Toughie 1034

Toughie No 1034 by Micawber

The Winner Takes It All

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

Thanks to BD for agreeing to swap Toughies this week, allowing me to blog this hugely enjoyable puzzle from Micawber. Do let us know what you thought.

Across Clues

1a  Primate of Canterbury region tense after royal address (8)
{MARMOSET} – an abbreviation for ‘of’ (as used in many Irish surnames for example), the region of the UK in which the city of Canterbury is to be found and T(ense) all follow a variant spelling of how female members of the royal family like to be addressed.

6a  Program with design to attach (6)
{APPEND} – a charade of the abbreviation for a computer program and another word for design or aim.

9a  ‘Money, Money, Money’ featuring Abba’s number one — concerning this? (6)
{MAMMON} – three occurrences of M(oney) contain the first letter (number one) of A(bba) and that’s all followed by a preposition meaning concerning.

10a  What a contemptible person hanging round pub (8)
{ALEHOUSE} – a common way of requesting a repetition (what?) with A and a contemptible person around it.

11a  Cut back on firm fish (8)
{PILCHARD} – reverse a verb to cut and add an adjective meaning firm or unyielding.

12a  Regressing, live in Pacific island, topless — a simple form of life (6)
{AMOEBA} – a verb to live or exist is reversed (regressing) inside a state (actually consisting of two main islands) in the Pacific without its first letter (topless).

13a  Wacky diplomat takes time touring India on first overseas trip (6,6)
{MAIDEN VOYAGE} – synonyms for wacky, diplomat and time are strung together containing the letter represented by India in the Nato Phonetic Alphabet.

16a  Indicator of successful flotation for footwear brand (8,4)
{PLIMSOLL LINE} – a mark on the side of a ship which disappears below the surface if a ship is overloaded could also, cryptically, be a footwear brand.

19a  Ripe, a nutritious source of snack (6)
{PEANUT} – the source of this snack is the first part of the clue.

21a  Greek inventor reconditioned used Lada (8)
{DAEDALUS} – an anagram (reconditioned) of USED LADA produces the name of an old Greek inventor (and unsuccessful pioneer of unpowered flight).

23a  Fifth ace, perhaps, from Wimbledon outsider (4,4)
{WILD CARD} – double definition. In some games this (often a joker) could be declared as a fifth ace for example. It’s also the term used for a ‘grace and favour’ invitation to a sports event granted to someone who has not officially qualified (often given to British tennis players to allow them to make a fleeting appearance at Wimbledon).

24a  Wrongly learnt? From the bottom up, the buck stops here! (6)
{ANTLER} – an anagram (wrongly) of LEARNT gives us the furthest limit of a buck or stag if you work upwards from the bottom.

25a  E.g. Livingstone with border to explore (6)
{DREDGE} – an abbreviated title (that of the explorer Livingstone, for example) is followed by a border.

26a  Noel playing with echo characteristic of modern rock (8)
{HOLOCENE} – a geological term describing the current era is an anagram (playing) of NOEL with ECHO.

Down Clues

2d  Middle Eastern agents embracing prohibition on the ascendant (6)
{ARABIC} – the abbreviation for the US spying agency contains a prohibition or restriction, then it all gets reversed (on the ascendant, in a down clue).

3d  Reproduce sp-speech aid (5)
{MIMIC} – the abbreviation for an aid to make speech more audible with its first two letters repeated to match the clue.

4d  Ruin is a Norman city-state (3,6)
{SAN MARINO} – an anagram (ruin) of IS A NORMAN.

5d  Non-duck to walk like duck? Nonsense (7)
{TWADDLE} – start with the word TO but without the letter that resembles zero or a cricket duck then add a verb to walk like a duck.

6d  Don’t apply to circus (5)
{ARENA} – split as (3,2) this could mean don’t apply or be of no relevance.

7d  Working girl to do secretarial job for master (9)
{PROTOTYPE} – the abbreviation for a working girl (i.e. a girl working in the sex trade) is followed by TO and a verb to do a secretarial job.

8d  Tempt horses with these three things just below eye level (8)
{NOSEBAGS} – … one in the middle and one under each eye.

13d  Old man and woman, for Spooner, both lacking some faculty (3,3,3)
{MUM AND DAD} – the two faculties that Spooner’s version would lack relate to speech and mental health.

14d  It’s immoral, daily paper retaining old phone messages (9)
{VOICEMAIL} – string together something immoral and the title of the daily paper which supported Oswald Mosley in the 1930s and insert (retaining) O(ld). Superb surface relating to the phone-hacking scandal.

15d  Covert sect without leader sounds increasingly strange (8)
{ULTERIOR} – a religious sect without its leading letter is followed by what sounds like a comparative meaning more strange or frightening.

17d  Affectedly superior young man, one brought before court? (2-2-3)
{LA-DI-DAH} – start with a young man and I (one). Now think of a phrasal verb (3,2) meaning brought before the court and apply the second word of it to the first.

18d  Dish to go round with ease among audience introduced (6)
{TUREEN} – a verb to go round or revolve has what sounds like ‘ease’ inserted.

