Toughie 1718

Toughie No 1718 by Firefly

Hints and tips by Bufo

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

BD Rating – Difficulty ***Enjoyment ***

I’m not as grumpy as last week. After all it’s now December and there’ll be enough grumpiness later in the month when I get into “Bah! Humbug!” mode. This was a pleasant enough puzzle which came out about average both for difficulty and enjoyment. There were some nice touches and my only quibbles were minor ones

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.

Across

1a    Thus may rap artiste show discipline? (4,1,5,3)
TEAR A STRIP OFF: This answer (which means ‘to discipline’) can cryptically lead to ‘rap artiste’. The first three words are an anagram of RAP ARTISTE and the last word is an anagram indicator

9a    For practice, include corny items among fabulous Lehar (9)
REHEARSAL: Parts of corn plants inside an anagram (fabulous) of LEHAR

10a    Smoother / surface (5)
PLANE: 2 meanings: a tool for smoothing wood/a flat surface

11a    Ancestor of Daniel Deronda (5)
ELDER: Hidden in DaniEL DERonda

12a    King’s carriage reversing! Help! (4)
BACK: A reversal of K (king) and a carriage = ‘to help’

13a    Dash into heart of opposition’s place (4)
SEMI: A dash used in printing inside the middle two letters of oppoSItion = a place (building) where you might live

15a    He has a row as Norma breaks down (7)
OARSMAN: Someone who rows a boat is an anagram (breaks down) of AS NORMA

17a    Find fault in character’s weight (7)
TONNAGE: ‘To find fault’ inside character = the weight of a cargo on a ship

18a    Savings deposited among the branches? (4,3)
NEST EGG: These savings are also something that might be put in a tree to encourage birds to lay

20a    An earl’s out of sauce with distilled anchovies, and his drama’s renowned! (7)
CHEKHOV: The letter E is removed from a 5-letter word meaning ‘cheek’ or ‘insolence’. This is followed by the middle 3-letters of anchovies to give a Russian dramatist

21a    It’s curtains for medication (4)
TABS: 2 meanings: stage curtains/pills

22a    Discussed split with irritant type (4)
FLEA: A homophone of ‘to split’ or ‘to make oneself scarce’ = a parasitic bloodsucking insect. I hope that’s right. I don’t find it very convincing

23a    Player’s line gone astray? Might it be the caddie? (5)
GOFER: Remove L (line) from the sportsman who might employ a caddie. This gives an employee who is given errands to run

26a    One leaving bar goes after game in the country (5)
RURAL: The abbreviation (2) for a sport + a bar (4) with the letter I (one) removed

27a    The masses vote to follow Independent in Ohio when desperate (3,6)
HOI POLLOI: I (Independent) + the taking of a vote inside an anagram (desperate) of OHIO

28a    He bowed, but surely never scraped! (6,7)
YEHUDI MENUHIN: A cryptic definition of a famous violinist (one who bowed) who was probably not short of a bob or two

Down

1d    For Wes to sew, maybe, is a progressive volte-face (5-5,4)
THREE-POINT TURN: Note that WES is a reversal of SEW and that W, E and S are all compass directions. That should help lead you to this manoeuvre for turning a vehicle round to face the opposite direction

2d    Louse lay low beneath a piano (5)
APHID: A plant louse (a garden pest) = A + P (piano) + ‘lay low’

3d    This mad manager produces the answer (10)
ANAGRAMMED: If MAD MANAGER is ********** it produces **********

4d    Card lets dubious 21 enter international bar (4,3)
TEST BAN: The playing card of value below a jack goes round an anagram (dubious) of the answer to 21 across to give an agreement between nations concerning nuclear weapons

5d    Run-down old company with time becomes illegitimate (7)
ILLICIT: ‘Run-down’ + the name of a former chemical company + T (time)

6d    Club raised, knock end off — clumsy me! (4)
OOPS: A reversal (raised) of a wooden-headed golf club with the last letter removed gives an exclamation drawing attention to a mistake

7d    Lights on landing of apartment receiving major share of overhaul; try halogen for starters? (5,4)
FLARE PATH: Lights used to enable an aircraft to land when natural visibility is insufficient = an apartment round the first 4-letters of a 6-letter word meaning ‘to overhaul’ + H (first letter of Halogen). I thought that ‘try halogen for starters’ would be TH but that gives you an extra T in the wordplay

8d    Books with which no Rev is unfamiliar? (7,7)
REVISED VERSION: This is an English translation of the Bible (books). The answer can lead to ‘no rev is’ in that the first word is an anagram indicator and the second word is an anagram of NO REV IS

14d    And in Germany, over the outskirts of Wiesbaden, Roger manoeuvred and stunted (10)
UNDERGROWN: The german word for ‘and’ and the first and last letters of WiesbadeN round an anagram (manoeuvred) of ROGER

