Toughie 1697 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 1697

Toughie No 1697 by Micawber

Hints and tips by Gazza

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

Thanks to Micawber for another very entertaining puzzle which is also a pangram (though a simple pangram does seem fairly unremarkable compared to Maize’s tour de force in last Saturday’s NTSPP – if you haven’t done it I do urge you to give it a go).

My anagram counter reached nine, which is unusually high for Micawber.

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

Across Clues

1a Young bird, showy and argumentative (10)
SQUABBLING – charade of a young pigeon and an adjective meaning showy or ostentatious.

6a Cast out random syllables (4)
SCAT – an anagram (out) of CAST.

9a Programme on computer arranging cabs when raining outside (7)
WEBCAST – because we (unlike our transatlantic cousins) differentiate between ‘programme’ and ‘program’ we can tell from the spelling that the answer here is a transmission rather than an app. It’s an anagram (arranging) of CABS with an adjective meaning raining around it.

10a One tampering with report on successful athlete? (7)
MEDDLER – this sounds like an athlete who’s finished in the top three.

12a Anything Goes put on in Japanese theatre captivates poet (2,5,6)
NO HOLDS BARRED – string together a traditional Japanese drama, a verb meaning captivates and a word for poet. Now insert (put … in) a preposition meaning on or concerning.

14a Colourful element in church, Catholic one (6)
CHROME – an abbreviation for church and a metonym for the Catholic Church.

15a He’s a kind, playful youth with not much up top? (8)
SKINHEAD – an anagram (playful) of HE’S A KIND.

17a Increase power when crossing river in this direction? (8)
UPSTREAM – this is a semi-all-in-one. Start with a verb to increase and add a type of power containing the abbreviation for river.

19a Attack, losing head in old-timers’ drinking bout (6)
ASSAIL – drop the first letter from an old word for a drinking bout.

22a This person’s acquiring beans, doing as Jack did with magic ones? (7-6)
IMPULSE-BUYING – what a superb clue! Split the answer 1’1,5,6 and the setter could be revealing that he’s acquiring beans. The BRB has the answer as two words rather than hyphenated.

24a Part of former band’s vague (7)
INEXACT – the answer could mean being a member of a defunct band if you split it 2,2,3.

25a Poor Melody, where d’you disappear to? (4,3)
THIN AIR – charade of an adjective meaning poor or meagre and a melody.

26a Former object of worship hurt after rejection (4)
EROS – reverse an adjective meaning hurt or in pain.

27a Tending to prove reckless, dive in late (10)
EVIDENTIAL – an anagram (reckless) of DIVE IN LATE.

Down Clues

1d Put together broadcast — broadcast news broadcast (4)
SEWN – there are two lots of wordplay here – a) a homophone (broadcast) of a past participle meaning broadcast or scattered and b) an anagram (broadcast) of NEWS.

2d Relatively courteous Pope’s hesitant expression (7)
URBANER – the name used by eight Popes followed by an expression of hesitancy.

3d Act as a friend and place undergarment over uncovered belly, that’ll prevent sunburn (5,8)
BEACH UMBRELLA – ‘act as a friend’ (2,1,4) followed by an undergarment containing the inner letters of belly.

4d Allow rises in stake as a recent thing (6)
LATELY – a verb to allow gets reversed inside a verb to stake or wager.

5d Desperately seek a man, e.g. one from Five Guys Named Moe? (8)
NAMESAKE – an anagram (desperately) of SEEK A MAN.

7d Rubbish coal fire, failing to start, produces small amount of heat (7)
CALORIE – an anagram (rubbish) of COAL [f]IRE.

8d Major, abandoning queen, was a turncoat? Flipping nonsense (10)
TARADIDDLE – an adjective meaning major or senior loses the Queen’s cipher and then we have a phrase (3,1,3) which could (just about) mean ‘was a turncoat’. Finally, reverse the lot.

11d Doctor aiding actions abroad (13)
DIAGNOSTICIAN – I initially thought that ‘doctor’ was going to be the anagram indicator but it’s actually ‘abroad’ with the fodder being AIDING ACTIONS.

13d Examine clubs in ruined sites journalist’s avoided after bombing (10)
SCRUTINISE – the abbreviation for the card suit clubs goes inside an anagram (after bombing) of RUIN[ed] SITES once the journalist has been removed.

16d Congratulations left to victor at the end of intricate puzzle (8)
MAZELTOV – the abbreviation for left, TO and the letter that Victor represents in the Nato Phonetic Alphabet all follow an intricate puzzle for this Jewish term used to express congratulations.

18d Leader‘s wrestling holds before (7)
SUPREMO – a type of wrestling contains a prefix meaning before. I’m not sure what the surface means.

20d Chinese captured by US soldier supporting a fellow Asian (7)
AFGHANI – a Chinese dynasty is contained inside a US soldier and that’s all preceded by A and the abbreviation for fellow.

21d Did project recalling some of last words after Julius (the lead character) died (6)
JUTTED – reverse the first two elements of the reputed last words of Caesar, precede them with the leading letter of Julius and follow them with the abbreviation for died.

