Toughie 1171

Toughie No 1171 by Micawber

The Master Builder

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BD Rating – Difficulty **Enjoyment ****

Thanks to Micawber for compiling yet another masterly Toughie – not too demanding for the solver but full of humour and enjoyment.
Please leave a comment telling us what you thought. You can also add your assessment by selecting from one to five stars at the bottom of the post.

Across Clues

1a  Film on scale that makes a statement (7,5)
{BALANCE SHEET} – a film or coating follows an instrument for weighing.

8a  A French union body moving to the left, having avoided censorship (5)
{UNCUT} – a French indefinite article followed by the abbreviation for a union body reversed.

9a  More than one mission deep into space that is near sun (9)
{EMBASSIES} – an adjective meaning deep-pitched goes between a unit of space in printing and the abbreviation for ‘that is’ and S(un).

11a  Inappropriately pays Serbs to be potential witnesses (7-2)
{PASSERS-BY} – an anagram (inappropriately) of PAYS SERBS.

12a  Symbol of overthrow of proper order (5)
{MOTIF} – an adjective meaning proper or suitable is followed by an order or decoration, then it all gets reversed.

13a  Shoddy type, Fleming’s Central European (9)
{SLOVENIAN} – an old word for someone who is habitually untidy or slipshod (the adjective with an –ly ending is in more common use) followed by the forename of James Bond’s creator.

16a  Apple prepared in style of South African native (5)
{NYALA} – the abbreviation for the city known informally as The (Big) Apple is followed by a preposition (1,2) describing a dish prepared in a certain style. I’ve never seen the nickname for the city without the ‘Big’ but the BRB has.

18a  Howled for eternity in resting place (5)
{BAYED} – one of the spellings of a Scottish adjective meaning always or for ever goes inside a resting place.

19a  Cracked, and took overground? (9)
{DECRYPTED} – double definition, the second a cryptic (in more than one sense) way of saying brought up from an underground room.

20a  Playwright‘s introduction covering animal disease (5)
{IBSEN} – an informal term for an introduction to someone important contains the initials of an animal disease that hit the headlines a few years ago.

22a  Starter motor, old one holding small capacity turning over (9)
{CARPACCIO} – this is an hors-d’oeuvre containing raw meat or fish. Start with what motor is an informal term for, then reverse all of the initials for an old person (now, in this PC age, normally referred to as a senior citizen) with a small metric capacity (1,2) inside.

25a  Third Earl’s loaded, having three planes (9)
{TRIHEDRAL} – an anagram (loaded, i.e. drunk) of THIRD EARL.

26a  Putting current through repeatedly illuminated bulb (5)
{ONION} – the symbol for electric current goes between two occurrences of an adjective meaning illuminated.

27a  Do hams tighten uncomfortably around first hint of exercise? (3,4,5)
{THE SAME THING} – an anagram (uncomfortably) of HAMS TIGHTEN containing the first letter of E(xercise). The definition is an abbreviation used by someone who can’t be bothered to repeat in full what was last written or typed.

Down Clues

1d  Supports Boris, perhaps — is this in anticipation of plot? (4,5)
{BACK STORY} – a verb meaning supports or endorses followed by what the mayor of London is politically. Great surface – Westminster is awash with rumours of a plot by Boris to replace Dave as party leader should the latter not win next year’s election. To counter this Dave and his pals are trying to tie Boris in more tightly to their policies so that if it all goes pear-shaped he will bear a share of the blame. It’s amazing that they have enough time left over to run the country.

2d  A pint or two of low-alcohol beer at last swallowed (5)
{LITRE} – the definition is a bit of an approximation but 1.7598 pints would be giving the game away. An adjective coined by the advertising industry to mean low-alcohol (or low-calorie, low-fat, etc.) contains the last letter of (bee)R.

3d  Requirements of born policeman (5)
{NEEDS} – an adjective used to introduce a woman’s maiden name is followed by an officer in the CID.

4d  At early stage, a third of grain’s lost in crashed combine (9)
{EMBRYONIC} – an anagram (crashed) of COMBINE containing two-thirds of a type of grain.

5d  Spooner’s semi-solid sugar? You can’t tell with this sweetener (4,5)
{HUSH MONEY} – for Spooner this could be mush honey.

6d  The setter’s up before court — will they do this to him? (5)
{EVICT} – in the surface the ‘S stands for ‘is’ but for the wordplay it’s ‘has’. Reverse how the setter would say in condensed form that he has, then add the abbreviation for court.

7d  Blue support agitated about second of kicks not converted? (7-5)
{PURPOSE-BUILT} – an anagram (agitated) of BLUE SUPPORT containing the second letter of kicks.

10d  What West ‘Am keeper needs — ‘is dog’s out of the woods (4,3,5)
{SAFE AND SOUND} – West Ham United is a football team in the East End of London (where, of course, they drop all their leading aitches). So what their goalkeeper needs to catch the ball cleanly (4,(h)4) is followed by a type of dog ((h)4).

14d  Risks caused by tips at edges of nettle (9)
{ENDANGERS} – tips or extremities contain (at edges of) a verb to nettle or infuriate.

