Toughie 1099 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 1099

Toughie No 1099 by Micawber

Shall I Be Mother?

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BD Rating – Difficulty **Enjoyment ****

It was a very pleasant surprise this morning to have a Micawber puzzle to blog. It’s the usual excellent entertainment but probably a bit easier than usual (perhaps he’s girding up for his traditional end-of-year Toughie!). What did you think?

Please take the time to use the star system below to record your assessment of the puzzle.

Across Clues

7a  Sell industrial centre belonging to France (4,3)
{HIVE OFF} – a charade of an industrial centre (where there’s a buzz of activity), a preposition meaning belonging to and the IVR code for France. This doesn’t necessarily involve a sale.

8a  Cruel to get in touch with me informally, concealing love (7)
{CALLOUS} – an informal invitation to get in touch with me (4,2) containing the letter resembling zero.

10a  Unruly, primitive male cut off inside camp (9)
{TURBULENT} – insert a) a prefix, from German, meaning primitive or earliest and b) an adjective meaning male but without its final letter into a verb to camp.

11a  Factory  Acts: the opera (5)
{WORKS} – triple definition. Opera here is the plural of opus.

12a  Goalless draw between Hearts and Hibs starting a fuss (3-2)
{HOO-HA} – insert how a scoreless draw might appear in print inside the starting letters of Hearts and Hibs, then add A (from the clue).

13a  Swap Mark, say, for mark? (9)
{TRADENAME} – a charade of a verb to swap or barter and what Mark is an example of. Sure enough the BRB has this as one word but the ODE splits it into two.

15a  First person from France to tour Britain and fight for entertainment in pubs? (7)
{JUKEBOX} – a first person (singular) pronoun in French contains the abbreviation for our country. After that we need a verb to fight.

17a  A category 2 prisoner held in South Dakota desert (7)
{ABSCOND} – start with A (from the clue) and the letter indicating a category of lesser status or importance (a film or road, for example), then insert an informal word for a prisoner into the abbreviation for South Dakota.

18a  They help with transport of fish on waterways (2-7)
{CO-DRIVERS} – a common type of fish precedes waterways. Setters now seem to use ‘on’ in an across clue interchangeably to mean either before or after, which I don’t find very satisfactory.

20a  Judge perhaps in German city (5)
{TRIER} – an old city on the river Mosel could, cryptically, be a judge.

21a  Teacher taking in old paper for correcting (5)
{PROOF} – a senior teacher at university contains O(ld).

23a  End bit of lamb dipped in spice and polished off (9)
{CULMINATE} – insert the first letter (bit) of L(amb) into a type of spice then add a verb meaning polished off or consumed.

24a  Cross artist consumed by retrograde, negative response to: ‘Is it …?’ (7)
{TRANSIT} – an informal and contracted way of responding negatively to the question posed is reversed (retrograde) round the usual artist.

25a  Short journey, perhaps, for sibling? (7)
{TRIPLET} – cryptically this could be a short journey or excursion.

Down Clues

1d  Had in sight but missed (10)
{OVERLOOKED} – double definition.

2d  Nigerian airline supporting the solver’s right to be upgraded (6)
{YORUBA} – this is a member of a West African ethnic group. The abbreviation used by a commercial airline follows (supporting) the possessive adjective describing something belonging to the solver, with the R(ight) moved up a bit (upgraded in a down clue).

3d  Net towards stern extra tangled (5,3)
{AFTER TAX} – an adverb meaning towards the stern of a ship is followed by an anagram (tangled) of EXTRA.

4d  Reserve side lacking money for drink (3,3)
{ICE TEA} – a word for reserve or aloofness is followed by a sporting side without the M(oney).

5d  France, lacking regulation, is perfect (8)
{FLAWLESS} – the IVR code of France is followed by an adjective meaning lacking regulation or disorderly.

6d  Penny’s first of this group to be mother (4)
{POUR} – the first letter of P(enny) followed by a possessive adjective meaning belonging to this group.

7d  Possibly gain advantage in bowls and in snooker to win big (3,3,7)
{HIT THE JACKPOT} – play a good shot in bowls (3,3,4) then play a good shot in snooker (3).

9d  Hose attachment bust, reel replaced — sum of money involved (9,4)
{SUSPENDER BELT} – an anagram (replaced) of BUST REEL contains (involved) the sum of money paid out. Wonderful definition.

14d  Terrible weapon of mass destruction British dropped on Italy — northern Italian island blown up (10)
{ABOMINABLE} – a weapon of mass destruction (1-4) without its second B(ritish) is followed by (dropped on, in a down clue) the IVR code for Italy, N(orthern) and the reversal (blown up) of an island off the west coast of Italy.

