Toughie 1285 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 1285

Toughie No 1285 by Osmosis

Scraping the barrel

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

BD Rating – Difficulty ***Enjoyment ***

This otherwise pleasant puzzle was, for me, somewhat spoilt by the inclusion of a second-rate US Politician and, in the wordplay for 17 down, a long-forgotten US actor.

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1a    Invest in Napoleonic rifle given tip from enthusiast (6)
ENROBE: the French (Napoleonic) for IN followed by a verb meaning to rifle or steal and the initial letter (tip) of E[nthusiast]

4a    Kinky desires involving newspaper’s centre spread (8)
DISPERSE: an anagram (kinky) of DESIRES around (involving) the middle letter (centre) of [news]P[aper]

9a    One fancied Aguero to score regularly during leg (6)
PIGEON: the even letters (score regularly) of [A]G[u]E[r]O inside a colloquial word for a leg

10a    Girl’s teachers that can be found in bar (8)
HAZELNUT: a girl’s name followed by the usual group of teachers gives the possible content of a chocolate bar

12a    Eccentric abroad joins the spiritual course (3,5)
OUT THERE: a three-letter adjective meaning abroad followed by THE and a spiritual course of learning

13a    Gemstone‘s origin found in jeweller’s, typically (6)
JASPER: The initial letter (origin) of J[eweller] followed by a phrase meaning typically (2,3)

15a    US politician idiotic to well-read man (6,7)
WALTER MONDALE: an anagram (idiotic) of TO WELL-READ MAN

18a    Desire Geordie life in bit of mischief and spice (7,6)
CAYENNE PEPPER: a three-letter desire, the part of England where you will find a Geordie and a three-letter word meaning life all inside a bit of mischief

22a    Friar is told to trim borders for toff (6)
ARISTO: hidden (trim borders) inside the clue

24a    It’s blown over after company Romeo clear of all charges (8)
CORNETTO: this woodwind instrument is derived from O(ver) following (after) CO(mpany), the letter represented by Romeo in the NATO Phonetic alphabet and a four-letter adjective meaning clear of all charges – shame on you if you thought that this was only an ice-cream!

26a    Acting group sing quietly in support (4,4)
BRAT PACK: a verb meaning to sing or betray and the musical notation for quietly inside a verb meaning to support

27a    School full of quadrangles? (6)
CUBISM: a cryptic definition of an art movement that made use of geometric figures

28a    One ultimately extra wicked controlling swindle? (4-4)
EVIL-DOER: the final letter () of [on]E followed by an adjective meaning extra wicked around a two-letter verb meaning to swindle

29a    Trainee during academic period preferring noon finish (6)
INTERN: start with a phrase meaning during an academic period (2,4) and then change (preferring) the final letter (finish) to N(oon)


1d    Commission unit in printing trade to check circular letter (6)
EMPLOY: a unit of measure used in printing and a verb meaning to trade or work around (to check) the circular-shaped letter

2d    Ceremony heard opposite to home yesterday (5,4)
RIGHT AWAY: a word that sounds like (heard) a ceremony followed by the opposite of home gives a phrase meaning yesterday or without delay

3d / 11d    Footwear in stock going to the Spanish plant (7,7)
BROTHEL CREEPER: this item of footwear, which is one of a pair, is a charade of some stock used in cookery, the Spanish definite article and a plant

5d    Welshman and an American avoiding canteen that’s erected (4)
IFAN: to get this Welsh forename, drop (avoiding) one of the A(merican)s from a military canteen and reverse (erected in a down clue)what’s left

6d    Period at night when newsman tucks into shellfish (7)
PREDAWN: put the usual two-letter word for a senior newsman inside a shellfish

7d    Approach game having subdued Athenian character with power (3-2)
RUN-UP: a two-letter abbreviation for a game followed by a Greek (Athenian) letter and P(ower)

8d    21 maybe did this dessert during previous day (8)
EXTORTED: a rich sweet pastry (dessert) between a two-letter word meaning previous and D(ay)

11d    See 3 Down

14d / 20d    Governor over prison, Bren perhaps, welcoming one that’s given bird (7,7)
EMPEROR PENGUIN: a governor or ruler followed by a US term for a prison and the type of firearm of which Bren is an example, the latter around (welcoming) I (one)

16d    Sally ventilates three-wheeler (3,6)
AIR STRIKE: a four-letter verb meaning ventilates followed by a three-wheeler bicycle

