Toughie 1259 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 1259

Toughie No 1259 by Sparks

Please, Ladies – No Hertrionics!

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BD Rating – Difficulty ****Enjoyment ****

Thanks to Sparks for a thoroughly enjoyable puzzle. I’ve bumped the difficulty rating up from three to four stars purely on account of the time I spent trying to come up with a better explanation for 16a.

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 Section of social club volunteers basic food (8)
CIABATTA – stitch together part of the word social, a club or stick and the old abbreviation for our volunteer soldiers.

9a After sign of hesitation, girl carries right form of protection (8)
UMBRELLA – start with an expression of hesitation and add a girl’s name containing R(ight).

10a Pancetta regularly sliced in minutes (4)
ACTA – regular letters from pancetta give us a word for minutes or formal record.

11a Cleaner engine part having coils fixed by granddad? (8,4)
CARBOLIC SOAP – an abbreviation for the part of an internal combustion engine where air is mixed with fuel is followed by an anagram (fixed) of COILS and what granddad may be (but only if he’s over 65).

13a Agree  to fare (3,5)
GET ALONG – double definition.

15a Bracket that’s dry, about to split (6)
TRIVET – dry, in the sense of abstaining, contains a verb to split. I only knew this word as a stand for supporting a pot or kettle but it’s also an iron bracket designed to hook on to the bars of a grate for a similar purpose.

16a Side  that may follow on in old field? (4)
HAND – I’m not at all sure about this one. I think it’s a double definition with the second describing a farm**** following the oxen or horses ploughing a field in times past. If that’s right then the ‘on’ is probably only there to bolster the illusion that the clue is all about cricket. If you have any better suggestions then please let me know.

17a Stop cook hiding recipe (5)
BRAKE – a verb to cook in the oven contains R(ecipe).

18a Go from Italian city, but not Italian capital (4)
TURN – remove the capital letter of Italian from an Italian city.

20a Plunders  arms (6)
RIFLES – double definition and old chestnut.

21a By any standard, a position of respect (4,4)
HALF MAST – cryptic definition of where a standard may be positioned to show respect.

23a Girlfriend left after drunk wrote concerning failure to communicate here? (5,2,5)
TOWER OF BABEL – an informal term of affection for a girlfriend and L(eft) follow an anagram (drunk) of WROTE and a preposition meaning concerning.

26a Right-hand man delaying appearance of first plan (4)
IDEA – this is the mirror image of Virgilius’s clue of 10 days ago ‘Assistant’s back to front idea (4)’. Today we have to move the first letter of a right-hand man to the end.

27a Comes across criminal intrusions on the inside (4,4)
RUNS INTO – an anagram (criminal) of the inner letters of [I]NTRUSION[S].

28a Relations literally return small good deed (8)
KINDNESS – a charade of relations, a literal interpretation of return (**** back) and S(mall).

Down Clues

2d Artist entered privately (2,6)
IN CAMERA – split the answer 2,4,2 for ‘artist entered’.

3d Livid, want to stop group having fight down under (5-3-4)
BLACK-AND-BLUE – insert (to stop) a verb to want or need into a musical group and finish with a slang term in Australia and New Zealand for a fight.

4d Twenty-four hours taking day off over in Scottish town (6)
THURSO – a day of the week without the DAY but with the cricketing abbreviation for over.

5d Uninitiated quota for developing US estate, maybe (4)
AUTO – an anagram (for developing) of [q]UOTA without its first letter (uninitiated) gives us the general term in the US for what an estate is a type of on this side of the pond.

6d Drink habit regularly needs to be reviewed (8)
ABSINTHE – an anagram (to be reviewed) of HABIT and the odd letters of needs.

7d In seconds, cook plucked pigeon for a savoury dish (4)
OLIO – pick out the second letters of four consecutive words in the clue.

8d Monk‘s spades placed in bucket (8)
RASPUTIN – the abbreviation for the card suit spades and a verb meaning placed go inside a verb meaning bucket or pour down.

ARVE Error: need id and provider

12d Red toenails clashing with mini (5-7)
SAINT-EMILION – an anagram (clashing) of TOENAILS and MINI.

14d Charge husband after start of gunpowder plot (5)
GRAPH – a slang term (mainly North American) for a criminal charge and H(usband) follow the first letter of gunpowder.

16d Others hacked lines in PC account? (8)
HERSTORY – this is a (somewhat facetious) word for a study of the past from a feminine viewpoint. It’s an anagram (hacked) of OTHERS followed by the abbreviation for lines or tracks.

17d Idiot opening gifts reveals instruments (8)
BASSOONS – an idiot gets inserted (opening) in gifts or favours.

19d Uneasy order to work more? (8)
RESTLESS – if you’re ordered to work more then you have to … (4,4).

22d North African having minor alteration of a house (6)
LIBRAN – the house referred to is in the celestial sphere. Start with a native of a North African country and change just one letter.

24d Achieve nothing, being drunk (4)
WINO – a verb to achieve or acquire followed by the letter resembling nothing.

25d Retiring old boy certainly showing reserve (4)
BOOK – reverse the abbreviation for old boy and add the abbreviation meaning certainly or right!

Top clues for me today were 21a, 12d and 16d. Let us know which one(s) you liked.

32 comments on “Toughie 1259

  1. No grumps from me today – this is what a Toughie should be like. I have been trying on and off morning to work out the ‘why’ of 16a but to no avail. 4*/4* from me, thank you Sparks and Gazza. my top favourite was 16d.

