Toughie 1215

Toughie No 1215 by Giovanni

Hints and Tips by Gazza

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BD Rating – Difficulty ***Enjoyment ***

This is Toughie No. 1215 but there’s no mention of Magna Carta. Giovanni usually smuggles a few obscure words into his Toughies but today there’s only one (14a) that I’d never heard of. As always with this setter the wordplay is precise and the surfaces smooth.

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

9a One of Horace’s works maybe that is positively charged (5)
{ANODE} – split the answer (2,3) to get something that Horace, for example, might have written.

10a Radioactive old rubbish in river that is difficult to deal with (3,6)
{HOT POTATO} – an informal adjective meaning radioactive followed by O(ld) and rubbish inside an Italian river.

11a Movement of little girl following cattle (7)
{KINESIS} – the abbreviated (little) form of a female relative follows a Biblical word for cattle. I knew that being dragged to Sunday School all those years ago would eventually be of some use.

12a Get out of bed perhaps for practice (5-2)
{KNOCK-UP} – the type of practice that a player at Wimbledon may have before his or her match could also mean, with a space replacing the hyphen, to get (someone else) out of bed. It could also mean, especially in North America, to put someone in the family way.

13a From office maybe get home by taxi (5)
{CABIN} – the wordplay is clear (an adverb meaning at home following a taxi) but I had to check in the BRB that this can mean an office – it can describe a room used as an office.

14a Ornamental item of American songstress that’s opening at the front (9)
{STOMACHER} – this is, apparently, a triangular ornamental piece of cloth that fills the front opening of a woman’s gown. The American songstress and actress unkindly labelled the poster girl of plastic surgery follows (at the front) the zoological term for a small mouth-like opening in some animals.

16a Thin chap, posture bent, forerunner of Man? (15)
{PITHECANTHROPUS} – an anagram (bent) of THIN CHAP POSTURE. I don’t think that this is a semi-all-in-one because this creature walked erect, but I’m willing to be contradicted by someone with better knowledge.

19a Devised, even if getting put back (7,2)
{THOUGHT UP} – a conjunction meaning ‘even if’ followed by the reversal (back) of PUT.

21a Wife hides in horse chestnut? No — some other tree! (5)
{ROWAN} – W(ife) is inserted in a horse of mixed colour to make, not a chestnut tree but a different sort of tree.

23a One sending off a rocket, not allowing a person to take midday break? (7)
{LUNCHER} – this is a clue involving two agent nouns. Remove the A from someone sending a rocket into space.

25a Sick learners without help cry, expressing pain (4,3)
{LAID LOW} – put two learners outside a synonym for help then finish with a restrained cry of pain.

27a An obvious statement about precipitation needed for plants (9)
{SNOWDROPS} – split the answer (4,5) to get a statement of the obvious.

28a Only half laugh, hiding desire to be a laugher? (5)
{HYENA} – half (it doesn’t matter which half) of a laugh contains a desire.

Down Clues

1d See 24d

2d Lout and toff talk informally (6)
{HOBNOB} – charade of a lout or rustic fellow and a toff.

3d ‘Uncertain’ being’s here! (10)
{HEISENBERG} – an all-in-one clue. An anagram (uncertain) of BEING’S HERE gets us the name of the German physicist who devised the Uncertainty Principle.

4d Academic works revealing hero university neglected (6)
{THESES} – remove the U(niversity) from a mythological Greek hero.

5d Keeping an eye on someone‘s money on the table? (5-3)
{STAKE-OUT} – with a space replacing the hyphen this could be money for betting visible on a card table.

6d See what’s signified by green symbol (4)
{LOGO} – a charade of an exclamation meaning see or behold and what’s signified by green at a road junction.

7d Say what’s in store when meeting colleagues? (4,4)
{TALK SHOP} – cryptic definition of what work colleagues with limited outside interests may do when meeting socially.

8d What may be seen as odious  online activity to save money? (10)
{COMPARISON} – there’s a saying (‘*********** are odious’) which means that people should be judged on their own merits. It’s also the activity of many websites which are set up to assist you in getting a good deal (and judging by the amount of advertising those meerkats do it must be a very profitable business).

13d Form of technology covered by a special new fund (10)
{CAPITALISE} – the abbreviation for information technology goes inside (covered by) an anagram (new) of A SPECIAL.

15d Form of transport fine, beginning to end, with right number of crew? (3,7)
{AIR FREIGHT} – a synonym for fine or sunny has its first letter moved to the end. After that we want R(ight) and the number of rowers in a full crew.

17d/22d Old character ahead of the fashion, more passionate as dramatist (8,6)
{THORNTON WILDER} – an American playwright and novelist comes from a charade of the Old English letter eventually replaced by ‘th’, a word from French meaning fashion or style and a comparative meaning more passionate or unrestrained.

18d Greeting spoilt youngster, learner, a rising acolyte (5,3)
{ALTAR BOY} – string together the informal greeting with which Dubya once greeted Blair, a spoilt or badly behaved youngster, L(earner) and A. Now reverse it all (rising).