16d  Extremely short cheese extravaganza? (8)
{BRIEFEST} – cryptically this could be split (4,4) to make a cheese extravaganza.

17d  Unqualified new Labour set ousting Right (8)
{ABSOLUTE} – an anagram (new) of LABOU(r) SET without the R(ight).

19d  Turn on old flame with summons (6)
{EXCITE} – the abbreviation meaning an old flame is followed by a verb to summons or serve with a writ.

20d  After 50, I fool around — that’s how things are at the end of the day (6)
{TWILIT} – put I after the Roman numeral for fifty then enclose that in an informal word for a fool.

22d  Like eggs, love pale yolks? (4)
{OVAL} – yolks are the middle bits of an egg so we need the middle letters of love and pale.

My selection of top clues today is 12a, 7d and 9d. Any advance on that?

20 comments on “Toughie 1099

  1. One of the only things that might be good about the puzzles site still being down is that instead of looking the night before to see who the Toughie setter is going to be, one goes back to the old days of standing outside the local shop, opening up the paper to the (nearly) middle and then driving off to work with a big smile on my face as I know I will have a great puzzle from one of my favourite setters to enjoy when I arrive at my desk.

    Thanks to Micawber for a lovely start to Wednesday morning, and to Gazza for the explanations – my favourites are the same as yours but if Kath’s looking, I would single out 9d as my top top favourite.

  2. This one took me a little while to get started, then it all fell into place very nicely.
    Many thanks to Micawber for the entertainment, and to Gazza for the comments.

  3. Always a pleasure to solve when this setter’s on duty and today was no exception, favourites for me were 9d 20d and 23a thanks to Micawber and to Gazza for the review.

  4. Today’s Micawber was pitched at the right level of Toughness for me – I could do it!

    (Well – apart from 10a – “…a prefix, from German, …” still eludes me. Ur? What?)

    1. Ur- is a German prefix meaning primitive or original. It is in the BRB. One of my set books for German A-level was Urfaust, Goethe’s preliminary attempt at Faust.

    2. I’ve never heard of that either – not surprising really as my German is completely non-existent.

  5. Super stuff from Micawber. Easier than some but great fun to solve. My favourites: 11a [I love silly definitions like this] 9d [nuff said] and 14d [complex charade but surface smooth as silk].
    Thanks to Setter and to Gazza [nice snaps lad].

  6. I could just about do it – enjoyed it very much but it has taken a long time.
    Like Stan I’d never heard of the two letters in 10a – looked them up in BRB never expecting them to be there but they were.
    I was defeated completely by 23a which was silly, specially as I’ve been had like this before, several times. To me the ‘end’ of a word is the last bit and I forget that there are two ends. In other words I was trying to fit a ‘B’ into it somewhere.
    I liked 12 and 18a and 6 and 22d. My favourite was 9d once I’d stopped taking it too literally and thinking garden hoses.
    With thanks to Micawber and gazza.

    1. Kath,
      In 23a ‘end’ is not part of the wordplay – it’s the definition. The L that you have to move in is ‘bit’ of Lamb.

      1. Thanks gazza – I just about got there in the end. It’s yet another example of just how dim I can be when I really put my mind to it.
        I think the snow seems to be starting . . .

  7. We are being spoilt. Dada yesterday and Micawber today. Needed a bit of Googling for 2d and 20a. Many clever and witty clues. A thoroughly satisfying puzzle.
    Thanks Micawber and Gazza.

  8. Thanks to Micawber and to Gazza. Very enjoyable, managed the left hand side. Then rran out of brain power. Needed lots of hints to finish. Favourite was 15d.

  9. Thanks Gazza as I said yesterday I do think difficulty rating largely irrelevant with such an enjoyable puzzle .If I had to pick an alternative to 9d as favourite then 6d brought yet another smile for which many thanks to Micawber .

  10. Good fun, and I did 75% of it very quickly.. Then slowed and used a couple of hints to finish 2d, 23a . Just couldn’t think of ANY spices.

  11. This was a most entertaining puzzle — *****. I don’t think I’ve managed to do a Micawber one before this. It took me a while, but I managed to complete it without Gazza’s excellent hints. I didn’t know the German prefix in 10a (my German is also non-existent). That apart, my interpretation of the word play was fine. 9d was my absolute fave. I marked many other particularly enjoyable clues as well, including 23a, 25a, 2d, 6d, 16d, and 17d.
    Big thanks to both Micawber and Gazza.

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