Toughie 1039

Toughie No 1039 by Firefly

Hints and tips by Gazza

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BD Rating – Difficulty ***Enjoyment **

I didn’t find this too difficult but I did originally get one answer wrong so I’ve given myself a one point penalty and raised the difficulty level to 3*.

Let us know how you got on and please register your assessment of the puzzle by selecting one of the stars below.

Across Clues

1a  Town‘s MP ran, tho’ unfortunately not returned (11)
{NORTHAMPTON} – an anagram (unfortunately) of MP RAN THO’ followed by a reversal of NOT.

9a  A Catholic noble, popular leader of group, a tad devious providing necessary financial information (10,4)
{ACCOUNTING DATA} – there are no less than six different bits to assemble here: a) A (from the clue), b) the abbreviation for Catholic, c) a European nobleman, d) an adjective meaning popular or trendy, e) the leading letter of G(roup) and f) an anagram (devious) of A TAD.

11a  Spot of telepathy required to contact the unknown (4)
{ESPY} – the abbreviation for a form of telepathy followed by an algebraic variable.

12a  Pan‘s behind? (5)
{SLATE} – pan here is a verb meaning to criticise harshly. The S from the clue is followed by a synonym for behind or overdue.

13a  Crater‘s edges not evenly distributed (4)
{DENT} – the even letters of edges not.

16a  Lacemaker’s educated but shabby (8)
{TATTERED} – someone who makes a knotted lace edging is followed by the 2-letter abbreviation for educated.

17a  Speaker‘s gallant about female (6)
{WOOFER} – gallant here is a noun meaning beau or suitor. It goes around F(emale).

19a  Embedded with vanguard of Indian navy, ring back (6)
{INLAID} – the leading letters (vanguard) of I(ndian) N(avy) followed by the reversal of a verb to ring. It’s strange that we still use this verb to ring although the mechanism to do it disappeared long ago from most phones.

20a  Good-for-nothing tup, maybe? (8)
{LAYABOUT} – I got this one wrong and was pulled up short when I submitted the puzzle online so I had to think again. My original answer was marabout which fits the wordplay perfectly; the definition isn’t ideal but I think it just about works as a marabout is an itinerant holy man in North Africa who often exists by soliciting alms. With the correct answer we have to split it (3,5) and use the second word as an instruction to reverse a synonym of the first to end up with tup.

22a  Some braces no good for neck (4)
{SNOG} – hidden word.

23a  Head off bad guy — awfully tasteless (5)
{GAUDY} – an anagram (awfully) of (b)AD with its head chopped off and GUY.

24a  Faith perhaps showing adult restraint (4)
{ADAM} – A(dult) followed by something that restrains water.

27a  Punishing the wrong person for computer problem? (9,5)
{EXECUTION ERROR} – double definition, the first how you might describe a major failure in the justice system (such as happened to Timothy Evans, for example) which it’s too late to rectify once it’s been identified. The second is a software fault which comes to light at run-time.

28a  Hunter sold a fake — one from California (11)
{SOUTHLANDER} – an anagram (fake) of HUNTER SOLD A is someone living in the part of California in and around Los Angeles. Not a word I knew.

Down Clues

2d  Skull parts found unexpectedly in BP’s ice location (9,5)
{OCCIPITAL BONES} – an anagram (found unexpectedly in) of BP’S ICE LOCATION.

3d  Excessively tense to play the flute (4)
{TOOT} – this is what Mary does. A word meaning excessively is followed by T(ense).

4d  Liberal line adopted by pliant duenna is set aside (8)
{ANNULLED} – the abbreviations for Liberal and line are contained in an anagram (pliant) of DUENNA.

5d  See 18 Down

6d  Party‘s web organisation having suggestion of yuppiedom (4)
{ORGY} – the abbreviation used for organisation in an internet address is followed by the first letter (suggestion) of Y(uppiedom).

7d  An optimistic point? (4,2,4,4)
{CAPE OF GOOD HOPE} – cryptic definition of a geographical feature in the southern hemisphere.

8d  Street name I confused for hours in New York? (7,4)
{EASTERN TIME} – an anagram (confused) of STREET NAME I gives us the time zone for New York for example. We generally hear this with the word ‘standard’ in it.

10d  Parliament has divergent ways for landing in appalling new mire (11)
{WESTMINSTER} – it sounds as though the setter had advance notice of what’s been convened for tomorrow when another Prime Minister seems hell-bent on landing us in the mire of yet another Middle East conflict (talk about Groundhog Day!). The abbreviation for a way or thoroughfare appears twice in different places (divergent) inside an anagram (appalling) of NEW MIRE.

14d  Austria, say, is in support (5)
{AEGIS} – a charade of the IVR code for Austria, an abbreviation meaning say and IS.

15d  Wine‘s temperature reasonable (5)
{TOKAY} – T(emperature) followed by an informal adjective meaning reasonable. This is the way we spell the wine in English, not the way it’s spelt in its native Hungary.

