Toughie No 1436 by Elkamere
Thank you for the Music
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BD Rating – Difficulty **** – Enjoyment ****
At last I get to blog an Elkamere puzzle – I’ve been looking forward to this. I’ve always admired Elkamere’s knack of using hidden and misleading definitions that are nonetheless tight and accurate – so much more satisfying than loose synonyms. And today is no exception. I got about half way through before things slowed down quite a bit, but unravelling each clue thereafter was still a delight. Since this took me longer than most toughies, I’ll give it **** for difficulty and also **** for enjoyment, which was further enhanced when I counted 9 answers belonging to a theme; I may have missed some…
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 On one’s back — position unsuitable for this? (10)
RESISTANCE*: A two-letter preposition mean on, or with reference to, a reversal of “I’s” (one’s back), and a position (that you might take in an argument, for example). The whole clue is the definition. When the whole clue is the definition and the whole clue is also wordplay, we call this an &lit (and literally so) or an “all-in-one” clue. When the definition takes up less than the full clue, as is the case here, we call it a semi&lit. &lit and semi&lit clues are considered particularly elegant constructions.
6a Hollow sculpture with no middle (4)
CAVE*: Sculpture is a verb here. Take a word meaning sculpture and remove the central letter to get an underground hollow.
10a With no purpose, rejected Queen’s speech? (5)
MIAOW: The abbreviation for W(ith), the letter that looks like a numeral meaning no or none, plus a 3-letter word meaning purpose or goal, all reversed (rejected)
11a Baton charge put people down again (5,4)
RELAY RACE: A verb meaning to put down again, then as the object of that verb a 4-letter word meaning people or nation will give a sporting event that could be defined cryptically as Baton charge.
12a Eminent urologist denied time off (8)
GLORIOUS*: Anagram (denied) of UROLOGIST, without the letter T (time off)
13a After this, uniform colour has run (5)
TANGO: Think NATO alphabet. A three-letter brownish colour plus a two-letter word meaning run or working or leave.
15a Gag, say, initially performed in silence (3-4)
LEG PULL: an abbreviation meaning say, as in for instance, the first letter (initially) of P(erformed) all inside a 4-letter word meaning silence, or a period of calm
17a Reader of a book in European language (7)
ACROBAT: A from the clue, then the abbreviation for B(ook) inside (in) a European language from the former Yugoslavia. This will give you a reader, but perhaps not the kind you first thought of.
19a Begin with body cavity (7)
ENTERON: A 5-letter verb meaning to begin or to go into, followed by a 2-letter preposition that can mean with or sitting atop. A new word for me
21a Mostly heavy boxes full of toxic metal (7)
THALLIC: A five-letter word meaning heavy, dense or viscous without the last letter (mostly), all round (boxes) a 3-letter word meaning full, entire, or comprising every individual. The answer refers to a specific toxic metal.
22a By the end of this, produce wheels (5)
TIMES: The last letter (the end of ) (thi)S, plus a verb meaning to produce or send out, all reversed (wheels)
24a Say what Spooner would say is a handicap (4,4)
WEAK SPOT: How Spooner might say “say what” (using a different word for say). I can’t imagine this going down well with our Spooner critics
27a Chandelier for which soldier supervised support? (9)
GIRANDOLE: A charade (i.e., a word built from components) of a two-letter abbreviation of an American soldier, plus a 3-letter verb meaning supervised or managed, plus the kind of financial support you might get when unemployed. Another new word for me
28a Nirvana will need intro for single after problems with missing piano (5)
BLISS*: The first letter (intro) of S(ingle) follows a 5-letter word for problems or unforeseen irregularities from which we remove the P (missing P(iano))
29a First things you find in the occasional yard sale? (4)
TOYS: An all-in-one (&lit), where the whole clue is wordplay and the whole clue is also the definition. Take the first letters of (first things you find in) the last 4 words in the clue.
30a Chance one has to tackle new over (10)
UNINTENDED*: Chance here is an adjective, as in a chance meeting. A 4-letter word for one, or a single thing, contains (has to tackle) the abbreviation for N(ew), plus a word meaning over or finished.
1d Caper from pungent sandwiches (4)
ROMP: Hidden word (sandwiches) in from pungent. I think using “from” is a clever mislead, suggesting the wordplay is somehow in “pungent sandwiches”
2d Sailor enthralled by subtle glow in the dark (9)
STARLIGHT*: The three-letter word for sailor surrounded by (enthralled by) a word for subtle or flimsy gives this night-time source of illumination
3d You wouldn’t drink water from this small jug (5)
SEWER: Abbreviation for S(mall) plus another word for jug
4d Great sport, admits my fan (3-4)
AIR-COOL: Fan is a verb here. A two letter representation of great or excellent, a two-letter abbreviation for a sport but this time not the union kind, all around (admits) an interjection (making me think of Jean-Luc!) synonymous to “My!”
5d Elects to play a keyboard (7)
CELESTA: Anagram (to play) of ELECTS plus A from the clue.
7d One’s return for encore (5)
AGAIN: A single-letter indefinite article that means one, plus a 4-letter word meaning return or profit.
8d Not looking away once, yet failing to work (3,7)
EYE CONTACT: Anagram (failing) of ONCE YET plus a 3-letter word meaning work (though paradoxically it can also mean play, or perform)
9d This year’s mad panic (8)
HYSTERIA*: Anagram (mad) of THIS YEAR
14d General point in what’s seen as ‘Best wishes on your retirement‘ (5,5)
SLEEP TIGHT: A 3-letter US general plus 2-letter abbreviation for P(oin)T, all inside (in) “what’s seen”, in general or a tourist attraction perhaps. Don’t let the bedbugs bite.
16d Permit oddly put in with action of 1A? (8)
UPRISING*: The odd letters of Permit inside (put in) a present participle that can mean with (or taking drugs, maybe)
18d With raised platform unlocked, rook that is occupying it (9)
BALCONIED: A 4-letter word for unlocked or hairless has inside it (occupying it): a 3-letter verb meaning to rook or cheat plus the abbreviation for that is.
20d Labour result the end of Gordon Brown, possibly, with euro being divisive (7)
NEWBORN*: The last letter of (Gordo)N, plus an anagram (possibly) of BROWN, into which the abbreviation for E(uro) is inserted (being divisive) gives a Labour result that is cause for celebration.
21d Bound to return one in German market (5,2)
TRADE IN: Market is a verb here. A reversal (to return) of a 4-letter verb meaning bound or move quickly, followed by the German word for one.
23d English church in the writer’s quarter (5)
MERCY*: Abbreviation for E(nglish) and the abbreviation for the Roman Catholic church are contained within (in) a 2-letter personal possessive pronoun from the writer’s point of view. Apparently, the answer carries the meaning quarter when it is granted to an antagonist, perhaps from sending to quarters, according to brb.
25d It’s regularly scabbarded (5)
SABRE: And another semi&lit. Take the odd letters (regularly) from scabbarded
26d Was milking shed hard to leave after you texted? (4)
USED: Remove the letter h (hard to leave) from shed and place the result after the letter you might use when you are texting “you” (you texted). This is the kind of accurate but disguised definition Elkamere does so well.
Have you worked out the theme? I didn’t find it trivial – I went on a hunch, knowing Elkamere is a musician and does this sort of thing more often. My favourite clues are the all-in-ones (or semi-all-in-ones) 1a, 25d, 29a. I also liked 26a (“milking shed”), 12a (“eminent urologist”), and 20d (“Labour result”). Please leave a comment telling us which clues you liked and how you enjoyed the puzzle.
[Apologies for the delay in publication – this was due to a power cut at BD Towers. BD]