16d    With noise of disapproval, artists lead tiddly medium away … (9)
RASPBERRY: A noise of disapproval (from rhyming slang) = Members of the Royal Academy +the atomic symbol for lead + ‘tiddly’ with the letter M (medium) removed

19d    … from festivity, having cheated knight (7)
GALAHAD: A festivity + ‘cheated’ = a knight of the Round Table

20d    Brainbox picks out devious thief from vandalised fruit machine (7)
CRANIUM: The bones enclosing the brain = an anagram (vandalised) of FRUIT MACHINE after the letters of THIEF have been removed

24d    Rob worked up part of Heathcliff (5)
FILCH: Hidden in reverse in HeatHCLIFf

25d    Rhubarb plants left among roots of willowherb, azalea and hyacinth (4)
BLAH: Rhubarb (nonsense) = L (left) inside the last letters of willowherB, azaleA and hyacintH

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9 Comments

  1. dutch
    Posted December 1, 2016 at 2:22 pm | Permalink

    High reverse anagram content – I quite like those clues, so fine with me! (1a, 3d?, 8d).

    smooth surface in 10a.

    Not keen on distilled anchovies (20a) and the stage curtains were new to me (22a)

    I didn’t notice the extra T in 7d, well spotted Bufo – I assume this is a mistake, else I can’t explain try and plural of starters.

    And I hadn’t realised the Cockney Rhyming slang origin of 16d, so thanks Bufo for that too.

    Many thanks Firefly and many thanks Bufo

  2. Una
    Posted December 1, 2016 at 4:36 pm | Permalink

    Pretty tricky , but the difficulties I encountered didn’t spoil the enjoyment.
    The outstanding clue for me was 28a, or as he was once introduced in Donegal , Yehudi McMenamin.
    Thanks to Bufo for explaining 20a, I just guessed it.
    Thanks also to Firefly.

  3. 2Kiwis
    Posted December 1, 2016 at 5:32 pm | Permalink

    We were beaten by 13a. Eventually we gave up and revealed the missing letters and then worked out how the setter had got there. Not sure we liked that one .
    20a was gettable from the checkers but thought that distilled to indicate the use of three letters from the centre of a word was stretching things a bit. Apart from those we found it a very satisfying puzzle with plenty to keep us challenged and amused.
    Thanks Firefly and Bufo.

  4. Kath
    Posted December 1, 2016 at 7:19 pm | Permalink

    Damn – just wrote a comment, hit the “Post Comment” – gone, never to be seen again – wonder where it went.
    Back later – need supper now – oh, and wine! :smile:

  5. Salty Dog
    Posted December 1, 2016 at 9:11 pm | Permalink

    I’m pleased to say that I completed well within 2* time, and cheerfully admit that I did so with a few inspired bung-ins rather than deep intellectual analysis of the clues. Still, all’s fair in love, war and crosswords! I enjoyed quite a few clues in this satisfying puzzle, but my favourite is 1a. Many thanks to Firefly and Bufo.

  6. Jon_S
    Posted December 1, 2016 at 10:37 pm | Permalink

    A little tricky in places, *** for difficulty sounds right to me. 28ac was a little tricky to spell with only a cryptic definition to go by and vague glimmerings of what it should look like, so I’m afraid it was Google to the rescue. One or two I couldn’t parse, so thanks for the blog. :-)

  7. Jane
    Posted December 1, 2016 at 10:44 pm | Permalink

    Very late getting to this one. Like the 2Ks, I had question marks by 13&20a – the former because I understood ‘EM’ to be a space rather than a dash and the latter down to the ‘distilled anchovies’.
    1a made me smile but it took a real penny-drop moment to get 1d – that and plenty of checkers!
    4d was the last to fall – always seem to forget about that card.
    10a is something of an old chestnut and the 15a sportsman seems to have been much favoured by setters of late.
    I have never heard 14d in use and didn’t much care for that one.

    1&18a get my vote for top of the pile.
    Thanks to Firefly and to Bufo – particularly for sorting out the parsing of 7d!

  8. Kath
    Posted December 1, 2016 at 10:47 pm | Permalink

    I found that quite tricky enough for me, thank you very much!
    Like the Kiwis I failed on 13a – should have tried harder – I know the printing term but didn’t know that it meant a dash. I don’t know how to reveal missing letters – perhaps I should learn.
    In general I enjoyed this although I admit to needing the hints to understand quite a few of my answers – thanks Bufo.
    I really liked 24d and, as a gardener, my favourite was 25d – made me laugh.
    With thanks to Firefly and, again, to Bufo.

  9. Expat Chris
    Posted December 2, 2016 at 2:49 am | Permalink

    I really enjoyed this, though I did need the hints to parse 22A and 1D. Favorites are 1A, 8D and 16D Thanks Firefly and Bufo.