Toughie 1026

Toughie No 1026 by Excalibur

Problems on the Green?

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BD Rating – Difficulty */**Enjoyment **

This is unmistakeably an Excalibur puzzle, i.e. it’s pretty quirky. Even for a Tuesday I think it’s a pretty easy Toughie, so I’ll be surprised if the hints are in great demand.

Do let us know how you got on and please rate the puzzle for entertainment by clicking on one of the stars below.

Across Clues

1a  Bad short game — disgusting (3-7)
{OFF-PUTTING} – an adjective meaning bad or rotten is followed by what golfers refer to as their short game, i.e. their play on the green.

9a  To which you go married, coming back single. Right? (4)
{RENO} – semi-all-in-one. This is a city in Nevada once known as the divorce capital of the USA for the speed with which you could get unhitched there. Reverse (coming back) a word for single and R(ight). I do like Zsa Zsa Gabor’s quote: ‘I’m an excellent housekeeper. Every time I get a divorce I keep the house.’

10a  Deny agreement I’d entered being overturned (10)
{CONTRADICT} – an agreement contains I’D reversed.

11a  Had list within; left out name of two English kings (6)
{HAROLD} – HAD with a list or register inside but with one L(eft) omitted.

12a  Puts down under ‘Membership fees’ (7)
{SUBDUES} – a charade of a prefix meaning under and membership fees.

15a  Expand passage through mountain (7)
{BROADEN} – a passage or route goes inside a Scottish mountain.

16a  Runs scared, finally lost ground (5)
{RACES} – an anagram (ground) of SCARE(d) with the final letter lost.

17a  So half beer imbibed is singularly bitter (4)
{ALOE} – ‘singularly bitter’ because this bitter drug is more usually seen in the plural. Half of the word SO goes inside (imbibed) a type of beer. A trademark Excalibur yoda-like clue.

18a  Tells of year in military force (4)
{SAYS} – insert Y(ear) in one of our ‘special’ military forces.

19a  Shows devotion in point to points (5)
{DOTES} – a point or spot is followed by two cardinal points.

21a  Fed up, turned myself in, showing weakness (7)
{DEMERIT} – an adjective meaning fed up or exhausted is reversed (turned) and how the setter would refer to herself goes in it.

22a  When a duet’s played at Haydn Centre (7)
{TUESDAY} – I believe that there is a Haydn Centre in the city of Eisenstadt where he was born but I don’t know if a duet is played there on this day. It’s an anagram (played) of A DUET’S followed by the central letter of (Ha)Y(dn).

24a  Tried to amend early overstatements (6)
{STROVE} – an anagram (to amend) of the early letters of OVERST(atements).

27a  Hauled off to be executed (7,3)
{CARRIED OUT} – double definition.

28a  Certainly lost in action (4)
{DEED} – start with an interjection expressing agreement (certainly!) and drop the IN.

29a  Cruel business in which workers realised their worth (5,5)
{SLAVE TRADE} – cryptic definition of the cruel business that some of our ancestors took part in, involving the sale of workers to the highest bidder.

Down Clues

2d  Board with party of climbers (4)
{FOOD} – a charade of a festive party and OF, all reversed (climbers).

3d  Stoned, made a match (6)
{PITTED} – double definition, the second meaning matched two individuals or teams against each other in a contest.

4d  Every term that comes round is interminable for one (7)
{TEACHER} – I am sure that some of these must enjoy their work but this particular one apparently doesn’t. A synonym for every has TER(m) without its terminating letter put around it.

5d  Plant from the Emerald Isle hard to remove (4)
{IRIS} – remove the H(ard) from an adjective describing someone or something from the Emerald Isle.

6d  Understands, putting arms round the female (7)
{GATHERS} – an informal (mainly US) word for handguns (but actually the abbreviation for types of machinegun) contains a feminine pronoun.

7d  Applause for encore? It’s old (6-4)
{SECOND-HAND} – double definition, the first a cryptic description of what a performer doing an encore may get at the end.

8d  ‘How astonishing,’ one thinks (3,4,3)
{YOU DON’T SAY} – a reply expressing astonishment could also indicate that one is thinking something but not putting it into words.