15d  Bad behaviour of Jan’s predecessor, stuck in Saudi terminal with no booze (9)
{INDECORUM} – put what precedes Jan (and succeeds Nov) into the terminating letter of (Saud)I, NO (from the clue) and a type of booze.

17d  Not one left as Hun overcomes Catholic ruler in offensive (9)
{ATTACKING} – How many Huns do you know by name? I thought so – remove the I (one) and L(eft) from his name and follow that with C(atholic) and a ruler.

21d  Smart Scandinavian journalist dismissed (5)
{SWISH} – remove the senior journalist from the description of someone from a Scandinavian country.

23d  2, cycling, got going again (5)
{RELIT} – cycle round the answer to 2d.

24d  Top quality oil whisked in this? (5)
{AIOLI} – a semi-all-in-one clue to finish. An anagram (whisked) of OIL goes inside an abbreviation meaning top quality.

As is usual with Micawber I have a whole raft of ‘favourites’ – so I’ll just mention 19a, 26a, 1d and 10d. Top prize, however, must go to 27a with its brilliantly disguised definition.

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18 Comments

  1. crypticsue
    Posted April 16, 2014 at 1:32 pm | Permalink

    Not that tough but so much fun to solve thank you Micawber.

    Thanks to Gazza too – my top favourites are 27a and 10d.

  2. Jezza
    Posted April 16, 2014 at 1:42 pm | Permalink

    Not too tricky, but plenty of entertainment. A few in the NE area took me a little while to elicit.
    Many thanks to Micawber, and to Gazza for the write-up.

  3. Pegasus
    Posted April 16, 2014 at 2:03 pm | Permalink

    Usual entertainment from the maestro, favourites were 10d 22a and 27a thanks to Micawber and to Gazza for the review.

  4. BigBoab
    Posted April 16, 2014 at 2:18 pm | Permalink

    Micawber has become the most entertaining toughie compiler in my opinion, a truly superb crossword and a wonderful review, many thanks to both Micawber and Gazza.

    • the dodger
      Posted April 16, 2014 at 2:22 pm | Permalink

      ditto

      • Physicist
        Posted April 16, 2014 at 3:34 pm | Permalink

        Do

        • andy
          Posted April 16, 2014 at 7:05 pm | Permalink

          :) :)

        • Only fools
          Posted April 17, 2014 at 12:03 am | Permalink

          Plus 1 an absolute pleasure

  5. happy days
    Posted April 16, 2014 at 3:20 pm | Permalink

    Lovely Tuesday Toughie to follow lovely Monday’s. Plenty of good clues. The only one I didn’t care for was 15d.

    • gazza
      Posted April 16, 2014 at 3:24 pm | Permalink

      You seem to have lost a day somewhere – today is Wednesday. :D

  6. Expat Chris
    Posted April 16, 2014 at 4:32 pm | Permalink

    I found this very tricky indeed in places, and needed hints for the last five. I could not honestly say I enjoyed it much (though I loved 10D) but that’s down to my frustration. Win or lose, I do appreciate the skill of the Toughie setters. Thanks to Micawber and to Gazza for putting me out of my misery.

  7. happy days
    Posted April 16, 2014 at 4:33 pm | Permalink

    Sorry. I meant Wednesday’s, of course, to follow Tuesday’s

  8. halcyon
    Posted April 16, 2014 at 5:28 pm | Permalink

    Cracking stuff from a master. The usual quality clues with some outstanding examples of clever construction [10d, 15d] and a brilliantly disguised definition [27a].

    Many thanks to Micawber and to Gazza for the blog.

  9. andy
    Posted April 16, 2014 at 7:10 pm | Permalink

    Loved it, My favourites are the same as CS. When the penny finally dropped re 16a it was deafening. Thank you Micawber and Gazza

  10. Salty Dog
    Posted April 16, 2014 at 7:24 pm | Permalink

    Like Expat Chris, l struggled a bit with this, and needed to draw on a couple of Gazza’s hints to crack the NE corner (the rest was OK). Last in was 10d, which instantly acquired favourite clue status. Overall, l score it at 3.5*/4*. My thanks to Micawber and to Gazza for the review.

  11. 2Kiwis
    Posted April 16, 2014 at 7:53 pm | Permalink

    Our last act with this one was spotting the definition in 27a to justify the answer we had worked out from the wordplay. Not a particularly quick solve for us but was good fun all the way through.
    Thanks Micawber and Gazza.

  12. Kath
    Posted April 16, 2014 at 10:12 pm | Permalink

    Self-fulfiling prophecy happened again today – it’s a Toughie so I can’t do it. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_sad.gif
    I did most of it and then looked at gazza’s brilliantly clear (as usual) hints for my gaps in the across answers and then managed to do the rest for myself.
    26a would have been easier if I could spell 24d.
    I found this pretty tricky but if it had been a back page crossword would probably have finished it without too much trouble.
    With thanks to Micawber and gazza.

  13. Mark Hemingway
    Posted May 12, 2014 at 4:43 pm | Permalink

    yes, not TOO hard – an hour or so. My favs also9a, 5d. Thought like you that 16 a not good as no “Big”