Toughie 1430

Toughie No 1430 by Firefly

Niggles but few Giggles

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

BD Rating – Difficulty ****Enjoyment **

I may be unduly grouchy today as I spent a lot of the morning trying to communicate with BT staff in India about a fault on my telephone line – an activity guaranteed to raise the blood pressure. I didn’t enjoy this puzzle very much – at one stage I had the left side fully completed and the right side completely blank, then (admittedly my fault) I wrote in the wrong answer for 5d which held me up a lot.

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

7a Scan with a French instrument to reveal problem (9)
CONUNDRUM – charade of a verb to scan or study, ‘a’ in French and a musical instrument.

8a In house, most exhausted, rain outside having departed (5)
ARIES – start with a superlative meaning most exhausted or most fatigued and remove three of the outside letters (a noun meaning rain). I don’t like the ‘In’ stuck on the front of the clue.

10a Stall vehicle briefly but intermittently (6)
CARREL – this is a small cubicle in a library for private study (new to me, but the wordplay is clear). A motor vehicle is followed by the even (intermittently) letters of briefly.

11a Peaked cap dropped among swarming ants in hell-hole (5-3)
SNAKE-PIT – insert a peaked cap, as worn by the French foreign legion and gendarmes, into an anagram (swarming) of ANTS.

12a Mariner — from HMS Beagle perhaps? (3,3)
SEA DOG – cryptic definition of an old and experienced sailor.

14a Estate agent’s beginning to value in seconds (6)
ASSETS – start with the first letter of A(gent) and then insert a verb to value or rate between two S(econds).

16a Marmite incorporates last of chowder that’s left (4)
PORT – marmite is not the black, smelly stuff but a cooking vessel. Insert the last letter of chowder.

17a Wind blows in winter, interminably (5)
TWINE – an anagram (blows in?) of WINTE(r) without its last letter. ‘Blows in’ as an anagram indicator?

18a Inadequate  rest (4)
LEAN – double definition, the first an adjective meaning inadequate or meagre.

19a Strict prohibition surrounds group beyond state control (4,2)
BANG ON – a prohibition contains the abbreviation for a not-for-profit group which is not run by the government. The answer is an informal adverbial phrase meaning exactly right – I don’t see how it can mean strict and I can’t come up with a sentence in which the two are interchangeable. Can you?

21a Small mammals settle away from three western parts (6)
ERMINE – start with a verb to settle or establish and take away the first three letters. The plural of this small mammal can be the same as the singular.

24a Boot out from Liberal Democrats, without discreet manoeuvring (8) [online version]
24a Boot out from Liberal Democrats, without discreet negotiation (8) [paper version]
BALMORAL – an anagram (out) of L(i)B(er)AL (de)MO(c)RA(ts) without the jumbled letters of discreet.

26a Native returning Sioux’s greeting — but he won’t be there! (2-4)
NO-SHOW – reverse a male native of a country or region and add a greeting attributed to Native North Americans.

27a Roll around in horrible gabardine (5)
BAGEL – hidden and reversed.

28a Trace special constable — at home prior to Arsenal’s kick-off (9)
SCINTILLA – string together the abbreviation for special constable, an adverb meaning at home, a preposition meaning prior to or up to the time of and the first letter (kick-off) of Arsenal.

Down Clues

1d Sally‘s in favour of a stop in Torquay (5)
FORAY – a preposition meaning in favour of, A and the final letter of Torquay.

2d Devotee acquires nothing in Paris — time for food? (8)
NUTRIENT – string together a devotee or aficionado, the French word for nothing and T(ime).

3d Encumbered without leader, and lost (6)
ADDLED – the definition here is lost, in the sense of confused or muddled. Start with a past participle meaning encumbered or lumbered and drop its first letter.

4d Female on the George Washington possibly causes furore (4)
FUSS – the abbreviation for female followed by the designation of the George Washington (which is an aircraft carrier for guess which country).

5d Fleeting sun brings out scanty wear (6)
BRIEFS – an adjective meaning fleeting or ephemeral and the abbreviation for sun. Not ‘shorts’ which I rather foolishly wrote in initially.

6d St Matthew’s almost within easy reach –- it’s huge! (9)
LEVIATHAN – I guessed the answer here from the checkers then had to do some investigoogling to find out that the first four letters are apparently the name by which Matthew is known in the other three gospels. Add a phrase (2,4) meaning within easy reach but without its last letter (almost).

9d Ebb with current in front (6)
FACADE – a verb to ebb or die away has the abbreviation for a form of electric current inside it.

13d For starters, gourmet rillettes including pheasant, emu and grouse (5)
GRIPE – the starting letters from five words.

15d Throw a wobbly as a 19 crashes (2,7)
GO BANANAS – an anagram (crashes) of AS A and the answer to 19a.

17d ‘Plain fish’ medic’s written in (6)
TUNDRA – an edible fish with an abbreviation for medic inside it.

18d Particular gift from manager needing to be reduced? (4,4)
LONG SUIT – I knew this phrase from card games but I didn’t know that it can also mean a particular gift or special talent. Cryptically this could be a tall manager or high-ranking executive but why he or she needs to be reduced I’ve no idea.

