Toughie No 1555 by Notabilis
Hints and tips by crypticsue
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BD Rating – Difficulty *** – Enjoyment ****
Having offered to stand in for the Skiing Dutchman, I then mentally drew up a wish list of Toughie setters I’d like to review and was delighted to see that one of my favourites appears in the middle of the paper today. Notabilis always produces great Toughies, quite often with a Nina hidden within. At the time of typing, if there is one today, I haven’t found it yet.
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1a Strong odour problem returns before week’s end (4)
MUSK A mathematical problem reversed (returns) goes before the ‘end’ of week
3a Scottish island Eigg stripped after trouble with bones (5,5)
AILSA CRAIG The middle two letters of EIGG (stripped indicating the need to remove the outsides) goes after a synonym for trouble and the plural of a large bone found at the base of the spine.
9a No such booze would repel a petrifying monster (4)
GROG If you reversed (would repel) NO (from the clue) and some booze (a spirit, usually rum, diluted with water) you’d then have a petrifying monster.
10a Dire note in brass instrument to meet our needs? (10)
HORRENDOUS Insert a musical note into a brass instrument and then add a two-word expression meaning would ‘meet our needs’.
11a What‘s to follow, assuming sedentary period? (7)
OBESITY A verb meaning to remain inactive (assuming sedentary period) inserted into a verb meaning to follow or comply with.
13a Introduce rule enforcer, breaking step (7)
PREFACE An abbreviated [sports] rule enforcer ‘breaking’ a step.
14a Badly tailored suits including one worn by tricky entertainer (11)
ILLUSIONIST Another word for badly (in the sense of unwell) followed by an anagram (tailored) of SUITS into which is inserted the letter that looks like a number one and a preposition meaning worn by.
18a Adaptation of insect to air? I’ll deny it (11)
CREATIONIST An anagram (adaptation of) INSECT TO AIR
21a Take advantage of some fires I lit up in revolution (7)
UTILISE Hidden and reversed (in revolution) in some of firES I LIT Up.
22 Fashion to knock off reverses tedium (7)
BOREDOM You couldn’t have a clearer indication that you need to reverse a fashion and a verb meaning to steal (knock off).
23a Couturier turns in glowing piece with variable decorative stitching (10)
EMBROIDERY A famous Parisian couturier is reversed and inserted into a glowing piece of coal or wood, then add one of the mathematical variables.
24a Inclination to skip inauguration of President Bush (4)
SLOE Remove the ‘inauguration’ of President from an inclined surface.
25a Dylan suite remixed without consistency? (10)
UNSTEADILY An anagram (remixed) of DYLAN SUITE
26a Fleshy feature of judge, member of parliament (4)
JOWL The abbreviation for judge followed by a member of parliament – the lack of capitals helping you to realise that parliament here is a collective noun.
1d Set up plan to guard pine arboretum’s first tree (8)
MAGNOLIA A reversal (set up in a Down clue) of a plan into which is inserted (to guard) a verb meaning to pine and the first letter of Arboretum.
2d Nothing new in arch needing a brush-up? (8)
SLOVENLY A score of zero (nothing) and the abbreviation for New inserted into an adjective meaning arch
4d First person caught leaving intimate, insincere statements (5)
IRONY The first person singular and an intimate or friend without the abbreviation for caught (Caught leaving)
5d Bad options are hiding a vexing subject (4,5)
SORE POINT An anagram (bad) of OPTIONS ARE, without (hiding) the A.
6d Banker entering African country: I’m doubtful he likes live music (11)
CONCERTGOER An abbreviated way of referring to something that is definitely going to win (banker) inserted into an African country, the result followed with one of the informal ways of expressing doubt.
7d I may obsess over stats and not area covered by Alaska (6)
ANORAK A conjunction meaning ‘and not’ and the abbreviation for Area inserted into, or covered by, the abbreviation for the State of Alaska.
8d Church music record involving extended play’s sent heavenward (6)
GOSPEL The abbreviation for an extended play record and an S (play’S) inserted into a record, and the result reversed or sent heavenward in a Down clue.
12d Accepted by faction I have to embrace otherwise I might be a mole (11)
INSECTIVORE Accepted by a faction (2, 4) and an abbreviated way of saying I have, the latter ‘embracing’ a simplest method of saying otherwise.
15d Deepen nod, somehow inviting any response (4-5)
OPEN-ENDED An anagram (somehow) of DEEPEN NOD.
16d Get wine round to eat lentil dish, a spicy one (8)
VINDALOO An informal term for wine, and a round-shaped letter ‘eat’ or go round an Indian lentil dish.
17d Subject of medical research yet to have host almost replacing heart (4,4)
STEM CELL Take an adverb meaning yet and remove the middle letter, replacing it with almost all of an informal term for a master of ceremonies (host).
19d Difficulty over Parisian water agency (6)
BUREAU A reversal (over) of a difficulty followed by the French (as used in Paris) word for water.
20d With you and me for the last couple, light on one’s feet — or round one’s head? (6)
NIMBUS An emanation of light surrounding the head of a saint or deity. Replace the last couple of letters of an adjective meaning light on one’s feet with another way of saying you and me collectively.
22d Pale green fruit with no core left (5)
BERYL A pale green mineral is obtained by removing the ‘core’ of a fruit and then finishing with the abbreviation for Left.
A quick check through the archives reveals that, although there’ve been a couple of Fred & Gingers and even an Antony & Cleopatra in the meantime, this is my first solo review of a Notabilis Toughie since September 2012. I hope I don’t have to wait as long for the next opportunity to do so.