wrong on the on-line site which insisted that the second letter was L – this may now be corrected.

6d  Digs using hook (4)
{GAFF} – double definition – a slang term for where one lives and a hook used for landing a large fish.

7d  A timer used primarily on bank alarms (8)
{PERTURBS} – Start with a word meaning a (as in ‘£2 a kilo’) then add the prime letters of Timer Used and the once-proud Scottish bank brought low by Fred the Shred and his cronies.

8d  Picture file that is in sign, I am told (8)
{NOTIFIED} – one of the variants used as the suffix to identify a picture file in tabbed image file format and the abbreviation for that is go inside a visible sign of assent (in response to a question like ‘Are you in agreement?’).

13d  Impressed by famous son’s opening kick in fight (4-6)
{STAR-STRUCK} – S(on) gets inserted (opening) in a verb meaning to kick in or begin, then finish with a slang word for a fight or brawl.

15d  Conductor not on list (6,3)
{RATTLE OFF} – a famous conductor is the opposite of on.

16d  Texan killer‘s blown cash in a week (8)
{CHAINSAW} – the weapon used in a 1974 slasher film is an anagram (blown) of CASH IN A followed by W(eek).

17d  Nobody keeps soldiers under cover (2,6)
{IN SECRET} – a metaphor used for an insignificant person or nobody contains (keeps) the abbreviation for some soldiers.

19d  Note given to judge: Acquit (6)
{REDEEM} – the second note in tonic sol-fa is followed by a verb to judge or consider. The answer means to acquit in the religious sense of to pardon for sin.

20d  Stamp? A letter needs one on top (6)
{EMBOSS} – how one of the letters of our alphabet is spelled out is followed by a superior at work (one on top). Nice bit of misdirection with ‘on top’ making me at least initially think that the letter came last.

23d  Gum over top of envelope (5)
{PASTE} – a word meaning over (as in ‘we were over the worst’) is followed by the top letter of E(nvelope).

24d  One engineer not digging (4)
{INTO} – I (one) followed by an anagram (engineer) of NOT means digging in the sense of liking.

The clues I liked best were 10a, 18a and 24d. How about you?

18 comments on “Toughie 896

  1. Many thanks for the blog Gazza, and my apologies for the error at 5d; entirely my doing. All the stuff in Crossword Compiler is correct, but in preparing the .txt file from which the puzzle is extracted the answers have to be typed in manually. I had a slip of the finger.

  2. I got there in the end if not quite knowing why for 7d! 4* for difficulty but only 2* for enjoyment because of the new words, particularly witloof.

  3. I almost got there in the end, and as with Liverpool Mike, got 7d but for completely wrong reason! If you google first 4 letters you get an evaluation method developed by the US Navy for evaluating time spent on projects…and I thought I was being clever…

    1. You don’t hear much about the Programme Evaluation and Review Technique these days, but it was fairly common in my early days in IT, as was Critical Path Analysis. My favourite expression was “negative float” which was a euphemism for “behind schedule”, just as an “unsupported feature” was for a bug.

        1. I remember PERT from the 1970s when it was used quite a bit by the technical departments of Local Authorities as a project management tool. I did consider it here but thought that it was too obscure, but as you say it would just about have worked.

  4. Three new words for me, 1a, 26a and 27a, so 5*/4* from me. Wanted DISTURBS for 7d at first, d’oh! Understood the TURBS bit but couldn’t parse the DIS so it didn’t go in. Did you hear the clang when the penny dropped?

    Favourites 10a and 22a which I would probably have illustrated with a piccy of Lewis slipstreaming Fernando :grin:

    An enjoyable puzzle so much thanks to Elkamere and Gazza for confirming my parsing of 5d – I hate it when compilers use one and A interchangeably!.

  5. Not while I have an aperture in my fundament would I have been able to solve this on my own. Thanks to Elkamere & to Gazza for the enlightenment & erudition.

  6. Like others have said I got 7d but couldn’t parse it overall a very good workout, Favourites were 1a 18a and 20d thanks to Elkamere and to Gazza for the dissection.

  7. I found this super tough today. I spent a long time on a few in the top right part, and eventually failed on 1a.
    Many thanks to Elkamere, and to Gazza. 5*/4* for me.

  8. As puzzles by Elkamere go, I found this at the slightly fluffy end of his spectrum (meaning that I finished it in one session rather than on and off all day muttering ) so I would agree with Gazza’s 4* rating for both difficulty and enjoyment. Same favourites as him but I also would add 12a. The d’oh moments when I ‘got’ that one and 24d were probably heard by Big Boab! Thanks and seasons greetings to Elkamere and gazza..

    When I naughtily went onto the screwed up site to get a ‘cheating letter’, I found that there was no score, no points, and apparently I had used up all my ‘letters’. The only thing working was the timer which was speeding round at a rate of knots. Still, it was good for me, as I did in the end solve the puzzle unaided, apart from checking that 26a really existed.

  9. Thanks to Elkamere & to Gazza. Way too tough for me managed to get 8 answers, but had to look the rest up. Learnt three new words though, 26&27a and 5d. Could never have got near to working out most of it.

  10. This was right at the top end of difficulty for us so were very pleased that we did manage to finish with only the parsing of 7d incomplete. Took us much of the afternoon though. NE corner was the major bug-bear but interesting tussles throughout. Like Gazza we fear what’s coming for the rest of the week!
    Thanks Elkamere for the workout and Gazza for the review.

  11. 4/5* difficulty for me, like jezza and 2kiwis held up in nw. Cannot for the life of me think why I Knew 26a. 16d and 24d made me giggle on a stoopidly overcrowded train to cambridge this morning. (and no It took me much longer to solve it than the train journey alone, i’m not that quick!) Thanks as ever to Gazza and Elkamere

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