Toughie No 1749 by MynoT
Hints and tips by Gazza
+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +
BD Rating – Difficulty **/*** – Enjoyment ***
I was pleasantly surprised by this one and enjoyed it. The **/*** rating for difficulty is because I stared at my last clue (20a) for some time before the penny dropped with a great clang, otherwise it would have been just **.
There’s a theme, signalled by a sort of Nina – I say ‘sort of’ because its first letter should surely be a different vowel. It looks to me as though the answer to 1d may have been altered subsequent to the grid being completed, with the need to keep the first letter unchanged for the sake of the Nina having been forgotten. Other explanations may be available.
Please leave a comment telling us how you fared and what you thought of it.
7a An age that dawned for Waterman? (8)
AQUARIUS – this is a large constellation whose name, from Latin, means water carrier and which featured in the opening song from the musical Hair.
9a One enters place to worship star (6)
ALTAIR – insert the Roman numeral for one into a place which is the focus of religious ritual.
10a Girlfriend curtailed confused scene (4)
BABE – drop the last letter from a confused scene named after a Tower in Genesis.
11a With fine and regular features, son grew to assume power (10)
SCULPTURED – the abbreviation for son is followed by a transitive verb meaning grew or brought on (something in a Petri dish possibly) containing the abbreviation for power.
12a Soup served in club is questionable (6)
BISQUE – hidden in the clue.
14a Heavy blows in shelter can produce this kind of language (8)
LEGALESE – insert some heavy blows or winds into a word meaning shelter.
15a Refugee from terrible regime (6)
EMIGRÉ – an anagram (terrible) of REGIME and an old chestnut.
17a Qualifier braved playing (6)
ADVERB – an anagram (playing) of BRAVED.
20a You too, we hear, can be a drone (8)
SPYPLANE – this was my last answer producing a great d’oh. ‘You too’ sounds like a American reconnaissance flying machine shot down over Soviet airspace in 1960. It was a major news story at the time but I wonder how many younger solvers have heard of it.
22a Such regions can be hellish or Dutch (6)
NETHER – a prefix relating to both the regions of the underworld and the lands of the Dutch people.
23a Final large policeman in charge of instrument for viewing organs (10)
ENDOSCOPIC – this relates to a medical instrument which may be used in a top-down or bottom-up way. String together an adjective meaning final, the abbreviation for a large clothing size, an informal word for a policeman and the abbreviation meaning ‘in charge’. The surface doesn’t mean a great deal.
24a Sign for Northern stream (4)
BECK – double definition, the first being a gesture such as a nod.
25a Heavenly body posed on vessel (6)
SATURN – a verb meaning posed followed by a type of vessel or container. In an across clue it’s a convention that ‘on’ means ‘follows’ rather than ‘followed by’.
26a Seven Taureans I pleased excitedly (8)
PLEIADES – an anagram (excitedly) of I PLEASED produces a cluster of stars in the constellation Taurus also known as the Seven Sisters.
1d English question boxer’s energy level (8)
EQUALISE – concatenate abbreviations for English and question, the surname of the greatest boxer, the ‘S and the abbreviation for energy.
2d Peter‘s OK (4)
SAFE – double definition, peter being a slang term for a cash-box or similar.
3d It is a girl who might use it (6)
TISSUE – an informal way of saying ‘it is’ (‘3) followed by the name of our very own blogger and delicious cake maker. It occurred to me that if the last three words of the clue were changed to ‘possibly uses it’ we could have had a second set of wordplay leading to the answer.
4d Animal called and rushed about wildly (8)
RAMPAGED – charade of a farm animal and a verb meaning called or summoned.
5d Almost consumed whole prey as fast as possible (2,4,4)
AT FULL PELT – start with a truncated verb meaning consumed and add an adjective meaning whole or complete and a word for the killed prey of a hawk (thanks, BRB).
6d They are and can be eaten (6)
LIVERS – double definition, the first describing people who are currently in existence.
8d Complacently secretive about attack (6)
SMUGLY – an adjective meaning secretive or furtive contains a verb to attack and rob someone in a public place.
13d Pound for half of shares or equivalent in return (4,3,3)
QUID PRO QUO – assemble an informal word for a pound sterling, a preposition meaning ‘in favour of’ and the first half of a word meaning shares or rations.
16d Engineers, when 100 finish, climb up again (8)
REASCEND – a charade of the abbreviation for our army engineers, a conjunction meaning when, the Roman numeral for 100 and a synonym for finish.
18d Bishop arrives at gaps in fortifications (8)
BREACHES – the chess abbreviation for bishop is followed by a verb meaning ‘arrives at’.
19d Maintain competitive tailless dog (4,2)
KEEP UP – an adjective meaning competitive or intense loses its last letter and that’s followed by a young dog.
21d State injection must support most of weak (6)
PUNJAB – a state in the subcontinent appears if an injection follows (must support) an adjective meaning weak or weedy without its last letter.
22d Sound of new lice rambling in kernels (6)
NUCLEI – letters that sound like ‘new’ are followed by an anagram (rambling) of LICE.
24d Aviemore slope — maybe slow down, only kilometre to go (4)
BRAE – this is a bank or hillside in Aviemore (or anywhere in Scotland). Remove the abbreviation for kilometre from a verb to slow down. Since tonight is Burns night I feel I’m allowed to include a bit of his poetry:
Flow gently, sweet Afton! amang thy green braes,
Flow gently, I’ll sing thee a song in thy praise;
My Mary’s asleep by thy murmuring stream,
Flow gently, sweet Afton, disturb not her dream.
I’ll pick out 7a and 1d for the minor places but give the gold medal to 20a. Which clue(s) earned a clap from you?