17d    Buster catches ball finally after second game (8)
SCRABBLE: the surname of a former American swimmer and actor around (catches) the final letter of [bal]L and preceded by (after) S(econd) – the war hero and frogman, also called Buster, who disappeared in suspicious circumstances during a visit to the UK by Bulganin and Khrushchev back in 1956 lacks the final E from his surname for the clue to work properly

19d    Retired academic retaining a cherished computer (7)
NOTEPAD: an academic around the A from the clue and a three-letter adjective meaning cherished, all reversed (retired)

20d    See 14 Down

21d    He deceptively takes business partner to a curry without money (6)
CONMAN: the two-letter abbreviation for a business followed by a type of bread often served as an accompaniment to a curry, the latter around M(oney)

23d    Language militants used on TV panel show (5)
IRAQI: some Irish militants followed by a TV panel show hosted by Stephen Fry

25d    Expert crosses Montana’s number one peak (4)
ACME: an expert around the initial letter (number one) of M[ontana]

Tilsit is away for the weekend, but hopes to be back in this slot next Friday.

12 comments on “Toughie 1285

  1. I enjoyed this one and being a pangram helped me in the NE quadrant, favourites were 3&11d 18a and 23d thanks to Osmosis and to Big Dave for the review.

  2. I really enjoyed this! 3/11 made me smile and I loved 14/20, too. 27A was the last one in and my favorite. Unfortunately, I was a long way off on 10A. From the checking letters and ‘bar’ reference my mind immediately went to Cabernet and stayed there. Chocolate didn’t get a look in. Thanks to Osmosis and BD.

    Poor old 15A, forever to be associated with the peanut farmer. Clever clue, though.

  3. This was an unsatisfactory puzzle. As well as Big Dave’s comments on 15a and 17d; some of the other answers just didn’t hit the mark. For instance, 12a is not really a gemstone although used in jewellery. Sour grapes probably as I only managed half the crossword and the blog makes me realise I would never have finished it on my own. It all seemed very outdated American. Are 3d still made? I did solve that one!

  4. Such a shame that more people don’t attempt or comment on the toughies. I try to comment as often as I can, even on the ones that utterly defeat me, and for those that do I don’t blame the setter for my performance. They’re called toughies for a reason. It’s a learning experience and I recognize that I’m still learning. When I fail, the reviews are always enlightening. These days, frankly, I’d rather be beaten by a toughie than waltz through an easy cryptic. It’s much more satisfying to try to tease out the solutions one at a time than complete a ‘read and write’ puzzle where I don’t learn anything new.

  5. I agree with Expat Chris and am surprised more do not comment on the Toughies. They are quite a different kettle of fish from the back page cryptic. I find they require more empathy and inspired guessing…..and sometimes one is on the same wavelength as the setter and sometimes, disastruously, not. I don’t think intellegence comes into it but, quite often, as in this one, odd bits on knowledge. For instance, who, younger than me, has heard of “brothel creepers’? They are an expression of my youth – many many light years ago!! I value your unput “Big Dave”. How about a dissertation on this and was “Andy” being quite as rude as I thought he was?

    1. I think Andy was pointing out that disliking a puzzle purely because you can’t finish it is a common reaction but one unlikely to attract the sympathy of others. One of our regular contributors uses the description “horrid” for any puzzle he can’t do. There is nothing wrong with failure to complete, but those who strive to improve their skills will, perhaps, succeed tomorrow while those who merely complain are doomed to perpetual failure.

      Following on from this, I learned a lot of information about events, personalities and other things that were around in the years before I was born but the younger generation seem to be reluctant to take the time – perhaps we should blame the endless streams of drivel that emanate from so-called social network sites.

  6. Drivel – what a lovely word for social network sites. I avoid them so would hate this blog to become part of one. For the record, despite my failures, I like the Toughies and will soldier on and be forever grateful for your comments, insights and unravelling of, to me, inexplicable wordplays. Thank you!

  7. I used two different inks for this one. Blue for the ones I got and black for the ones I didn’t and hey presto the grid looked very dark indeed. Even some blue ones became black. I had skittles for 17d and atrium for 27a. Need more practice to be “en osmose” with this setter. Thanks to osmosis and BD for the hints and answers.

  8. Please excuse a late post [away for a friend’s big birthday celebration].

    I finished this with Mrs H’s help but it was something of a struggle. I’m normally on Osmosis’s wavelength and enjoy his puzzles immensely – but this was somehow untypical. Thanks to him anyway and to BD for the analysis.

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