Toughie 1426

Toughie No 1426 by proXimal

Piggy-in-the-Middle

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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

I found the bottom half trickier than the top today, but it was all very enjoyable with some lovely bits of misdirection.

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 Bustier person admired in Gladstone’s historical romance (6-6)
BODICE-RIPPER – this is a charade of a woman’s garment like a bustier and a slang word (used in the city of Gladstone in Queensland, i.e. in Australia) for an admirable person. I got the answer here pretty quickly but spent time trying to find someone called Gladstone who wrote fiction of this genre. I did find two (Maggie and Eve) before the penny dropped that Gladstone here is not a surname but a place name identifying where the word for ‘person admired’ is used.

8a A place where we’d find captain’s contract (7)
ABRIDGE – A and where we’d expect to find a ship’s captain.

9a Appreciative comments for building feature (7)
CORNICE – split the answer 3,4 to get two separate expressions of appreciation.

11a Protractor left in boxlike container (7)
DRAWLER – this is someone who stretches out his words. Insert L(eft) in a boxlike container.

12a Mistreat leaderless gang — I’m disgusted to take part in that (5,2)
ROUGH UP – insert an expression of disgust in a gang or crowd without its leading letter.

13a Laurels in country turf separately turned over (5)
KUDOS – the abbreviation for a country (2) and a piece of turf (3) are separately reversed.

14a Tense situation in trial, be composed (4-5)
NAIL-BITER – an anagram (composed) of IN TRIAL BE.

16a Asked to accept everything about backing singer (9)
BALLADEER – a verb meaning asked or invited contains a word meaning everything. After that we need a preposition meaning about or concerning which is reversed (backing).

19a Drove south, close to concealed quarry (5)
SWARM – drove here is a noun meaning a herd or large number. S(outh) is followed by an adjective which tells you that you’re close to your target in ‘hide and seek’, for example.

21a Article about large extent of mount and moors (7)
ANCHORS – string together an indefinite article, an abbreviation meaning about or approximately and a mount without its final letter.

23a Continue to dig to reveal West Country settlement (7)
TAUNTON – split the answer 5,2 for a phrasal verb which could mean (if it were ever used) to carry on digging or provoking.

24a High density — how crags can be described (7)
DRUGGED – the abbreviation for density followed by an adjective meaning rough and uneven.

25a Inventor‘s container feeding pig with tongue (7)
BABBAGE – to get the surname of the inventor of the first mechanical computer we have to insert a container into the name of a talking piglet.

26a Bonn, perhaps, or thereabouts (6,6)
PRETTY NEARLY – bonny is an adjective meaning attractive or beautiful, so without its last letter it could be described cryptically as …

Down Clues

1d One serving British fleet virtually surrounding island (7)
BARMAID – B(ritish) followed by a fleet of warships without its last letter but containing I(sland).

2d Daughter with topless posers cheats (7)
DIDDLES – the abbreviation for daughter and posers or puzzles without the first letter.

3d Defender might make this  play (9)
CLEARANCE – double definition, with the second meaning play or slack.

4d Content to scupper a certain competitive person (5)
RACER – hidden.

5d Forward book bearing ‘URGENT’, saving man bother (7)
PERTURB – an adjective meaning forward or cheeky and B(ook) containing ‘urgent’ save for the man.

6d Descriptive term from English article penned in bed (7)
EPITHET – start with E(nglish) and then insert (penned) a definite article into an informal word for a bed.

7d Naked drunk with very bad hairy feature (7,5)
VANDYKE BEARD – an anagram (drunk) of NAKED with VERY BAD.

10d Former wife edges around new one that’s adventurous (12)
EXPERIMENTER – the usual former wife is followed by edges or a boundary containing N(ew).

15d Impatient bishop entering couple on register (9)
IRRITABLE – the abbreviation for the title of a bishop goes aside a couple in Roman numerals and that’s followed by a register or systematic arrangement of facts or figures.

17d Need to drop King and two Queens for finish (7)
LACQUER – a word for need or deficiency loses its K(ing). After that we have two Queens, the first an abbreviation and the second a regnal cipher.

18d In the midst of uneasiness, gulping a short time (7)
AMONGST – a word for uneasiness or worry contains an abbreviation meaning a short time.

19d Rest spades on wood (7)
SLUMBER – the abbreviation used in card games for spades is followed by a word meaning wood or timber.

