Toughie 1685

Toughie No 1685 by Micawber

Hints and tips by Gazza

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BD Rating – Difficulty ***Enjoyment ****

When I first scanned the clues I thought that this was going to be quite tricky but it all came together in good order and was really enjoyable, as always with Micawber. There seemed to be a lot of anagrams but I think that’s because four were clustered in consecutive clues – there are only six in total.

Please leave a comment telling us how you fared and what you thought of it.

Across Clues

1a Elitist-leaning set? (14)
INTELLIGENTSIA – an anagram (set) of ELITIST-LEANING in an excellent all-in-one clue.

10a Old hands returned, mobbed by audience in island nation (4,5)
EAST TIMOR – reverse the abbreviation for old and an informal term for hands inside a word meaning audience or the act of hearing.

11a Nipper excessively slight, lacking inches (5)
TOOTH – start with a phrase (3,4) meaning excessively slight and take away the abbreviation for inches.

12a Study again about nonsense author’s written for ending (7)
RELEARN – string together a preposition meaning about or concerning, a well-known writer of nonsense verse and the end letter of written.

13a Good time girl of a type that may grow on one (6)
FUNGAL – charade of a word for a good time or enjoyment and an informal word for a girl.

15a Ultra-cold Double Diamonds (4)
ICED – a slang word for diamonds then the abbreviation for the card suit of that name. Double Diamond (apparently still brewed) was a heavily-advertised pale ale in the 1960s.

17a Soldier gets stressed when mentioned in dispatches — put it in a different way (10)
PARAPHRASE – a flying soldier followed by what sounds like (when mentioned in dispatches) a verb meaning gets stressed or unravels.

18a Mafia bosses finding trade union slow to yield (10)
CAPITULATE – assemble a word, from Italian, for Mafia bosses, the abbreviation for trade union and an adjective meaning slow or unpunctual.

20a Don’t tell anyone bishop’s stashing bottles (4)
PSST – hidden (indicated by bottles) in the clue.

22a Band involved in hold-up storing paintings in Germany (6)
GARTER – insert another word for paintings in an abbreviation for Germany. I love ‘band involved in hold-up’.

23a A drink and a biscuit (7)
BOURBON – double definition.

26a Classical verse with injection of humour finally would be funny (5)
IONIC – if you insert the final letter of humour into the answer you get an adjective meaning funny or paradoxical.

27a Rob to achieve equal split after leaving wife (5,4)
BREAK INTO – start with a phrase (5,2,3) meaning to split or divide equally and remove the abbreviation for wife.

28a Veto bad nominee mistakenly named earlier (5-9)
ABOVE-MENTIONED – an anagram (mistakenly) of VETO BAD NOMINEE.

Down Clues

2d Beak’s not available on half pay (5)
NASAL – the abbreviation for ‘not available’ followed by the first half of a word for pay.

3d Catch up with spouse but back off (6)
ENTRAP – reverse (up with) a spouse without his or her last letter.

4d Noodle soup starter changing hands — food supplied is awful (10)
LAMENTABLE – we need a Japanese soup containing noodles (a word I’ve only ever come across in crosswords). We have to change its starting letter from R(ight) to L(eft) and then we have to add a word for food supplied or a spread.

5d Dress game up (4)
GARB – reverse a gambling card game.

6d Little Greek character put in nick (3,4)
NOT MUCH – insert the twelfth letter of the Greek alphabet into a nick or incision.

7d Go on girl, put a drop of gin in it? (4,5)
SHOT GLASS – the answer is what you might serve gin or other spirits in and it’s a semi-all-in-one because the wordplay takes up the whole of the clue. Bring together a go or attempt and another word for girl then insert the initial letter (drop) of gin.

8d A badly loaded trunk, short side first — it’ll move as you walk (8,6)
ACHILLES TENDON – A is followed by a trunk or storage box containing an adverb meaning badly. After that we need a phrase (3-2) meaning ‘with the narrowest side first’.

9d Iran reacting to riots in strange land (5,9)
TERRA INCOGNITA – an anagram (riots) of IRAN REACTING TO gives a Latin term for unknown or unexplored land.

14d Animal feeding insects to mad hatter (10)
HARTEBEEST – insert some insects into an anagram (mad) of HATTER.

16d Language earns poet fans (9)
ESPERANTO – an anagram (fans) of EARNS POET.

19d React badly encountering lame, vacuous sentimentality (7)
TREACLE – our fourth consecutive anagram – this time one (badly) of REACT is followed by the outer (vacuous) letters of lame.

21d Gosh — unprincipled bird standing in for another (6)
CUCKOO – a somewhat dated expression of surprise (like gosh!) contains a bird without its principal letter.

24d Springiness not uniform in loaf (5)
BONCE – a word meaning springiness or elasticity loses the abbreviation for uniform.

25d Clever bishop dividing beer (4)
ABLE – put the chess abbreviation for bishop into a type of beer.

I really liked 1a, 20a, 6d and 7d but my favourite has to be 22a for the excellent definition. Which one(s) had you in stitches?


