Toughie 997 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 997

Toughie No 997 by Myops

Games people play

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

How do you follow yesterday’s Toughie from Beam – easy, with this excellent offering from another of my favourite setters. Games, of one kind or another, are involved in many of today’s answers.

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1a    Senior common room babel subsides — for grub (8)
{SCRABBLE} – the abbreviation of the Senior Common Room followed by an anagram (subsides) of babel gives a verb meaning to grub or rummage

5a    Hunted, caught and restrained (6)
{CHASTE} – sounds like (caught) a verb meaning hunted

9a    Hogwarts subject Channel Islands school rejected (5)
{MAGIC} – the abbreviation for the Channel Islands and a school of whales all reversed (rejected)

10a    Basque leader and separatists admit resistance and murder over breaches of trust (9)
{BETRAYALS} – the initial letter (leader) of Basque followed by the abbreviation of the militant Basque separatist organization around (admit) R(esistance) and a verb meaning to murder reversed (over)

12a    Entire goal difference may determine it (10)
{RELEGATION} – an anagram (difference) of ENTIRE GOAL gives something that may be determined by goal difference


13a    Match requiring two moves to mate (4)
{TEAM} – this verb meaning to match or combine can be converted into MATE, another verb meaning to match or pair up, by moving two letters

15a    Methods used in training sessions for Olympics? They’ll keep serving men (5,6)
{GAMES THEORY} – what the Olympics is all about followed by THEY around (keep) a two-letter abbreviation for men serving in the armed forces

16a    Perhaps Jacob‘s socially acceptable bow you rehearsed again and again (3)
{EWE} – Jacob is a variety of this animal – sounds like each of (rehearsed again and again) a letter meaning socially acceptable, a name for a bow (after the wood from which it is made) and you

17a    Cross in eastern Spain ‘river of no return’? On the contrary (3)
{EXE} – the letter shaped like a cross between E(astern) and the IVR code for Spain gives a river that, when reversed, reads the same (no return, on the contrary)

18a    Penitent’s defence of Christianity (11)
{APOLOGETICS} – an adjective meaning penitent followed by the S from ‘S gives a defensive argument, especially the defence of Christianity

20a    Scots love having entered second to come second (4)
{LOSE} – LO’E, the Scots word for love, around S(econd)

21a    Greek letter — in Greek — is reread before Latin war game (10)
{KRIEGSPIEL} – the sixteenth letter of the Greek alphabet inside an anagram (reread) of GREEK IS followed by L(atin)

24a    Chest protectors militant Republicans will find d—- d, d—– d confining (9)
{CUIRASSES} – militant Irish Republicans inside (will find … confining) some swear words (represented by d—- d and d—– d)

26a    State Department game discards American crest (5)
{RIDGE} – a US state followed by D(epartment) and GAME without (discards) AM(erican)

27a    Changing course college fails to make attractive (6)
{TAKING} – a verb meaning changing course without (fails) C(ollege)

28a    Makes opponents lead to 20 goals cramping sport (8)
{ENDPLAYS} – a bridge term meaning places an opponent in a situation where no lead can be made which does not cost a trick (i.e. the answer to 20 across) is derived by putting some goals or aims around sport


1d    After spades lead card game gets serious (6)
{SOMBRE} – the initial letter (lead) of Spades followed by a game played with a pack of forty cards

2d    Republican line about rising generation of kings and queens (5)
{REGAL} – R(epublican) and L(ine)around the reversal (rising) of a generation

3d    Lord Chancellor historically has limited metric weight and length covering amateur game (10)
{BACKGAMMON} – the surname of a seventeenth century (historically) Lord Chancellor around (has) the abbreviations (limited) of a metric weight and a (metric) length both around (covering) A(mateur)

4d    Seven veils seductress (3)
{EVE} – hidden (veils) inside the clue

6d    Take in hostilities only Asterix ends (4)
{HOAX} – the abbreviation for Hostilities Only, a term used to designate service in the Royal Navy during wartime, followed by the outer letters (ends) of AsteriX

7d    Yankees refined element identified by two nines and two ones (5,4)
{SNAKE EYES} – an anagram (refined) of YANKEES followed by the chemical symbol for the element with atomic no. 99 (two nines) gives a term for a throw of two ones with a pair of dice