20d Ageism, albeit evenly disseminated, can be a piercing thing (6)
GIMLET – the even letters from the first two words.

22d Answer may appear in godsend some day (6)
MANANA – insert A(nswer) in some Old Testament food from heaven. In this part of the world we have a word ‘dreckly’ which means the same as the answer but without the same sense of urgency.

23d Low note in brass (5)
MOOLA – a verb to low followed by a note from tonic sol-fa.

25d Engine  off the rails (4)
LOCO – double definition, the second a slang term meaning off the rails or crazy.

My favourite today was 26a. Which one(s) took your fancy?

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27 Comments

  1. crypticsue
    Posted July 15, 2015 at 2:07 pm | Permalink

    I took an age and more to solve this puzzle on and off all morning – definitely 5* difficulty – but one of those when you finally get the answer, you feel you should have got it earlier. I didn’t enjoy myself much either, sorry Firefly.

    Thanks to Firefly and Gazza too.

  2. andy
    Posted July 15, 2015 at 2:11 pm | Permalink

    For me made more difficult with 17 clues with an unchecked first and no sign of a nina (??). I did like 16a and 24a. Thanks to Gazza and Firefly

  3. Franco
    Posted July 15, 2015 at 2:22 pm | Permalink

    Quite easy … apart from the whole of the North East. corner.

    Looked for a Nina with this grid … Is a “Stoat” ( bottom row) related to the Ermine … or just a coincidence?

    • Hanni
      Posted July 15, 2015 at 2:33 pm | Permalink

      It’s a stoat and generall refers to its winter coat.

      This Toughie has pulling my hair out.

  4. Una
    Posted July 15, 2015 at 2:28 pm | Permalink

    I managed about two thirds. Among those I solved ,I liked 26a and 11a.Thanks for the hints (and answers) , Gazza.
    Thanks to Firefly .

  5. the dodger
    Posted July 15, 2015 at 2:46 pm | Permalink

    I have to agree with Gazza that in 8ac the word “in” is completely redundant and misleading,also I agree that in 19ac “strict” is a bit of a stretch, and 19dn is a very inelegant clue. Otherwise not bad for a Wednesday.

  6. halcyon
    Posted July 15, 2015 at 3:31 pm | Permalink

    I’ve enjoyed Firefly’s puzzles in the past but this one was a slog, even with the help of Mrs H. I agree with Gazza that “blows in” is a terrible anagrind [17a] and that “strict” [19a] is a terrible definition. Even worse is “negotiation” in the paper version of 24a. Re 18d – I can see that a long suit [of clothes] might need to be reduced but the clue has already made clear that “suit” here means a manager [or does he work for Procrustes?] Grrrr!

    • gazza
      Posted July 15, 2015 at 3:36 pm | Permalink

      Hi halcyon,
      I didn’t realise that the 24a clue was different in the paper. Is it just different in one word – i.e. negotiation instead of manoeuvring?

      • andy
        Posted July 15, 2015 at 3:54 pm | Permalink

        Paper version Gazza is

        Boot out from Liberal Democrats, without discreet negotiation

        • gazza
          Posted July 15, 2015 at 3:57 pm | Permalink

          Thanks, andy.

  7. crypticsue
    Posted July 15, 2015 at 6:55 pm | Permalink

    Beam tomorrow

    • Kath
      Posted July 15, 2015 at 9:13 pm | Permalink

      That’s the first thing that’s cheered me up today but probably won’t be able to do it. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_sad.gif
      For some reason getting into Ray T’s “back page head” is totally different to getting into Beam’s “Toughie head”. Again http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_sad.gif but will have to give it a go. How could I resist . . .

    • Hanni
      Posted July 16, 2015 at 12:05 am | Permalink

      Hurrah! I put this one down with half still to go.

  8. Jane
    Posted July 15, 2015 at 8:09 pm | Permalink

    Think I’m just relieved that’s over!
    Managed quite a lot but failed dismally over some, which I admit to below if only to achieve solidarity with others who fell by the wayside:-
    8a – once ‘drained’ was in my head courtesy of ‘rain’ there was no way past it.
    10a – not for a moment did I think it was a real word.
    11a – got there after asking Mr. Google about the cap.
    16a – answered but didn’t know the other meaning of marmite – one meaning’s quite bad enough!
    18a – should have got it, but didn’t.
    21a – answered but didn’t know why it was right. Anyone else get fixated about ‘ewes’ being hidden in the clue?
    28a – got the answer but thought it had something to do with (V)illa.

    6d – nowhere near!
    9d – well, it COULD have been based round ‘abate’.
    18d – who knew!
    23d – close – at least I was into the bovine idea. Wouldn’t have known how to spell that brass though!

    Sorry, Firefly – obviously not yet in your league.
    Many thanks for the review, Gazza – my respect for your abilities just grows and grows! http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_yes.gif

  9. Jezza
    Posted July 15, 2015 at 9:28 pm | Permalink

    I was not on the setter’s wavelength at all on this one. I found it a real struggle to work my way through the intended wordplay, and I failed to complete the puzzle. That said… many thanks to Firefly for awakening some recently lazy crossword brain cells, and to gazza, for, as always, an excellent and thorough review.