18d/5d  Key characteristics of 1, 8, 10 and 28? (8,6)
{CARDINAL POINTS} – if you hadn’t already spotted them these are logically placed in the four peripheral answers. An adjective meaning key or paramount is followed by a synonym of characteristics or particulars.

21d  Rope in lieutenant to settle song (6)
{LARIAT} – inside the abbreviation for lieutenant insert an operatic song.

25d  Game with facetious lord over (4)
{LUDO} – a facetious rendition of lord is followed by the abbreviation for an over in cricket.

26d  Leaders of Coalition reject a new fisheries measure (4)
{CRAN} – the leading letters of four words in the clue make an old measure of freshly landed herrings (equivalent to 37½ gallons).

The clues I liked best today were 7d and 10d. Let us know your likes and dislikes.



  1. crypticsue
    Posted August 28, 2013 at 1:17 pm | Permalink

    I’d give this 3.5* for difficulty, being held up by several sneaky definitions in the acrosses. I too thought of Mary as I wrote in 3d (isn’t it quiet without her and Kath? :) ). My favourite was 7d.

    Thanks to Firefly and to Gazza – I did wonder what you were going to use to illustrate 22a :D

  2. BigBoab
    Posted August 28, 2013 at 2:12 pm | Permalink

    Thanks to Firefly and to Gazza, I found this very tricky and not particularly enjoyable but you can’t win them all! I had put lobes in 2d thinking it was an anagram error, what a thicko.

  3. Pegasus
    Posted August 28, 2013 at 2:42 pm | Permalink

    I also put marabout for 20a I was tossing up between that and gadabout, as I do the paper version there’s nothing to tell you that you’ve got a wrong answer. Favourites for me today were 10d and 17a thanks to Firefly and to Gazza for the review.

    • gazza
      Posted August 28, 2013 at 2:49 pm | Permalink

      Marabout fitted the wordplay (and the checking letters) so well that I didn’t bother thinking about any alternatives. Thank goodness for the on-line site otherwise it would have been egg-on-face time when I published the blog. :D

    • crypticsue
      Posted August 28, 2013 at 5:54 pm | Permalink

      If you quite often use the word in the solution to describe certain people (and I am not saying who) – and have never heard of marabout, the problem doesn’t arise.

    • gnomethang
      Posted August 28, 2013 at 9:41 pm | Permalink

      I was in the gadabout camp for too long but ultimately it was a quick but enjoyable solve (I was on a deadline as well!)
      Thanks to Firefly and gazza.

  4. stanXYZ
    Posted August 28, 2013 at 3:02 pm | Permalink

    It always helps when you get 1A straight away! Especially on this puzzle!

    The other three periphery clues seemed to write themselves in. Thanks to Firefly & Gazza!

  5. the dodger
    Posted August 28, 2013 at 5:04 pm | Permalink

    No great problems with this one today, except a minor whinge about the use of Microsoft computer terminology in an increasing number of crosswords. (27ac) Those of us who choose to use Macs have never heard of such things,as our devices are far superior , as indeed are the users. Hah!! Thanks to Gazza and Firefly

    • Heno
      Posted August 28, 2013 at 5:17 pm | Permalink

      Luckily I have both types of computer, so I enjoyed 27a :-)

  6. Heno
    Posted August 28, 2013 at 5:14 pm | Permalink

    Thanks to Firefly and to Gazza for the review and hints. I managed to get into this, and found it very tricky, but enjoyable. I was 6 short when I resorted to the hints. Needed 3 look ups for 20a, never heard of it, 15d, had forgotten It, and 7d, would never have thought of it. Got 14d, 13a & 24a from the hints. Never thought of Adam Faith for the last one. Favourites were 10d & 27a. Was 4*/3* for me.

  7. 2Kiwis
    Posted August 28, 2013 at 7:43 pm | Permalink

    We are surprised at the difficulty rating. We got on to the compass points very quickly and this gave us so many checkers that the rest just sailed in for us. As we said on the comments for the Jay puzzle, this one took a shorter time. As it turns out we spent about the normal daily total time on puzzles but with the usual time allocation reversed. With 28a, the southernmost province in NZ is Southland, so the word was familiar to us albeit not in the US context. As with CS, we had never heard of marabout so the problem with 20a did not occur. A lot of fun.
    Thanks Firefly and Gazza

    • stanXYZ
      Posted August 28, 2013 at 8:09 pm | Permalink

      2Kiwis, You’re up early … or are you going to bed?

      What’s the time in NZ?

      • 2Kiwis
        Posted August 28, 2013 at 8:28 pm | Permalink

        It is our getting up time Stan. We are 11 hours ahead of you at present. We have to get up early so we can see what people have been saying on the blog overnight. :)

  8. gnomethang
    Posted August 28, 2013 at 9:44 pm | Permalink

    I agree with regards to 10d. Almost prescient.

  9. Only fools
    Posted August 29, 2013 at 12:18 am | Permalink

    Thanks Gazza for the general enlightenment I threw 20a in correctly on the definition but the more I thought about it the more I liked about it ..Like Heno my last was Mr Faith .
    So thanks also to Firefly for befuddling me on what to others were the simplest of answers