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Toughie 1400

Toughie No 1400 by Osmosis

As much use as a chocolate teapot?

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BD Rating – Difficulty ****Enjoyment **

One of those puzzles where, having completed it, you wonder why you had bothered. OK, I had no choice as I had to write the review.

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.


1a    Superior bloomer, the ultimate from baker (6)
GAFFER: a bloomer or mistake followed by the final letter (ultimate from) [bake]R

5a    No 1 might give staff this with mature beer to be knocked back (4,4)
WAGE SLIP: the answer to 1 Across might hand this out – W(ith) followed by a verb meaning to mature and the reversal (to be knocked back) of one of those dreadful continental beers

9a    Somebody is heading west in Nissan for islands (10)
MICRONESIA: a three-letter word meaning somebody and the reversal (heading west in an across clue) of IS inside a best-forgotten Nissan car

10a    Artiste regularly checks fine cleavage (4)
RIFT: the even letters (regularly) of the first word in the clue around (checks) F(ine)

11a    Dance contest’s second round — girl’s stifled by shout of disapproval (8)
BOOGALOO: the second letter of [c]O[ntest], the round-shaped letter and a colloquial word for a girl inside (stifled by shout of disapproval) a shout of disapproval

12a    Large business representative visits republic (6)
EMPIRE: a representative who sits in the House of commons inside the old name for the Republic of Ireland

13a    Some describe tattooed character in Marathon (4)
BETA: hidden (some) inside the clue is a character of the alphabet that is used in Marathon, Greece

15a    Dick’s vehicle Mark used around courtyard (5,3)
SQUAD CAR: to get this vehicle that might be used by a police detective (dick) put the mark left from an earlier injury around a courtyard

18a    Horse race tips in Hindi given by better (8)
HANDICAP: the outer letters (tips) of H[ind]I, expressed a (1,3,1) followed by a verb meaning to better

19a    Ring reportedly steals precious stone (4)
ONYX: the ring-shaped letter followed by what sounds like (reportedly) a verb meaning steals

21a    The greatest sporting ego, potentially game’s number one? (6)
GOALIE: the first name adopted by the self-proclaimed greatest ever boxer inside (sporting) an anagram (potentially) of EGO gives the footballer who usually wears number one on his shirt

23a    Somewhere in Hants, old duke leaves room upset (8)
RINGWORM: start with a Hampshire town, drop the O(ld) and D(uke) from the end then add the abbreviation of R(oo)M – “upset” seems to me to be a poor definition of this fungal skin disease

25a    Welshman, the earliest on station platform (4)
DAIS: a three-letter welsh first name followed by the initial letter (earliest) of S[tation]

26a    Flight officer welcomes overseas government politician (10)
TRAJECTORY: an informal name for a police officer who works in CID around (welcomes) the British government of India and followed by an informal word for a Conservative politician

27a    Grappler‘s wrestling mostly clean on canvas (8)
TENTACLE: an anagram (wrestling) of most of CLEA[n] preceded by (on in an across clue) a portable shelter made of canvas

28a    Clothing soaked at the front in XXX, having shrunk (1-5)
T-SHIRT: the initial letter (at the front) of S[oaked] inside most (having shrunk) of the number that is represented by XXX in Roman numerals


2d    Familiar mounted soldier loaded in explosives half-heartedly (5)
AMIGO: familiar here is noun meaning a person with whom one is well acquainted – the reversal (mounted in a down clue) of a US soldier inside a four-letter word for explosives with one of the identical middle letters dropped (half-heartedly)

3d    It’s useless when chocolate figure’s misshapen and rigid, as Cockney says (9)
FIREGUARD: one of those items metaphorically referred to as being useless when made of chocolate comes from an anagram (misshapen) of FIGURE followed by an adjective meaning rigid from which the initial H has been dropped, cockney style

4d    Smelly, the French nettle  bug? (6)
RANKLE: an adjective meaning smelly followed by the French definite article gives a verb meaning to nettle or to bug

5d    Town broadcast film of top quality horse (6-5-4)
WESTON-SUPER-MARE: a word that sort-of sounds like (broadcast) a type of film is followed by an adjective meaning top quality and a female horse

6d    Leaping dog entertains expert in church that circulates after meal (5,3)
GRACE CUP: the reversal (leaping) of a three-letter word for a type of dog around (entertains) an expert who is inside the abbreviation for the Roman Catholic church to give a drink that is passed round after a meal

7d    Paddy, Rio and Sydney perhaps turned up (5)
STROP: to get this paddy or tantrum reverse (turned up) the type of coastal cities of which Rio and Sydney are examples (perhaps)

8d    Up-to-date woman obtains wood treatment available here (9)
INFIRMARY: a two-letter adjective meaning up-to-date and a woman’s first name around (obtains) a type of wood

ARVE Error: need id and provider

14d    Electronic work in Silicon Valley consumed complex (9)
ELABORATE: the prefix used to indicate electronic, when followed by mail, trading, etc., then the US (in Silicon Valley) spelling of a word meaning work and a verb meaning consumed or devoured

