Toughie 1275

Toughie No 1275 by Sparks

Land A-Hoy!

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

Thanks to Sparks for an entertaining puzzle quite fitting for a mid-week Toughie. There were several answers that were new to me (the Nobel Laureate, the beatnik, the Far-Eastern boat, the landlord and the stroke) but all of them were clued so well that they didn’t pose great problems.
There is a Nina and, unusually for me, I spotted it without any prompting. I’ve explained it at the bottom of the review so that those who haven’t already found it can search for it before scrolling down, if they wish. Suffice to say here that we now have a good idea where Sparks spent his Summer holidays!

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 Copper, perhaps, to follow soldiers in TV western (5,7)
TRACE ELEMENT – start with a verb to follow or track then put ordinary soldiers inside an abbreviated word for television which has to be reversed (western).

9a Hot-headed Einstein, say, having arrived before Nobel laureate (9)
ARRHENIUS – with the help of the checkers I worked out what the answer should be, looked it up on Google and, somewhat to my surprise, there he was. A person of brilliance, of which Einstein was an example, has the initial G replaced by H(ot) but before that we need the abbreviation for arrived.

10a Push end of finger into joint (5)
DRIVE – the last letter of finger goes inside a seedy joint.

11a Failing to keep record about crime (6)
LOSING – the official record of a voyage, for example, contains a crime or moral lapse.

12a Lewd game in Pinter novel (8)
PRURIENT – the abbreviation for a team sport goes inside an anagram (novel) of PINTER.

13a Blue rinse is, at first sight, obvious (6)
RIBALD – the first letters of Rinse Is followed by an adjective meaning stark or obvious.

15a Beatnik clutching old reference book cried (8)
BOOHOOED – an informal term for a beatnik or Bohemian contains O(ld). After that we need the abbreviation for the comprehensive reference work which in its last ‘dead tree’ edition required twenty volumes.

18a Fantastic sonnet cut by extremely nasty old poet (8)
TENNYSON – an anagram (fantastic) of SONNET with the outer letters of nasty inside it.

19a Puzzle jerk with proverb (6)
JIGSAW – charade of a verb to jerk or bob up and down and a proverb or adage.

21a Very loud poet is playing around on unfamiliar tracks (3-5)
OFF-PISTE – the musical abbreviation for very loud with an anagram (playing) of POET IS around it.

23a Noise made by Far-Eastern boat entering old city (6)
UPROAR – a type of boat in Malaysia and Indonesia goes inside the usual old Biblical city.

26a Tie in some races (5)
ASCOT – double definition, the second where horse-racing and ludicrous hats are to be seen.

27a Dish — note cook sees to it (9)
NOISETTES – start with N(ote) and follow with an anagram (cook) of SEES TO IT.

28a Quiet ways ended in turmoil after a fast start (3,9)
ASH WEDNESDAY – an exhortation to keep quiet is followed by an anagram (in turmoil) of WAYS ENDED. That all comes after A.

Down Clues

1d Craft raised skill on West Bank, mostly viewed from the south (7)
TRAWLER – reverse (raised) a word for creative skill, add W(est) then reverse (viewed from the south) a verb to bank or depend without its last letter (mostly).

2d Tapestry mounted in disarray (5)
ARRAS – hidden in reverse (mounted).

3d Missing introduction, discourage new friend forever (9)
ETERNALLY – string together a verb to discourage without its introductory letter, N(ew) and a friend or comrade.

4d Prostrate, face up (4)
LAID – reverse (up) a face.

5d Grow  vegetable (8)
MUSHROOM – double definition. Some people don’t classify the second as a vegetable – I don’t care how they’re classified, I think they are delicious (wild ones, not the tasteless factory-grown ones) and I shall be scouring the fields for them in the next few weeks.

6d Primarily run into debt and navigate around rock bottom (5)
NADIR – the initial letters of five consecutive words, with a slight twist – you have to use them in reverse order (around).

7d Not all of Wings I spotted in New Orleans (8)
AILERONS – the letter I can be spotted inside an anagram (new) of ORLEANS.

8d Fused magazine’s front cover let out by its boss? (6)
MELTED – string together the first letter (front cover) of magazine, an anagram (out) of LET and the magazine’s boss.

