Toughie No 1791 by Sparks
Hints and tips by Tilsit
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BD Rating – Difficulty **** – Enjoyment *****
Greetings from Warrington! We finish the Toughie week with a very enjoyable challenge from Sparks, one that causes a bit of head scratching but leaves you satisfied when the last letter goes in. In truth, it’s a slightly benign offering from Sparks with a few ways into the puzzle. As is usual with Sparks, there’s a Nina but oddly the puzzle isn’t pangrammatic. I was slightly held up by turning the dramatist into someone from Romania by putting U instead of O as the last letter, but after realising what 16 down was, it all fell nicely into place. Thanks to Sparks.
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1a Mark learnt about making wrapping for goods (6)
DAGGER: We start with an academic word for having studied. Reverse this and insert two G’s (goods) and this gives you a mark used in proofreading, etc.
4a Occasional copies I’d reviewed (8)
EPISODIC: An anagram (reviewed) of COPIES I’D give something that means occasional.
10a Gold rings break for so long (5)
ADIEU: The chemical symbol for gold goes around (rings) a word meaning break
11a Roast ox with rice cooked and consumed (9)
EXCORIATE: Something that means to roast or give a severe wigging is found by rearranging OX and RICE (cooked) and adding a word for consumed.
12a It’s dull splitting mostly plain type of rice (7)
BASMATI: A type of rice used in curries is found by taking a short word for dull (more often found with the last letter doubled) and putting it inside most of a word meaning plain or entry-level.
13a Seaman entertained by a priest in Gulf state? (7)
ALABAMA: The name of a US state is found by taking A with the name for a Tibetan priest and inserting the abbreviation for a sailor.
14a Leaves cubicle, teetering, but not in pants (7,7)
ICEBERG LETTUCE: This is what’s known in the trade as a subtractive anagram It’s an anagram of a phrase less a couple of its letters. The golden rule with these is that anything taken away needs to have an anagram indicator as well unless they are taken in order. In this clue, one isn’t needed as the two letters removed are in sequence. So we have a word for something leafy and edible which is an anagram (pants) of CUBICLE TEETERING minus IN.
17a Dressing by churchgoers briefly cast in this? (7,2,5)
PLASTER OF PARIS: This was one of those clues I worked out what it was and went back and scratched my head as to why? The name for the substance a cast is made of comprises a dressing (one less bulky to wear!) and adding a short word for belonging to and a word for a group of churchgoers, minus its last letter.
21a Discoveries, say, framing core element of systems software (7)
APPLETS: The name for software used particularly by mobile phones is revealed by taking the name of the fruit of which Discovery is a type and putting it around the middle letter (core element) of SYSTEMS.
23a Current company binding stories for old dramatist (7)
IONESCO: The name for a famous Romanian-French dramatist who I think was involved with a style called Theatre of the Absurd can be found by taking the scientific symbol for Current and CO(mpany) and inserting (binding) a word for stories (as in Here’s … I heard earlier).
24a Fool backing famous musical secures life of luxury (5,4)
DOLCE VITA: A word for a fool is reversed and the name of a Lloyd Webber/Rice musical added and gives an Italian phrase meaning a life of luxury.
25a Lead shot’s opening floating can? (5)
HEADS: A word meaning lead or first has S (opening of shot) added to give another slang name for what is known in military slang as cans. Think loos!
26a Open policy number retained by young woman in sporty car (8)
GLASNOST: A word that came into vogue when Mikhail Gorbachev was leader of Russia and relates to his policy of openness. This is found taking an abbreviation for number, putting it inside a name for a young woman and placing all that inside the abbreviation for a sporty car. Phew!
27a Finally change hands in correct move (6)
PROPEL: A word meaning correct becomes a word that means move or drive if you change hands, i.e. swap R (the last letter) for L.
1d Drink Bermuda rum touring island (8)
DRAMBUIE: The name for a Scotch-based drink is found by rearranging the letters of BERMUDA and placing it around I (island).
2d Legal skit involved old statesman (9)
GAITSKELL: The name for a former Labour leader is an anagram (involved) of LEGAL SKIT.
3d Fast runner departed match (7)
EMULATE: Something that means to match is revealed by taking a fast-running bird and adding something that means departed or no more.
5d Wolves, given time, break deal made by agent (7,7)
PACKAGE HOLIDAY: A word sum. A group of wolves + something that refers to a period of time + a break = something sold by a certain type of high street agent.
6d Maybe cook gravlax, evenly getting dispatched round (7)
SERVANT: Take the even letters of GRAVLAX and insert them into something that means posted or dispatched. This gives you the name for the type of person a cook maybe seen to be.
7d Play around, ultimately before God (5)
DRAMA: The last letter of around goes before the name for an incarnation of the god Vishnu to give the name for a play.
8d Emperor waves back when chauffeured? (6)
CAESAR: Somewhere wet with waves is reversed inside what you are in when you are chauffeured to give the name of a Roman emperor.
9d The establishment irritated Smiley, having left out insurgent (3,2,4,5)
MEN IN GREY SUITS: Another subtractive anagram. The name for the powers behind the throne in the Establishment is found by rearranging the letters of SMILEY INSURGENT, minus L (left).
15d Cheat put instrument below deck? (4-5)
CARD-SHARP: Under what a deck signifies goes a musical instrument. Shift the word spacing slightly and you have the name of a cheat.
16d Slip up about occupants of house getting support (8)
ESPOUSAL: A word for a slip up or break in concentration is reversed and inside goes OUS (occupants of the word HOUSE) to give something meaning support.
18d Spotted that man with bit on the side entering dodgy boozer (7)
SHEBEEN: Inside a word meaning spotted or noticed, goes a word meaning man and the initial letter (on the side) of bit to give the name of an illicit bar or pub.
19d Spotted feline quietly sitting on part of plant (7)
PANTHER: After the abbreviation in music for quietly goes a part of a flower and this reveals the name of a big black pussycat, unlike the smaller black pussycat who is demanding his treats at the moment.
20d Friend climbing cairn, perhaps one that’s walked all over? (6)
LAPDOG: Another way of saying someone who is put upon or someone’s skivvy is found by taking the name of a friend and reversing it (climbing) and adding the name of the creature for which a Cairn is a type.
22d Dance masks intermittently cut up (5)
POLKA: Take the alternate (even) letters of MASKS and add something that means cut (especially branches) and reverse the lot to give a type of dance.
Once again thanks to Sparks for the challenge and look from the top left to the bottom right to see an appropriate Nina! See you soon.