8d    Players — i.e. the outfit selected for the match (8)
{ENSEMBLE} – two definitions – a group of musicians or actors who perform together and an outfit consisting of several matching garments

10d    Pet hates? Guess one included ‘ ‘ubby’s a noisy sleeper’ (5,6)
{BÊTES NOIRES} – a guess followed by I (one) inside a statement that hubby is a noising sleeper (2,6) without the leading H (as hubby becomes ‘ubby}

11d    Were the slow cycles bikes? (3-8)
{TWO-WHEELERS} – an anagram (cycles) of WERE THE SLOW

14d    Maybe Alex, Eric and Ernie’s day out? (5,5)
{COMIC STRIP} – Alex is an example (maybe) from the Daily Telegraph of a series of cartoons– what Eric and Ernie were followed by a day out

15d    Grace’s kit should be reviewed as guide to selectors (4-5)
{GEAR STICK} – an anagram (should be reviewed) of GRACE’S KIT

16d    Once 45 is divided by 10 and 50 and 100 by 1, information technology makes it unambiguous (8)
{EXPLICIT} – a vinyl record that played at 45 rpm around (divided by) the Roman numeral for 10 followed by the Roman numerals for 50 and 100 separated by the Roman numeral for 1 and finally the abbreviation for Information Technology

19d    A yell’s evoked when taws is brought out (6)
{ALLEYS} – an anagram (evoked) of A YELL’S gives the places where some types of taws or marbles were used

22d    1 and 1 can make I (5)
{INDIA} – an anagram (can make) of I AND I gives the country represented by I in the NATO phonetic alphabet

23d    Bowl round wicket to get man (4)
{PAWN} – a bowl or depression around W(icket) gives a chessman

25d     Regard for 50% of partnerships scoring in bridge (3)
{EYE} – Scoring in bridge is written down as We and They  – combine 50% of (th)EY and 50% of (w)E (thanks Prolixic for unravelling that one)

As a further point of interest, all of the three-letter words begin and end in the same letter and the middle letters are four consecutive letters in the alphabet.

11 comments on “Toughie 997

  1. Very enjoyable toughie from Myops and a very entertaining review from BD, my thanks to both, I hadn’t noticed the 3 letter words oddness, clever what?

  2. Many thanks to Myops for another excellent puzzle. A tough challenge for me, but I got there eventually.
    Thanks also to BD for the analysis; there is always something I miss in the wordplay of these tougher toughies.

    1. I solved many of these clues with a bit of electronic help without really getting the wordplay so many thanks as always to the setter and review….a great end to the toughie week…

  3. Very enjoyable as is the norm with todays setter, favourites for me were 7d 10d 24a and 28a thanks to Myops and to Big Dave for the explanations.

  4. My first toughie by Myops and am afraid to say that I failed. Got about two thirds of the way through and had to refer to BD’s open university for solvers. A couple of hints got me going again and managed to complete. These setters really are brilliant. Many thanks to Myops and BD for his excellent review.

  5. Rather like my golf this afternoon I struggled with this particularly the SE corner .Last one in 21a which.I had to look up .
    Favourites 11a,14d,7d .
    Very enjoyable so thanks to Myops and Bd

  6. After a lot of hard work we managed to complete with everything parsed apart from 26a and 25d. This was despite the solving process being interrupted by going off to play bridge in the afternoon. Our scoring is all done electronically on a Bridgepad device, so the subtlety of WE/THEY did not come to mind. Some very good off-the-wall clues like 16d and 24a that we really enjoyed.
    Thanks Myops and BD.

  7. Had to look up 21a and was beaten by 25d,guessed the answer from the 3 letter word theme but for the life of me had no idea how it worked. 12a made me laugh, then 13a until I thought about my local football side, 10a and 10d stood out for me, thanks Myops and BD

  8. An excellent, very challenging puzzle. Particularly liked 7d and 16d. But not convinced by 19d. I know that the nomenclature of marbles differs greatly from place to place but as far as I remember an alley is the same as a taw, not a place where the game was played [anywhere on the street]. Can anyone help?

    Thanks to Myops and BD.

    1. Alley: Alley is short for alabaster. Alleys are made of true blue marble or a glass marble made to look like a real marble. Confusing isn’t it ,marble terminology
      As a kid we used to play with glass alleys

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