14d VIP turning up whenever first-rate landlord appears (8)
BONIFACE – reverse a VIP or grandee and add a conjunction introducing a conditional clause (whenever) and an adjective meaning first-rate. This word for a landlord comes from the name of the innkeeper in The Beaux’ Stratagem by George Farquhar (1678–1707).

16d One repeatedly cutting tatty cheaper little rug? (9)
HAIRPIECE – insert I (one) twice into an anagram (tatty) of CHEAPER. This is the second use of cut as an insertion indicator.

17d One who can’t decide where to cross? (4-4)
DON’T-KNOW – gentle cryptic definition of someone who can’t, or won’t, tell the pollster where he or she intends to place a cross.

18d Trunk call reservation initially restricted by levy (6)
THORAX – a call to attract someone’s attention and the initial letter of reservation are contained inside a levy.

20d Lazy attempt to undermine Labour (7)
WORKSHY – an attempt or shot follows (to undermine, in a down clue) labour or toil.

22d Stroke, cut wildly, is making the boundary (5)
ICTUS – an anagram (wildly) of CUT with IS placed round it (making the boundary). The answer is a medical term for a stroke.

24d Crew possibly caught in boatyard, dropping the odds (5)
OCTAD – the single-letter cricket abbreviation for caught goes inside the even letters of boatyard.

25d Turn using unexpected good fortune, avoiding defeat (4)
WIND – start with a piece of unanticipated good fortune (often a sum of money that comes unexpectedly) and drop the 4-letter word for a defeat or overthrow.

My top clues today were 28a, 16d and 20d. Let us know which one(s) you liked.

The Nina is spread over three rows in the grid which contain three of the ‘sights’ of the island of Hoy in the Orkneys.

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19 Comments

  1. Pegasus
    Posted October 15, 2014 at 1:50 pm | Permalink

    I did spot the Nina, and I did enjoy the puzzle, favourites were 1a 13a and 28a thanks to Sparks and to Gazza for the review.

  2. dutch
    Posted October 15, 2014 at 2:05 pm | Permalink

    Well I’m proud of myself for finishing this one (eventually) – plenty of tricky wordplay. I wasn’t sure about the reference to a landlord so thank you Gazza for explaining. I wasn’t happy about the vegetable, but couldn’t be anything else. 1a and 15a took me ages.

    Favourites are the blue rinse (6a), unfamiliar tracks (21a – though one could argue about whether there are any tracks there), the dish in 27a, the fast start in 28a, and of course the little rug! (16d).

    Many thanks Sparks for a challenging puzzle and thanks Gazza for the good review .

    (I didn’t spot the nina – I have yet to spot a nina – but I wouldn’t have recognised the names in this case anyway)

  3. BigBoab
    Posted October 15, 2014 at 2:09 pm | Permalink

    Thoroughly enjoyed this toughie though I didn’t spot the Nina, but then I never do, many thanks to Sparks and to Gazza for the excellent review.

  4. riddler1991
    Posted October 15, 2014 at 2:17 pm | Permalink

    That was properly difficult. Thanks to Gaza for the review and to Sparks for nearly being the end of me!

    Now to important matters. What’s the devil is a Nina and how do you spot them?

    • gazza
      Posted October 15, 2014 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

      You’ve changed your alias so your comment needed moderation. Both aliases should now work.
      You know the answer don’t you? It’s all in the FAQ – see here.

  5. Expat Chris
    Posted October 15, 2014 at 2:38 pm | Permalink

    I fell short on 9A, 15A and 7D. I should have been able to sort 7D from the anagram fodder, and its turned up before so no excuse there. But I would never have resolved either 9A or 15A. I think some of these informal words only exist in the BRB! I did like 1A, but nothing else stood out for me today. Thanks to Sparks, and to Gazza for the review.

  6. Kath
    Posted October 15, 2014 at 3:30 pm | Permalink

    http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/smiley-phew.gifI found this one difficult and it’s taken me a very long time.
    I failed on 9a and 26a (no excuses for that one).
    1a took ages because I thought that I was looking for a TV Western, which is yet another thing to add to the list of things I can’t do, and then when I got the answer I didn’t understand why it was right.
    I liked 13 and 28a and 17 and 20d. My favourite was 15a.
    With thanks to gazza and Sparks.
    In all my years of nursing I’ve never heard a stroke called 22d.