12d  And, when tide’s about to turn, resign (5,5)
{STAND ASIDE} – AND (from the clue) and a synonym of when with  TIDE’S around (about) but with the last letter moved to the front (to turn).

13d  It shows what stage you’ve got to in your romance (10)
{BOOKMARKER} – cryptic definition – it could go in a romance or in any other literary genre. This word is more often seen without the last two letters.

14d  In recollection to erstwhile students, you put your foot in it (5)
{SABOT} – reverse (in recollection) TO (from the clue) and one-time university students who have successfully graduated.

15d  Said to cover up and get head protection (5)
{BERET} – this sounds like a verb to cover up or hide underground. Does it? Not to me.

19d  Orders harsh cuts unionist rejected (7)
{DIRECTS} – an adjective meaning harsh or grave is followed by C(u)TS from which the abbreviation for unionist has been expelled.

20d  Incident in the east — mistakenly is sure to insert ‘north’ (7)
{SUNRISE} – an anagram (mistakenly) of IS SURE gets N(orth) inserted.

23d  Poster: last in first half of series (6)
{SENDER} – a synonym for last or conclusion  goes inside the first three letters of series.

25d  Motorists taking in eastern state air (4)
{ARIA} – conventionally in crosswords motoring organisations are known as ‘drivers’ or ‘motorists’. Insert the standard abbreviation for a small state in the eastern USA.

26d  Back having a ball day after (4)
{FUND} – a word for enjoyment (having a ball) followed by D(ay).

The clues I liked best were 9a and 29a. How about you?


25 Comments

  1. Expat Chris
    Posted August 6, 2013 at 1:42 pm | Permalink

    I really enjoyed this. Several clues stand out…1A, 9A, 13D, 14D, 20D. Lovely stuff. Many thanks to Excalibur and to Gazza for the review. Loved the billboard in 9A!

  2. Pegasus
    Posted August 6, 2013 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

    I’m sorry but there’s no way 15d works as a homophone, other than that a straightforward solve favourite 13d thanks to Excalibur and to Gazza.

    • Expat Chris
      Posted August 6, 2013 at 2:35 pm | Permalink

      Oh, I don’t know. My old dad wore one and always pronounced it that way.

    • Heno
      Posted August 6, 2013 at 5:31 pm | Permalink

      Maybe a Lloyd Grossman type of pronunciation??

  3. michael mason
    Posted August 6, 2013 at 2:47 pm | Permalink

    Every clue a delight to solve. A belter of a crossword. I particularly loved 9 and 12 across and 13d. Don’t understand the ‘yoda-like’ comment about 17a. It seems to me like a standard construction.

    • gazza
      Posted August 6, 2013 at 3:35 pm | Permalink

      A normal construction would be: x contains y to give z.
      Excalibur often does it as: y, x contains (it) to give z.
      So, whereas we might use a sentence like ‘I eat bran for breakfast’, Excalibur (or Yoda) might deliver this as ‘Bran I eat for breakfast’.

  4. spindrift
    Posted August 6, 2013 at 2:50 pm | Permalink

    15d only makes sense if you also pronounce the word that coal is delivered in as being “sex” and that “nets” are are not something your Nan put up at the windows but are a food source.

  5. BigBoab
    Posted August 6, 2013 at 4:11 pm | Permalink

    Very gentle but enjoyable crossword. Thanks to Excalibur and to Gazza for the hints.

  6. crypticsue
    Posted August 6, 2013 at 4:50 pm | Permalink

    I have solved 7 cryptic crosswords today and apart from a fairl.y impenetrable Alchemi, the testing of which is proving testing (sorry), this Toughie took me the longest time of all to sort out, especially the SW corner which gave me considerable grief. 4*/1* for me.

  7. stanXYZ
    Posted August 6, 2013 at 5:14 pm | Permalink

    Aloe, Aloe, Aloe! What’s going on ‘ere then?

    Excalibur doesn’t seem to be very popular with the Bloggers.

    I enjoyed it … Thanks to Excalibur.

