Toughie 1713

Toughie No 1713 by Micawber

Hints and tips by Gazza

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

Yet another problem with the site – but this time it was a bit different.  Two of the processes implemented in order to resolve the hacking and DDoS threats, the firewall and Cloudflare, “fell out” with each other and the firewall was blocking the traffic from Cloudflare.  It looks like this has now been resolved, fingers crossed.  Gazza was, however, still unable to post his blog so he has passed it to me.  BD


This is Micawber’s 100th Toughie (as he tells us in 1a) and I’ve had the good fortune to blog a high proportion of them. So, many congratulations to him on reaching this milestone and thanks for his consistently excellent and extremely enjoyable Toughies – here’s to the next hundred. This puzzle is well up there in the enjoyment stakes.

Apologies for the late posting and the lack of graphics today but I’ve been getting either no or very slow and intermittent access to the site all day and I don’t want to tempt fate by trying to upload lots of images.

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

Across Clues

1a Puzzle number 100’s turn to be set (7)
CONFUSE – reverse an abbreviation for number and the Roman numeral for 100 and append a verb meaning to be set or coalesce.

5a Blade broke off with girl (7)
CUTLASS – charade of a verb meaning broke off or severed and a girl.

9a Legendary spinner in Trump kiss and tell broadcast (15)
RUMPELSTILTSKIN – the name of the imp in the Brothers Grimm fairytale who could spin straw into gold is an anagram (broadcast) of IN TRUMP KISS TELL.

10a Head off thin imitation (5)
APERY – an adjective meaning thin without its first letter.

11a Old office worker increasingly striking leader without warning (9)
EXTEMPORE – string together a prefix meaning old or previous, a non-permanent office worker and an adverb meaning increasingly without its first letter.

12a Making money, renegade crossword compiler’s after endless fortune (9)
LUCRATIVE – a renegade or traitor and how Micawber would say ‘he has’ both follow a word for fortune or chance without its last letter.

14a Pet drinks milk, perhaps, halving quantity inside (5)
SULKS – start with a verb meaning drinks, like an infant taking milk at its mother’s breast perhaps, and halve the value of the Roman numeral within it.

15a Stir up disputes in discussion (5)
ROUSE – this sounds like disputes or arguments.

16a Micawber’s last Toughie’d to be rewritten — early draft had a hard time (7,2)
ROUGHED IT – there are two bits of wordplay here – firstly an anagram (to be rewritten) of (Micawbe)R and TOUGHIE’D and, secondly, what could be an early draft of a film if you split the answer 5,4.

18a Painted like a warrior? (9)
DECORATED – double definition, the second being the description of a serviceman who has been honoured.

21a Watch over terms of reference (5)
REMIT – reverse a cryptic description of a watch.

22a Sparing nothing, American Nato ally bust gut (10,5)
ALIMENTARY CANAL – an anagram (bust) of AMERICAN NAT[o] ALLY.

23a Wander round university sector, following example of intellectual (7)
EGGHEAD – an old-fashioned verb to wander contains the abbreviation for education beyond secondary school. That all follows the abbreviation meaning ‘for example’. The abbreviation for the university sector is not in Chambers.

24a See rope dropped in catching crabs? (7)
SPLASHY – a verb to see or notice has a rope or whip put inside it (dropped in). The resulting adjective could describe the action of a rower making ineffective strokes.

Down Clues

1d What may get docked, perhaps, cut short (7)
CURTAIL – split the answer 3,4 for what may get docked. This practice has been illegal in the UK for most such animals since 2006.

2d Starts to experience routine grind in deadening accounting task (6-9)
NUMBER-CRUNCHING – insert the starting letters of ‘experience routine’ and a verb to grind or crush inside a present participle meaning deadening.

3d Exploitation at the hands of girlfriend at chucking-out time? (3-2,4)
USE-BY DATE – as 3,2,4 (i.e. without the hyphen) this could mean exploitation at the hands of a girlfriend (or boyfriend).

4d Follow canal almost to the end after turning north-east (5)
ENSUE – the name of the canal which was at the centre of a spot of unpleasantness in 1956 loses its last letter and that follows the reversal of the abbreviation for north-east.

5d Drunken eructation after putting away fifth liqueur (9)
COINTREAU – long before the fashion for marquee tv adverts at Christmas from the likes of John Lewis we were treated to a series of adverts for this liqueur featuring a very smooth Frenchman keen on seduction and a middle-aged English lady keen to be seduced. It’s an anagram (drunken) of ERUC[t]ATION without its fifth letter.

6d Count space as something sacred (5)
TOTEM – a verb to count or add up and a space used in printing.

7d Nerd from south, induced by feds to take part in deeds, making more than one confession (15)
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS – inside a word for deeds we need a) the reversal of a synonym for nerd, b) a verb meaning induced or incited and c) an abbreviation for FBI agents.

8d Young man scores verses (7)
SONNETS – charade of a young male relative and a verb meaning scores (at football or hockey, say).

13d Ireland and Italy’s old clothes taken in by Red Cross (9)
IRRITATED – start with an abbreviation for Ireland then insert the IVR code for Italy and a word for old or shoddy clothes into RED.

14d As balls reach slip, spinning (9)
SPHERICAL – an anagram (spinning) of REACH SLIP.

15d Bureaucracy became more streamlined, getting bloody towards the top (3,4)
RED TAPE – start with a verb meaning ‘became more streamlined’ and move the synonym for bloody from the bottom to the top.

17d Allowing no exception to count (7)
TOTALLY – TO followed by a verb to count.

19d He told tale about woman succumbing to temptation (5)
REEVE – I’m treating the whole clue as the definition here because this character in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales did indeed tell a rather bawdy story on the subject. A preposition meaning about or concerning is followed by the Biblical woman who succumbed to temptation.