23d Spoken for, a lover hides (4)
ORAL – as is often the case our final clue features a lurker.

There are loads of clues to like – I’ll restrict myself to listing 12a, 15a, 1d, 3d and 21d with 22a as the standout offering. Which one(s) had you rolling in the aisles?

21 comments on “Toughie 1697

  1. A pleasure to solve as usual – although today’s offering did seem even more ‘comfy’ than usual. Lots of enjoy but I agree that 22a is the standout clue today.

    Thanks to Micawber and Gazza too

  2. Lovely stuff as always from Micawber. I agree that 22a is an excellent clue Gazza but I think both 12a and 21d pip it at the post – 12a for the seamless way in which “on” is incorporated into the captivated poet and 21d for the perfect surface, perfect wordplay and just for being so damned clever! 3d is pretty good too.

    Many thanks for the blog and congratulations to Micawber for another lovely puzzle.

  3. Micawber’s may not be the hardest solves (surprised you rated this one as difficult as a **/***) but they always put a smile on my face multiple times over.

    I hadn’t even parsed the likes of 12a and 21d properly during the solving, so thanks setter, blogger and Halcyon above for helping me to appreciate this puzzle even more than I already did!

  4. Lots to like here.

    It took me a while to rationalise the middle of 21d because I was getting concerned about the chronology, but it’s a fine clue

    I liked the random syllables, the programme (well spotted Gazza, I didn’t pick up on the spelling), anything goes, Jack, act as a friend, 16d, and the final lurker.

    Many thanks Micawber and Gazza

  5. What a good crossword – it was tricky enough for me.
    Somehow I missed the fact that 13d was an anagram so needed the hint for that one – thanks Gazza.
    I’m not sure that I’ve come across 16d before.
    Lots of lovely clues – too many to mention all of them. My favourite is either 22a or 3d.
    With thanks to Micawber and to Gazza.

    1. I did Pan’s Guardian crossword today too. Micawber’s Toughie is about a million times Tougher than that, so I shouldn’t complain (not that I was complaining!)

  6. Another good puzzle from Micawber which, as Kath said, was tricky enough for me.
    Thank you for the parsing of 8d, Gazza, I hadn’t quite worked it all out.
    Particularly liked 1&15a plus 3d – top of the shop goes to 22a.

    Thanks to Micawber and to Gazza – especially for the Righteous Bros. clip.

    1. Oh, yes – 8d was another one I didn’t understand – apologies, Jane, in case you thought you were the only one who didn’t get it, and still more thanks to Gazza.

  7. We enjoyed this and, with a gentle start to the evening in Ma Pardoes, did finish it, but with confusion over ‘in’ in 14a and ‘d’you’ in 25a. Nevertheless, thanks to Micawber and Gazza.

    1. Can I do Firefly? I’m not sure I’ve ever tried. He sounds as if he ought to be a she but suspect that he’s a he.

        1. There’s no ‘of course’ about it – it’s a Toughie. :unsure:
          I’ll have a look at the info about the setters – not sure I ever have done. Thanks.

  8. Good fun and much enjoyed. Spotting the potential pangram was a help with the last few. The J for 21d being an example. Too many clever clues and complex wordplays to pick one out as favourite.
    Thanks Micawber and Gazza.

  9. The usual enjoyable challenge from Micawber with the slight (to me) obscurities at 8d & 16d clued fairly enough. It’s been a good Toughie week so far. Thanks Micawber and Gazza

  10. Brilliant , especially 22a.The south west corner was a little too brilliant and I needed some hints there . 1d also deserves a mention.
    Thanks to Micawber and Gazza.

  11. 5:00 pm here. Only just getting into this after a hectic and long workday that began at 5: 30 am. Hopefully this will provide some welcome relaxation!

  12. The unmissable puzzles always come on the days when I have least time for them.

    I did manage to squeeze this one in though, and it was well worth it. I found it quite hard enough for the occasion. I had to use gadgetry to fill in 8d before post-parsing, and then also check a couple of snippets to make sure I had them right. 22a was my favourite too, but there so many others that would have won on a different day.

    Many thanks to Micawber and Gazza.

  13. Gosh. 10:45 pm EST now and I’ve just finished…except for 8D which I needed help for. New word for me. I hasten to add there was dinner, TV time and so forth in between. Not as easy for me as others found it but I did enjoy the challenge. 22A was my favorite. Thanks Micawber and Gazza.

  14. Thanks to Micawber and to Gazza for the review and hints. What a wonderful puzzle, so inventive and full of fun. I managed all the anagrams and a bit more, but was stuck on the left hand side. Had never heard of the small bird in 1a. Couldn’t see 14a. Like the beanstalk, 22a went right over my head. Got 26a from the hint. I thought 16d was spelt muzzletoff, so couldn’t get it. Also had to look up 18d. Favourite was 3d, that I parsed after I got the answer. Great entertainment, was 3*/4* for me.

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