    • pommers
      Posted August 6, 2013 at 10:58 pm | Permalink

      Excalibur isn’t popular with some of the bloggers. She’s OK by this ex-blogger. Remember why I resigned?

  8. Heno
    Posted August 6, 2013 at 5:25 pm | Permalink

    Thanks to Excalibur and to Gazza for the review and hints. Very difficult, could only solve 14 before resorting to the hints. I just don’t get Excalibur, can’t get on the right wavelength.

  9. Vigo
    Posted August 6, 2013 at 6:17 pm | Permalink

    CS puts me to shame – have only managed 6 crosswords today! Not sure which took me the longest but probably either this or the FT (although I didn’t get one in the Grauniad but had never heard of it when I checked on 225). I enjoyed this puzzle very much, particularly, as one of these, 4d, although I’ve only ever felt this way about the first term which does drag on – bring on the 4 term academic year!

  10. 2Kiwis
    Posted August 6, 2013 at 7:43 pm | Permalink

    We really enjoyed this one and found it about average difficulty for a Toughie. We did wince a bit at the homophone in 15d but did grin as well, noting “There’ll be comments”. The NW corner (where we normally like to start) was the last to yield today.
    Thanks Excalibur and Gazza.

  11. halcyon
    Posted August 6, 2013 at 9:00 pm | Permalink

    Excalibur does seem to divide people. I agree with CrypticSue about the toughness of this – one of the toughest Excalibur’s I can remember, but I rather enjoyed it. 2d, 4d and 28a are excellent clues. Having said that – 8d really doesn’t work for me and 15d is one of the dodgiest homophones we’ve had in ages – it relies on both elements being pronounced as “berry”, when in fact there are common alternatives for both – especially the hat, which only Expat Chris’s and my dad pronounced like that!

    But thanks to Excalibur, and also to Gazza.

  12. Vigo
    Posted August 6, 2013 at 9:33 pm | Permalink

    Forgot to say thanks to Excalibur and Gazza. Thanks

  13. andy
    Posted August 6, 2013 at 10:03 pm | Permalink

    re 15d I saw the homophone as a word meaning to inter, cover up. As usual I will be wrong of course. Thanks to Excalibur and Gazza

    • gazza
      Posted August 6, 2013 at 10:09 pm | Permalink

      … but most people don’t pronounce bury and beret the same.

      • andy
        Posted August 6, 2013 at 10:18 pm | Permalink

        They do in East Anglia, maybe not in Devon but hey ho

        • gazza
          Posted August 6, 2013 at 10:26 pm | Permalink

          I’m not belittling you, andy. I’ve genuinely never heard beret pronounced other than in the French fashion. The differences in national and regional pronunciation are why some people don’t like homophone-type clues at all.

          • Heno
            Posted August 6, 2013 at 10:41 pm | Permalink

            My parents and grandparents pronounced it “berry”, they were all from London except my Gran, who came from Starcross in Devon.

          • andy
            Posted August 6, 2013 at 10:41 pm | Permalink

            Thank you Gazza, I’ve lived and worked in so many countries I’m with those that struggle with homophones, mea culpa

      • Expat Chris
        Posted August 6, 2013 at 11:00 pm | Permalink

        Berry. That’s how my father pronounced it, and he was Gloucestershire born and bred. He left school at 14 to work to help his family out, so maybe not as well educated as some and therefore not aware it was a French word. He wouldn’t have given a toss if he were aware. And good for him.

      • pommers
        Posted August 6, 2013 at 11:02 pm | Permalink

        Where I come from the town BURY is pronounced BURRY and the hat pronounced BERRY. Homophones are not my favourite type of clue!

  14. Only fools
    Posted August 6, 2013 at 11:04 pm | Permalink

    Confess to raising an eyebrow (part of my rather limited exercise regime) at 15d but then like Andy thought of how it would be peonounced locally and it would probably be “berry” .
    I agree with CS and Halcyon re difficulty as I was held up in the SW where I thought the clues “weaker” or perhaps I was thicker .Enjoyed it generally though .
    Thanks to Excalibur andto Gazza .