Toughie No 1428 by Sparks
Hints and tips by Dutch
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BD Rating – Difficulty ** – Enjoyment ****
I was panicking that this week’s Toughie parsing nightmares would culminate in a Friday blogger’s hell, but I needn’t have worried. Today’s puzzle didn’t feel much harder than the back-pager, though it did take me a while to get 8d, my last-one-in, and now my favourite since it contains a rather beautifully constructed mislead. Plenty of charming answers and clever surface readings made for an enjoyable solve, so it’s **/**** from me. I thought we might have a pangram but I’m missing Q (only).
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1a Rumour president once put before us? (4,9)
BUSH TELEGRAPH: First word is the 43rd US President (president once) who started the war on terror, or maybe his father, the 41st US president. Second word is what is “put before us” when we solve the crossword, unless you are doing this online.
9a Secure work after rejection, keeping fine with no sleep (4,2,3)
LAND OF NOD: Four-letter verb meaning secure, then reverse (after rejection) a two-letter verb meaning work (or party, strangely enough) which contains F(ine) as well as NO from the clue.
10a Chuck out English cape in black (5)
EJECT: E(nglish) plus C(ape) inside (in) another word for black
11a Bale possibly abandoned by eastern courtyard (5)
GARTH: Bale is a Welsh footballer playing for Real Madrid, we’re looking for his Welsh first name without (abandoned by) the E(astern) to give us a word for courtyard I didn’t know, now dialect apparently. “Bale, possibly” is read to indicate that no doubt there are many other surnames associated with this Christian name, Bale is just one example (hence a definition by example, which needs to indicated accordingly).
12a On reflection, what’s hidden by undercover status on street? (4)
CRED: A lurker, and a backward one at that (on reflection, what’s hidden by) in undercover. A tricky one, since you need to work out what constitutes the definition at the same time as trying to find the lurker
13a Beware getting caught by hail (4)
CAVE: The cricket abbreviation for C(aught) plus a greeting
15a Stop by snake and put it on road (7)
ASPHALT: A 4-letter verb meaning stop follows (by) a kind of snake
17a Smaller daughter wants more Sooty? (7)
DINKIER: Abbreviation for D(aughter) plus a word meaning more sooty or blacker
18a Stewards et al in carriage were boasting (7)
AIRCREW: Charade of a 3-letter word for carriage (or appearance or bearing) and the past tense of a verb meaning boast.
20a My weight’s massive after vacation (5,2)
STONE ME: Yes, thanks for reminding me. This expression of surprise is derived from a unit of weight followed by the first and last letters (after vacation) of M(assiv)E. The ‘S can be read as “has” in the cryptic reading.
21a Identity of family held back after husband goes missing (4)
SELF: A word for family (as in ***** and blood), reversed (held back), without (after…goes missing) the abbreviation for H(usband)
22a Encourage doctor to cast off son (4)
URGE: A doctor of the operating kind removing (to cast off) the letters from SON.
23a Old person at peace regularly embracing unknown (5)
AZTEC: link AT from the clue to the even letters of pEaCe (regularly), then wrap this around (embracing) one of the last three letters of the alphabet typically used as algebraic unknowns
26a Eviscerate extremely smelly game (5)
GUTSY: a three-letter verb for eviscerate or remove entrails from (e.g. a fish, before we get too satanic), plus the first and last letters (extremely) of S(mell)Y.
27a Air foul footwear after short time (3,3,3)
TEA FOR TWO: Anagram (foul) of FOOTWEAR following the abbreviation (short) of T(ime).
28a Married men touring that city meeting escorts in avenue abroad (6,7)
CHAMPS ELYSEES: The abbreviation for M(arried) surrounded (touring) by a 5-letter word for men, followed by a small UK city too often seen in crossword-land (that city), and a verb meaning escorts or goes out with. Or perhaps the “that” can be part of “touring that” as a surround instruction – your choice – I just liked “that city”, too good to let go.
1d Slob with nausea agog about fare from Italy (7,7)
BOLOGNA SAUSAGE: Anagram (about) of SLOB NAUSEA AGOG.
2d Means of detecting boy raised in crime (5)
SONAR: Raise (in a down clue) the 3-letter word for boy from the bottom of a pyromaniac’s crime to the top
3d Provider of change following childish fall-out? (5,5)
TOOTH FAIRY: Cryptic definition for the winged person who leaves some money under your pillow in exchange for used body parts
4d Love copper to be hugged by bit of fluff in print (7)
LINOCUT: Place a letter that looks like the tennis score love plus the chemical symbol for copper inside (to be hugged by) a word for a bit of fluff (that you might find in your washing machine!)
5d Atlases, say, complete welcome surprise (7)
GODSEND: Charade of what Atlas is in Greek mythology, plural thereof, plus a word meaning to complete
6d Top banana ultimately wanting large muscles for audition (4)
APEX: Last letter (ultimately) in bananA plus (wanting) something that sounds like (for audition) the large muscles on your chest
7d Dislike consuming iodine, boring served up as mineral (9)
HAEMATITE: A four-letter verb for dislike containing (consuming) a reversal of (served up) the chemical symbol for Iodine and an adjective mean boring or domesticated. Luckily we’ve seen this word recently
8d This could be viewed as a plus sign for part of the UK (2,7,5)
ST GEORGE’S CROSS: Not a place in the UK! All becomes clear once we separate “plus sign” – we’re looking for the description of a flag which could be seen as the plus symbol.
14d Novel concerned with river turning blue (10)
INNOVATORY: Charade of a two-letter preposition meaning concerned or involved with, the reversal (turning) of a river that flows through Stratford, and the political party associated with the colour blue
16d Smashed CIA, partly struggling (9)
PARALYTIC: Anagram (struggling) of CIA PARTLY
19d Bug one father about being subservient to wife (7)
WIRETAP: The Roman numeral for one followed by the reversal (about) of a 5-letter word for father, all underneath (in a down clue, being subservient to) the abbreviation for W(ife).
20d Leak unfinished instruction to read elsewhere? (7)
SEEPAGE: Split (3,4), the answer could be the instruction to go look somewhere else in a book. It’s unfinished because we haven’t yet been given a number that would tell us exactly where
24d Gasquet’s last to wear hat in championship (5)
Newspaper version: Tsonga’s first to wear hat in championship (5)
TITLE: last letter in Gasquet is placed inside (to wear) a slang word for hat [I bet our setter wished he had put money on Gasquet reaching the Wimbledon semi-final today. BD]
25d Film industry in LA finally finds flapper who can speak (4)
MYNA: Take the last letters (finally) of the first four words in the clue to give the name of a bird that can be taught to imitate speech.
My favourite clue was 8d, but I also liked 19d, 12a, 26a, 27a, 16d. What about you?