Toughie No 1406 by Elkamere
Playing with Fire
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BD Rating – Difficulty **** – Enjoyment ****
Elkamere is brilliant at providing definitions in plain sight but disguising them so well that they are difficult to spot. I thought that this was really enjoyable – it took me some time to get going and I never really managed to get into top gear, having to tease out each answer. Then, when I’d finished, I couldn’t see where the problems had been.
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1a ‘Numpty‘ is the same in America? (6)
DOOFUS – the abbreviation used to mean ‘the same as before’ followed by ‘in America’ (2,2).
5a Box containing one black key (5,3)
SPACE BAR – a verb meaning to box contains a word meaning one (in dice or cards, say) and B(lack).
9a I connect, – perhaps (8)
OPERATOR – this is a symbol used in a mathematical expression, e.g. – or +.
10a Supply lines in training on the front (6)
PROMPT – an abbreviation for training of a physical nature follows the short form of a word for the (sea)front.
11a Corruptible footballers playing as unit (8)
FAUSTIAN – this means like the man from a German legend who was corrupted by the Devil and sold his soul for knowledge and worldly pleasures. Start with the abbreviation for the body that controls football in England and add an anagram (playing) of AS UNIT. Very topical clue.
12a Fish — singer eats it (6)
BONITO – an Irish singer contains IT.
13a Invent knowledge about degree subject (8)
LIEGEMAN – start with a verb to invent or fabricate a story and add an informal word for knowledge or information containing an arts degree.
15a Mike Fielding holds back (4)
IDLE – hidden and reversed in the clue. This meaning of mike (to loiter or kick one’s heels) was new to me.
17a Jar something very small’s left in (4)
JOLT – a very small amount contains L(eft).
19a Number one crossword compiler, mostly nutty (8)
NOISETTE – a shorthand way of writing ‘number one’ followed by a crossword compiler without his or her last letter (mostly).
20a Concerning fuel (or ‘fire’ — as in 3/4?) (6)
REPEAT – the definition is exemplified by what ‘fire’ is in 4d after its appearance in the previous answer. A prefix meaning about or concerning and vegetable matter used as fuel. I am a bit surprised that the word ‘fire’ appears explicitly in the clue – I would have thought that an indirect reference would have been sufficient.
21a A copper with little stomach (8)
APPETITE – string together A, a small copper (coin) and an adjective meaning small or dainty.
22a Grabbed by ogre, I scream (6)
SHRIEK – the name of a swamp-living green ogre contains I.
23a Unreliable drip feeds causing harm (8)
ILLUSIVE – the abbreviation for an intravenous drip goes inside (feeds) a word for bad treatment (3-3).
24a I work late with long breaks (5,3)
NIGHT OWL – an anagram (breaks) of WITH LONG.
25a Plain fish full of bones (6)
TUNDRA – a large edible fish contains an abbreviation for a professional person for whom ‘bones’ is a traditional nickname.
2d For turning English into writing, left alone? (8)
ORPHANED – reverse (turning) a preposition meaning for or in favour of, then insert E(nglish) into a word for a person’s individual style of writing (with a pen or pencil, say).
3d Where prices of goods go down after they’ve gone up? (4,4)
FIRE SALE – cryptic definition of the disposal at cheap prices of goods which have previously gone up (in smoke).
4d One featured in shot of street light (3,4,2)
SET FIRE TO – the Roman numeral for one goes inside an anagram (shot) of OF STREET.
5d Talk about twin’s cross breed of dog (8,7)
SPRINGER SPANIEL – put an informal verb to talk (like a glib salesman) around a twin or someone identical to another person and a verb to cross or bridge.
6d Mainly stress, being given Newcastle strip? (7)
CARTOON – a word for stress or anxiety loses its last letter (mainly) and that’s followed by how the natives of Newcastle-upon-Tyne refer to their city (and their football club).
7d Meet tramp on horse (4,4)
BUMP INTO – a tramp or vagrant is followed by a piebald horse.
8d Apply to past operations, initially in reverse? (8)
RETROACT – insert the initial letter of operations into a verb to reverse or take back.
14d A perfect place, but not a lot for George (9)
AUTOPILOT – A is followed by Sir Thomas More’s perfect place (without the A) and LOT.
15d Jail is likely after politician nabbed by taxman (8)
IMPRISON – a phrase meaning ‘is likely’ (2,2) follows our usual elected politician inside the old abbreviation for our tax gatherers (the department was renamed more than 10 years ago!).
16d Golfer foolishly accepts a quiet game (8)
LEAPFROG – an anagram (foolishly) of GOLFER contains A and the musical abbreviation for quiet.
17d Black is in fashion, chuck (8)
JETTISON – a glossy black colour is followed by IS inside a noun, from French, meaning fashion or style.
18d Odd bar hosting football in separate halves? (8)
LEFTOVER – a bar or crowbar contains firstly the abbreviation for foot then the letter that resembles a two-dimensional ball.
19d Home guards are most familiar (7)
NEAREST – a cosy home contains ARE.
Top clues for me were 10a, 25a and 3d. Which one(s) took your fancy?