Toughie 1139

Toughie No 1139 by Micawber

What? No Wardrobe?

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BD Rating – Difficulty **Enjoyment ****

One of the enjoyable aspects of a Micawber Toughie for me is the anticipation after finding out the name of the setter the previous evening. Unfortunately the Telegraph website was still stuck in a time warp last night, so it was an unexpected pleasure to get today’s puzzle. It’s not too difficult but it’s full of Micawber’s usual wit and clever clueing. Let us know what you thought.

Please use the star system below to rate the puzzle for enjoyment.

Across Clues

1a  Hoover stuffed? Empty! (6)
{VACATE} – the abbreviation for a Hoover (other cleaners are available!) followed by a verb meaning stuffed down one’s throat.

4a  Active leaders of Muslim Brotherhood occupying vital resource in Egypt (6)
{NIMBLE} – the initial letters of Muslim Brotherhood go inside the vital resource that flows through Egypt.

8a  Sinner recalled to experience once more grasping the same thing (4-4)
{EVIL-DOER} – reverse (recalled) a verb meaning to experience once more and insert an abbreviation meaning the same as before.

10a  Pass a taste of extra special bitter round (6)
{ELAPSE} – the first letter (taste) of E(xtra) is followed by the abbreviation for special and bitter beer, then it all gets turned round.

11a  End cut off pithy cheese (4)
{BRIE} – cut off the last letter of an adjective meaning pithy.

12a  WI reversal lost trophies (10)
{SILVERWARE} – an anagram (lost) of WI REVERSAL.

13a  He deals in canard and little bird, perhaps? (12)
{RUMOURMONGER} – canard here is not something to eat with apple sauce but a false or unfounded story and this is someone who passes on such. The source of such a story may be explained in the phrase ‘a little bird told me’ so, cryptically, a little bird may also be this. My version of the BRB doesn’t list the answer as a word but in the ODE it’s given a hyphen (6-6).

16a  Empty challenge from king at flight? (8,4)
{FIGHTING TALK} – an anagram (with the indicator being the question mark) of KING AT FLIGHT gives us brave and confident words which are not necessarily backed up by actions.

20a  Philander ends amorous frolicking, having just one love (4,6)
{MESS AROUND} – an anagram (frolicking) of ENDS AMOR(o)US without one of the loves.

21a  See 23a

22a  In age, traitor admitted mistakes (6)
{ERRATA} – a traitor is admitted to a long period of time.

23a/21a   Economic argument of attaché? (8,4)
{BUSINESS CASE} – double definition. This attaché is inanimate.

24a  The writer, we hear, permitted small opening (6) (online version)
24a  Micawber, we hear, permitted small opening (6) (paper version)
{EYELET} – what sounds like the subjective pronoun the setter would use for himself is followed by a past participle meaning permitted.

25a  Hero of Narnia with witch’s heart? Not true (6)
{ASLANT} – the king of beasts from The Chronicles of Narnia followed by the central letter of witch.

Down Clues

1d  ‘Long live booze’, I interjected — but does this provide good conditions for liver? (8)
{VIVARIUM} – this is an artificial enclosure for living animals. Start with an interjection meaning ‘long live’ and add a type of spirit containing I.

2d  Make 5, or make a little lower? (5)
{CALVE} – I had to drag from the deeper recesses of my brain the knowledge that this verb (applied to a 5d) means to detach a smaller mass from a larger body. It also means, on a farm, to produce a small something that lows.

3d  Appropriate wake held by trustee (7)
{TROUSER} – a verb to wake goes inside the abbreviation for trustee.

5d  I see water bird drifting north on floe (7)
{ICEBERG} – I followed by the letter that’s spelt see and the reversal (drifting north) of a diving water bird.

6d  Pesky child’s most awful-sounding banger (9)
{BRATWURST} – a charade of a badly behaved child and what sounds like most awful.

7d  Head off criticism to make safe (6)
{ENSURE} – remove the first (head) letter from a word meaning criticism or rebuke.

9d  Rough guidance for digital governance? (4,2,5)
{RULE OF THUMB} – two definitions, the second cryptic, for a rough-and-ready practical methodology.

14d  Dim alumnus wore subfusc? (9)
{OBFUSCATE} – subfusc means, so I’ve discovered, dark formal clothes. Start with the abbreviation for an alumnus or former (male) pupil and add a verb meaning wore or gnawed after (under or sub, in a down clue) FUSC.

15d  Conclude TV viewers like this have almost identical perspective (5-3)
{CLOSE-SET} – a verb to conclude or wind up is followed by a TV apparatus. Viewers here are eyes.

17d  Get old clothes on trash (7)
{GARBAGE} – a verb to get old preceded by (on) a word for clothing.

18d  Note cars failing to start on uphill street — they’re not in gear (7)
{NUDISTS} – string together N(ote), German cars without their initial letter (failing to start) and the reversal (uphill) of the abbreviation for street.

19d  Expression of self-love  that’s to be deplored (4,2)
{DEAR ME} – double definition – cryptically how someone may refer to themselves in a loving way and an exclamation of dismay.

21d  Dance music on game shows (5)
{CONGA} – concealed (shows) in the clue.

Top clues for me were 13a, 23a, 6d and 19d. How about you?

21 Comments

  1. Expat Chris
    Posted February 19, 2014 at 1:47 pm | Permalink

    Very enjoyable. Hints not needed today. Loved the 2D/5D combo. Thanks to Micawber for the fun, and to Gazza for the review.

