Toughie 1263 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 1263

Toughie No 1263 by Notabilis

Engage Reverse Gear

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

As Crypticsue said yesterday Wednesday seems to be becoming the new Friday as far as Toughies are concerned. There’s some top stuff here from Notabilis with his usual number of reversals. There’s also a clue (3d) which has provoked some discussion among the bloggers but which, for me, contains an indirect anagram – I await your comments with interest.

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 Indifferent quality of course (not the starter) that includes another (6)
APATHY – one course or road without its leading letter contains another. Willie Whitelaw once accused his political opponents of going around stirring this up.

4a Forever, Dunkirk carries name of costly battle (6)
VERDUN – the name of the WWI battle (costly in terms of the vast numbers killed) is hidden (carries) in the clue.

8a Monarch rejected by populace here? (8)
REPUBLIC – a semi-all-in-one. Reverse our Queen’s cipher and add a word for populace.

10a Restaurant‘s talked about animal line (6)
BISTRO – this sounds like an animal and a line (on a spreadsheet, perhaps).

11a Barely  legal? (4)
JUST – double definition. The question mark is possibly indicating that legality does not always correspond with fairness.

12a Smart to retain opponent’s support at one end (10)
CANTILEVER – an adjective meaning smart or bright contains an opponent.

13a Reversing undue speed in branch arrangement breaking down is much better (7,5)
STREETS AHEAD – reverse the sort of undue speed which proverbially slows down one’s progress and put it inside a woody arrangement of branches. Then insert all that inside (breaking) an adjective meaning down or depressed.

16a Question about procedure in river dividing crossing? I have doubts (5,2,5)
POINT OF ORDER – a charade of a) our favourite Italian river, b) a preposition meaning dividing (in sums), c) a shallow river crossing and d) a response indicating a lack of certainty.

20a Mushrooms in rich cake lead to ridicule in this review! (10)
RETROSPECT – I had difficulty in deciding what to underline here – the answer means a look back or contemplation of the past, but review is also telling us that we need a reversal. Insert some edible mushrooms into the sort of rich cake that Vienna is famous for, then add the leading letter of ridicule. Finally reverse the lot.

21a Large-scale  movie available online? (4)
EPIC – double definition. Cryptically, as 1-3, this could be a movie available online.

22a Radius crossed by ray that may be repeated in reflection (6)
MANTRA – there are lots of reversals in this puzzle and ‘in reflection’ looks like another one but it’s not. This reflection is a sort of mystical meditation. Insert R(adius) into another name for a giant ray or sea-vampire (new word for me).

23a Put aside  principle of low-sodium diet? (4,4)
SALT AWAY – double definition – to put aside for a rainy day and, cryptically, what a low-sodium diet may mean.

24a Substitute repaired trapezes with middle cut (6)
ERSATZ – an anagram (repaired) of TRA(pe)ZES with the middle letters cut out.

25a Crack in wood set back evergreen shrub (6)
MYRTLE – put a crack or attempt into a type of timber and reverse it all (set back).

Down Clues

1d Enough depth evident initially in water table’s extremes (8)
ADEQUATE – the initial letters of Depth Evident go inside a word for water then we finish with the outer (extremes) letters of TablE.

2d Mature daughter in misdeed, going topless … (5)
ADULT – insert the abbreviation for daughter into a misdeed or transgression without its leading F.

3d … husband caught in the same, dancing in his cups (4-3)
HALF-CUT – start with H(usband) then insert C(aught) into an anagram (dancing) of FAULT (i.e. the same misdeed that featured in the previous clue). I don’t know how this got through the editing process but to me it’s a clear case of an indirect anagram – tut tut!

5d Censored mostly over binding books? It’s on the way out (3-4)
EBB-TIDE – reverse (over) a verb meaning censored without its final letter (mostly) and insert two B(ook)s.

6d With scarlet throat upturned, lark’s tail becoming small as that of a jay, say (9)
DESCENDER – the y (tail letter) of jay is one of these. Reverse (upturned) a phrase (3,6) meaning having a scarlet throat then replace the last letter of larK with S(mall). [Thanks to Notabilis for pointing out that the definition is referring to the tail of a letter j (jay, as it’s pronounced) rather than the last letter of the word jay.]

7d Angry Republican enters undisguised (6)
NARKED – insert the single-character abbreviation for Republican into an adjective meaning undisguised or explicit.

9d Trick lacking subtlety nearly takes in knight — you’re supposed to see through it (7,4)
CONTACT LENS – a trick or swindle is followed by an adjective meaning lacking subtlety or insensitive without its final letter but with the chess abbreviation for knight inserted.

14d Superheat liquid running water in SW Asia (9)
EUPHRATES – an anagram (liquid) of SUPERHEAT.

15d Church position welcomes club practising abstinence (8)
CELIBATE – one of the abbreviations for church followed by a position (of a ball on the golf course, for example) with a club or stick inserted.

17d Tin’s hammered around bronze flash (7)
INSTANT – an anagram (hammered) of TIN’S containing a verb to bronze.

18d Stout supporter producing disastrous result (7)
FATALLY – charade of an adjective meaning stout and a supporter or accomplice.

19d What does for Resistance in daring act (6)
BEHAVE – start with an adjective meaning daring or heroic and replace (does for) the R(esistance) with a terse enquiry meaning ‘what?’ or ‘pardon?’.

21d Force out law since repeal? (5)
EXACT – cryptically this could be a one-time law now repealed (2,3).

Top clues for me today were 23a and 6d. Let us know which one(s) you liked.