16d    Brother clutching old ticker conveys pessimistic view ahead (9)
DOOMWATCH: the abbreviation for a brother in a particular order of friars around (clutching) O(ld) and followed by a ticker or small timepiece

17d    Catholic college in rousing environment where resistance breaks out (8)
ECLECTIC: to get this adjective meaning catholic or diverse put C(ollege) inside (in … environment) an adjective meaning rousing or thrilling from which the R(esistance) has been dropped (breaks out)

20d    Coin‘s occupying hole (6)
INVENT: this verb meaning to coin or conceive is a charade of a two-letter word meaning occupying and a hole or opening

22d    Musician‘s catalogue including Mozart’s Third (5)
LISZT: a catalogue around (including) the third letter of [Mo]Z[art]

24d    Retired generation breaking rules? It’s less common (5)
RARER: the reversal (retired) of a generation or period inside a pair of R(ule)s

I dislike the trend for useless definitions like “upset” and “that circulates after meal”. What do you think?

15 comments on “Toughie 1400

  1. I’m not as negative as BD, though I agree loose definitions aren’t nice – I did struggle with “upset” (23a – but I thought highly of the wordplay), whereas “that circulates after meal” (6d) seemed slightly better. I have to say, the winner in this category is our friend Don who recently defined “sill” as “it lies horizontally”.

    I was stunned by this puzzle (in both senses) – look at 11a, to get such intricate wordplay to deliver a smooth and coherent surface is the work of a master. This is typical of most of the clues. OK, I had to remind myself of the dance.

    When I started this puzzle I worried there was going to be a racehorse theme and I almost bowed out. False alarm. It was slow to start, but as checkers came things speeded up and I finished with a flourish with 1a (since I had been trying to fit a flower for bloomer). The morning had disappeared, though.

    Clever and accurate wordplay throughout – I would say this is a top quality puzzle.

    Favourites are 1a, 10a, 11a (!), 18a (!), 21a (!!), 23a (except for def), 28a, 3d, 7d.

    Many thanks Osmosis, and thank you BD for the write-up and the one bit of parsing that had escaped me – I couldn’t for the life of me see “character in Marathon” (13a). All well in hindsight.

  2. Well, that was a bit bizzare.
    But at least the pangram helped me getting 26a.
    Took me ages to get the parsing of the lego set in 11a.
    Not sure the republic of Ireland would like to be associated with an empire in 12a.
    Learned all about Hampshire, well the places starting with R that is: Redenham, Rockford, Ronhams etc.
    Almost put Testicle in 27a due to the checking letters.
    I did like 8d though and the way the american labor was described in 14d.
    I thought our host would have at least appreciated the welsh version of his name in 25a.
    Thanks to Osmosis for the hard work and to BD for the review

    1. Onyx was one of my first entries and screamed pangram, but I completely forgot to check! well-spotted!

  3. We were ultimately beaten by 23a. Having only a very sketchy knowledge of UK geography is the excuse that we offer. All the rest we got after quite a lot of hard work. Noticing that we have a pangram did not help us at all, as by the time we found it, we had accounted for the whole alphabet. It kept us satifactorily amused before we headed off for a day of being tourists at The Natural History Museum.
    Thanks Osmosis and BD.

    1. Hope you both have a safe and comfortable trip home – was a pleasure meeting you.

      1. And we enjoyed meeting you. Tuesday’s gathering is a wonderful memory to be taking home with us.

    2. It’s always interesting to look at one’s ancestry. Have you found out whom you descended from?

      1. We did see some remains of ancient bipedal hominids but none of them good-looking enough to be our direct ancestors. We might just have to come back again to continue the search, perhaps on the other side of the channel too next time. Cheers.

  4. I’m halfway between BD and Dutch on this one. Some fine clue construction and good surfaces but the only one that made me smile was 21a – even though most keepers never seem to wear that number (hence the ‘potentially’ I suppose). Oops, just noticed the pic at 28a

    Thanks to Osmosis for the puzzle and BD for the review which I needed to confirm my parsing for a couple of clues. Have a good weekend everyone.

  5. I have to side with BD on this one. Hated the definition of 23ac, It spoiled an otherwise fair puzzle.

  6. I ground to a halt in the top left corner, with 1A, 2D, 3D (I’ve heard of a chocolate teapot but not fireguard) and 11A unsolved. 23A also eluded me despite having all the checkers. My knowledge of English towns, apart from the big ones, is not good. I went on day trips to 5D… the tide was always out… a few times in the past so that was a gimme. Never heard of the Nissan model either, but I did solve the clue eventually. The only one I had checked today was 14D. Thanks to Osmosis, and to BD for the review.

    1. Expat Chris, even when the tide’s in at WSM – it’s still miles away!

  7. Did this one over breakfast before painting the ceiling in the utility room. The crossword was a lot more fun than the painting.

    I quite enjoyed it. Fav was 21a.

    Thanks to Osmosis and BD.

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