Toughie No 1464 by Sparks
Hints and tips by Dutch
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BD Rating – Difficulty **** – Enjoyment ***
I worked through this systematically, 1a being the first one in, completing quadrants NW, NE, SW, giving me the illusion of control, but I found it hard to get an entry to SE. Eventually I saw 28a and 22a, then the rest followed with 26a as the last one in. This went sufficiently slowly to warrant 4* difficulty and to provide enjoyment with each new answer that was revealed. Doing the review highlighted just how many complex cut-and-paste lego-type clues there were, single letter additions and deletions, etc., taking a toll on the surfaces. Some people really like this, but for me it capped enjoyment at 3*. A greater variety of clue types might have raised that for me.
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1a Best man‘s ability to secure a classic car (2,5)
MR RIGHT: A word for ability or power goes around (to secure) the abbreviation for an expensive car
5a Minute American beetle almost lashes out with it? (7)
MASCARA: Abbreviations for M(inute) and A(merican) followed by a word for a beetle ( the one that was sacred to Egyptians) without the last letter (almost).
9a One into spinning most of north Aran yarn (9)
NARRATION: Nothing to do with wool. The Roman numeral for one goes inside (into) an anagram (spinning) of most of NORT(H) ARAN
10a Brush horses, you’re told (5)
GRAZE: a verb meaning to pass lightly against (brush) sounds like (you’re told) some horses, named after their colour.
11a Filthy lucre associated with TV channel (7)
CULVERT: Anagram (filthy) of LUCRE+TV
12a Tax department loves to squeeze county council following second wind (7)
SIROCCO: Two letter abbreviation for our tax department, followed by the two letters resembling zero (from loves in tennis), one either side of (to squeeze) the abbreviation for County Council, with the whole lot following the abbreviation for S(econd).
13a Suitable edge missing in trial surrounding princess (9)
EXPEDIENT: Find a 10-letter word meaning test or trial, remove (missing) a 3-letter word for edge or lip, and insert (surrounding) the two-letter Princess of Wales.
16a Where the best song is out of earshot? (5)
ASIDE: This comment that is not intended to be heard can be split (1-4) to give the side of a single record that has the best song
17a Staff note about Conservative having departed without finishing (1,4)
C CLEF: This is a symbol on a musical stave indicating the position of middle C. One letter abbreviations for the latin C(irca) and C(onservative) followed by a 4-letter word for having departed with the last letter omitted (without finishing)
18a Treasury entering brief pointer about whose total includes fiddlers? (9)
ORCHESTRA: A five letter word for treasury or a strong box goes inside (entering) the reversal (about) of 5-letter word for a symbol or sign used as a pointer from which the last letter is missing (brief)
21a Regularly spurned parent grabbing single prize (7)
PREMIUM: Even (regularly letters of sPuRnEd followed by a 3-letter word for mother (parent) surrounding (grabbing) the letter that looks like 1 (single)
22a Mistress called round to trap Liberal (7)
DELILAH: A 6-letter word for called, as you might call a taxi in the street, is reversed (about) around the abbreviation for L(iberal)
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25a Lecture free of charge, some might think? (5)
ORATE: Split (1,4), this word for giving a talk appears to mean zero charge.
26a Close call concerned with getting put away (9)
TERMINATE: a 4-letter word for call or name, a 2-letter preposition meaning concerned or involved with, to which is added (getting) a 3-letter word meaning put away or consumed.
27a First day of month after a cold? Healthy if this (7)
ASEPTIC: How you might indicate the first day of the ninth month following (after) the letter A from the clue, all followed by the abbreviation for C(old)
28a Curse setter, perhaps that’s over the hill? (7)
DOGGONE: This mild oath is made up of a pet (setter, perhaps) and a word for disappeared (that’s over the hill)
1d One helps to improve a pupil’s performance (7)
MONOCLE: a cryptic definition where “a pupil” refers to a single eye.
2d Pastoral feature of Kazakhstan, literally so (5)
RURAL: Split (1,4), the answer can be read as a geographic feature of Kazakhstan, using the first letter as an abbreviation. The “literally so” could refer to the alternative reading, or to the fact that this is indeed a pastoral feature – or both – what do you think?
3d Clearing house ultimately supporting vacuous god-awful publicity (5)
GLADE: The last letter (ultimately) of house is underneath (supporting in a down clue) an emptied-out (vacuous) G(od-awfu)L plus a 2-letter word for publicity or a commercial
4d Finally appoint unfettered old American artist to make national symbol (7)
THISTLE: The last letter of appoint (finally) plus the name of an American-born painter who painted his mother as one of his more famous works, but without the first and last letters (unfettered = unrestrained or unshackled)
5d Timidness is absent – bad attitude (7)
MINDSET: Anagram (bad) of TIM(I)DNES(S) from which the letters of IS have been removed (is absent).
6d Grass suing when not in on secret (5,4)
SUGAR CANE: Remove the “in” from “suing” then add a 6-letter word meaning secret or mysterious.
7d Satin unexpectedly worn by chief Bolshevik? (9)
ANARCHIST: An anagram of SATIN surrounds (worn by) a 4-letter word for chief or main
8d Prime characters among lawmen, not a little inspiring (7)
AWESOME: Take letters 2,3,5 (prime characters) from lAWmEn. Add a word meaning “not a little” (as in **** nerve!) but confusingly it can just as easily mean “a little”, to get an expression my 10-year daughter uses with alarming frequency, also to describe herself.
14d Crime of passion after fine for breaking down (9)
PILFERAGE: A 4-letter word for passion or anger comes after the abbreviation for F(ine) inserted into (breaking) a word meaning down or fluffy surface of a fabric or carpet.
15d Shy, unlike papers ousting Queen (9)
DIFFIDENT: Take a 9-letter word meaning unlike or dissimilar, and replace the usual abbreviation for Queen with an abbreviation for identification papers (papers ousting Queen)
17d Director needs to suffer just half of film (7)
COPPOLA: The name of a film-director is given by a three letter word meaning to suffer or catch followed by the first half of a type of film that is self-developing
18d Accordingly upset, chemical giants once almost suppressing test relating to diffusion (7)
OSMOTIC: Reversal (upset) of a 2-letter word for accordingly, and the first two letters (almost) of a 3-letter Chemical company that is no more (once), surround (suppressing) an annual car test.
19d Church faced with trees (7)
CEDARED: Two-letter abbreviation for church followed by a verb meaning faced or challenged
20d He may run from parent when exposed for pinching permit (7)
ATHLETE: A 6-letter word for one of the parents with the extreme letters removed (exposed) surrounds (pinches) a 3-letter verb for permit or allow.
23d Flat or crooked? (5)
LYING: Double definition, the first refers to a position and the second to telling untruths
24d Plain score draw held up after European’s sent off (5)
LLANO: reversal (held up) of a tie score removing (sent off) the abbreviation for E(uropean)
Clues I particularly liked include 9a, 11a, 1d, 2d and 4d. How did you like the puzzle and which were your favourites?