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Toughie 1791

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.

16 comments on “Toughie 1791

  1. I always enjoy a Sparks Toughie and this one was no exception. Thanks to him and Tilsit for the review. I liked 17a, 25a and 8d but my favourite, for the amusing surface, was 14a.

  2. We’ve had to wait quite a while for a Sparks and this one was well worth the wait — 5* fun.

    Thanks to him and Tilsit too- I’m not going to encourage the wrath of Kath but let’s just say there are lots of *s on my paper.

  3. Took a while for me to equate the middle letters of 10a with ‘break’ – silly girl – and I did have to look up the old dramatist, but very much enjoyed this one.
    Like CS, I have a lot of *s but I’ll content myself with giving particular mention to 14,17&25d.

    Many thanks to Sparks and his canine companion, who I suspect is more of an 8d than a 20d!
    Thanks also to Tilsit for the review – I wondered whether the accompanying pic. for 19d should have shown a different member of the same family to give the definition of the first two words of the clue?

  4. I know of a few definitions for head but not until now the one at #37 in the brb.

    Completely guessed the letter order in 2d and was amazed to find it was right. Did have to enlist a few other cheats today, like 23a, even though I was only wanting two letters. Those are ones I didn’t think of …

    I dun a few other sillies, but I don’t think you need to hear of all the ways in which a kitty can be stoopid.

    Brilliant puzzle though. I liked 14a and many more, but will pick 19d as favourite as it was a good description of some pictures a friend sent recently and so brought a smile to my face.

    I forgot to look for a nina and wasn’t going to spot it without looking – so I didn’t.

    Many thanks to Sparks and Sparky and to Tilsit and Dexter.

  5. I think it’s the first time I managed to finish a Friday challenge , other than the second last letter of 21a.
    The good sprinkling of anagrams helped a lot , that and the fact that it was amusing.
    24a gets my top vote but I liked a great many clues.
    With thanks to Sparks and Tilsit.

    1. I am at teensey bit disappointed that nobody noticed my ( to me incredible) milestone. Oh well , onwards and upwards .

      1. Yep, I saw that too but didn’t post – sorry about that. Well done, this one wasn’t at all easy. Yay!

  6. What a worthwhile diversion. Much biffing and post parsing.LOI 25 which was my favourite though office for can would have been even better in my view ..Excellent end to the week. Thank you Sparks and Tilsit

  7. We remembered that Sparks usually gives us a Nina so went looking and found it so feel smug about that. Not a quick solve for us but good fun all the way.
    Thanks Sparks and Tilsit.

  8. Just finished. Phew. The last two or three (21A, 14A, and 9D) gave me grief. 14A became clearer, though, when I corrected my misspelling of 2D. By that time, I’d given up on parsing and was just happy to have the solution. Thanks for the blog, Tilsit, which I will read when I am recovered, and thanks to Sparks for the challenge.

  9. Took longer to find the Nina than to do the crossword, almost. Very good indeed, agree with the rating.
    Many thanks to Sparks and to Tilsit.

  10. Well, I finished it without recourse to clues, but I can’t see the Nina. Are those of us who are hard of thinking today, allowed a little hint?

  11. Really enjoyed this – comparisons are invidious but this was certainly of the same quality as the puzzles I blog over at the Other Place. I like a good general knowledge requirement.

    Hadn’t thought to look for a Nina at all but I spotted it quickly once alerted that there was one!

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