Toughie 1334 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 1334

Toughie No 1334 by Micawber

Infamy, infamy!

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

I always get a warm feeling from a Micawber crossword (very handy this morning when it’s blowing a gale outside) and, luckily for me, they very often appear on Wednesdays. This one is very much at the easier end of his spectrum but as enjoyable as ever.

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 Play mental games on strange youth’s PC (5,3)
PSYCH OUT – an anagram (strange) of YOUTH’S PC.

6a Law officer reversed deployment to ease tension (6)
DEFUSE – reverse a slang term for an FBI agent and add another word for deployment.

9a At uni, tryst results in change of status (6)
UPDATE – charade of an adverb meaning at university and a romantic tryst.

10a Current threat — might that describe Boris? (8)
UNDERTOW – split this threat to swimmers (5,3) to get a cryptic description of the current mayor of London and parliamentary candidate, Mr Johnson. The second word means fibres of flax, hemp or jute prepared for spinning. These are light-coloured so a ***-head is someone with light-coloured or tousled hair.

11a A bit emotionless, getting flatter (8)
BLANDISH – double definition, the first an adjective and the second a verb.

12a Existence of vast temporary camp leaders denied (6)
ENTITY – we have to start with a phrase (4,4) meaning a large facility to house homeless or displaced people under canvas (the phrase is not in my edition of the BRB). Then we have to drop the first letter of each word (leaders denied) and squash together what’s left.

13a A US phone-in with PM derailed by petty point-scoring (3-9)
ONE-UPMANSHIP – an anagram (derailed) of A US PHONE-IN and PM. I do hope it’s not another hoax call for the PM.

16a Discovery, say, of room service making regular trips (5,7)
SPACE SHUTTLE – charade of a word meaning room or expanse and a transport service making regular trips between two points.

19a They’re heard in church giving outline of pleas on charity (6)
PSALMS – the outer letters of pleas are followed by charity.

21a What someone who’s been overfishing might do — the fool! (8)
DUMPLING – split the answer (4,4) to get what a fisherman who’s exceeded his quota might have to do.

23a Jumper’s place for louse, say (8)
PARASITE – charade of the informal short form of a military jumper and a place.

24a Instrument for Piper’s son? (3-3)
TOM-TOM – this could be the thieving piper’s son from the nursery rhyme. Apparently the ‘pig’ that he stole was not a porker but a small pastry with a fruit filling (blogging is great for the accumulation of trivia).

25a Dislike being deployed repeatedly (6)
RESENT – in the form 2-4 this means deployed or dispatched for a subsequent time.

26a Pattern of actions reportedly offended Catholic church (8)
SYNDROME – string together what sounds like offended or transgressed and the city that is a metonym for the Roman Catholic church.

Down Clues

2d/3d Means of delivery with flexibility and range (6,5)
SUPPLY CHAIN – an adverb meaning ‘with flexibility’ followed by another word for a range of mountains.

3d See 2d

4d Oddly, Lenin cracking old, mostly Irish jokes (3-6)
ONE-LINERS – an anagram (oddly) of LENIN comes between (cracking) O(ld) and most of a word for the Irish Gaelic language.

5d Restore ram that’s sore internally (5,2)
TOUCH UP – another word for a ram with an exclamation of pain (that’s sore) inside it.

6d Avoid female BBC head getting in (5)
DODGE – a female animal containing the abbreviation for the head honcho at the BBC.

7d Anticipation of a setter confounded (9)
FORETASTE – an anagram (confounded) of OF A SETTER.

8d Drink that’s produced by cow, blended is the top and bottom of it (8)
SMOOTHIE – a semi-all-in-one. What’s produced, vocally, by a cow is topped and tailed by an anagram (blended) of IS THE.

13d Swing singer featuring in bill — neither top nor bottom (9)
OSCILLATE – an old Scouse singer goes inside a bill or placard without its top and bottom letters. Here’s the very talented Sheridan Smith:

ARVE Error: need id and provider

14d Robot packing fruit in metal can at base (9)
AUTOMATON – an item of fruit is packed between the chemical symbol for an expensive metal and the last letter (base) of can.

15d Attached to either side of stake, heart of blaze consumed heretic (8)
APOSTATE – a stake or pole is preceded by the central (heart) letter of blaze and followed by a verb meaning consumed.

17d Doctor in fantastic, timeless Sunset Strip (7)
UNDRESS – an abbreviation for doctor goes inside an anagram (fantastic) of SUNSE(t).

18d Spill the beans — being paranoid, I fear everyone’s got it except me, in the end! (6)
INFORM – if I’m paranoid I fear that everyone’s got it ** *** **. Drop the last letter of me and squash up what remains.

ARVE Error: need id and provider

20d Extremely poor relations in street (5)
SKINT – insert a word for relations (familial, not sexual!) in the abbreviation for street.

22d Primate that might be found outside la vieille ville? (5)
LEMUR – split the answer (2,3) and you have (in the appropriate language) the defensive structure surrounding la vieille ville.

10a, 21a and 22d were all short-listed today but when I opened the envelope the winner was 18d. Let us know which clue(s) you liked.