20d Financial man really has two pounds to exchange for rand or rupees (7)
ACTUARY – start with an adverb meaning really or in point of fact and swap both instances of the abbreviation for a pound sterling with the single-letter abbreviation for rand or rupee(s).

22d Alas, poor Yorick, a decidedly Shakespearean line, primarily (5)
SADLY – I don’t remember having seen a construct like this before. We have to extract the primary letters of five words from the clue then make an anagram (poor) of them.

I liked 1a and 25a but my standout favourite was 26a. Which ones took your fancy?

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23 Comments

  1. Franco
    Posted July 8, 2015 at 2:07 pm | Permalink

    An X-certificate Toughie for me today – I think I have solved one … but I’m not sure if it is correct?

  2. jean-luc cheval
    Posted July 8, 2015 at 2:30 pm | Permalink

    A few silly mistakes along the way such as Disturb for 5d, Sorry for 22d and Dodgers for 2d but with a little bit of perseverance, I managed to complete the grid.
    I too read Maggie Gladstone biography. She sounds a bit like Barbara Cartland.
    Liked 23a a lot.
    Thanks to proximal and to Gazza.

  3. halcyon
    Posted July 8, 2015 at 3:03 pm | Permalink

    Excellent puzzle from proXimal apart from the rather unfair 1a. Gladstone is surely going too far, metaphorically and literally. Fair goes, it was perfectly solvable but that ain’t the point. No problems with 22d, the construction of which didn’t seem all that unfamiliar.

    Loved 9a, 26a, 15d [bishop entering couple] and had a chuckle at 25a when the penny finally dropped re the talking pig.

    Thanks to proXimal and to Gazza.

  4. Kath
    Posted July 8, 2015 at 3:59 pm | Permalink

    I almost finished it but found it difficult and it’s taken quite a while – might have been a bit quicker if I hadn’t been half watching the tennis too.
    I decided that it was probably best not to clutter my brain with how Gladstone got into 1a or why 26a was right as it was obvious that they were both the right answers.
    I’ve never heard of 25a; it took ages for me to work out what the topless posers were in 2d (stupid!); I still don’t get 3d.
    I liked 1, 24 and 26a (now that I understand it). My favourite by a long way because it made me laugh was 9a.
    With thanks to proXimal for the crossword, particularly for 9a, and to gazza for explaining the ones that I couldn’t do on my own.

    • gazza
      Posted July 8, 2015 at 4:08 pm | Permalink

      3d is a double definition. A defender in football or rugby may clear the ball. Clearance also means (thanks to BRB) ‘play between parts, as of a machine’, i.e. some freedom of movement, as opposed to absolute tightness or tautness.

  5. crypticsue
    Posted July 8, 2015 at 4:15 pm | Permalink

    ProXimal will be glad to know that I completed this one – I’d give it 4*/3* – I’d agree with Gazza’s choice of favourite and like him didn’t think I’d ever met a clue like 22d before.

    Thanks to Gazza and Mr X

  6. Una
    Posted July 8, 2015 at 4:48 pm | Permalink

    I got there in the end after taking 5 hints (11a, 13a, 3d, 29d,and 23a). I needed your parsing for several , such as 27d , 10d and 13a.
    For 1a , I also didn’t spend too much time head scratching as to why , it just fitted.
    26a is a brilliant clue, now it has been explained to me.I also liked 9a, 17d, and 24a.
    Thanks ProXimal for an interesting challenge and Gazza for the much needed explanations.

  7. pommers
    Posted July 8, 2015 at 4:58 pm | Permalink

    What a great idea was 22a. Initial letter clues are common enough but I’m a bit surprised I’ve never seen the anagram tist put on one before. Def my favourite.

    Agree Gladstone was a step too far. He could have used a better known Oz place that’s also a name – Darwen, Adelaide – there are a few.

    Anyway, great stuff so ***/**** from me. Thanks to proXimal and Gazza.

  8. OlgaTheOwl
    Posted July 8, 2015 at 5:01 pm | Permalink

    Did it all (hooray!) except for the SE corner, where I needed one or two hints. I must say it was mainly guesswork – I guessed 1a and didn’t worry too much about why (one thing at a time!) and had to build it up from there. 9a and 26a were personal favourites

  9. gazza
    Posted July 8, 2015 at 5:25 pm | Permalink

    It’s Kcit tomorrow.

