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Toughie 1773

Toughie No 1773 by Micawber

Hints and tips by Gazza

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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

It’s turning out to be a good week in Toughieland – Dada yesterday and Micawber today. I started off at a pedestrian pace with this one but speeded up in the home straight. My last answer was 15a where I needed all the checkers because I’d been thinking of some sort of palace. Good fun as always – thanks to Micawber.

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

Across Clues

1a Showy trick with light not suitable for all ages (10)
FLAMBOYANT – start with a trick or falsehood and add an adjective meaning light or cheerful without the letter used as a classification for films suitable for all ages. I didn’t know the word for trick.

6a Male politician’s a plant (4)
HEMP – combine a male pronoun and an elected politician.

9a Subject to endless selection (5)
TOPIC – TO and a selection without its last letter.

10a Having hatched plot ringing round, I left no doubt (4,5)
MADE PLAIN – a phrase meaning ‘hatched plot’ (4,4) contains I.

12a Judge applying law to old record is court’s ultimate arch manipulator? (13)
REFLEXOLOGIST – this is someone who manipulates one’s arches (or other parts of the feet). String together an abbreviated judge or arbiter, the Latin word for law, O(ld), a record or journal, IS and the ultimate letter of court.

14a It’ll provoke a reaction from smaller gentlemen (8)
ALLERGEN – hidden in the clue.

15a Tea approaching for audience in Sultan’s place (6)
BRUNEI – this sultanate sounds like words meaning tea (4) and approaching (4).

17a Divine drink breaking trance (6)
NECTAR – an anagram (breaking) of TRANCE.

19a Note, in distress I can sue for offence (8)
NUISANCE – N(ote) followed by an anagram (in distress) of I CAN SUE.

21a Immersion heater’s an ordeal (7,2,4)
BAPTISM OF FIRE – a religious rite involving immersion is followed by an adjectival phrase meaning “heater’s” i.e. relating to something that heats.

24a Determined Ben Gunn starts to dig incessantly all over the place (9)
UNBENDING – an anagram (all over the place) of BEN GUNN and the starting letters of D(ig) and I(ncessantly). Nice surface relating to the treasure-hunting cheese-loving sailor marooned on Treasure Island.

25a Terrible guillotine permitted (5)
AWFUL – chop the top off an adjective meaning permitted.

26a Ran and took shelter, conserving energy (4)
HIED – a verb meaning took shelter or holed up contains the abbreviation for energy.

27a Hit top note, returning after time without piano (10)
BESTSELLER – assemble an adjective meaning top or supreme, a period of time without the abbreviation for piano and the reversal of a note from tonic sol-fa.

Down Clues

1d Full English — the lot! (4)
FATE – an adjective meaning full or well rounded is followed by E(nglish).

2d Clothing engineers dressed in to shock (7)
APPAREL – insert the abbreviation for army engineers into a verb to shock.

3d Defensive line-up makes one spectate, perhaps (4-9)
BACK-FORMATION – spectate is an example of a word created from another word (in this case a verb from a noun) when normally one would expect the sequence to be the other way round. The answer, with a space rather than hyphen, could mean the defensive pattern adopted by a sports team.

4d PM coming up with ungrammatical statement of left-wing views created outcry (8)
YAMMERED – reverse the name of our current Prime Minister and add an ungrammatical statement claiming left-wing views (2,3).

5d Acknowledge refusal to put time into party (3,2)
NOD TO – a refusal followed by the inclusion of T(ime) in a festive party.

7d Denial by goalkeeper accused of letting balls in? Flipping excuse (7)
EVASION – reverse what could be a rebuttal by a goalkeeper of criticisms of his defensive capabilities (2,1,4).


8d Cut up United’s back three and rush inside wearing City kit? (10)
PINSTRIPED – reverse a verb to cut or trim and append the last three letters of United containing a verb to rush or move forcefully and rapidly.

11d Aspire to act, failing with realisation in the end? That’s about right (13)
PROCRASTINATE – I think that this is an all-in-one although I’m shilly-shallying as to whether the whole clue is a good definition of the answer. It’s an anagram (failing) of ASPIRE TO ACT and (realisatio)N containing an abbreviation for right.

13d Producer of wall-to-wall coverage getting grief over Trump’s inauguration runs into ex-president (10)
PAINTBRUSH – bring together a synonym for grief, the inaugural letter of Trump and the surname of an ex-president or two containing the abbreviation for cricketing runs.

16d Spooner’s Happy Meal’s a riot (3,5)
BUN FIGHT – Spooner might have said fun bite.

18d Practical old man splitting wire (7)
CAPABLE – put an affectionate term for one’s old man inside another word for wire or cord.

20d Knight heartlessly fuelled rioting with demands (7)
NEEDFUL – start with the chess abbreviation for knight and add an anagram (rioting) of FUE[L]LED without its central letter.

22d Crop rotation affecting north of US state (5)
MAIZE – a US state with the abbreviation for North within it rotated by 90 degrees.

23d Slight lack of clarity in articulation (4)
SLUR – double definition. The lack of clarity may result from going on a bender.

12a, 15a, 24a and 3d vied for favouritism but the laurels are awarded to 22d. Which one(s) provoked your admiration.

32 comments on “Toughie 1773

  1. Jusr finished toughie 1531 . Well 14 months is nt TOO bad . It was hard and did nt want to peep !

    1. You could have commented on that puzzles blog and we’d have seen it there. We don’t normally mention solving times but I think it is OK to mention 14 months! Did you look at it daily, or leave a large period of time between each ‘lgo’?

