Toughie No 1279 by Firefly
Chips or chips?
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BD Rating – Difficulty **** – Enjoyment **
I found this one a bit of a slog with not a lot to lighten the mood and some of the clues are not very smooth. Also, I’m not at all sure that I’ve fully understood 24a so any better interpretation for that would be welcome.
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1a/6a Source of leverage secure, acquiring Shard? (10,4)
BARGAINING CHIP – string together a verb to secure or fasten (a door, say), another word for acquiring or obtaining and a shard (ignoring the false capitalisation) or fragment.
6a See 1a
10a Peer‘s plaque quietly removed and replaced (5)
EQUAL – an anagram (re-placed) of [p]LAQUE without the abbreviation for quietly.
11a Tablet — yuck! — medic popped in box (5,4)
COUGH DROP – pop an expression of disgust and an abbreviation for a medic into a box or small cage.
12a Expert: ‘Flatfish season’s not quite finished’ (7)
DABSTER – fish, as a noun, can be singular or plural and here we need the plural of a small flatfish. Add a season or period of time without its last letter.
13a Hide‘s converted, we hear (5)
SUEDE – sounds like a verb meaning converted or talked round.
15a Meat Loaf‘s entire recordings initially misplaced (7)
TERRINE – an anagram (misplaced) of ENTIRE and the initial letter of R(ecording).
17a Disturbed one among the French having spasm (7)
LUNATIC – a dialect word meaning one splits a French definite article. After that we have a spasm or twitch.
19a Late news Stone missed in crush (7)
OPPRESS – a phrase meaning late news (inserted in a newspaper after printing has begun) with the abbreviation for a stone (14lb) removed.
21a Token ‘bird’ goes to heart of popularism (7)
TITULAR – a small songbird followed by the middle letters of popularism.
22a Oil and salt on a beetroot? (5)
ATTAR – put another informal word for a salt or sailor after A and the end letter (root, i.e. base) of beet.
24a Trees woodman turns to wood — thus? (7)
MANGOES – what a lumberjack does is chop wood so we need to chop out the ‘wood’ from woodman. After that we have a word for turns (in a board game, perhaps). I’m not at all sure that this is what the setter meant, so if you have a better explanation do please holler! [As Prolixic points out if you apply the answer (as 3,4) to woodman you’re left with wood.]
27a Lotto, say, and chips? (3,6)
OLD MASTER – Lorenzo Lotto was an Italian painter of the early sixteenth century (I’d never heard of him but Mrs Bradford had) and Mr Chips is an aged schoolteacher in the novella by James Hilton (later a film starring Robert Donat). There are various instances of false capitalisation in this puzzle and conventionally that’s acceptable, but here we have chips starting with a lower-case character when it should be Chips – that’s not usually allowed and even with a question mark I don’t like it.
28a Monotonous speech given by rambling De Niro I missed (5)
DRONE – an anagram (rambling) of DE N[i]RO without the I.
29a/30a Satisfied workers, in Ptolemy’s interpretation, creating an ideal economic state of affairs (4,10)
FULL EMPLOYMENT – start with an adjective meaning satisfied or sated then insert some workers in an anagram (interpretation) of PTOLEMY.
30a See 29a
1d/14d Faff about stuffing crumbs into Brent goose prepared for main course (4,10)
BEEF STROGANOFF – individual bits (crumbs) of the word FAFF are moved about and inserted (stuffing) into an anagram (prepared) of BRENT GOOSE.
2d To and fro in circle dance? (5,4)
ROUND TRIP – charade of a circle and a verb to dance.
3d Plug Steel, perhaps, extempore? (2-3)
AD-LIB – a plug or puff and the abbreviated political party that David (now Lord) Steel belonged to and led before it merged with the SDP.
4d Band drink on stage, incessantly (7)
NECKTIE – a slang verb to drink precedes a stage or level without its last letter.
5d With engagement cancelled, learnt painfully about ‘elite’ (7)
NEUTRAL – the engagement referred to occurs in a motor vehicle. An anagram (painfully) of LEARNT containing the letter used to mean elite or upper-class.
7d Crowd fund announced? (5)
HORDE – this sounds like a fund or stockpile.
8d/26d Berry’s split accommodation charge (10,4)
PEPPERCORN RENT – the dried berry of a climbing vine is followed by a past participle meaning split or torn.
9d Brown — Treasury fanatic? (8)
CHESTNUT – not Gordon, our one-time Chancellor, but a reddish-brown colour. A strongbox or place where treasure may be kept is followed by a fanatic or enthusiast.
14d See 1d
16d ‘Sweet!’ one cries aloud (3,5)
ICE CREAM – one here is being used in a formal way of referring to the speaker (‘One has one’s tea at 4 pm’). So this sweet sounds like one cries or yells in the first person.
18d Bobby occupies run-down let — see contract (9)
TELESCOPE – insert another informal word for a bobby into an anagram (run-down) of LET SEE.
20d Indication my MP’s to get sacked (7)
SYMPTOM – an anagram (get sacked, in the sense of plundered) of MY MP’S TO.
21d Curl‘s split end riled somewhat (7)
TENDRIL – hidden (somewhat) in the clue.
23d Third rail 25 moving in and out (5)
TIDAL – apply the answer to 25d to ‘third rail’.
25d Unaccountably swallowed too much alcohol — jury’s conclusions (5)
ODDLY – an abbreviation (2’1) meaning swallowed too much (drugs) is followed by the concluding letters of alcohol and jury.
26d See 8d
The clue I liked best was 18d. Let us know which one(s) you liked.