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.
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.
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?