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Toughie 1757

Toughie No 1757 by Micawber

Hints and tips by Gazza

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

Thanks to Micawber for another great puzzle – he never disappoints.

There is a note in the paper saying: ‘There Once was a Man With Six Wives: Our Kings and Queens in Limericks by Mick Twister, aka Micawber, is published tomorrow, available at – a noble theme.’ If this is as funny as Mick’s previous book of limericks ‘There was an Old Geezer called Caesar‘ we’re in for a treat.

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

Across Clues

6a Americanism in original entertains stars (5,5)
CANIS MINOR – hidden in the clue.

8a Tenth player unable to play with tail? (4)
MANX – split the adjectival answer 3,1 to get player number ten.

10a Sole aim’s expression of gratitude (6)
PLANTA – stick together an aim or intention and an informal expression of gratitude to get a (new to me) word, from Latin, meaning the sole of the foot.

11a Science of selecting line abandoned after evolution (8)
GENETICS – I dithered as to whether this was a semi-all-in-one or not and ended up deciding that it was. It’s an anagram (after evolution) of SE[L]ECTING.

12a Good for France, imprisoning 1D singer (3,5)
BOB DYLAN – the French adjective for good contains what you get if you treat 1d as a reverse anagram.

ARVE Error: need id and provider

13a I’ll assign roles in palace once line’s eradicated, right? (6)
CASTER – start with a palace like Windsor, delete the single-letter abbreviation for line and append R(ight).

15a Lacking substance, travel around island on fringes of Mauritius … (6)
FLIMSY – a verb to travel by air contains an abbreviation for island and the outer letters of Mauritius.

16a … or small island on fringes of northern archipelago (6)
ORKNEY – OR followed by a small low-lying island containing the single letter that appears at both ends of ‘northern’.

20a Harp on about one having lost Massachusetts and Pennsylvania in short order? (6)
ORPHAN – an anagram (about) of HARP ON. ‘In short order’ tells us to take the two-character abbreviations for the quoted US States.

23a Cow left to calve? (8)
OVERBEAR – charade of an adverb meaning left or remaining and a verb to calve or give birth to.

24a Restricting carbon is improving buildings (8)
EDIFICES – a verb meaning ‘is improving’ or educates morally or intellectually contains the chemical symbol for carbon. A bit Yoda-like?

26a Cakes consumed halfway up gum trees (6)
TUARTS – cakes or pastry-based comestibles contain half the word ‘up’. I didn’t know this word for the ‘Eucalyptus gomphocephala’ tree which is native to Western Australia.

27a Twister, perhaps, and what it’ll do (4)
WIND – double definition. Twister is an informal word for a destructive natural phenomenon which we are fortunate not to get in the UK. Twister is also one of Micawber’s alter egos – see my prologue.

28a Women’s groups in centre of Florida Sally’s ringing (10)
SORORITIES – the central three letters of Florida are inserted into a (falsely-capitalised) sally plus the ‘S.

Down Clues

1d Poor boy — lad’s shattered by fines (5,3)
BADLY OFF – an anagram (shattered) of BOY LAD followed by two occurrences of the abbreviation for fine.

2d Find his net seething with sardines? (6,4)
TINNED FISH – an anagram (seething) of FIND HIS NET.

3d I continue to complain, having yen for suffering (2,5)
IN AGONY – I continue to complain (1,3,2) followed by the abbreviation for the Japanese currency.

4d Satirical press report I see (6)
IRONIC – a verb to press and what sounds like ‘I see’.

5d Put out cryptic message indicating deadline’s passed? (4)
EMIT – think of what an exam invigilator may call out when you have to put down your pen.

7d Micawber getting terrible sales fever (7)
MEASLES – how Micawber refers to himself objectively followed by an anagram (terrible) of SALES. Normally in a clue like this the setter’s name in the on-line version will be replaced by ‘setter’ or similar to compensate for the fact that the setter’s name is not immediately apparent on-line.

9d Macaroni cheese extract finding limited market (5)
NICHE – the second lurker of the day.

14d Scours Sweden and Belgium to meet foot models (10)
SANDBLASTS – ‘Sweden and Belgium’ using the relevant IVR codes rather than the country names followed by the foot models used by cobblers.

17d Put energy into letter and post again (2-5)
RE-ENTER – insert the abbreviation for energy into a letter or leaser.

18d More bubbly? Answer in the affirmative, one’s getting hitched! (8)
YEASTIER – the single-letter abbreviation for answer goes inside an affirmative response. After that we need someone making a hitch or knot.

19d Monarch’s companion is right-wing type (7)
CONSORT – concatenate an abbreviation for a right-wing party and a synonym for type.

21d Lines from king on the second year of our Lord (5)
RADII – an abbreviation for king followed by how Romans may have written the second year of the Christian era.

22d Nut hollowed out and filled with desserts is extremely sweet (6)
NICEST – nut loses its central letter and what’s left contains some cold desserts.

25d Reduce short-term interest rate finally (4)
FADE – a short-term interest or temporary fixation followed by the final letter of rate.

As usual with Micawber I have to prune my list of top clues – I’ll just mention 8a, 3d, 5d, 19d and 25d – my favourite is 20a. How about you?