  10. Wolfson Bear
    Posted July 15, 2015 at 10:04 pm | Permalink

    Not sure what to make of this. Most of it was quite straightforward but about 5% of the clues seemed far from simple. I made a few unsure guesses and got two wrong. I opted for Pink Slip for 18d which could – unconvincingly – be partly explained away – never have heard of the real answer. It led to an across one being wrong too which could also be partly explained away

    I find the idea of assessing difficulty uncomfortable in this sort of case – commonly encountered with Rufus on Mondays. I usually find his mostly straightforward but end up with a double definition ?a?e involving use of a word I have never heard of. I much prefer either a steady solve or the Elgar type where typically ages passes before getting started and then it slowly picks up speed

    So basically not the type of puzzle I like much

    • Jane
      Posted July 15, 2015 at 10:07 pm | Permalink

      I was with you on the pink slip – made for a very uncomfortable situation at 18a didn’t it?!!

      • gazza
        Posted July 15, 2015 at 10:13 pm | Permalink

        I take it that a pink slip is the US version of our P45, in which case I can see how it matches the clue.

        • andy
          Posted July 15, 2015 at 10:50 pm | Permalink

          It does Gazza, not very nice , it’s put in an employees check (american spelling) to tell them services no longer required

  11. Expat Chris
    Posted July 15, 2015 at 11:13 pm | Permalink

    Well, I manged the left hand side and a half dozen on the right, then finally admitted defeat. When it’s this much of a slog (and on Wednesday, to boot) the enjoyment level is definitely diminished, though I did like 17A for the D’Oh moment when I finally twigged it, and 9D for the same reason. 4D amused me because my first thought was “Rabbit Dave wouldn’t like that!”. I also liked26A for the decidedly non-PC factor of “How” as a Native American Indian greeting. Only in the movies, my friends. Native Americans don’t say that and It would be considered a racial slur these days for anyone to greet a Native American in that way in this world gone mad. I have heard of “long suit” meaning one’s strong point, but I don’t understand the “reduced” part either.

    Firefly, you beat me, but thanks anyway. And thanks to Gazza for the invaluable review .

    • Jane
      Posted July 15, 2015 at 11:36 pm | Permalink

      I suppose managers are referred to as ‘suits’ and if one of theirs was too long it may need to be shortened – reduced – but it’s a bit of a long haul to get there. Doesn’t help when you don’t know the ‘gift’ element either!
      Like you, I was rather amused by 26a – to heck with it being non-PC!

      • Expat Chris
        Posted July 15, 2015 at 11:48 pm | Permalink

        Many moons ago, I knew someone of a bit of a loose nature who dressed as an Indian maiden for the annual fancy dress “Arts Ball’, a big event in my home town. Every time some guy walked passed her and said “How” (as you do) she would say “I know how. Just name the time and the place.” http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_smile.gif

        • Jane
          Posted July 15, 2015 at 11:51 pm | Permalink

          http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_good.gifhttp://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_yahoo.gif

          Funny though that we all quite readily refer to ‘many moons ago’ – I’m sure that saying must originate from the Indians?

  12. Only fools
    Posted July 16, 2015 at 12:09 am | Permalink

    Glad to see I was not alone in struggling with the right side but therein were my favourite clues 9d ,11a and 26a ,last in and least favourite 8a .Thanks Gazza and Firefly (I did enjoy most of it )

  13. jean-luc cheval
    Posted July 16, 2015 at 12:27 am | Permalink

    God knows why Gazza chose Bombay Telecom as a network supplier.
    That said, I was rather enjoying this crossword.
    Haven’t finished and haven’t looked at the blog yet. Well just the comments actually.
    it’s not going to put me off anyway.
    Bought the paper again today. I believe Froome. It would be so unBritish to dope oneself just to achieve one’s goal!
    That’s one of the reason I like your country so much. A gentleman’s word is honorable.
    Hoping that I am right.
    Forgive me but I just came back from a Reggae Concert with N°1 only daughter and I swear my mind is not altered by any illegal substances.
    I wish you a good night.
    I’ll be posting again after com^pletion hopefully.

  14. Cynthia
    Posted July 19, 2015 at 3:00 pm | Permalink

    Our experiences were yours exactly. Well, not the British Telecom bit fortunately, but we also completed the left side and stared at the right side for days. With hindsight some of the clues seem quite elegant, but like you we found the whole thing annoying at the time. The semantics seemed tricksy all over, eg ‘set’ for value, ‘pot’ for marmite, ‘addled’ for lost, and ‘stop’ for the end of a word – but maybe all’s fair in a crossword.

    • gazza
      Posted July 19, 2015 at 3:15 pm | Permalink

      Welcome to the blog, Cynthia. Now that you’ve introduced yourself I hope that you’ll become a regular commenter.
      In turned out that my phone problem was due to my line having been hit by lightning!!! When the BT engineer opened the main socket various bits inside were black and charred. I was lucky that my broadband wasn’t affected.