20d Getting up, one’s played with bow and arrows (5)
DARTS – this is an old chestnut but brilliantly dealt with here. Reverse an abbreviated instrument that’s played with a bow.

There are loads of top clues including 9a, 14a, 16a, 22a, 19d and 20d. My clue of the day is the superb 3d. Which one(s) had you chuckling?

13 Comments

  1. Kath
    Posted November 23, 2016 at 11:29 pm | Permalink

    I can’t believe it’s all working – am I tempting fate in saying so – maybe I’ll shut up and keep this short.
    Damn – just noticed that Gazza’s given this one only 2* for difficulty. :sad:
    I loved it.
    My favourite, although there were many contenders, was 24a because it made me laugh.
    With thanks and congratulations to Micawber on his hundredth Toughie, thanks to Gazza for battling it all and producing the review and thanks, too, to BD, as always.

  2. Expat Chris
    Posted November 24, 2016 at 12:36 am | Permalink

    Loved it. loved it, loved it. Great fun and 3D was my runaway favorite, though I checked off several others too. Congratulations on his century and many thanks to Micawber, many thanks to Gazza also for the review, and a big bouquet to BD for persevering through all the troubles and continuing to bring us this wonderful forum that we love so much.

    Happy Thanksgiving to all my fellow US residents!

    • Jane
      Posted November 24, 2016 at 12:51 am | Permalink

      Hi Chris – enjoy Thanksgiving Day. I seem to recall that you had a bit of a disaster stair-wise with some of the food last year?

  3. Jane
    Posted November 24, 2016 at 12:49 am | Permalink

    Just when I thought all was well and I’d caught up on all the reviews, my comment on this one flew off into the ether! Here goes again –

    Like Kath (and Chris, since I last tried!) I hugely enjoyed this one although I did need Gazza’s help with a few bits of parsing.
    14a – I started out with ‘suckles’ which still seems a more appropriate word but also made a real mess of the rest of the wordplay!
    16a – missed the second element of the parsing which earned the clue an extra tick.
    23a – totally flunked the parsing.

    7d – hadn’t come across that term for a nerd before today – will I remember? Probably not!

    So much to choose from but I’ll give my podium slots to 5&16a along with 2,3&13d.
    Many thanks and congratulations to Micawber and gratitude to Gazza & BD. Loved the reminder of the 5d advert!

  4. JB
    Posted November 24, 2016 at 7:25 am | Permalink

    So glad you are back on line. I missed you. i finished the crossword but needed help with the parsing. At least you managed to insert the Cointreau advert. “The ice melts” became a family quote.

  5. dutch
    Posted November 24, 2016 at 7:54 am | Permalink

    Really enjoyable. Congratulations Micawber on your 100th puzzle (1a)! Got the long 9a straight away from the definition but misspelt it, causing me grief with 3d. I didn’t get the university sector, the crabs, or the story teller, so many thanks Gazza for the enlightenment.

    I liked the setter clues (1a, 12a,16a) and I thought the long clues were good. I also enjoyed 14a and 15d for quirkiness. 14d (as balls) was nice and 17d eluded me for way too long.

    For 16a I first thought we had a D too many (+ early ‘D’raft) then I realised it ws a separate indication, brilliant, very Micawber

    Great stuff, many thanks Micawber and Gazza

  6. crypticsue
    Posted November 24, 2016 at 8:22 am | Permalink

    I won’t say what I gave this splendid crossword for difficulty – more than I gave the Tuesday inside the paper puzzle but I don’t want to upset Kath.

    A splendid celebratory crossword – it is recycling day at home and Mr CS had already done away with yesterday’s paper when I got up this morning – but I think I had stars by more clues than not, so 5* enjoyment from me.

    Thanks to Micawber, Gazza and the ever persevering BD too.

  7. Jarman Island
    Posted November 24, 2016 at 8:27 am | Permalink

    Just like Dutch I couldn’t spell 9a. Doh!

    Cracking puzzle, Micawber so many thanks and congrats on the ton! Thanks too to Gazza for showing me how to spell and for his persistence in finally getting his blog through to the site.

  8. Lesley
    Posted November 24, 2016 at 8:59 am | Permalink

    Good fun puzzle. I needed help with 14a (very clever clue) and 24a. I had decided that Saltsby was a religious see, but just couldn’t work it out. No wonder! Have never heard of the nerd. Favourite was 3d. Thanks guys.

  9. jean-luc cheval
    Posted November 24, 2016 at 10:17 am | Permalink

    Lots to like.
    Congratulations to Micawber for number 100.
    Thanks to Gazza for the review.
    Remembered the rowing expression but the university sector was new to me.

  10. Heno
    Posted November 26, 2016 at 12:14 pm | Permalink

    Thanks to Micawber, congratulations on your 100th Toughie. What a super puzzle, a joy to solve. I managed to complete this, but needed the hints to parse 14,15,22,23a and 7d. So there was a lot of guesswork on my part. I originally spelt 9a wrong, so once corrected I was able to finish. Last in was 3d. Favourite was 14a. Was 3*/5* for me.

  11. Posted November 30, 2016 at 8:20 pm | Permalink

    A great puzzle which I did finish with, if I recall correctly, a couple of minor cheats. I recall more confidently that I enjoyed it a lot. With thanks and congratulations to Micawber and thanks as always to Gazza too.

  12. Robin Newman
    Posted December 5, 2016 at 11:23 pm | Permalink

    Finished with aid of the hints-only needed to look up a couple of answers.
    Too many good clues to choose.
    Thanks to Micawber and Gazza.