      1. I have a couple of unfinished Beam puzzles that I cannot let go without sorting them out.

  2. Thanks to Micawber for another Toughie treat – I did have to invoke Gnome’s Law but with hindsight am not sure why. My favourite is 22d too.

    Thanks to Gazza too

  3. And Today’s Limerick from Mick Twister is:

    A CIA document leak
    Shows cybersecurity’s weak;
    By hacking with ease
    Your phones and TVs,
    Big Brother is sneaking a peek.

  4. I enjoyed this one but did need Gazza’s help with parsing 1a & 22d.
    Wasn’t convinced where the definition lay in 11d – maybe Micawber could enlighten us?

    If you have chance, Gazza, I’d appreciate some more input on the whys and wherefores of 3d – penny hasn’t dropped yet!
    My tick list shows 12,15&21a plus 7d.

    Thanks to Micawber and to the knight in shining armour for his assistance.

    1. Normally a noun comes from its associated verb (e.g. someone who bakes is a baker) but sometimes the noun comes first and the verb is ‘back-formed’ from it (e.g. orate from orator, televise from television and spectate from spectator).

      1. Ok, that’s fair enough, but how are we supposed to know which words are back-formed and which aren’t?

  5. Tough enough for a toughie and too tough for me. I don’t think I have ever rotated a letter before (22d). Thanks to Micawber for the puzzle and Gazza for the hints.

  6. Made heavy weather of this in places, needed to come here to fully understand 3d. 22d pour moi aussi.TY M&G

  7. Thanks Gazza and all who have commented. 11D is meant to be +lit, so the whole clue is the definition as well as the wordplay – the idea being that when you procrastinate you intend to do something, but you fail to realise your aspirations. Sorry if that felt a bit tenuous!

    1. Thanks for calling in, Micawber – and for the explanation of 11d. Tenuous for me but probably not for our experts!

  8. 8d was one of the first in but couldn’t parse it as I had snip and the d but was wondering how to make sense of tripe although the three could have been tri. Well sort of.
    Wrote blur in 23d until I parsed it right.
    Remember we had to turn the N by 90 degrees before. Great clue.
    Getting most of the across clues did help enormously.
    24a favourite.
    Thanks to Micawber and to Gazza.

  9. We had quite a struggle with this one and it was very satisfying. Lots of clues where we had to pick away at little bits of the wordplay until it all came together with an Aha moment. 12a a good example of this. 21a caused a hold up as we tried to use BY as the second word which did not help with 16d. Great fun and much enjoyed.
    Thanks Micawber and Gazza.
    PS Gazza. Think the enumeration for the wordplay in 15a should be (3,3) not (4,4).

    1. The ‘(4,4)’ in the 15a hint was meant to refer to the homophone, i.e. Brew nigh. I’ll try to make the hint clearer – thanks.

  10. I was completely defeated by a few answers and needed the hints to understand a few more.
    I had to read Gazza’s response to Jane’s question about 3d several times before I finally ‘got’ it.
    Not sure I’ve ever seen a letter needing to be turned on its side before – or maybe I’ve just forgotten.
    I think my favourite was 12a.
    Thanks to Micawber for the crossword and to Gazza for the well-used hints.

  11. Very enjoyable, but needed Gazza to explain 3d, which was an obvious bung-in.

    Favourite was 22d. 3*/3.5*. We had no problem recognising 11d as an &slit.

    Isn’t flam for trick used in “flimflam”?

    Thanks to Gaza and Micawber.

  12. Good fun, but I had Maine for 22d (too cunning for me). I had never seen or heard flam before without the flim.
    Thank you Gazza and Micawber.

  13. That felt tough, but my watch says 3*. Some very clever clueing, though, so a strong 4* for enjoyment. My favourites were 12a and 25a, but there were lots of other contenders. Thanks for the entertainment, Micawber. And Gazza for the review, of course.

  14. Yes, this Toughie week has been, and continues to look, very good indeed. I really enjoyed this, done in snatched moments of quality time. There were a couple of bits for me to check in the brb after having got them, and I needed Gazza’s explanation of the rather evil 3d. Other than that, no problems – and I even enjoyed the Spoonism!

    My favourite was probably Maize’s 22d namecheck. It’s nice to see the more unusual devises pop up occasionally (well, if they came up frequently, they wouldn’t be unusual) to surprise and delight us.

    Many thanks to Macawber and Gazza for their respective parts in making today top quality.

    1. Hi Kitty – forgot to say that, for once, I managed to deal with the Rev. Spooner and – like you – found it amusing. Mind you, I did try to use ‘cat’ or ‘dog’ before coming up with the correct first word!

  15. Thoroughly enjoyable, maybe **/*** for difficulty? Good, inventive clues as ever from Micawber. :-)

  16. I came unstuck on 27A, though I should have known better since this definition has come up before. Also needed parsing hints for 3 and 11 down. I loved 12A and 15A but 22D is my runaway winner. Thanks to Micawber and Gazza.

  17. Another enjoyable puzzle from one of my favourite setters. Lots of fun, just what a crossword should be. I think that I’ll go for 22d as my favourite, a nice ‘slant’ on changing a letter.

    Thanks to Micawber for the puzzle and to Gazza for his review. Thought the illustration for 3d resembled the Arsenal formation circa 1980’s. :wink: Old enough to remember the original for 7d – ‘Jesus saves but Keegan gets the rebound’. :)

    Mind you, sad to hear that another of the ‘Lisbon Lions’ has gone. RIP Tommy Gemmell. I remember him actually ‘bursting’ the net playing Kilmarnock at Rugby Park – I was the ball boy :cool:

    1. PS As you all know – I’m not a great fan of ‘Spoonerisms’ – although I did have a chuckle at 16d. Well done Micawber.

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