25 comments on “Toughie 1263

  1. At last a toughie worthy of the name!, superb stuff. I didn’t see anything wrong with 3d, is an indirect anagram not allowed? It was my first clue in so I actually quite liked it, many thanks to Notablis and to Gazza, a great way to spend a morning. I liked 9d and 23a particularly.

    1. Indirect anagrams are frowned upon. As Prolixic says in his excellent tutorial on crossword setting in the Rookie Corner series: The indirect anagram is one of the cardinal sins of setting a crossword. An indirect anagram is an anagram where the letters to be rearranged are not clearly given in the clue.

        1. Gazza, I realise this is very late now (Sun) but I have been defeated by just 20a, which I really wanted to get as this was a “senior” puzzle. Please tell me; where are the mushrooms and what is the rich cake in RETROSPECT? Thanks for your reply, if you do. Sh_shoney.

          1. It’s CEPS (mushrooms) inside TORTE (rich cake) followed by the first letter of R(idicule) – so T CEPS ORTE R. Finally reverse it all.

  2. As BigBoab says, a Toughie worthy of the name. Very enjoyable apart from my confusion with 3d. My favourite has to be 9d, not least because of the age it took me to see it through a 9d!

    Many thanks to Notabilis and Gazza.

  3. Good stuff, although 3d was a bit naughty, favourites were 9d 13a and 19d thanks to Notabilis and to Gazza for the dissection.

  4. In the definition for 6d, “that of a jay” means “the tail of a letter j” (it’s not a reference to the last letter of JAY).

    1. Thanks for the clarification, Notabilis. The ODE does define descender not only as the part of the letter descending, but also as a letter having such a descender, so I think my explanation just about works (but your intention is better).
      Thanks too for the entertaining puzzle.

  5. Enjoyable apart from 3d, though I needed a little assistance for one or two of the clues. At least I realised that “jay” was the letter!Thx to Gazza and setter.

  6. Almost made it through but defeated by three in the SW corner. I should have been able to work out 22A but I would never have solved 20A or 19D in a month off Sundays. I did like 21A and 25A but 10A is my favorite. Thanks to Notabilis, and to Gazza for the review and help.

  7. Phew, that was a toughie. Defeated by 19d and needed Gazza’s excellent analysis to make sense of both 13a and 16a. Agree that 3d is completely out of order – is the setter trying to be too clever here by hiding the indirect anagram in the linked clue? IMHO that makes it worse not better.

    Nonetheless great fun. Loved 10a [the homophone works well once you pronounce it correctly], 22a [clever “non-reversal from this particular setter], 20a [despite “review” doing double duty] and 14d [a clever anagram].

    I do hope Notabilis is not going to start pushing the boundaries but thanks to him and to Gazza for explaining it all.

  8. I think 3d works, although it is pushing the envelope a bit. It may be a secondary anagram but it’s clearly indicated that the fodder comes from the previous linked clue. Didn’t cause me a problem but perhaps the clue was written for the Guardian or Indy who seem a bit more libertarian.

    I remember Rufus got away with a clear secondary anagram about 3 or so years ago simply because it was so obvious, can’t remember the clue though

    1. My problem is that the fodder isn’t actually in the linked clue either – you have to make the leap from misdeed to fault.

      1. I agree but if you’ve solved 2d then you have come up with FAULT so you at least have a start. I think it’s borderline and a no-no for a back page, but this is a Toughie. Matter of opinion I guess but I wonder if the clue was one of Araucaria’s would there be questions? He has taken far greater liberties over the years.

  9. I don’t know the rules so I wouldn’t recognize when one has been broken! To me, crossword rules seem a bit like the rules of grammar; as long as you know them, then it’s acceptable to bend them judiciously once in a while. And the problem with that, of course, is, how do you explain to a rookie setter that sauce for the goose is not necessarily sauce for the gander?

    (See what I did there?)

    1. You’re lucky that the pedantry police are unlikely to be patrolling at this time of night. :D
      Seriously, read Prolixic’s tutorial on successive reviews of Rookie Corner puzzles to get a good feel for the ‘rules’.

      1. I’m waiting for the book to come out in paperback! It will be on my bookshelf right next to the BRB, Roget’s Thesaurus, and ‘The New Well-Tempered Sentence – A Punctuation Handbook for the Innocent, the Eager, and the Doomed.”

        1. It’ll go on my bookshelf right next to my most well-thumbed books “Improve Your Kneeling” and “A history of string, volume 2”.

  10. 22a a new word needed, 6d needed hint to see why. As ever from Notabilis a cracking puzzle. Thanks to all

  11. Sorry to admit that we gave up on this one without reaching a conclusion by about 5 answers. No fault of the puzzle, we were just a tiny bit distracted yesterday. Enjoyed the parts that we did complete.
    Thanks Notabilis and Gazza.

  12. Thanks Notabilis ,my personal favourite was 6d but 19d found me at a loss so thanks to Gazza for the assistance yet again .Really enjoyed it .

  13. Phew, this was a bit of a b****r. It took me three sessions to complete and even then, I needed the inestimable Gazza to tell me why my answers were correct. For at least half the puzzle I used the “if it fits, bung it in” approach and then went back to try to decipher the wordplay – and failed every time. At least I got the jay descender right and managed to finish unaided but still spent a long time with Gazza’s hints to understand why. Having said all that, I found it a challenge worthy of 4* for enjoyment and 6* for difficulty. Thanks to Notabilis for making my brain hurt.

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