20d  Research the Yorkshire lineage (5)
{TRACE} – the abbreviated form of ‘the’ used in Yorkshire speech is followed by a word for lineage or ethnic group.

22d  Old American Aids drug given to Europeans (5)
{AZTEC} – the abbreviation for azidothymidine (an antiviral drug used in the treatment of Aids) is followed by the abbreviation for the community of European states that was replaced by a union in 1993.

I’ve spent a long time trying to pare my list of favourite clues down to a manageable level and this is what I’ve ended up with: 9a, 8d, 14d and 17d. Which ones appeared on your list?



  1. crypticsue
    Posted August 20, 2013 at 1:14 pm | Permalink

    My newspaper has an outbreak of measles with spots by so many clues I liked it would take more than my remaining bit of lunch hour to list them all.

    Huge thanks to Micawber for the perfect Toughie – looked as though it was going to be tricky, turned out it wasn’t and I had the greatest fun solving it 2*/5* for me too.

    Thanks to Gazza too – you do get the nicest puzzles to blog.

  2. jezza
    Posted August 20, 2013 at 1:23 pm | Permalink

    The one I was defeated on was 9a; the wordplay was fair, but not a word i’ve heard before.
    I also spent a little while looking for the hidden answer at 19a.
    Many thanks to Micawber for a splendid puzzle, and to Gazza for the review.

  3. Posted August 20, 2013 at 1:43 pm | Permalink

    Both Chambers and the ODE give the answer to 17d as 2-2-2 or 3-2-3, so it’s a bit of a hybrid. The SOED adds 3-2-2 as an option, but none of them give 2-2-3. Apart from that this was an excellent puzzle with a succession of smiles from start to finish.

  4. SheilaP
    Posted August 20, 2013 at 1:47 pm | Permalink

    This is the first time we’ve attempted the ‘toughie’, & we managed to finish it without much help from the hints, so I suspect it probably wasn’t quite as hard as sometimes. Thank you both setter & hinter.

  5. Pegasus
    Posted August 20, 2013 at 2:39 pm | Permalink

    Terrific offering from start to finish. my favourites amongst a plethora of others were 8d 10a 15d and 17d thanks to Micawber and to Gazza for the comments.

  6. Heno
    Posted August 20, 2013 at 2:50 pm | Permalink

    Thanks to Micawber & to Gazza for the review & hints. What a superb puzzle, and one that I got into. I’m so chuffed. Was only two short, i thought 9a was “taxman”, I didn’t understand the wordplay and was ignorant of the biblical reference. Also 15d I’d not realised it was a part homophone, my fault entirely. The rest of the puzzle was a joy to behold, favourite was 7d, which made me laugh out loud when the penny dropped. Was 2*/5* for me.

  7. BigBoab
    Posted August 20, 2013 at 3:04 pm | Permalink

    Many thanks to Micawber for a cracking “toughie” and to Gazza for an equally cracking review.

  8. spindrift
    Posted August 20, 2013 at 3:12 pm | Permalink

    The clue to 20d is another example of non-tykes misunderstanding our use of the glottal stop. We don’t use the letter T for the word “the” as in “We’re off t’shops” – we just sort of pause if you like, instead of pronouncing the word “the”. Anyway I don’t suppose this misconception will ever change.

    • Posted August 20, 2013 at 3:28 pm | Permalink

      Perhaps you had better write to Chambers!

      t’ … N Eng dialect form of the

      • spindrift
        Posted August 20, 2013 at 3:36 pm | Permalink

        I know how me and my family and friends speak and we certainly don’t refer to the book by CS Lewis as “T’Lion, T’Witch & T’Wardobe” as that soft southern jessie comedian Michael McNtyre once “joked”.

        • gazza
          Posted August 20, 2013 at 4:28 pm | Permalink

          If the sound is that of a glottal stop why is it written as T? A glottal stop normally replaces the consonant sound, as in a Cockney’s “half o’ bi’er” for half of bitter.

          • Only fools
            Posted August 20, 2013 at 11:12 pm | Permalink

            Glottal stops here !
            I thought it was some form of comfort break
            Micawber is fast becoming one of my favourite setters ,I love puzzles with smiles and there were plenty here .
            Thanks to both

  9. crypticsue
    Posted August 20, 2013 at 5:46 pm | Permalink

    Meant to mention this much earlier but our Prolixic is in the Independent today with his Kairos hat on. Its trickier than the Micawber but don’t let that deter you.

    • pommers
      Posted August 20, 2013 at 6:51 pm | Permalink

      Best puzzle of the day IMHO :smile:

  10. 2Kiwis
    Posted August 20, 2013 at 7:30 pm | Permalink

    As we mentioned on the comments for the back-pager last night (for us), we thought this a superb puzzle. Glad to find this morning that there is general agreement on this. Our chuckles started with marmoset and then just went on and on. We are prepared to forgive the setter for breaking the rules just a tad with the spelling of 17d.
    Many thanks Micawber and Gazza.