  2. Una
    Posted February 19, 2014 at 2:27 pm | Permalink

    Mostly very nimble and surefooted clues, but they exposed deep chasms in my vocabularly. I never would solve(2d, 14d). I didn’t help myself by reading empty in1a as a noun instead of a verb.Very good puzzle,thanks Micawber,thanks Gazza.

  3. timbo
    Posted February 19, 2014 at 2:42 pm | Permalink

    Enjoyed another toughie. Needed electronic help with 10a, 7d and 14d but otherwise managed the rest myself
    Is it Micawber because something will turn up like 10a?

  4. JB
    Posted February 19, 2014 at 2:49 pm | Permalink

    I am just stuck on 3d. I do not see how the answer is “appropriate” in any of its meanings. Being thick? Some slang term I don’t know?
    Love the illustration to 18d!

    • crypticsue
      Posted February 19, 2014 at 2:54 pm | Permalink

      It is a slang term for appropriating something and putting it in your trouser pocket. It appears quite often in crosswords, so worth remembering.

      • JB
        Posted February 19, 2014 at 3:06 pm | Permalink

        Thank you. As you say – worth remembering,

  5. crypticsue
    Posted February 19, 2014 at 2:55 pm | Permalink

    Lots to enjoy as usual thank you Micawber and Gazza.

  6. Pegasus
    Posted February 19, 2014 at 3:25 pm | Permalink

    Good stuff from the maestro thanks to him and Gazza.

  7. Jezza
    Posted February 19, 2014 at 3:56 pm | Permalink

    3*/4* for me; held up by 2d.
    Many thanks to Micawber, and to Gazza.

  8. BigBoab
    Posted February 19, 2014 at 5:01 pm | Permalink

    Many thanks to Micawber and Gazza, enjoyable without being overly difficult.

  9. Heno
    Posted February 19, 2014 at 5:02 pm | Permalink

    Thanks to Micawber and to Gazza for the review and hints. Could only solve half a dozen, before resorting to the hints. In the end I managed another eleven. Very good puzzle and a super review. Was 4*/3* for me.

  10. Only fools
    Posted February 19, 2014 at 5:04 pm | Permalink

    NW corner took longer than the rest in another thoroughly enjoyable puzzle .Personal favourite 19 d amongst a range of amusing clues .
    Thanks Micawber and of course Gazza .

  11. Kath
    Posted February 19, 2014 at 5:40 pm | Permalink

    I got all the answers on my own but needed a few hints as explanations.
    I liked 1a and 18d. My favourite was 13a.
    With thanks to Micawber and gazza.

  12. 2Kiwis
    Posted February 19, 2014 at 6:10 pm | Permalink

    3d was the last one in for us, mainly because we were struggling with the second half of 1a, trying to justify vacuum or vacant before finding the right combination. However all the rest came together nicely. The pattern of the setter identifying his/herself continues (at least in the paper version) but this time in the clue rather than the answer.
    We really look froward to and enjoy Micawber puzzles and this was no exception.
    Thanks Micawber and Gazza.

  13. halcyon
    Posted February 19, 2014 at 6:57 pm | Permalink

    Loved this. Expert setting from Micawber. Although it didn’t take very long I needed Gazza’s hints for 13a [hmm] and 14d [clever]. Favourite clues 20a, 3d [great definition/clue combo] and the simplicity of 19d.

    Many thanks to Micawber and Gazza.

  14. Chris
    Posted February 19, 2014 at 7:13 pm | Permalink

    What turned up for me was that it definitely helps not to enter “vacuum” at 1a. However the correct answer did dawn – at last, literally.
    Very enjoyable (and I even managed unaided). 2d my favourite by far.
    Many thanks to Micawber and Gazza.

    • Miffypops
      Posted February 19, 2014 at 7:56 pm | Permalink

      Vacuum kept itself annoyingly on the radar until I worked the correct answer was Vacant. I had to drag deep into the greymatter for 3d and a solve.

  15. Miffypops
    Posted February 19, 2014 at 7:59 pm | Permalink

    A very enjoyable tussle today which allows me to blog here as today I am a fully paid up member of The Toughie Club. I found this easier than Jay’s backpager but still worthy of the Toughie tagline. Lots of lovely clues and a slow steady solve. Ta to all who dwell within these confines.

  16. neveracrossword
    Posted February 19, 2014 at 8:44 pm | Permalink

    Very enjoyable. Didn’t know that “tr” is an established abbreviation for “trustee”. In old conveyancing abstracts of title, the accepted abbreviation was “tee”.

  17. Brendan
    Posted February 19, 2014 at 11:13 pm | Permalink

    A 4*/4* for me. Some excellent clues, but 1d., 3d. and 4a. my favourites. Thanks to Micawber and Gazza. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_smile.gif

  18. Catnap
    Posted February 20, 2014 at 1:02 pm | Permalink

    I, too, was stuck for a while with ‘vacuum’, but then reread the clue and the penny dropped! Then 3d was much easier to solve… I managed almost all of this puzzle unaided, but needed the answer to the first word of 15d. Although I had worked out the wordplay in 14d, I needed the explanation for it. I missed seeing that 13a was, in fact, a double definition. These aside, all was correct.
    Many thanks to Micawber for this puzzle which I found most enjoyable. Many thanks to Gazza for the valued enlightenment.