  10. Expat Chris
    Posted July 8, 2015 at 5:55 pm | Permalink

    The left hand half went it quite quickly, but the right hand side was much slower. I needed the hint to parse 1A. I didn’t like that clue one bit. Seems to me that a bustier is quite a bit more than just a bodice and the second part is way too obscure. I also needed the hint to parse 3D, and I failed to get 25A, though it was clearly clued. I like 23A a lot, since I spent too much time looking for a hidden word and trying to make a town out of it! 19A also made the grade, but 9A is my favorite today. Thanks to Proximal and Gazza.

  11. 2Kiwis
    Posted July 8, 2015 at 7:49 pm | Permalink

    We really enjoyed this one. 1a was the last one for us to parse too. We of course are reasonably familiar with things Australian but Gladstone was not a place that readily came to mind. Not a quick solve by any means but very satisfying and it kept us amused throughout.
    Thanks ProXimal and Gazza.

  12. Wolfson Bear
    Posted July 8, 2015 at 8:14 pm | Permalink

    This puzzle seemed rather difficult and I have never really ever managed to lock onto Proximal’s wavelength (I see that as a good thing – more to learn)

    In the end it did not take an excessively long time to solve so I would give it 4 difficulty stars.

    The Gladstone thing passed me by but was fortunately not necessary to solve the clue.

    Thanks to compiler and blogger

  13. dutch
    Posted July 8, 2015 at 9:38 pm | Permalink

    Well I thought I had parsed 1a and 3d but thank you Gazza for revealing additional depth – well done! I guess Gladstone in 1a was chosen to co-incide with the author. I missed the separate “play” in 3d, thinking it didn’t seem very cryptic.

    I also marked the acrostic anagram(22d) with an exclamation mark, it seems to me people are using all sorts for anagram fodder these days, odd/even deletions and now acrostics.

    what is the story with the concealed quarry in 19a?

    Lots of interesting innovative clues and fun to solve. I liked 1a (when i thought the answer was a person admired in the novel), 13a (laurels in country turf..), and 19d appealed to me (rest spades on wood), but there were lots of great clues.

    Many thanks Gazza and thank you proXimal.

    Today’s Guardian is a good laugh with a fun gimmick.

    • gazza
      Posted July 8, 2015 at 9:46 pm | Permalink

      19d When you’re playing a children’s game such as ‘hunt the thimble’ or hide-and-seek and trying to find the thing or person that’s hidden you’re helped by being told that you’re ‘warm’ when you’re close and ‘cold’ when you’re far away.

      • dutch
        Posted July 8, 2015 at 9:54 pm | Permalink

        thanks Gazza! – i had originally thought warm=”close to”, but now I see the concealed quarry is the hidden treasure, so that warm = “close to concealed quarry”.

  14. dutch
    Posted July 8, 2015 at 9:56 pm | Permalink

    by the way, I like the new yellow background for the printed version of the toughie – pity I’m about to go paperless..

    • Expat Chris
      Posted July 8, 2015 at 10:02 pm | Permalink

      What yellow background? My printed version of the toughie looks just like it always has…white.

      • dutch
        Posted July 9, 2015 at 6:19 am | Permalink

        i meant newspaper version

    • Jane
      Posted July 8, 2015 at 11:33 pm | Permalink

      Really, Dutch? I hate it. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_negative.gif

  15. Jane
    Posted July 8, 2015 at 11:39 pm | Permalink

    Not in a position to leave any useful comment as I barely scratched the surface of this one. However, I did read through the review – thank you Gazza – filled in a few from the hints and blinked in admiration of those of you who made the finishing line.
    I did rather like 2d which was one of the few I got unaided!
    Thank you Proximal – I’ll keep on trying. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/smiley-phew.gif

  16. Only fools
    Posted July 9, 2015 at 12:56 am | Permalink

    Thanks Proximal 26a worthy of favouritism and I rather liked 22d but 1a far too clever for a duffer ,just relied on definition .Great review (as usual) from Gazza .

  17. molly
    Posted July 24, 2015 at 2:35 pm | Permalink

    This is by far the furthest I’ve got in a ProXimal puzzle, needed a few hints to finish but I was well pleased. Thanks P for some excellent clues, loved 26ac, and as always thanks Gazza for your wonderful hints. This site has opened a whole new world for me!