    1. I’m still wrestling with Donks Monday offering in the Indy, all filled in but the “why” isn’t proving so easy, not checked another (if one exists) site yet ;)

  2. I thought 16a was a word that could follow the words: on in old and field, but i could be well off. I liked this puzzle, pretty fast fill until i got to NE, where 7d and 8d took a while – lovely clues though. I didn’t know the town in 4d, and wasn’t familiar with the split in 15a, but could still fill.

    Favourites: 9a (brilliant surface), 10a (took me a while to recognise the answer – must have reread even letters several times), 23a (lovely surface and surprise), 5d (nice parsing), 6d (beautiful surface), and my favourite favourite is the red 12d. Yes 16d also, i didn’t check brb.

    Many thanks Sparks for a lovely puzzle and Gazza for review

    1. I did wonder whether we just had to think of ‘on hand’, ‘in hand’, ‘old hand’ and ‘field hand’, but I wasn’t convinced.

  3. A cracking puzzle thoroughly enjoyed it, favourites were 11a 12d and 21a thanks to Sparks and to Gazza for the comments.
    PS There’s a Nina in there.

  4. Thoroughly enjoyable Toughie from Sparks.

    Needed gazza’s help to explain 26a. Still uncomfortable about the wordplay in 28a.

    (I have never attempted the manoeuvre that is defined in the middle row … but I have always wanted to have a go!)

  5. Best toughie for some time, many thanks to Sparks and to Gazza for the usual superb review. I also missed the Nina, but then I usually do.

  6. I really did enjoy battling this one, although it was a very long battle. The top half was, for me, harder to crack, but I managed in the end. I was wrong on 22D ( put the N. African in). There were quite a few that I simply could not fully parse, including 16A and 6 & 7D. I’m partial to 16D &17D.

    I never think to look for Nina. I have to be told there is one, and then I don’t always find them. But I think I might have this one if it’s composed of the three consecutive across answers.

    Many thanks to Sparks, and to Gazza for the review and much-needed unraveling.

  7. Thanks to Sparks and to Gazza for the review and hints. After yesterday’s success, back down to Earth with a crash, not a bump
    I only had half an idea about one clue, 12d. I wrote down the anagram fodder, but couldn’t solve it. Then I underlined all the definitions, which yielded 10 answers. The hints gave me another 3, but I had to look up 17. All totally beyond me. However, I feel that I’ve learnt something, so will persevere with the Toughie tomorrow.

  8. Well, I made good progress on this one for a change – but did need a bit of help in the NE corner. Some of the words I entered correctly but really did not understand why until I read the excellent hints!

    Anyway, I am getting better at these Toughies – mainly I am learning some of the pointers in the clue – like ‘regularly’ with which I was not familiar before.

  9. Well i finished unaided but 16A was a complete guess and still not sure i “get” it. Thanks very much to both Sparks and Gazza

  10. It was the SW corner that held us up. Glad that we were not alone in not being able to find a satisfactory explanation for 16a and, at least one of us, was unfamiliar with 16d and surprised to find that it is in BRB. Totally missed the two NINAS too. A good challenge for us and good fun.
    Thanks Sparks and Gazza.

    1. I still don’t have a convincing explanation for 16a. However, having had a few more hours to think about it, I’ve gone back to the idea (as Dutch suggested at comment #2) that the subsidiary definition is saying that ‘hand’ can follow each of the last four words of the clue separately to make four separate phrases. The first three are self-explanatory and ‘field hand’ is in the BRB meaning an outdoor farm labourer.

      1. I think your right Gazza, hand does follow on in old field, I put side in a synonym search side by side came up alongside hand in hand.

  11. Favourite was 11a purely for the laugh it gave me when I finally got it.

    Failed on 14d only cos I was for some reason determined to parse it to mean charge and find a three letter word for plot to stick in the middle (likewise I had the North African in 22d) and also failed on 16d cos … well, ugh. 16a was consequently uncertain.

    Three clues out from finishing this 4* Toughie when I succumbed to the lure of the hints, exactly as many as for yesterday’s “more of a back pager” 1* offering. Of course difficulty is subjective, but here I register my increasingly inevitable bafflement at the ratings here on this otherwise invaluable blog. ;) Thanks to the electrician and the drunken footballer. ;)

  12. “Respect is due” to Gazza for cracking blog and thanks to all for such lovely comments. This really is what it’s all about for a setter: “losing” to you (plural) in a way that (evidently) gives you pleasure.

    The parsing of 16ac was finally deduced correctly above: it’s simply that each of the four listed wordplay elements can follow HAND to make a phrase that can be confirmed in Chambers.

    Many thanks to you all once again.


  13. Entirely enjoyable although too thick to parse 16a (thanks) .11a brought the biggest of a number smiles .
    Cheers Sparks ,more of the same please and of course yet again to Gazza .

  14. I thought I’d have a go at this, and am very pleased I did. It was a most enjoyable challenge. 16d was my fave. I also particularly liked 9a, 11a (which took a while before the penny dropped), 23a, and 12d. This last was one of my last in. It took me ages to work out the anagram and, not being familiar with it, needed Google to discover why it was ‘red’.

    Despite having the checking letters, I needed the answers to and explanations of 16a, 7d, 14d and 22d. I had the answer to 3d, but couldn’t parse it. I had the answer and most of the wordplay for 8d, but wasn’t sure of the abbreviation for ‘spades’. Regarding the rest of the clues, I had followed the correct wordplay.

    Many thanks, Sparks, for the very enjoyable puzzle. Many thanks, Gazza for the invaluable review. Much appreciation to you both.

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