  1. crypticsue
    Posted October 5, 2016 at 2:19 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Deliciously splendidly comfily entertaining. Didn’t take long but what fun throughout. 22a is my favourite too.

    Thanks to Micawber and Gazza too.

  2. dutch
    Posted October 5, 2016 at 2:20 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Thanks Gazza

    I didn’t even think of the Double Diamond beer, but now you mention it, the clue (15a) might be nicer without the plural

    Thanks also Gazza for the parsing of 3d and 8d, which I had lazily bunged in.

    being a sucker for all-in-ones, I liked 1a and 7d most.

    Many thanks Micawber

    • Posted October 5, 2016 at 3:35 pm | Permalink | Reply

      D is the abbreviation for the card suit Diamonds, hence the need for the plural.

      • dutch
        Posted October 5, 2016 at 4:00 pm | Permalink | Reply

        yes of course, silly me.

  3. happy days
    Posted October 5, 2016 at 2:30 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Two favourites in a row. After yesterday’s Excalibur, Micawber, What could be better? Best clue for me was 22a

  4. Jeroboam
    Posted October 5, 2016 at 2:37 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Very enjoyable although made more difficult by having to solve in 5 minute installments (I shan’t say how many), as time was very short today. By The Big Yin’s definition I’m not an intellectual. Thanks to Micawber and Gazza

  5. LetterboxRoy
    Posted October 5, 2016 at 3:20 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Excellent stuff from Micawber, completely absorbed.

    Didn’t know 14d, but the clue was clear enough to work it out. Plenty of good clues to choose from, but I’ll pick 10a, 6d & 27a as my faves.

    I’d agree with ***/****
    Thanks to all as ever.

  6. jean-luc cheval
    Posted October 5, 2016 at 3:22 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Found the left side much easier than the right.
    Talking of which, I have that running argument with my brother about the pronunciation of Ramen in 4d. Apparently in Japan it’s pronounced Lamen. He’s probably right as he has been to Japan. Just Googled it and it seems he’s correct.
    Couldn’t understand the “end on” in 8d so thanks to Gazza for the splendid review.
    Favourite is 7d.
    Thanks to Micawber.

  7. Jane
    Posted October 5, 2016 at 4:20 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Thought it was going to be hard work and was well down the list of clues before I got the first one in but it all came together quite nicely after that. Didn’t know, or had forgotten, the noodle soup and haven’t come across the 9d phrase before so Mr. G was required to check on those.
    Plenty to enjoy – top two for me were 13a and 7d.

    Thanks to Micawber and to Gazza – the William Tell Overture always reminds me of college days when we learnt to touch type to the tones of it issuing forth from the tutor’s wind-up gramophone!

  8. JB
    Posted October 5, 2016 at 5:19 pm | Permalink | Reply

    As you say, 22a was great.
    I loved 14d as it made me think of Flanders and Swan and their “gnu”.

  9. Gazza
    Posted October 5, 2016 at 5:58 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Beam tomorrow.

  10. 2Kiwis
    Posted October 5, 2016 at 6:46 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Excellent stuff again from Micawber. Our last two to parse were 10a and 8d. In both cases we had what we thought were the right answers from definition and checkers but still took a while to understand the wordplay. Not a quick solve but steady progress with lots of smiles along the way.
    Thanks Micawber and Gazza.

    • LetterboxRoy
      Posted October 5, 2016 at 9:26 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Me too – 8d in particular is a bit of a monster.

      I also thought the ‘in’ of the 10a clue is slightly untidy; or is it that the old ocd kicking in again? Put the definition before the clue, perhaps?

  11. Una
    Posted October 5, 2016 at 8:12 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Thoroughly enjoyed this , although I needed the nudge for 6 and 7d.
    Having done it on-line, I didn’t realise it was Micawber until I reached the blog. I should have guessed , from the fun element.
    Thanks to Gazza and the Micawber.
    There are too many “likes” to pick a favourite , although I agree with Gazzas selection .

  12. Sheffieldsy
    Posted October 5, 2016 at 9:16 pm | Permalink | Reply

    This was a very fine crossword, difficult enough to be more than a little challenging but, at the same time, it was solvable with effort and inspiration – just where a crossword should be pitched. We agree with Gazza’s 3*/4* assessment.

    Out favourites were 13a, 20a and 6d. 20a was a clear winner – these vowel-less words which you don’t really consider to be words are difficult enough, but well hidden in a great clue.

    Thanks, Gazza, for the hints that we didn’t need (by a whisker, it has to be said) and to Micawber for a fine offering.

  13. Salty Dog
    Posted October 5, 2016 at 10:39 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Half went in quite easily; the rest took me well into 3* time (and even then l needed some hints). 17a gets my vote for top clue. Ta to Micawber and Gazza.

  14. Expat Chris
    Posted October 6, 2016 at 12:44 am | Permalink | Reply

    I am so out of practice! I didn’t get far at all, but tomorrow is another day.

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