  7. Kath
    Posted October 15, 2014 at 3:32 pm | Permalink

    PS – I didn’t spot the Nina – I never do and I’ve never heard of any of the places anyway.

  8. halcyon
    Posted October 15, 2014 at 3:43 pm | Permalink

    Clever stuff from Sparks, if rather reliant on relatively obscure words. Nor am I entirely convinced by “hot-headed Einstein”, which could just as well indicate hg…..! But some well-hidden anagrams [Pinter novel, New Orleans] and, like Kath, I spent ages trying to remember old westerns before the penny finally dropped [with several checkers] for 1a.

    Many thanks to Sparks and to Gazza for the analysis.

  9. 2Kiwis
    Posted October 15, 2014 at 6:13 pm | Permalink

    The three that were new to us and needed confirmation with Google were 9a, 14d and 22d. Totally missed the NINA too. Found it quite challenging and good fun with some really devious wordplay.
    Thanks Sparks and Gazza.

  10. Derek
    Posted October 15, 2014 at 7:20 pm | Permalink

    Very enjoyable puzzle – finally finished it this evening after doing the cryptic earlier.

    Faves : 9a, 21a, 28a, 7d, 14d & 16d.

    Weather in NL rather mixed but still more like September than October!

    Now gerookte paling for my evening meal (smoked eel) very Dutch!

  11. Sparks
    Posted October 15, 2014 at 9:44 pm | Permalink

    Thank you Gazza for a really polished blog, and to all for what seems to have been a generally well accepted offering. Gazza has me bang to rights: I’m an unabashed Highlands-and-Orkney-o-phile and this was one of three Orcadian puzzles set (ahem, over copious quantities of a certain amber liquid) for various organs this summer. Indeed, On the day I set this puzzle, we (Mrs Sparks, doggy Sparks and I) walked up Ward Hill (NB there are no paths) then on to Rackwick Bay (via an idyllic valley), seeing the top of the Old Man of Hoy en route. So I was overjoyed to see Gazza’s near-replicas of my holiday snaps. Thanks! Now where’s that amber reminder … ? (Gazza … will I see you at the S&B in York? I’d like to put names to faces.)

    • gazza
      Posted October 15, 2014 at 10:06 pm | Permalink

      Thanks for the background information, Sparks – we do appreciate setters dropping in. I won’t be at York – that’s a bit of a drag from darkest Devon – but I am going to the Cruciverbalist Convention in London this Saturday, so if you’re going to be there I’ll look forward to meeting you.

    • crypticsue
      Posted October 16, 2014 at 8:42 am | Permalink

      If you can’t make the London meeting, have a look here http://bigdave44.com/features/the-gallery/cruciverbal-meetings-2014/bristol-feb-2014/

  12. Wolfson Bear
    Posted October 15, 2014 at 9:46 pm | Permalink

    A struggle for me but got there in the end. Too many obscure words so not too enjoyable. It is true I would look for fungi in a supermarket’s vegetable department but I would not dream of thinking of fungus as veg. Replace vegetable by “in vegetable department” and it is a fair clue

  13. andy
    Posted October 15, 2014 at 10:23 pm | Permalink

    Loved 1a, needed investigoogling for 9a. Took me about 4* time but that was me having a bad day. Thank you Sparks. Really trying to get to the Wapping do, not sure if I can yet but certainly in York following weekend. Thank you too Gazza for the review

  14. Salty Dog
    Posted October 15, 2014 at 11:13 pm | Permalink

    Too hard for me, l fear. I managed a little over half (mainly the bottom half) before my remaining brain cells gave out. I thought 28a was very clever. I wouldn’t dare to score this one, but for me it was certainly 4*+ in terms of difficulty. Thank you, Sparks – one day, perhaps – and thank you Gazza.

  15. Reggie
    Posted October 16, 2014 at 7:50 am | Permalink

    One of the few toughies finished unaided! I’d say this was somewhat easier than Dada yesterday and very enjoyable. Only clue I didn’t like was 18D and finding the call. What are all the references to Nina?

    • gazza
      Posted October 16, 2014 at 8:36 am | Permalink

      For an explanation of what a Nina is you need to consult the FAQ. Then look at rows 4,8 and 12 in the completed grid.