19 comments on “Toughie 1334

  1. Thought we’d make an early start and managed to complete this in one sitting!!(which means it must have been easy!!) Particularly liked 18d!

  2. I was interrupted while solving this but averaged about an average 3* time. Definitely 5* entertainment. 22d was my top favourite out of several candidates.

    Thanks to Micawber and Gazza.

  3. Well I finished it but I certainly didn’t find it easy.

    Even though I got the answer for 13d I failed to get ‘Cilla’ for the ‘swing singer’ part. Then again I refuse to acknowledge that she can sing. 23a was a guess until I read my answer and saw ‘para’ and made the connection.

    Favourite clue is 16a though 21a gave me a big smile.

    Masterful stuff from Micawber and a first class blog from Gazza. Many thanks to both.

    Toughie’s make my head hurt!

      1. Lack of attention on my part sorry. I did actually know that, as I got the answer from the synonym for ‘swing’.

        Cheers Gazza.

  4. Lovely stuff but definitely his easiest for a long while. A lot were write-ins from the definition plus a single checking letter.
    Favourites 12a [nice construction and excellent surface], 15d [ditto] and 18d [lol].

    Many thanks to Micawber and to Gazza for an excellent blog.

  5. Usual entertainment from the maestro, favourites were 10a and 21a thanks to Micawber and to Gazza for the comments.

  6. Well, I really liked this puzzle. Lovely clues. favourites included 11a (a bit emotionless, though this is an old friend), 21a (the overfishing fool), 26a (pattern of actions that offended church), 17d (sunset strip), and 22d (Primate outside la vieille ville).

    I didn’t like 8d as much, thinking “drink product of cow” would have helped clue “moo” more elegantly. Smoothie’s can but usually don’t contain dairy products, so I’m not convinced it’s a legit all-in-one.

    15d has to be the most vivid clue I’ve ever seen for this particular old friend.

    18d was a bit long I thought but I eventually parsed it.

    Otherwise excellent stuff. Many thanks Micawber, and Gazza as always, especially for explaining the boris bit which had confused me.

  7. Good Wednesday entertainment from Micawber – not the hardest, but undeniably fun. Thanks to Gazza for his usual excellent review. Also Happy Birthday to the blog and all it’s contributors – long may it last.

  8. Spurred on by Hanni’s success, I gave this one my undivided attention and finally made the finishing line.
    Some excellent clues, laugh out loud moments and too many favourites to choose from – although maybe 18d has the edge.
    Just as well my Mum isn’t around to hear that definition of a ‘pig’, Gazza. I once had to play the part of said piper’s son in a school revue and she made the most glorious stuffed porker to accompany my role!

    Many thanks to Micawber for a Toughie I could just about handle and to Gazza for the great blog. It matters not a jot to me that the Toughie experts found it so easy!

  9. I came unstuck on 8D and 12A. 22D could not have been anything else from the checking letters, but I had no idea why. Am I the only one who has never heard of la vielle ville? The misses did not detract from my enjoyment , though. 23A is my top pick. Many thanks to Micawber and Gazza.

  10. Exactly the right puzzle for a blog day. Not too tricky and a huge amount of fun. Chuckled all the way through and agree with Gazza with his choice of favourite, once I had twigged the wordplay.
    Thanks Micawber and Gazza.

  11. I didn’t find this one at all easy but I do agree that it was very good fun.
    I failed to get 2 & 3d, (went a bit glazed as I thought the ‘delivery’ had to be cricket!) and also didn’t get 26a which I’ve only ever heard of as meaning a collection of symptoms.
    I’ve never heard of a 21a being a fool but did get that one from the overfishing bit.
    My favourite was 13a – very topical!
    With thanks for the fun to Micawber and thanks to gazza for sorting out all my problem answers.

  12. Very enjoyable and not easy.I liked most of the clues , it is too hard to pick just one, but if I had to , then 8d or 22d.I held myself up by thinking 23a was fleapits, which also fits the fodder, I think.
    Thanks Micawber and Gazza.

  13. A perfect Toughie for me – lots of amusement and not overly difficult.

    Thanks to Gazza for explaining the Boris one – my parsing just wasn’t Gudunov!

  14. Managed to solve today’s toughie but I couldn’t parse some of the clues.
    I didn’t see our Cilla in 13d. What a lorra lorra shame.
    10a, I knew the wave effect but didn’t see the connection with Monsieur le Maire.
    24a. Thought that maybe Billy Piper had a son named tom tom.
    Loved le mur surrounding la vieille ville bien sûr.
    Favourites today are 16 and 26a.
    Thanks to Micawber and to Gazza for explaining it all in clear English.

  15. I can usually have a fair stab at the toughie these days but I really struggled with this one. I’m afraid puzzles like this tend to show up the shortcomings in my vocabulary. I had never heard of a towhead nor of the second definition of 11a for example. There were also some that when I saw the answer I considered the synonyms quite tenuous but checking my BRB I find that they are all quite valid of course.
    A little frustrating along the way, but if you don’t try and be prepared to fail sometimes you will never learn anything new, so thanks to Micawber for the education and to Gazza for helping me along the way.

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