30 comments on “Toughie 1757

  1. As entertaining as ever, although I found it a little trickier than I would have expected from Micawber. I’ve looked at this puzzle on and off all morning to try and pick just one favourite and I can’t, so sorry Kath, but I really really liked 8a, 20a, 3d and 5d too

    Thanks to Micawber – I’ve got the book on order – and to Gazza too

  2. An enjoyable puzzle, taking back pager time. I liked 12a, had to wait for 1d to understand how it could possibly work. Also liked 20a, and many more. I hadn’t come across 10a or 26a before

    Great fun, many thanks micawber and Gazza

  3. As I said to Micawber at the Birthday Bash – his puzzles are always a source of enjoyment to me and this one is no exception. Lots of fun from beginning to the end. Loved the 1d/12a combination and the reference to our ‘poorly schooled etc’ in 20a – what a clever clue! I think I’ve seen the answer for 26a somewhere else but using the Royal family name as part of the word play.

    Too many clues to mention – so CS can use one of my choices for today.

    Thanks to Micawber for the terrific fun and to Gazza for his lovely (but unrequired) hints and tips.

      1. You may have to expand on that, Gazza. Can’t see it myself.

        Ah – just Seen it in time to add this to my post.


      2. Double D’oh!!! I even mentioned the Royal family connection on 27a :(

        Well hidden Micawber :)

  4. What a thoroughly enjoyable puzzle. We needed two sittings which pushed us into 4* time. 4* merited for enjoyment too.

    There were many wonderful clues but 20a and 28a share our top billing. Despite spending a month in Australia toward the end of last year we didn’t know the gum tree off pat. Best visit again soon, then.

    Thanks to Gazza and Micawber.

  5. The hidden theme is most ingenious now that I’ve seen it and I wish I had earlier – it would have helped a lot with my mystification over e.g. 16a and 26a, because they’re both obvious once the theme is! Great puzzle Micawber and thanks Gazza for some much-needed help to reach the finishing line.

  6. This was chock-full of goodies, though I was up a gum tree with 26a. I would have twigged 7d more quickly had I realised who the setter was before I started. Many thanks to Gazza and Micawber.

  7. Definitely great even if I was beaten by 26a which I had to reveal.
    The other problem was the grid with its four distinct corners but each contained such super clues that it was a pleasure to concentrate on them individually.
    Great Nina which I only saw after visiting the blog. Should have spotted it with 10a.
    Thanks to Micawber and to Gazza.

    1. By the way, here’s is the limerick that Mick kindly wrote for me:
      There was an old man named Jean-Luc
      A world famous Provencal cook
      Who solved cryptic clues
      Made octopus stews
      And loved a good limerick book

  8. All present and correct, though I fell short on parsing a couple. 26A was my last in and had I spotted the theme I might not have taken so long to work it out. I did work out who the setter was though, and that’s a first! Loved the 1D/12A combo, but 26A is my personal favorite. Many thanks to Micawber and Gazza.

  9. Hi Gazza, re 10a plantar fasciitis is a very painful affliction that I suffer from time to time.
    Thanks for the hints

  10. Thanks Gazza and everyone for your comments. I accept 26a was a bit obscure, though necessary for the theme.
    I would have loved to fit Saxe Coburg and Gotha in of course – but be reassured that it does appear in the book, in the chapter on Edward VII, and with a particularly outrageous rhyme!

  11. Not at all easy but such a pleasure to work through.
    Frustratingly beaten by 26a – if only I’d spotted the Nina……..
    So many to choose a favourite from – think 19d gets it by a nose.

    Many thanks Micawber and thanks to Gazza for putting me out of my misery with regard to 26a!

  12. OK, I enjoyed it, needing 2 nudges on things I should have known. But perhaps Im alone in finding 3 a bii iffy or pushing boundaries .
    Palace to Castle too remote. M & P for Mother & Father threw me. Fringes of Nothern is NN for me not one N.
    10a & 26 a never heard of,
    Favourites 1D / 12 A , 15A, 3 D and best 21 D
    Thanks to Micawber. I am still not familiar with setters so my 7D started with Mr at first !!

      1. Hi Mark, I agree that ‘fringes of northern’ would be NN, but here ‘fringes’ is a container indicator – KEY is on the fringes of N.

  13. The pesky little four letter words in the NE and SW were where we got held up the longest. If we had noticed the very clever hidden names it would certainly have helped. With 26a it was one of those cases where we worked out from the wordplay what it might be and then got a real surprise to find that it is in BRB. Excellent fun from start to finish and much enjoyed.
    Thanks Micawber (good luck with the book) and Gazza.

  14. Oh – brilliant, although this one has taken me SO long that I’d get away with saying how many hours with no fear of discouraging anyone.
    I did know 10a but only as an adjective so with an ‘R’ on the end and followed by the word ‘reflex’.
    How funny that we’ve had a ‘small island’, albeit a different one, in the Toughie and the (not) back pager today.
    20a took me for ever to understand and I never did get 26a.
    I liked most of them so just a few are 8 and 20a and 3 and 14d. My favourite was 5d.
    I have yet to spot the theme or the Nina but knowing now that there is one of each I’ll have a hunt a bit later.
    With thanks and a big :good: to both Micawber and Gazza.

  15. Enjoyable, even if I did completely miss the theme! And oh how I wish I hadn’t, when I was struggling at the close with 26ac. Very nicely done.

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