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Toughie 901

Toughie No 901 by Micawber

That Was the Year that Was!

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

Greetings from Nether Wasdale! I am away on a week’s holiday, but couldn’t resist bringing you the annual offering from Micawber reviewing the year’s news. As usual, it’s a lovely offering that makes you smile and brings back some of the characters that hit the headlines in 2012 (though I suspect a certain Elgar will be disappointed his hero Silvio hasn’t made an appearance).

I’d like to take this opportunity to wish all of you a belated Merry Christmas and a really Happy New Year. Thanks to everyone involved in bringing this lovely site to life and especially Big Dave for all his work in keeping it running. A special word of appreciation though to Mrs BD (aka the lovely Pam) for putting up with His Nibs! I shall be back regularly after my break once I have got on top of my Open University course and one or two other things. Speaking of our glorious leader, I must thank him for nudging me on a few of these explanations that baffled me!

Definitions are underlined and favourite clues highlighted in blue. 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 Austrian showed the sky’s the limit in this Olympic event (4,4)
{HIGH JUMP} I agonised over this and needed a nudge from our leader in the end. What a certain Austrian named Felix did earlier this year is the name for an Olympic event. I went checking the winners of the event to see if they were Austrian, but they weren’t!

5a Badger shot with kit that’s oldfashioned (6)
{GARBED} An anagram (indicated by shot) of badger leads you to an archaic word meaning clothed.

10a Source of spin — rubbish, alternatively (5)
{ROTOR} A device for spinning is found by taking a word that means rubbish and adding something that indicates an alternative.

11a Right away, Curiosity digs around bottom of Mars — but such leg protection there’s optimistic! (9)
{OVERSHOES} A sort of inappropriate footwear for space exploration is found by taking a word associated with the kind of vehicle Curiosity was, dropping the leading R (Right away), adding a word for digs the garden and inserting or placing it all around S (the bottom of MARS)

12a New York’s tip caught by unfortunate storm (5)
{SANDY} – the first letter of the abbreviation for New York inside (caught by) an adjective meaning unfortunate to give the name of a storm that devastated portions of the Caribbean and the United States during late October 2012

13a A grand old celebration turns to affirmation — Queen’s annus mirabilis? (1,4,4)
{A GOOD YEAR} A translation of the Latin phrase annus mirabilis is revealed by solving the word sum: A + G (good) + O (old) + the reversal (turning) of a word meaning party + an old word of affirmation + R (queen). A nice clue describing the Jubilee.

14a Pasty attracting tax after rule is brought in behind closed doors (7)
{PRIVATE} One of Mr Osborne’s controversies this year was the Pasty Tax. A form of taxation goes inside the type of food that a pasty is. This all goes around R (for rule) and gives you a word meaning secret or behind closed doors.

15a Harm CIA with flapping tongue (7)
{AMHARIC} An anagram of HARM CIA gives you the name of an African language.

18a Head of Bank inferior? Balls approved (7)
{BLESSED} B (first letter, head of Bank) is added to a word meaning inferior and Mr Balls’ first name is added to give a word that means approved. A reference to the appointment of the new Bank of England Governor.

20a Duck! End of bell having flown off disastrously and caused damage (7)
{BUCKLED} An anagram of DUCK and BEL(L)[end having flown off!] gives something that means damaged.

21a Freer rate fixed within interbank lending one (9)
{LIBERATOR} A word meaning someone who frees is found by making an anagram (fixed) of RATE inside the name of the topical Intern Bank Lending Rate that caused problems for some bankers (yes I said bankers!) this year.

24a Medal-winner missing start of Murray’s game (5)
{ENNIS} If you take the name of the sport played by Andy Murray and remove the first letter, you get the surname of one of our best medal-winners at this year’s games.

26a Outrageous, English, say, taking on Greek debts … (9)
{EGREGIOUS} E(nglish) followed by an abbreviation that means say or for example is added to an abbreviation for debts, then GR(eek) is inserted. Altogether this gives you a word meaning outrageous.

27a … having unknown amount lost in deficit (5)
{OWING} A word that means having or possessing needs to have N (number or amount) removed to give a word that means in deficit.

28a Swing states providing samples (6)
{TASTES} An anagram (swing) of STATES reveals something that means samples. A comment on the US Presidential Election!

29a Pussy Riot dispute getting vicious (3-5)
{CAT-FIGHT} The name for a feline is added to a word meaning riot or unrest to produce a phrase meaning a nasty dispute! A reference to the Russian punk band jailed earlier this year.


1d They’ll get in a stew if head of Synod supports the female bishop (5)
{HERBS) Something added to a stew to produce flavour is found by taking a pronoun for a woman and B (for Bishop) and S (head of Synod). A reference to the woes besetting the Church of England.

2d Queue to join section of road primarily intended for first among athletes (3,2,4)
{GET IN LINE} Another Olympic reference. If you try to join a queue of traffic you do this and swapping A for I (primarily [first letter] of intended for the first letter of athletes) you get a phrase that means to queue.

3d Hall and toilets for emergency fuel containers (9)
{JERRYCANS} And now the petrol crisis! The first name of a famous Hall (think Strictly Come Dancing) and an American slang word for a toilet will reveal the name for things to put petrol in in an emergency. No not milk, bottles. They are Molotov cocktails and are probably illegal!

4d Docking point from runner taking gold, silver and bronze finally (7)
(MOORAGE} Another clever post-Olympic clue. The first name of a GB double gold-medallist is added to one that means gold (and is the French word for it). Tack on the end the chemical symbol for silver and the last letter of the word bronze to give you somewhere to dock or park your boat.