20d Language of ancient Greek community hard to follow (6)
{POLISH} – the word, from Greek, for a city state is followed by the abbreviation for a hard lead pencil.

22d See 17d

24d/1d Report of obscure explorer in grassy area (4,4)
{HYDE PARK} – what sounds like a verb to obscure is followed by the surname of Mungo, the Scottish explorer.

26d I say an engineer of power should be heard (4)
{WHAT} – this sounds like (should be heard) a Scottish engineer and inventor who was supposedly inspired by the sight of a boiling kettle.

I liked 27a and 8d but my favourite today was 3d. Let us know which ones you enjoyed.

14 Comments

  1. crypticsue
    Posted July 2, 2014 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

    I’d award this about 3.75 for difficulty and 3* enjoyment so about the right level for a Wednesday. I had heard of a 14a – my main problem was sorting out the anagram for 16a – thank goodness for checking letters.

    My favourites are the same as Gazza with top spot going to the splendid 3d.

    Thanks to both the Gs.

    • andy
      Posted July 2, 2014 at 9:36 pm | Permalink

      Ditto, thanks to both Gs

  2. Corky
    Posted July 2, 2014 at 1:42 pm | Permalink

    I have to disagree with Gazza’s difficulty rating if only because I finished this and I usually find the Toughie very challenging. Were it not for yesterday’s puzzle I would have gone for 1* but with that as my baseline, I’m going for 2* difficulty today. 4* enjoyment.

    My favourites were 9A (made me smile), 27A (more smiling) and 8D (big smile).

    Thanks Giovanni and Gazza.

  3. Pegasus
    Posted July 2, 2014 at 2:07 pm | Permalink

    Thoroughly enjoyed this one, favourites were 3d 18d but my stand out was 8d thanks to Giovanni and to Gazza for the usual top notch review.

  4. Kath
    Posted July 2, 2014 at 2:41 pm | Permalink

    By the sound of it I found this more difficult than the rest of you seem to have done. 4* difficulty and 3* or 4* for enjoyment.
    I would never have got 16a – could see it was an anagram but . . . and neither would I have got 3d if I’d carried on trying until tomorrow.
    Apart from those two I just about got there in the end but it took a long time.
    I liked 11 and 27a and 2 and 8d.
    With thanks to Giovanni and gazza.

  5. BigBoab
    Posted July 2, 2014 at 2:59 pm | Permalink

    A proper toughie and just about the right degree of difficulty for a Wednesday, thanks to the Don and to Gazza.

  6. dutch
    Posted July 2, 2014 at 3:11 pm | Permalink

    Completed this in reasonable time, though I had to look up the spelling for 16a! hence it was my last entry – and if it isn’t a semi &lit, at least has stunningly good surface. Didn’t realise thorn was an old english letter. great puzzle and thanks gazza

  7. spindrift
    Posted July 2, 2014 at 4:34 pm | Permalink

    For a moment I thought I’d printed a GK puzzle…too many obscure references for me I’m afraid. I had to rely on Good Old Gazza to help me out.

  8. Una
    Posted July 2, 2014 at 4:52 pm | Permalink

    Very ,very tough but with some really great clues . I loved 3d,9a, 1d/24d and 8d. Thanks to the 2 GGs.I resorted to hints for the last few .

  9. Rick
    Posted July 2, 2014 at 4:59 pm | Permalink

    More like general knowledge than cryptic for me, what with prehistoric homonids, obscure playwrights and a physicist I hadn’t heard of (but then I dropped out of physics 48 years ago!). Add in biblical cattle, an 18th century explorer and that real oddity in 14a and it was too much of a 10a for me.

  10. 2Kiwis
    Posted July 2, 2014 at 8:21 pm | Permalink

    14a was new to us and needed electronic assistance but everything else slotted in smoothly but not quickly. Lots of beautifully crafted clues to appreciate and enjoy.
    Thanks Giovanni and Gazza.

  11. Only fools
    Posted July 2, 2014 at 11:33 pm | Permalink

    As 2K’s you have to admire the setters skill ,enabling a duffer to solve the GK clues
    and smile at others .3d top notch for me .Thanks very much to G and G .

  12. Salty Dog
    Posted July 3, 2014 at 2:17 pm | Permalink

    As is often the case, l made little headway with this yesterday (probably 7 hours in the boat didn’t help) but managed to slog through it today. Stiffer than 3* but not quite 4*’ and a pig of a 15-word anagram right across the middle. Still, it helped stimulate the old grey matter, so ta to Giovanni and to Gazza for the review.

  13. Molly
    Posted July 31, 2014 at 4:14 pm | Permalink

    Thnaks for the excellent hints/review, Gazza. Didn’t need your help today, this setter’s clues are so meticulously fair I can usually get there eventually. It does help that I’ve got quite a bit of GK, though! Many thanks to Giovanni for a super workout.