6d President isolated by defection of more than half of diplomats externally? (5)
{ASSAD} The name of a despotic Middle Eastern leader is derived by dropping the outer six letters (amb … ors / more than half) of an 11-letter word for some senior diplomats

7d Suffering financially, rail company rejected knockout with energy (5)
{BROKE} And now the rail franchise farrago! The abbreviation for an old rail company is added to the reversed abbreviation for a knockout and E (energy).

8d Out of favour, Director-General was quick to accept income support (9)
{DISGRACED} And now the BBC is in Micawber’s sights! The abbreviation for the BBC’s head takes a word meaning sped or ran after and has inserted IS (Income Support) to give something that means out of favour.

9d Tit for tat violence ending after punishment taken up by Football Association (6)
{FEDORA} What a Cockney calls a ‘tit for tat’ (or just a ‘titfer’) is found by taking the name of a type of punishment (Think of the expression “Spare the ___”)and E (end of violence) reversed inside the abbreviation for the sporting body that manages to make a crisis out of most dramas.

14d Extremely like a policeman, according to Chief Whip? Drop left most stony-faced? (9)
{PEBBLIEST} Perhaps this clue should carry the word ‘allegedly’! What the hapless Minister is alleged to have called the Policemen in it’s superlative form needs to have its L moved further down the word to reveal a word meaning very stony. Clever!

16d Grant-aided body cut back (6,3)
{HACKED OFF} – the campaign for press reform, financially supported by Hugh Grant

17d Softening, extended credit again in Government (9)
{RELENTING} A word that means softening or relaxing is revealed by taking a word that might mean to have given more money to or refinanced once more and adding IN G (in Government).

19d E.g. Facebook stock regularly ignored in catastrophe (6)
{DOTCOM} – drop the odd letters of (S)T(O)C(K) and insert what is left inside a word meaning catastrophe, much used by Dad’s Army regular, Private James Frazer

20d Zanzibar is tax haven for hot drinks vendor, perhaps (7)
{BARISTA} Not Starbucks, it won’t fit! The posh trendy name for someone who serves coffee is hidden in the phrase ZANZIBAR IS TAX. Haven is a clever way of indicating a hidden answer.

22d Stunt artist’s cry of distress, hanging around middle of wire upside down (5)
{BORIS} I misread this clue when solving and linked the next definition with this one. The London Mayor’s first name is revealed by taking a word meaning cry, reversing it and placing it around the reversal of IR (middle of WIRE)

23d Olympic bigwig turning up to urge gold (5)
{ROGGE} The surname of the Head of the IOC is revealed by reversing a word meaning incite or urge and our French word for gold again.

25d See rowing team change direction (5)
{SIGHT} The name for a large rowing team needs to have its first letter replaced by an abbreviation for a different direction.

Thanks to Micawber for a breath-taking review of the news of 2012. A simply stunning puzzle that will live long in the memory. Happy New Year and I’ll see you soon!

22 comments on “Toughie 901

  1. Once again the end of year Toughie is a real treat. One of my ‘spotty’ days – lots of clues marked as ‘favourites’ although my top favourite was the penny dropping moment with 9d.

    Thanks to Micawber for a superb round up of the year’s news and to Tilsit (and his friend!) for the equally excellent blog.

    1. Agreed. If one only solved one Toughie in a year, it would always have to be the Micawber end of year special. Mind you, saying that, my puzzle of the year remains the Elgar ‘Owl and the Pussycat’

  2. Started enjoying this from 1a and didn’t stop .Probably took a lot longer than most but in a way that made it more enjoyable .Smileometer was in overdrive .
    Thanks once again .

  3. Excellent puzzle from our esteemed setter, lots of favourites including 9d 12a and 14d thanks to Micawber and to Tilsit for the review.

  4. I managed most of this TWTYTW! But needed some help – so thank you!

    (9d – The FA’s system of justice/punishment seems to have gone awry – The Gum-chewing one has got off Scot-free! A Disgrace!)

    1. Perhaps he threated to throw all of his toys out of his pram.

      I agree with you, and his response to Alan Pardew was pathetic. My opinion is unprintable.

      1. I am sure that the good people of Newcastle will give the same respect to this childish petulance that they did to SAF ‘ s description of the failed assassination attempt on RVP using a fully inflated football !

      2. My one and only chance to correct BD’s spelling! – “Perhaps he threated to throw all of his toys out of his pram.”

        Or is it in Chambers?

        Many Thanks to BD and Team for explaining all the many, many clues that I could not solve without your help in 2012!

  5. Thanks CS for your review and thanks to Micawber, got some of the easier ones, including1a, and enjoyed trying the others. Pity I didnt have much time.

      1. mostly that is how it goes for me. So when we have synonyms inside others with odd letters thrown in , in other words all wordplay, I’m stuck, but beginning to get some of them.

  6. Thanks Dave and y’all. It’s always a little tricky with these news specials to know how much knowledge to assume, so I mostly try to make sure the clues work independently. But 20ac is funnier if you remember when Jeremy Hunt lost his bell-end while ringing in the start of the Olympics.
    My alter-ego Mick Twister’s limerick review of the year provides a humorous commentary on some of these events in case you’ve forgotten them!

  7. Got it finished and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. Some of the finer points of the word-play had eluded us but feel we can be forgiven as we live within a totally different news regime. We note that the setter did try to make it solvable by people like us and he has obviously succeeded.
    Thanks Micawber and Tilsit.

  8. Very clever combining a 2012 news review within the crossword. An impressive tour de force, Mr Micawber.
    I managed the left half which is better than my previous Toughie attempts, and very grateful for the excellent review to reveal the top R corner.

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